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Re: Theos-World Bringing Power to Planning Research

Sep 30, 2009 08:13 AM
by Morten Nymann Olesen

I wonder...

About Bent Flyvbjerg:
"Flyvbjerg has worked as a consultant to government, regulators, corporations, banks, national audit offices, the EU Commission, and the United Nations. He has been adviser to the UK, Dutch, and Danish governments in formulating national policies for infrastructure, environment, transportation, and science."

I find it a bit difficult to grasp how this relates to TS ideas and Adyar?

H. P. Blavatsky said:
..."your vaunted progress and civilization are no better than a host of will-o'-the-wisps, flickering over a marsh which exhales a poisonous and deadly miasma."

The same can with a certain kind of truth be said of the present globe and its sad tendencies in the area of what most people in their minds tend to call PROGRESS.


H. P. Blavatsky said:
"ENQUIRER. Then let us begin with the first. What means would you resort to, in order to promote such a feeling of brotherhood among races that are known to be of the most diversified religions, customs, beliefs, and modes of thought?

THEOSOPHIST. Allow me to add that which you seem unwilling to express. Of course we know that with the exception of two remnants of racesâthe Parsees and the Jewsâevery nation is divided, not merely against all other nations, but even against itself. This is found most prominently among the so-called civilized Christian nations. Hence your wonder, and the reason why our first object appears to you a Utopia. Is it not so?

ENQUIRER. Well, yes; but what have you to say against it?

THEOSOPHIST. Nothing against the fact; but much about the necessity of removing the causes which make Universal Brotherhood a Utopia at present. "

"ENQUIRER. What are, in your view, these causes?

THEOSOPHIST. First and foremost, the natural selfishness of human nature. This selfishness, instead of being eradicated, is daily strengthened and stimulated into a ferocious and irresistible feeling by the present religious education, which tends not only to encourage, but positively to justify it. People's ideas about right and wrong have been entirely perverted by the literal acceptance of the Jewish Bible. All the unselfishness of the altruistic teachings of Jesus has become merely a theoretical subject for pulpit oratory; while the precepts of practical selfishness taught in the Mosaic Bible, against which Christ so vainly preached, have become ingrained into the innermost life of the Western nations. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" has come to be the first maxim of your law. Now, I state openly and fearlessly, that the perversity of this doctrine and of so many others >Theosophy alone< can eradicate. " (Arrows added to empahsize italics).

Capitalism and greed interfers all over the globe these days. This is the real state of things.
To conquer this greed we need other educational systems and an accept of that Science already operates in Paradigm, which daily have a tendency of shifting away from Capitalism and greed, as well as the terrible idea of human made laws and sentences within "so-called" democracies or other political systems.

H. P. Blavatsky said:
"ENQUIRER. But how does Theosophy explain the common origin of man?

 THEOSOPHIST. By teaching that the root of all nature, objective and subjective, and everything else in the universe, visible and invisible, is, was, and ever will be one absolute essence, from which all starts, and into which everything returns. This is Aryan philosophy, fully represented only by the Vedantins, and the Buddhist system. With this object in view, it is the duty of all Theosophists to promote in every practical way, and in all countries, the spread of non-sectarian education. "
"ENQUIRER. How? Do you expect that your doctrines could ever take hold of the uneducated masses, when they are so abstruse and difficult that well-educated people can hardly understand them?

THEOSOPHIST. You forget one thing, which is that your much-boasted modern education is precisely that which makes it difficult for you to understand Theosophy. Your mind is so full of intellectual subtleties and preconceptions that your natural intuition and perception of the truth cannot act. It does not require metaphysics or education to make a man understand the broad truths of Karma and Reincarnation. Look at the millions of poor and uneducated Buddhists and Hindoos, to whom Karma and re-incarnation are solid realities, simply because their minds have never been cramped and distorted by being forced into an unnatural groove. They have never had the innate human sense of justice perverted in them by being told to believe that their sins would be forgiven because another man had been put to death for their sakes. And the Buddhists, note well, live up to their beliefs without a murmur against Karma, or what they regard as a just punishment; whereas the Christian populace neither lives up to its moral ideal, nor accepts its lot contentedly. Hence murmuring, and dissatisfaction, and the intensity of the struggle for existence in Western lands.

