Saturday, June 19, 2021

What I Know about Knowledge

What is knowledge, but a collection of our experiences, expectations, and our efforts to link the two. Since these are mutually interlinked, a change in any one of those invariably affecting the other two, it is always on a rise. Over time, while the human race grew in leaps and bounds, our experience would have been bursting in its seams and forcing it to branch into many. Together with our expectations and our perceived abilities, we started to classify those, making it possible for us to register and react to all the eventualities at our convenience.

Over time, that turned classification into a default activity, our first reaction to anything new. Where a basis for classification occurred to us intuitively, we added the results to a kitty, calling it faculties of knowledge. Appreciation and further manipulation of which became the most venerated activity, as far as humans go.

But, the cases where a basis for classification could not be to found easily, posed a challenge. Some of us who liked to reflect at depth could come up with explanations, which looked rather intuitive too. Thus was science born. But, since we were already accustomed to classification as a first step, and this being a rather trivial affair in comparison to all other activities to follow, like analysis or synthesis, we wouldn't let science flourish, unless it is divided to accommodate the very first results. And we started to see such divisions as unmistakable signs of growth, the appreciation of which, taking the lion's share of our time.

Consequently, the meaning of knowledge took a turn to the abstract. What was the major contribution of knowledge, namely, a better appreciation of our experiences, is taking a back seat. The process of adding new and imaginative divisions is taking the center stage. But, we do not find anything amiss, because of two reasons. The efforts towards carving out new groupings and fresh relationships continue to provide us with a sense of fulfillment. Also, such endearing results make every contribution that comes from the mankind look big and imaginative as well as singular, leading us to overlook the inputs coming from elsewhere.

Thus, all the while, human imagination has been having a free run. Whereas, the other attributes of significance, like integrity, or pragmatism, has been loaded heavily towards whatever is in vogue, or aligning with the leanings of those at the helm. Therefore one can say, 'Knowledge is more than a natural result of our curiosity, it is always molded by a flurry of constraints'.

In the light of the above, I think we need to take two steps.

One, re-evaluate our wealth of knowledge. See all of it from a different perspective. Take, for example, psychology. It came out of our efforts to collate, group and record all the biases present in our society. The biases that were endearing would have been the ones to be marked normal behavior. Those biased in other ways, as well as the ones who do not have any such prejudices or priorities, get noticed instantly. Isn't there room for a revision?

Two, formulate guidelines for sensing and acquiring fresh knowledge. Just like how we do in the case all activities of life, like walking, running or reading, we need to learn, how to learn, before we start to learn. My hub, https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/Is-there-another-way-to-learn, is an attempt in this direction.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

What Can Knowledge do to our Future

What Should be the Role of Knowledge in Our Life?

I wrote, knowledge should trail wisdom. How can we make it happen? What all should make up knowledge? Are we on the correct path?


I think, in this connection, something can be learned from the way the effect of COVID is getting distributed to countries. Countries that are known to be treasuries of knowledge, as well as those that are scientifically current, seem to face the same threat as that of all other nations, if not more.

Is it just a matter of complacency? Is it the law of diminishing returns in action? Well, I would like to look at this from a different perspective.

As our knowledge increases, the irrational content in whatever we absorb also, goes up. Because of this, and since the world is more literate now, that too on matters of greater complexity, we tend to go overboard also, more often. So, it rather becomes one of lack of 'complacency', where, one reacts disproportionately, whether lightly or harshly. Also, the effect of such a mistake shall be much more pronounced and long-lasting, compared to the 'easy' times of the past.

To learn more about this, we need to study about the different aspects of knowledge itself, like its structure, composition, volatility and other static and dynamic elements.


What is knowledge? Why should it have a future?

Knowledge, in fact refers to awareness of, or familiarity with, various objects, events, ideas, or ways of doing things. This can be further refined or redefined, grouped differently, and placed as the primary trigger, humans look for. In this sense, there can be a satiated feeling at appropriate junctures, effectively becoming the real force that shapes our destiny.

Knowledge also specifies the intellectual transactions that take place on all of the above, and further transactions on the results of those. Human imagination is the only limit to these transactions, which flourish depending on the ability of abstraction. In this sense, knowledge need not have an end, or a beginning, its inherent beauty being enthralling enough.

