INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Roland Benedikter is a Member of the Institute for the History of Ideas and Research on Democracy, Innsbruck, Austria. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. See his Official Homepage
with independent international voices about his work. Based on a Guest Lecture for Students of The Graduate Institute, Milford, Connecticut, USA, done by phone from the International 25year Conference of The Alternative Nobel Prices / The Right Livelihood Awards in Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg - Milford, 06/11/2005.
A dialogue in five parts
Part IV: The positive Core Concept at
the Center of late Postmodern Philosophy: Inspiration
The fourth dialogue offers some impressions of the parallels and differences between the European-Western concept of “the productive void” in late postmodern thinking at the one hand and the Eastern concepts of “nothingness” at the other hand. The concept of “the productive void” stays at the center of most late postmodern philosophies as well as of most Eastern paths, but in different ways and manners. A bridge of rational and self-conscious dimensions between those two similar, but different ways may be given in the concept of “inspiration”.
I: COMPARING THE PROTO-SPIRITUAL TENDENCY OF LATE POSTMODERNITY WITH THE EASTERN TRADITIONS
Question: I think we can shortly resume the proto-spiritual tendency of late postmodernism we talked of in four basic steps as follows:
- Reaching the “productive void” of thinking and being produced by consequent deconstruction - including the deconstruction or even “destruction” (Martin Heidegger) of your ego;
- Reaching a kind of pre-conceptual self-awareness of consciousness, which in many cases comes almost necessarily out of that productive void and of the de(con)struction of your ego;
- Thus “doubling” the basic feeling of the “I” and reaching a state of mind of a “doubled I” between ego (still strong) and witness (still week);
- And reaching some times, as a consequence of the “productive void” of deconstruction and the “doubled I”, a “fluid” state of consciousness of “pure here and now” or “directed attention”, which cannot itself be objectivated, but seems to be pure “beeingness” of consciousness that precedes every act of ego and every content of thought.
Overlooking that proceeding, the questions comes to my mind: Is all this in any way similar to what the Eastern traditions are teaching? I think, for example, at what Ramana Maharshi is saying in his methodological proceedings: You question everything, and you continue to do it, until you destroy everything and you're left only with what is pure absolute awareness as such?
RB: Yes. This is a very intelligent remark of you. Because there are indeed certain similarities or parallels. Ramana Maharshi said more or less the same thing, as the core proceeding of Postmodernity tries to realize. But the difference is enormous as well: Maharshi said and did it consciously; he knew what he was doing. Postmodernism does not. And if you ask, for example, some of the most eminent Indian philosophers that are living today, what they think about European-Western postmodern philosophy and main stream culture, they would say: Okay, they are basically trying to do the same thing as we do. They're trying to break through the illusion of the ego, trough the illusion the world is as seen by normal consciousness, trough the veil of the Maya. They try to go through a methodological destruction (Heidegger) or deconstruction (Derrida with Freud) of your illusions. And doing that, they must discover sooner or later, that the world is a dream of our consciousness - an illusion which is the construct of our ego, indeed. At least, they come near to discover that, if they are really consequent in doing their “deconstruction”. Doing this, they will reach the borderline of breaking through, and some times they may even break through the veil of the Maya. But they do all that unconsciously. In the end, they don't know what they are doing.
Question: That means: Okay, there are similarities. But the difference is that the most evolved European-Western mind of today, the postmodern mind, does this “purification of illusions”
- without knowing what it does;
- without final goal or objective;
- without knowing how to concretely behave and move beyond the borderline.
And it means that the Eastern mind, like for example the one of Ramana Maharshi, does all that with a different consciousness. And, most important: Knowing how to behave and to move beyond the borderline.