ENQUIRER. But this contentedness, which you praise so much, would do away with all motive for exertion and bring progress to a stand-still.

THEOSOPHIST. And we, Theosophists, say that your vaunted progress and civilization are no better than a host of will-o'-the-wisps, flickering over a marsh which exhales a poisonous and deadly miasma. This, because we see selfishness, crime, immorality, and all the evils imaginable, pouncing upon unfortunate mankind from this Pandora's box which you call an age of progress, and increasing pari passu with the growth of your material civilization. At such a price, better the inertia and inactivity of Buddhist countries, which have arisen only as a consequence of ages of political slavery. " (p. 44, 245-248).

M. Sufilight

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Govert Schuller 
  Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 9:54 PM
  Subject: Theos-World Bringing Power to Planning Research

    Dear all,

  Just found (and immersed myself into) the work of a social scientist, Bent Flyvbjerg, with both a pragmatic hands-on attitude and a grounding in post-modern philosophy of power.

  His research is quite impactful in the the field of organizational planning, especially urban development, and on a more theoretical level. His 'best-seller' is "Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How it Can Succeed Again."

  His relevance to us is twofold:

  1) His research might help to understand some of the processes going on with the development of the roads and high-ways possibly on and around Adyar, and based on that understanding, to be more effective in having our voice heard.

  2) His research is eminently applicable to the TS and that on any level. He beliefs in the values of democratic participation and transparency, but sees the need of an analysis of power as it is actually yielded and the relations it engenders. One of his main concerns is the relation between rationality and power regardless of the often fine sounding norms and ideals an organization might trumpet. 

  He caught my attention because of the term 'phronetic planning research,' which is how he calls his method. Pronesis is one of Aristotle's 'intellectual virtues,' meaning prudence, or applied wisdom (Sophia: with Sophia being knowledge about the eternal laws of our being and Phronesis being the skill to live virtuously in an ever changing context), or savoir vivre, or situational, circumspective, deliberative, interpretative, authentic, temporal care of our Dasein (be-ing-t/here). 

  The last string of terms comes from Heidegger, who did an in-depth, sustained phenomenological deconstruction of Aristotole's philosophy including the virtue of phronesis. According to some Division B of Heidegger's opus magnum "Being and Time" is one long phenomenological 'un-packing' of human phronetic action seen as situational, circumspective, deliberative, interpretative, authentic, temporal care of our Dasein.

  The first article is about how he got engaged in his field of research and is very enlightening, especially regarding his methodology.

  The second article is a longer, more abstract venture into a philosophical and pragmatic underpinning of his methodology. 

  Bringing Power to Planning Research: One Researcher's Praxis Story
  By Bent Flyvbjerg, Aalborg University, Denmark

  This article provides an answer to what has been called the biggest problem in theorizing and
  understanding planning, namely the ambivalence about power found among planning
  researchers, theorists, and students. The author narrates how he came to work with issues of
  power. He then gives an example of how the methodology he developed for power studies,
  called "phronetic planning research," may be employed in practice. Phronetic planning
  research follows the tradition of power studies running from Machiavelli and Nietzsche to
  Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu. It focuses on four value-rational questions: (1) Where
  are we going with planning? (2) Who gains and who loses, and by which mechanisms of
  power? (3) Is this development desirable? (4) What should be done? These questions are
  exemplified for a specific instance of Scandinavian urban planning. The author finds that the
  questions, and their answers, make a difference to planning in practice. They make planning
  research matter.

  Phronetic Planning Research: Theoretical and Methodological Reflections
  By Bent Flyvbjerg, Aalborg University, Denmark

  ABSTRACT This article presents the theoretical and methodological considerations behind a
  research method which the author calls 'phronetic planning research'. Such research sets out to
  answer four questions of power and values for specific instances of planning: (1) Where are we
  going with planning? (2) Who gains and who loses, and by which mechanisms of power? (3) Is
  this development desirable? (4) What, if anything, should we do about it? A central task of
  phronetic planning research is to provide concrete examples and detailed narratives of the ways
  in which power and values work in planning and with what consequences to whom, and to
  suggest how relations of power and values could be changed to work with other consequences.
  Insofar as planning situations become clear, they are clarified by detailed stories of who is doing
  what to whom. Clarifications of that kind are a principal concern for phronetic planning research
  and provide the main link to praxis.

  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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