A POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHICAL AND EDUCATIONAL AGENDA
Glen T. Martin
19 December 2006
The world of the late 20th century is characterized by “global problems” which threaten the quality as well as the very existence of human life on our planet. There is a growing common awareness that we are facing the immanent destruction of our planetary environment, that we face a world wide trade in weapons of mass destruction, including the deployment of massive numbers of nuclear weapons, and that our would is characterized by masses of impoverished and marginalized human beings struggling for the most rudimentary survival in a global capitalist system which has institutionalized both structural exploitation and violent suppression of the majority of the world’s population.
What “agendas for enduring peace” can philosophy entertain in the face of such overwhelming, seemingly world-historical forces? Philosophy’s traditional role of abstract and detached knowing must certainly have long ago been replaced by the truths of Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach: that philosophy must aim toward transforming the world. Yet it is not clear that either abstract knowledge, nor institutional critique alone can transform a world in which human greed, hate, compulsion, and fear seem to arise from what appear to be unknowable and incomprehensible depths within the human psyche. The transformation called for by both philosophical wisdom and human compassion would seem to require not only transformation of the institutions of war, exploitation, and oppression which dominate our planet, but spiritual transformation of that tormented psyche that appears to reciprocally arise from, as well as perpetuate, our violent planetary condition.
Yet, perhaps it is not correct to characterize the traditional role of philosophy as “abstract and detached knowing.” For many great philosophers have recognized the necessity of just such a spiritual transformation of human life as inseparable from the possibility of a just and peaceful world. The obvious transformative orientation of such eastern thinkers as the Hindu Sankara, the Buddhist Nagarjuna, or the Zen Master Dogen can be complemented by the work of many central thinkers in the Western tradition: Socrates, in the Apology, attempting to “wake up” his fellow citizens to what truly matters in life, Plato of the Republic, seeking a “conversion of the soul” from darkness to light, Augustine, attempting to find the source of rest for the “restless” human heart, Spinoza, leading men from bondage to freedom and “blessedness,” Kant, placing men back at the spiritual center of the universe, Nietzsche, attempting the revaluation of all values, and Wittgenstein, attempting to free us from “the darkness of these times.” My suggestion here is that any philosophical agenda for enduring peace will have to combine critical social critique with the drive for spiritual transformation, that there can be no peace on our planet until we have sufficiently realized the complementary transformations of both aspects of our planetary human condition.
A. THE EROS FOR BEING AND TRADITIONAL METAPHYSICS
By “integral liberation” I mean our intuitive sense that human beings are “unfinished” animals, beings on the way into a future with a tremendous potential for becoming more fully human in a perpetual transformation toward ever deeper realization of our possibilities of being-in-the-world. I also mean this to include reflection on a liberation which includes the social, economic, and political dimensions of our being as well as its spiritual, religious, or philosophical dimensions. Ultimately, I wish to suggest these diverse aspects of a possible “liberation” cannot be separated from one another.
Introduction to philosophy courses often begin with Socrates. One might call Socrates the ultimate philosopher and educator: a master at bringing out of others both the beginnings of wisdom and a longing for that wisdom which constitutes human fulfillment and liberation. This wisdom, which is also virtue (arete) cannot be taught, according to Socrates, it must be brought out through a process which involves awakening in the student a deep eros for that beauty and goodness and fullness of being which constitute both human fulfillment and the meaning of the human project.
Philosophy is therefore understood as a lifelong eros for wisdom. A perpetual examination of self and others, always challenging the stagnation and spiritual death that results from thinking one knows when one does not know. Hence, philosophy for Socrates is a process, not sophia but philo-sophia, and philosophers are always on the way, as the Symposium has it, between the mortal and the divine. The goal of this Socratic quest is not just any knowledge, but a wisdom comprehending the integration of being and value, and which portends our metaphysical destiny and eventual fulfillment of our humanity. For Socrates, to enter upon this path is to wake up to what it means to be human: to be on the path is itself arete or virtue.
The subsequent history of western philosophy creates from this initial inspiration a strange duality. On the one hand, many great philosophers saw philosophy as a path towards wisdom. On the other hand, the path and process of philosophy became subordinate to the reified and substantialized goal of this process: a conception of being over and against becoming. A timeless, ahistorical metaphysical reality arose whose predicates contradicted and devalued the temporal and historical processes which characterize concretely lived human life.