RB: Yes, I would agree with that. In fact, there is an interesting book from a certain Harold G. Coward from the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society of the University of Victoria, Canada. He wrote, very early and much ahead of his times, a book about “Derrida and Indian philosophy” (SUNY – State University of New York Press 1990). This is a very good and deep going book, which has not been fully accepted by academics so far, and that is a considerable disadvantage for academic research I think. Coward's book offers some comparisons of the affinities and differences between Postmodern-Western and Eastern concepts of “the void” on the one hand and “nothingness” on the other hand. Coward shows how there are similarities between certain nominalistic aspects of postmodernity in the West and in the Indian traditions, but only certain. Of course they are similar in parts, but very different as a whole. He shows more or less what I said regarding the similarities of method and the difference of consciousness in doing the “destruction” of the “I”. It will be necessary to intensify the research on these topics in the coming years, if we want to create a new, genuine East-West philosophy for the age of globalization.
RB: We saw: The “productive void” of the “deconstructed” postmodern mind possibly leads to the doubling of the “I”. The “productive void” is a different concept that the concept of “nothingness” of the eastern traditions - because it is more like a negative proceeding, whereas “nothingness” is something highly and explicitly “positive”, if we can call it such. The “productive void” is sort if a negative propaedeutics for something else; whereas “nothingness” is a point of arrival. The same is true regarding the “erotization of the will” (Jean Francois Lyotard): That is not exactly what the Eastern concepts teach us. But at the same time, it has certain similarities and parallels which can be an important issue of encounter and dialogue.
BR: Let me explain why exactly this aspect is so important to understand: That European-Western and Eastern concepts of “the productive void” and “nothingness” are, to a certain extend, similar – and simultaneously not the same at all.
Question: You are welcome.
RB: Let's take one core example: One of today's leading thinkers in the eyes of many in the USA, but also for some of the new generation in Europe, Ken Wilber (*1949). Wilber has, as it seems, taken “nothingness” as his lead concept, as his core spiritual goal, on which he builds most of his philosophical terminology for a new, integral world philosophy for the 21st century. Departing from that core concept, he has done a brilliant critique of postmodernity which I would almost entirely confirm and adhere (cf. Ken Wilber: Sex, Ecology and Spirituality. Shambhala Publishing, Boston 1995; and Ken Wilber: A Brief History Of Everything. Shambhala Publishing, Boston 1996).
Question: Yes, I read that critique too. It is brilliant indeed. It is intellectually sharp, and spiritual at the same time. And it is angry, very angry and full of power. And at the same time integrative as well.
RB: Yeah. But at the same time, precisely the difference between the European-Western and the Eastern concepts of “the productive void” and “nothingness” we talked of seems to be one main reason why Wilber, since many years now, encounters such difficulties to reach the leading philosophical-intellectual figures of his own culture fully. To reach the main stream culture of the USA. He tries hard, but until now obviously with limited success. Why? Wilbers approach has still not been fully accredited by most leading academic thinkers in his own country, not to speak of the leading European thinkers like Jürgen Habermas, for example. And this may be due not only, not even predominantly, but also to the fact of the strongly “Eastern” building up of his overall model of investigation and research. And to the fact of his terminology in which he tries to describe the findings of this research; that terminology is in large part by Eastern, not by Western tradition. It therefore does only in part fit with “postmodern” Western-European use, habits and standards, even if Wilber tries increasingly to integrate the most important postmodern achievements positively, to widen its circles of influence and debate.
Question: Could you explain that a little bit better?
RB: Yes, of course. The mainstream culture of the USA is, at least seen from an European viewpoint, until today still a Postmodern-Western culture, with an academic scene strongly influenced by European parameters and thinking models. Wilber, in his own right, is not at all European, but strongly “pacific” – that means: oriented towards the Eastern philosophies and traditions; whereas the current American culture, at least in its academic parts and in the main dimensions of its public debate, is still strongly “atlantic” – that means: a product of a kind of mixture between American and Protestant-European traditions and philosophies. This culture, in its self-understanding, seems still to be mainly an “English” (and increasingly Hispanic!) culture with historical Anglo-European values at its core. Whatever you may think about cultural pluralism (and you will think it, in any case, with full right and full emancipative value): That seems to be a historic, cultural and sociological fact, which is maybe changing rapidly, but is still predominantly visible.