I think there is room for confusion. Our current idea about knowledge does not reflect these mutually exclusive constraints. To make matters clear, we need to see knowledge as something constituting of two different parts.

One, things that are necessary for the desirable progression of life, both for meeting the essential needs of living, and for other requirements, like recreation. All are a party to this, and they derive knowledge from whatever avenues are open, and to whatever extent, the prevailing circumstances may necessitate. Also, one may not even be fully aware about this. This is true for all forms of life, and, no life will ever be in peril, on this account. Notable exception, of course, is a human, who regularly meet with injuries, like consuming a poisonous substance by mistake, or venturing into the unknowns. Clearly, these mostly originate from within. (Strangely, rather than looking for the crux of this issue, we humans are avoiding it with gems of wisdom that effectively silence every doubting Thomas. Like, to err is human)

Two, an important one of a variety of things we choose to adopt, hold, or consider greater than life itself, for various reasons that have no direct link with life. Not all can engage in this manner. It calls for certain transactions of the mind, and the propensity for which needs to be cultivated beforehand. And for this, human race already have elaborate arrangements in place, flourishing everywhere as the education system.

Now comes the interesting part. Whenever we speak of knowledge, and hold knowledge at a very high pedestal, we are equating it with the former. Wisdom, in fact the most valued human attribute, is but a crystallized form of this. At all other times, like formulating methods, or contents, for various activities, it is the latter that is in our minds. Consequently, it is not possible to make an unequivocal definition. Or, we have no conclusive knowledge about knowledge.

If it is so, how can we make it a little more clear? I think we need to define knowledge as two separate entities, and allocate a different word for each. In the former sense, knowledge is something found in all forms of life, the foundation of which being what is widely known as instinct. In case of humans too, which in noway becomes a threat. Now let us say, the word knowledge denotes the latter meaning. In this sense, knowledge, in fact becomes an unintended consequence of our engagement with all and sundry, the exact reason for which is yet to be arrived at. And, knowledge will certainly have a definable future, if we are to unearth a reason for this particular engagement, and we happen to be successful in manipulating it effectively.

Leaving that apart, the very reason, which made humans engage with one another and join into a society, is not a static one, and would have been evolving. That also, always acted upon by new knowledge and fresh experience, which are constantly altering our lifestyle. And now it has come to acquire a shape that is considerably different from the original one. In fact such slow changes were taking place all along, and that was making us fit for the times, at any instant. Presently too, our lifestyle suits us, where, since we are now in the age of domain knowledge, and our compartmentalized wisdom enable us in answering each specific issue, as and when it confronts us. Consequently, we, I mean, the ones who can afford to lead comfortably, this lifestyle, neither will have the time nor the occasion to confront knowledge as an non-specific entity. (Others however do it by habit, leading to social disharmony!)

We however continue to have our learning process or education, as it was designed or established long ago to suit such an entity. Which perhaps would have been a good fit for the idea of knowledge that was extant, then.

As noted, we now need to derive a clear understanding of knowledge. Then we can plan a new social and professional structure, one that is a good fit for the current times. In fact what we commonly encounter, a constant mismatch between the education and the employ-ability of the ones available for jobs, is an indication that it is not at all clear, now.

If so, what all needs to be done? What can enable us to uncover the correct idea of the word, knowledge, say always and every time? Which is fairly urgent, since, you see, knowledge has not been protecting us at all, from stupidity.


Let us now have another look at knowledge.

I think, as we all are aware, knowledge comes from learning. I also think, here there are two significant issues. What we learn, and how we learn.

All that one learns can be broadly classified into two. One, which cannot be made to disobey mathematical relationships or laws and remains so, while adding new laws or relationships or other abstractions to support or justify whatever. Two, which cannot be made to obey mathematical relationships or laws, and remains so, while adding new laws or relationships or other abstractions to support or justify whatever. The total repository of knowledge, in a large multitude of classifications like science, arts, fact, fiction, etc., as far as human race goes, lies as part of the former. The only exception, philosophy, and all its variants, like spirituality, constitute the latter.

As long as we learn the former in any of its classifications, there is no occasion for an unanswerable question. Every question is welcome here, and whenever we come across one, we feel happy to have faced another one. If we already know the answer, by giving us a stage to show or showcase our caliber, and if not, by showing an us opportunity to learn and improve the same, it adds new value. But, when it comes to the latter, there will never be an instance of a fresh answer that is unquestionable. Every new answer is unwelcome, unless found acceptable when gauged against certain abstract beliefs of contextual relevance.

