Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quantum Physics of Light & Kena Upanishad ( केन उपनिषद् )

The final word (yet) of quantum mechanics on light is that it has a dual nature – it is both a wave and a particle.  Verily, the human mind is in discomfort with this, primarily, because it lacks a clear mental picture. In Hindu scriptures, instances abound, where similar dualistic concepts are conjoined – “Non-being then existed not nor being existed”Hymn of Creation – Rig Veda X 129. Such a meek correlation, however, is not the point of this post.  What is first attempted is to understand why making a science of light is difficult and then, to realize that this inherent difficulty was understood by the writers of Kena Upanishad. ( केन उपनिषद् )

The scientist makes observations (using appropriate tools) of the phenomenon he intends to study. Based on these facts, he generalizes and comes up with a principle. Any science rests on these perceptions, also called axioms. The Archimedes principle rests on the observation that objects weigh less in fluids. You and I have to take a weighing machine and observe it for ourselves to be certain of it. The photo-electric effect pivots on the observation of (backward) current when light (of sufficiently high intensity) is incident. The instruments for perceptions are our five senses. No matter how fine-tuned the microscope is, ultimately, it is with our eyes that we observe a sample. Hence, we can make a science of a phenomenon, provided, we are somehow able to make observations of its nature. This is especially true in cases where direct sensual perception is not possible. For example, magnetic (electric) force, though beyond our senses, is manifest in the motion of a magnet (electric charge) - inferential judgements.

The problem with light:
If we want to make observations on light by visual perception, the question is, with what will we observe light? Light itself is what enables us to make observations. Without light illumining the lab, how can we make any visual observations in the first place? Light, which facilitates visual observation, if used to observe itself, has in one instance revealed itself as a particle and in another as a wave (depending on the type of experiment – double slit or photoelectric). The reality is that light is much more than both a wave and a particle.

Kena Upanishad केन उपनिषद् )
The difficulty with light, elucidated above, is only a specific instance of the discussion in Kena Upanishad. The idea is in a ‘germ’ form, i.e. it is generalized. Below outlined are verses relevant to the discussion:
"That which cannot be expressed by speech, but by which speech is expressed-That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship." (I. 5)
“That which cannot be apprehended by the mind, but by which, they say mind is apprehended -That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.” (I. 6) 
 “That which cannot be perceived by the eye, but by which, the eye is perceived -That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.” (I. 7)
“That which cannot be heard by the ear, but by which the hearing is perceived -That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.” (I. 8)
“That which cannot be smelt by the breath, but by which the breath smells as an object -That alone know as Brahman, and not that which people here worship.” (I.9) 

  1. Hymn of Creation - translated by A.A. Macdonell.
  2. Translation of Kena Upanishad from "The Upanishads" by Swami Nikhilananda, Advaita Ashrama.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good, Bad and the law of Karma

One of the oldest and perhaps the strongest superstitions that we hold onto is the duality of good and bad. Also, the law of karma is often misunderstood. It is mistaken to mean that good actions entail good effects and bad actions, bad effects. Before deciding if or not the law of karma is actually valid, a closer look at good and bad is warranted. What follows here is an abstract proof that every activity has with it both good and bad. This is supplemented with concrete instances.

The proof rests on a fundamental axiom – our capacity to effect any change is limited.  Put differently, what this axiom says is that only a finite number of people get affected by one’s actions. Let the universal set of all living forms be U and the set getting affected be A. Say any particular activity X is good. The people/living forms in set A are positively affected by this activity. This leaves people/living forms in the complement set (U-A) who are not beneficiaries of this particular activity. And to the latter class of people, this apparently good activity is bad. Similar proof can be attempted with activities termed ‘bad’.

Some examples. Conventional wisdom suggests that food wastage is bad. Humans getting affected by this form the set A. This very wasted food is what microbes feed on. To the microbes (belonging to the set U-A) food wastage is actually good!! Any vegetarian fanatic would want the world to immediately turn vegan. But this very act snatches the livelihood from millions of butchers. A thief is robbing somebody of their valuables. This indeed is very bad. But this very act ensures that nobody else will be mugged during the same time. Whether the thief would have mugged anybody else or not, we do not know. But, because he is already mugging someone, he cannot simultaneously engage in another act of robbery. In economic parlance, there is an opportunity cost associated with any activity. This ensures that any activity is both a mixture of good and bad.

The law of karma is in essence the same as Newton’s third law; only discovered much, much earlier. Every action will have its reaction; i.e. every karma will bear its fruit. The question of good and bad karmas doesn’t enter here. Neither is it logically profound because there are both good and bad attached with any activity. Work backwards, the fruit (reaction) is caused by some karma (action). The law of karma constitutes the very basis of scientific enquiry. When we ask as to why the apple has fallen down, we are implicitly assuming that some karma has ‘caused’ this.  It is only within this realm of cause and effect can such an enquiry exist; and the law facilitates such an enquiry. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

God and Quantum Mechanics

One of the arguments I came across in favour of God’s non-existence provided the tipping point for this post. “God cannot build a wall which he cannot climb.” On the face of it, this is a very plausible argument. Nothing original, though; because arguments like these have existed since antiquity. The sage Kapila (from the Sankhya school of philosophy), some aeons ago, postulated something to this effect: “God cannot create because, if he is forced to create, he is not completely free. And a God who cannot create is no longer God.” Thus, we see very sound arguments, apparently, towards disposing of a God. The arguments, when dug a little deeper, are similar to the omnipotence paradox- “There is nothing an omnipotent being cannot do; and this is a limitation on such a being.”