Question: Yes. That is, what, among others, Samuel P. Huntington has pointed out in his last book “Who are we? The challenges to America's National Identity” (Simon & Schuster 2004).
RB: Well, Huntington is undoubtedly a contemporary thinker with great influence on a world wide scale; but I sometimes have certain difficulties to share some of his judgements. Anyway: That is a point which Wilber seems not have fully noticed so far – the difference between the European-Western (Jewish-Christian) traditions in conceptualizing and handling “the productive void” at the one side and the Eastern (Buddhist) “nothingness” at the other side. Exactly this basic, “deep” cultural difference (cf. Clifford Geertz: The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books 2000) may be one aspect why his integral approach with its leading concept of “nothingness” encounters such difficulties maybe not by leading political figures, but by the side of publicly recognized academic culture. Because this culture of his country, in its best (late postmodern) parts (which, by the way, still wait to be fully discovered and recepted), is centered on “the productive void”.
Question: Yes. Wilber is “pacific”, but the culture he lives in is still predominantly “atlantic”. The irony is that this “atlantic” culture, as far as I can see, is still the only one which can fully understand him and make an use of his theories, because most other cultures world wide are still on their way to rationality, scientific enlightenment and “deep rooted” (Geertz) structural and institutional pluralism. In other words: They are still underway to a balanced a stable state of “societal treaty” where integral theory can start with the basics necessary to it.
RB: Yes. So all that could mean: The “deep” difference between “the productive void” of European-Western Postmodernism and the concepts of “nothingness” as developed by Eastern traditions may be one point for further fruitful research in the coming years – for the future of Postmodernity, but also for the future of some leading avant-garde approaches of the European-Western culture. That may be, among others, also true for the Integral approach of Ken Wilber, especially if he wants to enter more decisively into the academic world (as he seems to want developing “Wilber-5”).
Question: Yes. I think that is one point. Go on.
RB: Wilber's thought, as exposed especially in “Sex, Ecology and Spirituality” and in “A Theory of Everything”, can give a tremendous impulse of forward movement to current postmodern culture. But it has to reflect the proto-spiritual tendiencies of late postmodernity and to integrate them in its concepts of a last goal: of “nothingess”. The Atlantic (postmodern) way of approaching that goal is not the same as the Pacific (Asian) way. Exactly at this point, there seems to exist a lot of potential for further development of the integral system of thought. As well as, more generally speaking, a high potential for cultural encounter between the East, Europe (the “In-Between”, according to Rudolf Steiner; cf. Rudolf Steiner: Europe Between East and West, Collected Works No. 174a, Dornach 2002) and the West (or the Anglo-American world) with their different concepts of the similar.
Question: Exactly. To simply expand and export Wilber's approach to Europe, as he seems to plan currently for the coming years, will hardly be successful. Because Europe has a different background of integral history, a very rich and complex background since the 12th century. To make Wilber's integral – maybe the first truly subjective-objective! - approach work in Europe, he will have to rely on these historical currents of integrative European thought, to actively integrate them under the great password of “continuity and truth” which dominates the European history of ideas for centuries now.
Question: He will have to make his system more atlantic, so to say?
RB: Yes, at least to a certain extend. Maybe that's a conditio sine qua non if he wants to reach those leading thinkers he worships like Habermas which so far refuse to dialogue with him; and if he wants to reach and penetrate European academic culture in general. But of course, we cannot ask that Wilber does everything. Maybe it is our task to do the “Europeanisation” of Wilber for Europe, and the balancing of “pacific” and “atlantic” aspects in integral theory in general.
Question: Yes, that's what I think. Wilber is the pioneer, but his followers and successors will eventually decide what happens with his integral approach. The future of his pioneering approach may be not mainly his own task, but the task of younger people who sympathize with this approach, but handle it in a productively critical and pro-active manner.
RB: You are probably right.
Question: But is there only Wilber to mention, if we compare the Eastern and European-Western approaches to “the productive void” and to “nothingness”?