Since we use the same word, knowledge, in both the above cases, certain confusion is sure to occur. For example, in matters related to the former, knowledge, almost always should be pointing to something real or tangible. Also, all that can happen as a consequence shall ultimately lead to, a more or less permanent or physical change of material, which in most cases results in something good. Whereas for the latter, knowledge can convey ideas only in the abstract. Also, any fresh change that may occur, even when are not of permanent effect, results in disturbing the prevailing harmony and peace.


I am sure, our forefathers came to adopt the easiest way of maintaining some sort of a balance here. Introduce a new entity that raises doubt for every answer of the former, while making it easy to answer once for all, every question of the latter.

As a result, in the material plane, changes are always aplenty. But the world is always eager to welcome a change, and derive whatever fruits it can offer. And that is making the world, a better place to live.

Also because of this, in the spiritual plane, the world is always with a closed mind, and any suggestion of a change gets suppressed instantaneously and harshly. Here, the world is not at all willing to admit a change, and disturb the tranquility that exists.

Over time, this particular entity came to be formalized and more or less solidified as god. And god also is meant to make the world a better place to live.

This would have been the happy state of affairs that existed in our past, and it could continue in this manner as long as the changes that were taking place in the material plane did not lead to a marked change in the spiritual plane. However, ever since the industrial revolution, we have been facing new developments in all areas of the material plane, which in many cases, directly question the equilibrium that exists in the spiritual plane.


From the above, it is clear that just by stopping the use of the same words to signify knowledge and allied transactions of the mind in both spiritual and material planes, all such incongruities, variations, and other disturbances can be brought to an end. Suppose we retain the word knowledge, only for such transactions of the material plane. And say, we invent a new word, or a few words, to denote exclusively, intellectual transactions of the spirit. Wherever reference is made to the spiritual, or the material, there will be no room at all, for a doubt, and the response shall be unique.

In fact we can see this, the mixing up of the spiritual plane and the material plane, as another error, the ancients made. We did away with many, like the concept of a Geocentric universe, or the one of considering diseases as nothing else but the wrath of god. Liberating the idea of knowledge from the spiritual plane of life, could be the next one.


For all, the style of acquiring knowledge, as proposed in my essay 'Is There Another way to Learn', is a good answer. Choose the topics to master, or the area of learning, in such a way, where, each one will naturally itself, identify fully with the concept, one is currently learning. For example, theology, rather than mathematics, will instantly appeal to the young ones, the whole subject having quite a good connection with the characters they are already familiar with. When they grow up to get involved in the nuts and bolts of life and living, it can make a graceful exit, as it is happening now with the enthralling and delightful childhood stories. Also, abstract topics like mathematics will be get a warm welcome from the elder ones, who will find it a good fit for those nuts and bolts. Result: a society that is always at ease with itself.


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Another RECIPE for Peace

Human society, unlike that of all the other forms of life, is a repository of planned pandemonium, frequently of unpleasant nature, like wars, and sometimes of pleasant ones, like celebrations when it happens in an uncaring way. 

Why does it happen so? 
Currently, all our ideas are based on rather concrete divides, whether between good and bad, high and low, desirable and repugnant, or among any other entity that can be construed to be having, at most a semblance of a divide. A clash is constantly associated with such expressions, which can occur any moment. The general feeling in this connection, I think, is that it is OK, so long as the clash does not cross certain proportions. However, it frequently does, and groups based on political, ethnic, religious, and many other leanings, disagreements, and bickering, constantly blame each other. Incidentally, urgent corrective as well as suppressive steps also shall be resorted to, if the clash is not about something abstract. But in reality, it is about the abstract, more often than not. And our societies are melting pots of divides. 

There is nothing new in this. In fact we have been relishing, celebrating, and promoting such conceptual divides all these years. Such celebrations, the footprints of which are easily visible in artistic creations, like literature, dance, and art, has been giving those ephemeral divides, a sense of permanence. (The beauty of a particular language is nothing but the ability to express uniquely such abstractions and, the ambiance that gave birth to it. The more elaborate such divisions, and its expressions, the greater, the richness, and desirability, of a language, and the culture that gave birth to it.) 
In addition, here we are also forgetting something quite significant. Our widespread, unbridled celebrations have been giving such divides, not only a sense of permanence, but also the position of an ultimate value, one can yearn for.  Such an idea effectively perpetuates itself. And, the divides now start dictating terms to the ones who started it. 