Both the rise of science with its “Copernican principle” that there is no privileged position in the universe and a growing insight into the historical and contingent nature of thought led the modern world of the 19th and 20th centuries to radically question the static metaphysical formulations of traditional philosophy. Human beings are now left with a merely contingent process of thinking and being: we challenge the idea that there are atemporal truths independent of the social, cultural, economic, and existential forms which constitute the very substance of both our thinking and the expression of our being-in-the-world.
Indeed, the postmodern world moves towards deconstructing all logo-centric narratives and leaving us with what could seem like a rootless relativism where all meaning and value are seen to be merely subjective, and hence unworthy of educators to discuss. Postmodernism, as Huston Smith puts it, “rejects all worldviews” and instead “offers us reality as kaleidoscopic.” Nietzsche called this collapse of western metaphysical presuppositions due to a realization of the ultimate consequences of science and Kantian critical philosophy by the name of “nihilism.” And Wittgenstein offers us an understanding of all language and meaning as being ontologically groundless, rooted in forms of life and language-games in terms of which traditional metaphysics is seen as “nonsense.”
The one-dimensional positivism fostered by technological society, which systematically excludes all value considerations from the realm of authentic knowledge, is beginning to collapse in a “fog” of deconstructed narratives, none of which can claim ontological or epistemological superiority. Even though postmodernism claims, as Huston Smith points out, to be on the side of human liberation, in practice it seems to have nothing to offer to replace the oppressive positivism of the modern world.
B. THE 21st CENTURY AS TURNING POINT
It is the contention of this paper that postmodernism has not yet gone far enough. It has not yet seen the ultimate implications of the deconstruction of all onto-theological conceptual systems, implications which dispel the fog of relativism and bring us for the first time into the clear light of a restored human situation. By systematically showing that all theories of grounding for language or knowledge break down under scrutiny, postmodernism has put us on the way to recognizing what Wittgenstein called the “limits of language.”
Deconstruction does not simply show the relativity of all narratives to one another and the impossibility of establishing a metanarrative. Rather, it confronts us with the astonishing fact that we are beings in a world, beings immersed in constant interaction with this world, whose every articulation of that world is epistemologically and metaphysically groundless. It confronts us with the incredible realization that there is no way to ground language or meanings in the world that confronts and surrounds us.
Our astonishment is not lessened as it begins to dawn on us that the immediacy of our experience of this world is in principle unsayable: it cannot be gotten into language. Perspectivism and relativism dominate our vision of the human situation as long as we remain trapped in the net of language, unable to see clearly this unsayable immediacy, the “suchness” (tathata) of the phenomena in which we participate in the intensity of present experience.
If philosophy is the attempt to see the human situation clearly, coupled with the drive for fulfillment and realization of our humanity, then this postmodern critique of language moves toward recognizing those dimensions of experience which cannot be gotten into language. All narratives about our human situation become relative to one another in the absence of any ontologically grounded metanarrative, but that fulfillment and seeing clearly toward which philosophy tends results, not in the giving up of language, nor necessarily even of metaphysical language, but with the inclusion within language of an awareness of the unsayable depths of existence, the overwhelming ecstatic silence of the immediate present, which represents, as Nishitani Keiji points out, the ultimate source “where not only poetry, but also religion, philosophy, and morality originate.”
Spiritual traditions such as Buddhism have long recognized the need for an existential and meditative practice designed to bring people out of ego-centric consciousness towards a non-verbal intuitive wisdom (prajna) in which the subject-object structure of experience and apprehension is transcended. At the same time Buddhism has developed philosophical expressions as aids to this liberating experience which show marked similarities to contemporary process philosophy. Nolan Pliny Jacobson has demonstrated these correspondences at some length. Speaking of “the confluence of these two traditions,” he writes: “Buddhism is the first orientation in history to suggest that ultimate reality – what is ‘really real’ – is social in the deepest sense. Nothing is independent of its contemporaries; nothing endures in its present form forever; everything is a creative part of the organic unity of the world.”
From a different direction, process philosopher and theologian John B. Cobb, Jr. has shown that it is not only legitimate but compelling to see, as the title of his book indicates, “Process Theology as Political Theology.” Referring affirmatively to Delwin Brown’s “doctrine of God as a ‘lure toward freedom’, doctrine of sin as ‘the denial of freedom’…, and a soteriology as ‘the future of freedom’,” Cobb remarks that “Whitehead’s philosophy…far from offering an antithetical direction for theology, can deepen and ground the central commitment to liberation….The weakness of recent process theology,” he continues, “is that the discussion of freedom remains somewhat abstract in relation to actual practice in political life.”