RB: Certainly not. There is not only Wilber. There are also some other examples of “subjective-objective” approaches which are conscious of the “double I” structure of modern man, which know what “deconstruction” means, and which try to move and make a step forward integrating Eastern and Western concepts and traditions. Cf., as one of the currently most eminent examples, A. H. Almaas (A. Hameed Ali), Luminous Night's Journey. An Autobiographical Fragment. Shambhala Publications, Boston 1995. The research here is only at the very first beginnings, if you look at the current scene in the USA and Europe as a whole. But it promises certainly a lot. For all of us.
Question: Right. It's interesting, because as I've been thinking of the perspectives of all this, it's going to be part of I was conceiving as the enlightenment tradition, the European-Western enlightenment tradition. During the French Revolution, part of the idea was to put the “Goddess of Reason”, the statue of the goddess of reason on the altar of every church. The “Goddess of Reason”! That already was kind of a “subjective-objective” approach, in a certain sense. But the modernist rational project has been, as you can see with totalitarianism, as you can see in a number of different ways modernity has unfolded, at least partially a failure. And it is partially in response to that failure that main postmodern thinkers, in their late works, were also sort of attacking their own reason, right? I think of what we said about Jean Francois Lyotard's “The soundproof room”, for instance.
RB: Yes. They were attacking their own reason. But that's not the main point, I think, in postmodernity. It is not the most important aspect what postmodern philosophy tries to achieve. Postmodern philosophy is less about attacking reason. At the contrary: It is much more about defending some basic aspects of modern secular reason, and it does it prevailingly with strictly nominalistic items. Postmodern philosophy – and postmodern thinking in general -, especially concerning the borderline-aspects of late postmodernity we talked of, is much ore about observing your own thoughts in the moment they are happening. It is about doubling your “I” - and about observing the thoughts produced by the ego from the position of the witness. And it is about not doing this observation diachronically, as modern rationality suggested, but synchronically. Do you understand what that means? That is a big, an enormous emancipative, forward pushing impulse, culturally and individually. At least in its positive potentials.
Question: We talked about it. But explain it once more to me, please. So that I can understand it better.
II: THE HIDDEN GOAL OF LATE POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHY: OBSERVING YOUR OWN THOUGHTS IN THE MOMENT THEY ARE HAPPENING
RB: Ok. Let's first resume shortly, what we saw so far. We saw: Postmodernism (or postmodern philosophy, to be more accurate) tries to teach you something that is, in many aspects, part of a second or avantgardistic wave of enlightenment. It tries to transform the traditional diachronic enlightenment into a synchronic enlightenment. The reason developed by modernity said: “First think, and then observe. Look back, what you thought, and you will see, what it really was. To see, what it was, is possible always only afterwards.” With other words: The howl of Minerva is always late (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel). But the new reason of “positive”, avantgardistic post-modernity says: “Think and observe your thinking at the same time.” Or as Derrida put it a dialogue done from his living room in Paris at my presence: “I watch tv, and at the same time I watch myself watching tv”. That synchronicity indeed is the postmodern mind at its highest level.
Question: That is deconstruction at the synchronistic level.
RB. Yes. Please keep in mind: If I speak of synchronicity in thinking and in (auto-)observing the thinking, then I speak of the ego which is observed synchronically by the witness. There are still few who can practice this. I speak, of course, of postmodernism on its potentially highest level.