One can easily see, while time go by and when people on either sides of a social divide, which rightly should have remained a conceptual one, grow further, the divide acquires a more robust look, occupying a ‘larger than life’ status. How? In fact a wide assortment of characters is generally found among children, which gets widely appreciated and encouraged as the lively nature of youth. And the fact is that we primarily derive entertainment value out of it, which generally is of a transient nature. But as the divides grow strong, it results in a society composed of those with predictable, discernible difference in ability and other characteristics of appeal. 

We further precipitate the issue, when we accord a status of respectability to those distinctions by bringing all of these under the umbrella term of genetics. And, we compound it even more, when such differences, rather than remaining transient, and disappear silently by getting amalgamated into the plethora of growing-up pangs, come to occupy a prime position that not only defines each one of us, but also entwines all our prospects for good. Imagine of a transient entity accorded a prime position and the instability that can result. 
Or, there is no distinctive reason for the turmoil that is always present in a human society, and in fact, it is more of a design-fault. But, it is also a fact that wherever we look, we will be finding something abnormal, something that does not fit with one’s current idea of a good human. (Why it did not occur to us? Why the very idea of a good human could not be the culprit?) 
From among these, people are choosing a few as the cause for the current turmoil, and prescribe a remedy, perhaps based on convenience. And as a result, the obvious design-fault escaped detection, all this while. We continue to compound the situation by exhorting all humans to swear by whatever is the remedy of convenience, we have landed with. (Just as in the case of heavenly bodies, our initial notion about everything else also was prone to error. We need to accept it, discard the initial notions as erroneous, and start our life once again on a clean slate. Which will then lead us to the appropriate shape of human society, if we happen to land with one.) 

In short, we are in a vicious circle. 
What do we need to do? To answer this question, let me see, how did we arrive here in the first place. As mentioned above, we just solidified certain short-lived differences, or other aspects of personality that are having contextual relevance. It results in disruptions, for which, we administer corrections. Root cause or causes remaining, disruptions erupt again, followed by some other corrections. Other than repeating for ever that human is a complex form of life, the only thing we do is to gloat over it. On some occasions, the former idea helps us in justifying the disruptions, and sometimes the latter, enables us to laugh it out. And, our society continues to remain as agitated or as turbulent as ever. 

How do we settle this issue, once for all?
We have successfully located and neutralized one root cause, bringing immense joy and, a long life-span to the human race. I am referring to the field of health in general and diseases in particular. We achieved this by abstracting the cause of ill health to a different, unique entity, germs. This in fact enabled us in dealing with the issues of ill-health in an objective manner, and that has turned out to be an effective one. But our social life also has its share of ill health, which deserves a similar approach. Here, we need to abstract the social canvas of a human society and, all the activities and transactions that breathe life and add color to it. Also turmoils, since those are also normal responses that overstep a limit. People, or the society, or both can be abstracted as an array of priorities, and another array of reactions to, or expression of, those priorities. And, a clash of priorities could be the abstraction of a turmoil. 

Why should there be a clash of priorities? A priority, rather, a profession, in fact is only a representation of one’s current engagement. And, logically, one will continue with whatever is one’s current engagement, as long as the results being experienced are good, or, at least, not unpleasant. When the results show shortcomings intrinsic to the chosen engagement, or display inadequacy while co-existing with that of the others, there will be nothing to prevent a change. At such instances, human intelligence would have been coming up with an answer, a good via-media that will dethrone the current engagement, whether in full, or in part. But, a clash will result, if some people decide to continue with, say an engagement, irrespective of results. When, notwithstanding indications to the contrary, one makes it a point to persist with the same efforts, sometimes even with more vigour. And, it indeed is the case, as far as human societies go. Where, for some reason, people make it necessary to be stuck with certain priorities, though those ones, many a time, lead to negative experiences. (A cursory glance can show, any entity could be leading to unsavory results, if it remains to be in reckoning at a time or place beyond where it is appropriate.) 