Cobb speaks here of his realization “that the whole human race [is] on a collision course with disaster” as the root of his move to political theology. In a similar spirit, it is possible to see the 20th and 21st centuries as a potential turning point in human life on planet earth. Either we continue on our “collision course with disaster” or we discover a new mode of being-in-the-world beyond the murderous dualisms and relations of objectification that now inform much of human life and society. It is this sense of urgency that requires process philosophy to reformulate its notions of temporal openness and creative journeying into a future of novel emergent nows into a more concrete vision of the possibilities of a human liberation that seems, in some sense, just beyond our present historical reach.
With the clear capacity of technological knowledge to feed, clothe, provide health care and education to every person on the planet, and with a growing understanding of both the limitations of the “modern paradigm” and the direction in which we must move to realize more fully the highest possibilities of our humanity, the vision becomes possible, perhaps for the first time in history, of a world characterized by peace, justice, freedom, and community. But to pass through the suicidal darkness in which the modern world seems trapped requires that we envision a liberation that is integral and deals with the whole human being: social, political, economic, cultural, and spiritual. Such a vision would require a community of thought and action between those, such as process or comparative philosophers, who are philosophically articulating a transformed future and social thinkers like neo-Marxists who are struggling in solidarity with the disenfranchised majority of human beings to realize a more human economic and social order.
As Cobb suggests: “From Marxism process theology can learn the importance of critical analysis of the interests that arise within the situation and of the way that the social situation controls thinking which does not become self-critical.” Unless our own thinking includes a politically self-critical dimension, it will tend to be submerged, or perhaps co-opted, by the massive ideological and paradigmatic forces defining present social reality. In a world characterized by pervasive oppression and injustice, critical theory becomes an essential aspect of postmodern philosophizing.
The development of a transformed “future planetary civilization,” according to Jacobson, is not primarily thwarted by infamous warring nation states of the 20th century, but rather by “the kind of selfhood in which the terrors of the modern nation are rooted. It is the archaic legacy of a self-substance, mutually independent of all others, which supports the entire superstructure of Western nations.” Here lies a recognition that social and political oppression have an identical root with the spiritual bondage and ignorance (avidya) identified in Buddhism. Similarly, Paulo Freire’s analysis in Pedagogy of the Oppressed understands the “oppressor consciousness” as a subjectivity that finds its reason for being precisely in domination and possession of objects.
It would seem that the consciousness fostered by modern capitalism represents ultimate embodiment of an egoistic dualistic consciousness. Freire writes that “For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more – always more- even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have and to be the class of haves.” The structure of egoistic desires, cravings, and compulsions, combated in the Buddhist tradition for 2500 years, culminates in a commercial culture whose mass media systematically cultivate greed and envy, a process in which, E.F. Schumacher writes, “the inevitable result is nothing less than a collapse of intelligence” and the destruction of “man’s freedom.”
For Freire, the social and economic relations that characterize the contemporary world dehumanize both the haves and the have nots. And these lead to a distorted consciousness on the part of both. Just as the oppressed are treated as objects, rather than persons, and come to a sense of their own worthlessness so the oppressors are similarly dehumanized through being cut off from our common vocation of becoming ever more fully human, a vocation for which freedom is “an indispensable condition.”
Mysticism in general and the Buddhist tradition in particular question the ultimacy and the substantiality of ego-consciousness. These traditions see human fulfillment in a “holistic consciousness” free from both the inner as well as the outer split. The subject-object structure of consciousness is seen to be a limited form of human awareness containing internal divisions which militate against true realization of our human possibilities. In ego-consciousness, the ego knows itself as subjective freedom and yet at the same time given to itself in self-awareness as object. Just as the ego finds the world as object for its subjectivity, so it finds itself in the same fashion.
The ego is internally split as object to itself as well as subject for itself. In the drive for fulfillment and realization, the ego attempts to satisfy its desires (tanha) through the process of becoming. Believing it possesses itself through being conscious of itself as object, the ego struggles or fulfillment though this self-object by striving for a self-identity connected with various objectifications of itself as reflected, for example in “wealth, power, prestige, masculinity, femininity, knowledge, moral perfection, artistic creativity, physical beauty, popularity, individuality, or success.” It ultimately desires an objectivized identity while at the same time retaining its freedom as subject.
