Modern & Post-Modern Identities in Light of Indian Philosophy

18. Dezember 2015 von Axel Fussi

Vortrag am 10.Kongress der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Philosophie, Innsbruck 2015.

This paper addresses questions of identities in modern, particularly post-modern theories in Western philosophy against the backdrop of ontological positions of the YogaSamkhya system in Indian philosophy. These questions gain momentum in the face ofan increasingly complex social and technological environment. The fraying options forconstructing identities are being subjugated to AI automated control systems, such aslarge-scale surveillance programmes, that not only subvert the privilege of privacy, instrumental to psychological integrity, but seriously undermine the constitutional framework,upon which our practice of political liberalism and personal freedom is built. The pace atwhich we are carried away by Silicon Valley-inspired versions of Utopia, not only urgesthe question how we, as human beings, can keep apace with technological developments,but also how we may harness the undisputed advantages of technology rather than becoming its commodified objects. The concept of Ahamkara (lit. the I-maker), featuredin Yoga-Samkhya philosophy, provides a valueable heuristic model for the interpretationof these rather fluid and protean processes underlying a technologically enhanced bricolage of identities. Ahamkara is understood as the principle of a dynamic organization ofimmanent identities, reflecting their transcendent source – the individual Purusha – theprinciple of consciousness. Prakriti, the material principle, not only bridges psychologicalsubject-object divides, but also the ontological separation of matter and mind, since allprocesses within Prakriti are material by definition. We will argue the necessity of reformulating Western concepts of personal identity, in light of the assumption that it is ourpsychological potential that needs to be developed through a process, that in SamkhyaYoga is aiming at Moksha, the liberation of original consciousness from its projectiveentanglement in the processes of Prakriti. We will look at these processes among othersfrom the point of view of alienation in Marxian terms and Deleuze’s desiring-machines.Furthermore, these processes involve not only the development of our critical faculities,but also the assertion of our position in negotiating between ‘natural’ and ‘technological’environments. Only in taking responsibility for this position will we be able to bridgewhat Anders has called the Promethean gap. Our ability to bridge this gap will be crucialin counteracting the erosion of the concept of responsible individuals which forms thebasis of political and legal institutions in democratic societies.

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