In the above scenario, there should have been clashes, even when there is no external interference, for the simple reason that there will be many who engage with the same profession, or identical aim, as one’s priority. Frequent skirmishes on that ground should have been firing the imaginative nature of humans, who in turn would have been devising fresh priorities. But, a skirmish on that ground gets subdued by the overall negative experience that is in existence. 
Thus, the clash of priorities, which should have been instilling tranquility to the society by encouraging all to resort to an appropriate one, any time, constantly get overshadowed by those very experiences, that too with a meek maxim – human’s is a violent society. Else, we would have been noticing such clashes, leading to a clear notion about the disarray that is associated with our society, and perhaps would have already taken some remedial measures. 

In fact, there should have been many takers for those priorities that seldom lead to a clash with others. But that is not the case. We all have our eyes unwavering while fixed on a few specific aims or ambitions. Of course, a few others also, we may have. But, all the former ones, we hold at high esteem, and, all the latter ones are looked down upon if not suppressed by penal provision, though may be endearing and gratifying us better. And to top it all, having taken part in a clash about such priorities itself, is a valued attribute. 
How does a particular interest, one happen to entertain, or what we term as one’s current priority, get, say, an intrinsic, abstract value of such a nature, where one can will the value? This kind of behavioral quirk, if I may say so, is what we celebrate greatly as the unfathomable human. ‘The unfathomable human’ thereafter becomes an easily accepted excuse to tolerate whatever we find difficult to digest, whether it is something to do with ourselves, or with any other living or non-living matter. 

Now it is a little more clear. The complexity we attribute to humans, as well as that we associate with their life style, is nothing but a preemptive conclusion to support the idea of ‘the unfathomable human’. Self-aggrandizing, this conclusion certainly is, and it would have been instantly accepted by our forefathers, while continued unfailingly, by all subsequent generations. (This would have been a dire need. Remember, before we mastered metals, tools, weapons, and implements, each and every form of life on earth is superior to us, in some way.) And, the complexity manifests in many ways, not all of which, easily discernible as one. Let me examine a few of the areas that interests the human race, the most. 

Every time we sense, register, and reflect about things, or when we communicate, we are actually following any one of, two paths. 
One, to find an answer to a question faced. The question could have arisen due to a definite reason, or would have been caused by circumstantial changes. And the answer shall be necessary for ensuring comfortable existence, or for removing discomforts, or both, directly or otherwise. Here, an answer, while making us more cozy, brings the question also to an end, unless someone succeed in coming up with supplementary issues of relevance. 
Two, to find suitable justifications to the existence or relevance of the same question. Here, an answer, rather than putting an end to the question, justifies the continued relevance of it, to remain as one. On all occasions when a member of the human society faces questions, one chooses the first path, which is a natural one, the default. All the questions that fail here, in getting a satisfactory answer, generally take to path two, and that would have been quite a few, given whatever we know about the state of affairs of the past. Things were going smooth, and it seems people felt no qualm in aligning themselves with the spiritual, or the material, as the situation demanded, if there existed a difference between the two. 

I think this has been the pattern till we encountered the first non-linearity of world history, namely, the industrial revolution. 
With industrial revolution, skill started giving way to knowledge, and occupation took the center stage. Now jobs lost its position, at least as an an independent entity. Knowledge, the abstract equivalent of skill, and occupation, the same, in respect of job, altered the social atmosphere completely. In a society, skill was linked to a need, and job, to the fulfillment of it. Whereas, society now had to invent needs to balance the available occupations, and, rather than fulfillment, the issue to be tackled became one of finding outlets for knowledge. As a result, peace and harmony in a society became more or less unpredictable, and beyond the realm of social budgeting. We are however sticking to the earlier methods of social control that effectively stratifies the society. Sometimes all is well with the society, and sometimes not. We keep applauding ourselves, when it is good times, and tighten control, when it isn’t so. Whatever local non-uniformity we happen to observe, in good times, get projected as achievements of human race, and in not so good times, get counted as another facet of the human, to be wary of. In short, we are yet to approach the issue in a scientific manner. 