Under the illusion that it can “have” or possess its own being, the ego finds its relationships with the world structured similarly. The world as object provides the possibility for the seeming enhancement of the ego as subjectivity through its ability to be possessed and turned into a thing. The drive towards material possession and control, while devastating to the welfare of both other human beings and nature, is derivative from the ability to possess the world through the subject-object relationship: to treat people, plants, animals, and other beings as things to be manipulated, as objects possessed by my subjectivity. Ego-consciousness, with its perpetual internal divisions and frustrations is forever bound to the wheel of suffering (dukkha), never knowing the condition of true “peace,”” the first effect” of which, according to Whitehead, is “the removal of stress of acquisitive feeling arising from the soul’s preoccupation with itself.”
C. THE CENTRAL CRITERION OF LIBERATION
Liberation from the bondage of ego-consciousness results in a transformed way of being human characterized by compassion. It is a mode of being free of this “acquisitive feeling” with its tendency to dehumanize others through objectifying them in an “I-it” relationship. Only when an assumed metaphysical difference between myself and others is dropped can the sense of shared being, oneness, arise which Buddhism calls the “great compassion” (mahakaruna). Compassion here is to be carefully distinguished from pity, an emotion which retains the difference between the pitied and the one who pities.
Compassion, rather, arises from what Matthew Fox calls “suspended egos” together in a sense of shared oneness and mutual relatedness which becomes the basis of all human justice and the possibility of liberation. Charles Hartshorne affirms the relation of compassion with Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves. The “Buddhist-Whiteheadian view” that human beings do not exist as separate substantial egos, he says, “makes it possible literally to love the other as oneself.” To love another as oneself means the suspension of ego-centeredness with its assumption of the metaphysical priority of one’s own subjectivity which views the other first as object, and then feels it must “infer” that the other has feelings, feels pain, or experiences despair. When we no longer see human life as the competition of billions of ego substances existing in a brutal struggle for survival and ascendancy, a new way of being-in-the world shows up in which, literally, the sufferings of others become my sufferings.
Similarly, the neo-Marxist struggle for human liberation is rooted in compassion, the sense of shared being. In his discussion of “the Frankfurt School” of social theory, Henry A. Giroux states that “it strongly supported the assumption that the basis for thought and action should be grounded, as Marcuse argued just before his death, “in compassion, [and] in our sense of the sufferings of others.” Perhaps another expression of this sense of shared being is the experience and affirmation of “solidarity,” an important term in contemporary liberation theology and affirmed as well in the political theology of John Cobb, Jr. Just as we have seen Charles Hartshorne affirm the relation between compassion and Christian agape, so Paulo Freire affirms the relation between solidarity and love:
…True solidarity with the oppressed means fighting at their side to transform the objective reality which has made them these “beings for another.” The oppressor is in solidarity with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor – when he stops making pious, sentimental, and individualistic gestures and risks an act of love. True solidarity is found only in the plenitude of this act of love, in its existentiality, in its praxis. To affirm that men are persons and as persons should be free, and yet do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce.
This “art of loving,” Jacobson writes, is directly related to the “penetration of all the egocentered compulsive drives and delusions that prevent men and women from participating in the fullness of experience…. It is the art of responsible caring which involves the uprooting of the false self and its alienated social reality….”
By contrast, the discussion of the “Moral Basis of Process Education” by Oliver and Gershman in their book Education, Modernity, and Fractured Meaning, does not use the words “compassion,” “solidarity,” or “love.” Yet the center of process morality as they characterize it is in harmony with the mystical sense of shared being expressed by these three terms. Rather than another abstract theory of morality, these authors stress relationships that arise out of the sense that “we all have a common being.” They call this sense of common being “mystical unity” or “implicate connectedness” and characterize it as the realization that “all share participation in a universal and interconnected nature so that none and nothing is separate and cut apart.”
This is an appropriate expression of the compassion that arises spontaneously with liberation from ego-centric consciousness. Yet this marvelous book seems to lack a concrete sense of the transformative possibilities toward human liberation currently confronting human life on our planet. After Oliver and Gershman provide a penetrating investigation of the non-verbal, intuitive sense of interrelatedness of all things that seems to have characterized many “primitive” peoples, a sense singularly lacking in modern consciousness, and after expressing the insight that “process [philosophy] sees nature [and hence human nature] as essentially incomplete,” the moral force of a process view of the world is characterized as “a generosity of heart and generality of concern as we enter into and participate within occasion.” But a realization of our ontological solidarity with all life and, indeed, all nature points beyond traditional “generosity” to the possibility of a new completeness in our human being, the movement to a new level, as Freire puts it, of being more fully human.