RB: One of the core methodologies of postmodern didactics and paedagogics seems to be: Deconstruction wants to teach you how to observe the rising of your own reason, the origin of your own thoughts in the very moment when these thoughts are produced. (Cf. Jacques Derrida: Letter to a Japanese Friend, in: Wood & Bernasconi (ed.): Derrida and Difference. Warwick: Parousia Press 1985, pp. 1-5; Jacques Derrida: Qu'est-ce que la déconstruction?, in: Le Monde, Mardi, 12 octobre 2004, pp. III.) Even if it remains half conscious, the ultimate goal of the best parts of postmodernity is to transform the enlightenment of the first wave, as we knew it from Immanuel Kant, into an enlightenment of a second wave. Kant said: “Always first think, use our thought and when it is over, you can and must look back and see critically what it was.” (Cf. Jean Francois Lyotard: Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime: Kant's Critique of Judgment, Sections 23-29. Stanford University Press 1994; cf. Jacques Lacan: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book 11. W. W. Norton & Company 1998; Jacques Lacan: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960. W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition 1997; Slavoj Zizek: Tarrying With the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology. Duke University Press 1993). This was the “first wave” of enlightenment. What postmodernism is trying to teach us instead, is: “Give us a second enlightenment which is synchronistic! That means: Try to observe what and how you're thinking in the very moment you're doing it. Be self-conscious in every moment of your life! Be a double 'I', a double consciousness always – and rationally!” So this is, to a certain extend, a more evolved approach of the same basic characteristics of modernity. It is a second wave of modernity. A more evolved approach, as you can see, but also a more difficult and dangerous, of course. I agree that postmodernity was against a certain form of reason, a certain form of modernity. But this is not the main point. Because at the same time, Postmodernity had many things in common with modernity. In the end, the leading postmodern thinkers just wanted to make one step further. Beside all the provocations, besides the sometimes useless intellectual battles and the many misunderstandings. They basically wanted to proceed from diachronic to synchronic enlightenment – by the means of a “philosophical psychoanalysis of the ego”.
Question: Can you say more what the main achievements of postmodernity were being after modernity? Why was it necessary to create postmodernity? And where did it go so far, apparently?
RB: Hmm. That's a very complex question. Should I try to answer it?
Question: Yes, please.
RB: Ok. I'll try to give some indications, nothing more. The first indication may be: Modernity produced a consciousness which was rationally splitted between the objective world and my subjective feelings and thoughts. That rationality was called “objectivism”. (Cf. Ayn Rand and Harry Binswanger: Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: Expanded Second Edition. Plume 1990; Peikoff, Leonard: Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. The Ayn Rand Library, Volume 6. Plume, Reprint edition 1993; Ayn Rand and Harry Binswanger: The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z. Plume, Reprint edition 1988). Modernity had basically developed the viewpoint that there was an objective world outside, and the ego or the “I” was the one “inside” who had to read the meaning of that objective world - but, as Kant tried to teach us, without ever having structurally the possibility to reach the core or the last truth dimension of those things. You just can read what appears as phaenomena or appearances of things in your mind, but you can never reach the final reality of things itself. So there was a deep split first between subjectivity and the objective, and second between subjectivity and its own capacity of reaching the truth of the objective world. The whole modern world and its rationality was built on this double split, or on this kind of abyss between the “I”, its capacity of self-aware consciousness and the outer world.
RB: Ok. And one thing that postmodernism, from 1979 to 2001, tried to achieve, was to “deconstruct” this split: to see first where its unconscious origins and hidden causes: where the egoistic interests were, which created that split. And to show then how, in the end, there cannot be any such split, because observing your own thinking and acting, you can discover that your own consciousness, your own mind produces the world. Therefore, subjectivity and objectivity must be closely interrelated, if not: be structurally, in some strange way, the same creative flux and flow. Postmodern thinkers truly tried to show us that in the end, subject and object are far closer connected than modernity understood. (Cf. Richard Tarnas: Why Did the Modern Mind Disenchant the Cosmos? Videotape Series: The Cosmological Imagination. Transforming World Views for the Planetary Era, Conference Recording Service Inc., London 2002.)
RB: Because the subject creates the objective world - but is, ironically, at the same time itself created by objective, even if unconscious processes which are not separable from the genesis of its subjective “I” – like parent relations, cultural framework, education, life experiences, social class, gender, and so on.
Question: So postmodernists showed, willingly or unwillingly, that there is no such thing like the subject-object split as modernity conceived it? That would be revolutionary indeed. A surprising outcome of your research, indeed.