A scientific journey into the human 
Wherever you look, men or women do not appear as a mere form of life. Rather, each one of them is a collection of attributes. And in fact the prospects of the whole planet, along with that of each human society, is dependent on how smooth a mixture, intermingling of these ‘poles’ can produce. Whether in giving rise to a wildfire of sorts, or in quenching the worst catastrophe, the power of the appropriate ‘mixture’ in the making of each human, as well as that in the constitution of each of their societies, is unparalleled. Or, in the absence of the appropriate ‘mixture’, whether for human, or society, or for both, the same shall be decided by the level of compensation that can be provided. 
Incidentally, such is the case in all other spheres of the universe. 
Take for example, an electronic device. The one performing well is the one free from external, or internal interference, or the one well compensated for such disturbances. Or think of another component, say a resistor, or a spring. The one working reliably, is the one well counter-balanced for likely deviations, or noise, say due to variations of temperature, pressure, or ‘g’ load. Here one thing needs to be noted, and that is of great importance. ‘Disturbance’ or ‘noise’ is nothing special, or different, those are the same signals of interest, placed inappropriately in space or in time. Human can be equated to such a machine that has to have noise compensation, at all times. Better the compensation, more flawless or immaculate, the human. 

Now that we know, humans behave the way they are taught in their formative years, nothing should prevent us from incorporating dynamic ‘noise compensation’ as a formal subject to be taught in one’s youth. In this context, what should be termed as noise? In fact everything that is not relevant to a context, which could signify all the knowledge, information, or skill, one may having, falls in this category. More so, if one is not able to come to a conclusion regarding the relevance of whatever one may know, to the current issue, instantly. As my hub https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/Is-there-another-way-to-learn says, knowledge should trail wisdom.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Book Review: 'Democracy and How to Solve it'

 Book Review: 'Democracy and How to Solve it', by Predrag Stojadinović.

This is another book that amply supports my views about such issues.

The book begins with a critical look at a foundational idea of democracy. One should be ready to face inconvenience, “because the majority of people believe it is the best option for us”. This, 'though is a textbook definition, amounts to argumentum ad populum fallacy'. A good account of the discussions between the great thinkers of the past, like Socrates, Plato, and many others point to a gem, which is all the more relevant now. 'Democracy, thus becomes a perfect system for electing unqualified tyrants. Which, one must agree, is the very opposite of its original intent.'

A significant issue is, the book puts, 'if the voters are unable to think critically, they will be inclined to believe the lies of demagogues'. And, the root of the problem is the belief that voting is just some natural ability, an intuition, and not a skill that must be learned and trained. Further discussions identify quite a few steps to correct the situation, like making critical thinking, the default human behavior. The final one looks even more logical, and revolutionary. 'The voters should also first prove their capability to participate in the democratic process, before being allowed to affect everyone else's lives through voting'.


Friday, February 26, 2021

In Search of a Demon

 Think of the human, and, instantly, one thing shall be coming to mind. Why is that humans are not having a social organization that is greatly different from that of all the other forms of life? This, when in all the other aspects of life and living, they follow a distinct, unique pattern. In fact, surprises do not end here.

Not only that they have adopted a social organization that is almost the same as that of other forms of life, but also take immense pride in it. Whereas, in everything else, not only that humans revel in celebrating their uniqueness, but also find it demeaning to be called animal-like. Moreover, they subject whatever particularities they follow or entertain, to constant scrutiny, and take great pains to institute additions and alterations to keep with the times, at all times. Thus, humans have come to acquire living styles quite unlike that of all the other forms of life, though they live the same life. (Here there is another surprise that merits attention. Humans know, nonliving objects and all living objects other than human, follow always the shortest or easiest path. Why, when it comes living their life, humans do not choose such a path?)
How could this have happened? Especially in the natural course of history. It seems impossible, if an outlook leading to such a dichotomy would not have become deeply engraved in human psyche, that too, before the population was large enough to form the earliest of societies. Also, well before humans started realizing their full potential, particularly of deriving pleasure from intellectual transactions. (If it wasn't so, this would have been a topic widely discussed and deliberated, and an answer would have already been found)
I feel, there is something like Maxwell’s demon as an omnipresent part of the universe. And that is the one that is making things continue its path, of rest, motion, or whatever, unless stopped from doing so. For, if not for it, we would not have had the physical quantities, like temperature, act or react the way it does. Which would have rendered it difficult, if not impossible, to derive benefits from all those, and make this planet our home. I think it won’t be incorrect to say, matter behaves the way it behaves, thanks to this demon.
And, an entity closely related to that demon is residing in each one of us. For, if not for it, we would not have had the same thing, event, or occurrence make each one act or react uniquely. It is also a fact that such acts are many a time in confrontation with others’, the planet’s, and consequentially one’s own, well-being. Rather than noticing this as a 'demonic effect', we in fact celebrate these as the defining character of the human, as something that cannot be seen in any other form of life. Though it makes even the basic activity of staying alive, a complex, many layered job, and that too, a full time one for the human race, vastly different from all the others.
Moreover, the activities of living one’s life expose the future of that life itself, to dangers. Perhaps because of all this, nothing happens with human, where there is no controversy. I think it won’t be incorrect to say, spirit behaves the way it behaves, thanks to this particular entity.
A good example of the demon and its work is the wayward behavior of human spirit, which can very well be noticed in our lifestyle. This is one area, where nothing else can provide even a semblance of a reason to the vagaries, of fears, priorities, desires and inhibitions, the human society always is full of.
x