The drive towards spiritual liberation, which has always characterized the world’s great mystical traditions, is a drive towards a fundamental transformation of our being-in-the-world. The process of overcoming of ego-centric consciousness (a consciousness not only reflected in the modern paradigm) brings us towards a fundamentally new level of awareness which is simultaneously a culmination and fulfillment of our humanity and the beginning of a perpetual journeying into a creative and open future. The term for this realization of shared being is not “generosity of heart” but total “compassion,” a term which in fact goes beyond all moral theorizing precisely because it involves direct, existential realization of new possibilities of being human. Compassion, solidarity, and love characterize the path as well as the goal in our drive towards an integral liberation which includes not only spiritual freedom but also a world-wide struggle for social, political, and economic liberation.
D. FOUR PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHICAL AND EDUCATIONAL PRAXIS
John Cobb’s book Process Theology as Political Theology sees God’s power in the universe as “persuasive power.” Similarly, in political life he stresses that we must “construct institutions that encourage persuasive relationships” and ourselves “affect the course of events creatively, and that means by persuasion.” In a similar spirit, Paulo Freire points out that “propaganda, management, manipulation – all forms of domination – cannot be instruments of… rehumanization.” Only “a permanent relationship of dialogue” can truly effect human liberation. It follows that the first point of a philosophical and educational praxis must be conscious realization on the part of philosophers, as with all philosophical teachers and students, that philosophical discussion, in and out of the classroom, is a truly unique mode of discourse.
With no place for ideology, pious emotions, or dogma, philosophical discussion revolves around authentic dialogue and the process of human beings struggling for truth, wisdom, and human fulfillment. It may be that philosophers, like their predecessor Socrates, are teachers and learners par excellence in that we are always on our way towards wisdom and transformation. Philosophy itself is a guide for praxis and an agenda for enduring peace in so far as it represents an inherently anti-dogmatic way of life, ever examining its self and others through participation in a perpetually emergent future. The process which is philosophy is forever in anticipation of an enlarged, and possibly transformed, future. Global peace can only arise from this mode of educational and philosophical praxis: “dialogical praxis.”
Secondly, the authentic philosophical life, like the post-modern classroom, must be informed by a spirit of living “critical consciousness.” It is not necessary that any particular critical theory, say that of Habermas or Marcuse, be used in the classroom, nor in professional discourse, certainly not in any dogmatic fashion. Rather, critical theory (or “critical praxis”) must be present in its broadest sense as a critique of our present institutions and ideologies of domination and dehumanization generated through what might be defined as an “awareness of the possibilities of human liberation.”
This would involve awareness that oppression does not simply characterize third world communities where routine first world economic decisions cause immeasurable suffering among millions of marginally existing poor. But also of the dehumanization fostered by affluent modern technological societies in which massive economic interests manipulate public desires, opinions, and needs to produce a one-dimensional consciousness which is the antithesis of a creative, liberated human being growing towards fuller realization of his or her humanity.
The consciousness produced by technological capitalist society involves a distorted set of compulsions ever striving for unattainable fulfillment through useless consumption and possession, and whose self-alienated focus on “having” rather than “being” results in an objectivization and dehumanization of the masses of oppressed and suffering human beings worldwide. The attitude of not caring, and not wanting to know about the results of one’s country’s economic, political, and military policies that characterizes the citizens of the affluent first world is not an innate feature of “selfish” human nature but a manifestation of their own oppression by the manipulative structures of liberal capitalist society. Cobb affirms this need for the educational process to liberate consciousness: “If those of us engaged in teaching the privileged are to justify our work,” he writes, “it cannot be only by claiming that we enrich the experience of our students.
That enrichment must be an appropriate enrichment, one that arouses an awareness of the real situation of the world and elicits solidarity with the oppressed.” In the classroom, as in the study, a vision of possible human liberation becomes a necessary aspect of the dialogic quest for truth and truthfulness, a necessary antidote to the institutionalized pressures pervasive in the culture at large, including the mass media. A concomitant of such a critical awareness might well be a practice of deconstruction of modern culture’s ideology and manipulative structures by exposing the hidden assumptions never expressed in the overt rhetoric of society.