RB: Well, it's not my achievement at all. Richard Tarnas did that “discovery” a long time before. (Cf. Richard Tarnas: Why Did the Modern Mind Disenchant the Cosmos? Videotape Series: The Cosmological Imagination. Transforming World Views for the Planetary Era, Conference Recording Service Inc., London 2002). But yes, this outcome remains still surprising to many.
Question: Of course. It seems to open new land. It is surprising, because it seems to be a mainly “negative” (re-)conjunction between subject and object.
RB: Yes. There is at least a strong tendency in postmodern thinking to do this re-conjunction negatively. I guess that is what we can say, so far. Even if it is not fully made conscious in this thinking, and therefore remains a deeply ambivalent tendency, like everything else in postmodernism, it is there in the late works of the main postmodern thinkers we talked of.
Question: Would you, to clarify things further, once more explain why?
III: THE CORE PROCEEDING AND THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF LATE POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHY: INSPIRATION
RB: Let's put it this way: Postmodernist thinkers tried to make one step beyond modernity - to go one step further than classical modernity (which's reign ended, in a certain sense, with 1968, when the fundaments of emancipative postmodernity where laid). They tried to develop a more evolved way of being modern. They tried, as I said, to transform the first enlightenment into a second enlightenment: From a diachronic into a synchronistic, “doubled” consciousness of thinking - in the very moment it happens.
RB: As a postmodernist, you are, in every second, very critical towards your own thoughts, towards the contents of thinking you are producing. You are, in every moment, very sensitive about what is going on in your mind. You are sensitive about what is said by yourself; about what is said about yourself by the language you are using; about what you actually say; and about the hidden difference to what you really wanted to say with those words you were pronouncing. Jean Francois Lyotard called this “synchronistic” sensitivity a kind of “heightened sensitivity or attention” or a “strengthened aesthetic suspense of mind” - saying that it would be more a feeling or a basic human attitude in the “reign of the will” than a thought in the traditional sense. He said this sensitivity derived from “deconstructive” freedom (cf. Jean Francois Lyotard: Philosophy And Painting In Their Epoch Of Experiment, 1981. In: Andrew Benjamin, ed.: The Lyotard Reader, Blackwell 1989). And he said that this heightened sensitivity occurs in the very moment it is perceived by the subject. It is, by its basic characteristic, a self-conscious sensitivity of thinking, which he linked to the growing “erotization of the will” we talked of earlier. And indeed: That permanently self-conscious sensitivity towards the activities of your own mind is what postmodernity is about.
Question: Is seems to be a heightened sensitivity which is perceived by the subject as an “altered” state of its consciousness at the very moment it is occurring.
RB: Yes, exactly. Again: You have to see if you know that feeling by yourself. Than you know what is at stake here.
Question: Oh, I know that feeling very well, of course. Very well. It is my direct personal experience maybe not daily, but often. I just fall into that feeling, by accident, as it seems, sometimes, and sometimes I do not. Well, let's say I fall in it often. Often enough, in any case, to have a precise idea or “present memory” of what you are talking of.
RB: Ok. Now, the important thing is that postmodern philosophy made of this feeling (or altered, synchronic sensitivity) a whole cultural paradigm, a whole socio-political program and the core goal of the enlightend emancipation of the subject in general. It is very important to take that aspect in consideration, in order to avoid falling into the prejudice that postmodern thinking is about critizising reason. Yes, it is, to a certain extend. But the main focus is on the “doubling” or “making synchronistic” of the self-aware mind.
Question: How should we call this kind of altered state of mind? How to put it in one word, which could resume the whole idea in one unique concept?
RB: I think you can call such a synchronically heightened attention, which feels like a “permanent origin out of itself” (Jean Gebser) - an inspiration. Inspiration: That is the true name for that state of mind. Inspiration, from my point of view, is the congenial state of mind of postmodernity.
Question: Yes. Sounds very interesting. Could you give me some more indications about this, please?