Sunday, February 7, 2021

 

Right/Wrong: How Technology Transforms Our Ethics
Juan Enriquez. 
Apt observation for the times.
New technologies like the machine gun completely changed the nature of warfare in World War I. It drove people into trenches. You were in the British trench, or you were in the German trench. Anything in between was no man's land. You entered no man's land. You were shot. You were killed. You tried to leave the trench in the other direction. Then your own side would shoot you because you were a deserter. 

It seems social media has usurped this role. We're shooting at each other. We're shooting at those we think are wrong with posts, with tweets, with photographs, with accusations, with comments. And at the same time, we are churning out stuff, in which we can hide. What it's done is it's created these two trenches where you have to be either in this trench or that trench. And there's no middle ground, where people can meet each other, to have exchanges of the pleasant kind. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Book review: Make No Apologies: Early Feminist Writings

Make No Apologies: Early Feminist Writings

Edited by Amanda L. Webster

I agree, 'much of what was written by feminists one hundred years or more in the past still resonates today', and the patriarchy is alive and well. The book proposes a few reasons for it, saying, 'it was the positions of privilege that many of these feminists enjoyed that allowed their voices to be heard while those of their so-called inferiors have been largely silenced'. And it seems, 'at least some of these writings belong to “foot soldiers of patriarchy”'.

The very first essay, Declaration of Sentiments by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, lists the 'repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman', turning her into 'an irresponsible being'. Now she can commit many crimes with impunity, 'provided they be done in the presence of her husband'. Another essay, The Industrial Position of Women by Emily Blackwell, M.D., argues for 'women to be allowed equal access to work', which is just as valid today as it was one hundred and thirty-plus years ago. Interestingly, 'In the savage state, women built the wigwam, raised the corn, prepared the clothes, carried on in its rudest and most elementary form all the work which is today the object of modern industry' and mostly done by males. Thus, when the simple forms of labor developed into architecture and agriculture and manufacture, it is held that women do not fit easily to these old occupations. 

In 'Uncivil Liberty: An Essay to Show the Injustice and Impolicy of Ruling Woman Against Her Consent', Ezra Hervey Heywood traces the origins of the concept of social and legal inferiority of women. The legal subjection of woman is thought to be justified by an assumed natural dependence on man. Here, 'the old claim of tyranny, that “the king can do no wrong,” takes a new turn, the essay posits. Still another essay discusses 'the whole power of voluntary maternity' and free sexual selection by women. 'It should be for them to choose whether they will have children or not: and if so, how many, at what intervals, and with whom.'

Voltairine de Cleyre likens marriage to slavery rather than to prostitution. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in 'The Yellow Wall Paper' exhorts all fathers to enjoy equal rights both on the responsibilities and the joys of parenthood. Floyd Dell, in her essay 'Femism for Men', suggests that, though Feminism is going to make it possible for the first time for men to be free, they object to it, since they yearn for the feel of power more than they want the sense of freedom. Ethel Puffer Howes describes, how women could be both mothers and career women at the same time by removing the artificial sex restriction invoked to explain the inhibitions of achievement. And, Freedom or Death by Emmeline Pankhurst underscores the fact that men have done splendid things, can speak of great achievements in engineering; but they have failed, they have miserably failed, when it has come to dealing with the lives of human beings. And the race must be saved, and it can only be saved through the emancipation of women.

The ideas expressed here are all the more valid now, when society is struggling to invent reasons to re-impose the sexual restrictions of the earlier days.


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