The third principle of philosophical and educational praxis is perhaps inseparable in practice from each of the above: both thinking and teaching must include articulation of the path and the goal of human liberation (“utopian praxis”). This need not be dogmatically expressed but might be explored in diverse ways, from discussion of the development of a genuinely historical consciousness, to the exploration, as Oliver and Gershman suggest, of comparative cosmological paradigms and their consequences for the quality of human being-in-the-world, to dialogue concerning what constitutes authentic human freedom and fulfillment. An integral part of this vision might well be the understanding of the human project as a self-correcting process, and exploration of a non-metaphysical model of this process of being human which is in fundamental harmony with the scientific method.
The concept of “utopia,” so readily dismissed by the proponents of institutionalized domination who masquerade as political or economic “realists,” need not be viewed naively as a dogmatic terminus of history. “Utopia” can rather function as a symbolic shorthand for the ever present possibilities, immanent within concrete experience, for lives of ever greater fullness, sensitivity, and depth. Added to a praxis of dialogue and openness, and the praxis of critical engagement with institutionalized domination, must be a praxis which articulates and explores the utopian possibilities for global peace and justice inherent in the structure of everyday life and experience.
A final aspect of philosophical and educational praxis directed toward integral liberation is a Socratic practice of self-examination aimed not only at arousing the sense of incompleteness with its concomitant eros for the fullness of being but also aimed at deconstruction of the egoistic self with its pretensions to self-sufficiency and metaphysical priority over all other selves (a “praxis of non-dual realization”). We have seen Jacobson and others identify this self as the root inhibitor of the process of self-transformation toward liberation. Only a future world community governed or regulated from an awareness beyond the bifurcated self can deal with the seemingly insurmountable problems we now face. The solution to our global problems is, in one fundamental aspect, neither technological nor commercial, but rather human and existential. As Jiddu Krishnamurti points out:
The problem of the “me” and the “mine” is one in which we are all involved. It is really the only problem we have, and we are everlastingly talking about it in different ways….
Although in some countries there is a fair degree of prosperity, throughout the world there is still hunger, starvation, and millions of human beings have insufficient clothing and no proper place to sleep. And how is fundamental reformation to take place without creating more chaos, more misery and strife?….
Surely, it is the function of education, whether in the small school or in the large university, to tackle this problem, not abstractly, theoretically, not merely by philosophizing or writing books about it, but by actually facing it in order to find out how to solve it.
When the problem of the bifurcated self is resolved, a new dimension of our humanity is realized which can be characterized as right action arising from a non-attached love free of the “me” and the “mine.” It is the function of an integral philosophical and educational praxis to help people thus solve our human problems by becoming ever more fully human.
Existential practices and meditations designed through centuries of experience, such as those of the Buddhist tradition, may help free us from bondage to the conscious ego and its desires. Yet even in the absence of these, the philosophical life, like the classroom, must be a locus for pointing to the unsayable immediacy in gesture, word, and deed. A thinker or teacher in the process of struggling for a liberating participation in that “fullness-emptiness” beyond dualistic consciousness, can point to this process of awakening in him or her self as well as in the often unrecognized experiences of people in all walks of life. A philosopher’s writings, deeds, or pedagogical practices can also provide, as a background to all thought and discussion, an awareness of the absolute mystery of existence that confronts us at every moment of our lives. The philosophical and educational processes of thinking ultimately must not exclude the processes of direct, precognitive realization inherent in the potential of every human being.
As with the critical struggle against the nightmarish institutional and military violence of late, post-industrial capitalism, this “spiritual” aspect of liberation is not a private goal to be realized outside the global human community. Integral liberation involves the very core of what it means to be human, inclusive of our cultural, institutional, rational, personal, and spiritual dimensions. Ultimately dialogical praxis, critical praxis, utopian praxis, the praxis of non-dual realization cannot be separated from one another. The distinction between institutional liberation and spiritual liberation is a false dualism. No effective “agenda” for enduring peace can prescribe concrete actions apart from an integral transformation of all aspects of our being-in-the-world. Yet the possibilities for this transformation are not far away in some dreamy “utopian” future. They are immanent in the very structure of present experience. Integral liberation is the heart of any authentic agenda for enduring peace.