RB: As especially Rudolf Steiner showed us in his “essential ontology” of modern individuality and its core potentials of rational evolution of consciousness, the state of mind of inspiration is characterized by the following facts:
1. That consciousness discovers itself as pre-conceptual and pre-formal “beingness”. Steiner describes this “pre-egoistic” “beingness” in very similar words as Jean Francois Lyotard described the “altered aesthetic” state of “intensity, sublimity and occurrence” which can have a kathartic effect on the subject.
2. Inspiration is characterized by the absence of an object, at which the still pre-conceptual, “living attention” of consciousness usually is immediately directed, with which it usually identifies pre-critically, and from which it is literally “absorbed” in daily life - so that pre-conceptual and pre-objective consciousness forgets about itself.
3. Instead of an object of attention, in the state of inspiration there is a strenghtend awareness of the own creative attention process which constructs every object and every content of thought in every instant here and now (cf. Rudolf Steiner: The Levels Of Higher Cognition: Imagination – Inspiration – Intuition. Collected Works No. 12, Dornach 1986).
Because of these core characteristics, the state of mind of inspiration, according to Steiner, seems to have some “parental” relationships with two central cognitive proceedings of the postmodern subject (even if those proceedings, as I said, remain, so far, in most cases pre- or subconscious, and are not fully reflected, but only instinctively done by postmodern philosophy and its core method of deconstruction):
- Inspiration coincides with the proceeding of “the self-awareness of the idea in the very moment it is being born”, which is the core presumption for a “free subject”. Because “the (postmodern) subject must simultaneously contrapose itself to the idea which is raising in its mind and thus observe it in the very moment it occurs; if not, the subject falls under the reign of the idea and becomes unfree” (cf. the “bible of postmodern anarchism”: Rudolf Steiner: The Philosophy Of Freedom. Principles Of A Modern World View, 1894. In: Collected Works No. 4, Dornach 1997).
- Inspiration coincides with observing the permanent emergence of the “living sphere” of the “individual moral intuition” as core experience of a “higher self” or “witness” parallel to my ego - with “this inner voice that the subject has to identify with free conscience”. (Cf. Steiner, ibid.; cf. Erich Fromm: Beyond Illusions. The importance of Marx and Freud, Munich 1989; cf. Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Moral Judgment in a Postmodern World. In: What Is Enlightenment, Issue 24: Morality Bites! Searching for Ethics in a Postmodern Age, February-April 2004).
So summing up, you could say that, if we try to put the whole core proceeding and methodology, but also the problem and goal of postmodern englightenment into one single concept, into one signal word, than we should choose “Inspiration”. Postmodernity is about the state of mind of “Inspiration”, because “Inspiration” is congenial to “deconstruction”. Inspiration is the result of deconstruction – a pure flux and flow of a mind which became conscious of its own pre-conceptual life-stream and concept-building “happening”. That exactly is, what postmodern philosophy, at least in its late period, was (and is) about, with its whole heart and soul - but still without knowing fully what it is doing and what it is searching for.
RB: Inspiration is a “different” (or différend, as Jean Francois Lyotard said) kind of aesthetic, a different kind of feeling, a different kind of approach to reality – and, first of all, it is a different approach towards your normal ego, towards yourself. That approach is not anti-rational or irrational, not at all. Instead, it is another form, in my opinion, a more evolved form of rationality. At least in its goals, in what it wants. And at least in those crucial dimensions of “borderline rationality” which some of the main postmodern thinkers, in their late works, tried to evoke and to understand. This kind of “sensitive” or “perceiving” rationality seems to lead almost necessarily to a certain point beyond modern rationality, but always hoping that it could include the best of it and enlarge it into a broader horizon. It seems to lead from the “splitted” rationality of modernity to a kind of “double-I”- (or ego/witness-) rationality of postmodernity. It seems to lead to a certain dimension of “witness” rationality in the form of Inspiration, so to say. And exactly this may be one possibility of a sustainable bridge between the European-Western concepts of “the productive void” of Postmodernity on the one hand and the Eastern concepts of “nothingness” at the other hand.