At their very root, the formulations are applying the complement operation twice. The operation referred to is the complement operation in Set theory, i.e. A’ = U-A, where U is the universal set. So, in the language of set theory, the above arguments are effectively saying (A’)’ = A. Extending the same idea, it is equally logical to say that the error in truth is that there is no error.  Or the truth in an error is that there is nothing true. As counter-intuitive as these arguments appear, they can be reconciled on a quantum mechanical basis. Let us take the first argument “God cannot build a wall which he cannot climb”. When we formulate this statement, we are restricting by our observation, the entity of God to either one of the two states – Of either climbing an already existent wall or building a new one.  When the act of climbing is observed, there is no further building process. Similarly, when we try and observe the building operation, there is no further climbing. This is a limitation in observation – any observation tends to restrict the ‘observed’ to one single state.

The underlying dynamics are a part of a bigger scheme. It is always difficult when the ‘observed’ is also the means for our observation. For example, the science of light has always been eluding us. Sure, all of us robotically repeat that light is both a wave and a particle, but not one can have a mental picture of the same. We are only repeating the words. To understand why light is always eluding our intellectual grasp, one needs to realize that light is itself the essence of observation. What is meant is that light itself aids us in making observations. There is no substitute for light which we can use to observe light. So to speak, the light which is helping us observe is being used to observe light (itself). The light allowing the observation is interfering with the light being observed and thus in the process creating some disturbance. (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle)

An everyday example: Say a new employer of mine wants a recommendation letter as a supporting document. Common sense suggests that he wouldn’t approve of it if I were to write my own recommendation. Why? The ‘observed’ (myself) and the means of observation (again, me) cannot be the same. And in cases where they are the same, they inevitably introduce some disturbance. Similarly, building which is aiding our observation is polluted by the ‘observed’- God in this case, because he is the builder as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Perceptions and their common ground

In any point of dissonance, especially on subjective matters, we get defensive with liners like “Your judgement is yours” or “I'm only responsible for what I say and not what you understand”. This is more so with sensitive matters – like Casteism, rift in your friends’ circle, politics (Telangana agitation) etc. The logic behind these lines is that perceptions are different for different people.  For example, you have people who adore Hitler, too; and those who hate him are available by the dozen.  I totally dislike Balayya, but there are people who quite fanatically endorse his movies. By these empirical examples, we understand, on one hand, that perceptions are different. A detailed analysis of this variation (and its necessity) can be had here.

On the other hand, we have very common perceptions when it comes to hard-hitting scientific facts. Nobody retorted to their Physics lecturer explaining Newton’s laws by saying “These are your perceptions/ judgements.” When we speak of the Sun, all humans with the faculty of vision will approve of its existence in unison. There are no ifs and buts, and other differing viewpoints. Thus, we find that there are perceptions which are common to us. In-fact with no common perceptions, no scientific discussion can ever be possible.

It seems, apparently paradoxical, that perceptions can be both common and different. It’s not as much of a paradox as it is a mixture of commonality and differences. That is, there are perceptions which are common to two humans, and also those which are not. (Akin to light being both a wave and a particle). To illustrate, we represent perceptions of my friend (Rakesh Mashar) and mine by Venn diagrams in the adjacent figure. The intersection portion has scientific facts and deductions. There are no two contrasting opinions when he and I are in this intersection zone. Quite differently, away from this zone, there are differences. Mashy likes Pawan Kalyan while I don’t. I like classical music while he is not such a big fan.

The million dollar question – What is the use of this entire grind? The analysis has the greatest practical utility. When one uses the rationale ‘Your judgement is yours” in the non-intersection zone, he is being logical. When one does the same in the intersection zone, he is being a hypocrite. One step further: so far the discussion has only been about humans and their perceptions. In the following lines, I try to extend it to all living forms, and take the logical conclusion as it is. All humans/animals with the faculty of vision accept the scientific fact ‘Sun’, but the blind won’t. Similarly, the deaf will not be on board with the barking sounds of dogs. Thus, people deprived of one or more sense capabilities will differ more and more, even in the region of scientific facts. That is, if I were to draw Venn diagrams of perceptions of me and a blind guy, the intersection will not have Sun and so on. Human death is a very bad thing to us and we do not want anyone to die. But a lion in hunger thinks otherwise. Thus, we see that as we include more and more living forms, the intersection part becomes smaller and smaller. Imagine infinite Venn diagrams denoting the perceptions of all living populace – human and others- the intersection part being the point of discussion. With very little thought, it is obvious that only consciousness exists in the intersection part. That is the common ground of all perceptions. That is to say, the very root of all our thoughts and perceptions is consciousness – 'Aham in Sankhya philosophy or Ego'. For an observation to be made, we implicitly assume a conscious observer. The very root of all thought/perception is consciousness. When the Vedantist declares that the abstraction of ‘Existence’ is the only constant thing in this world of constant flux, he is being the most rational. The common ground of all perceptions is consciousness. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happiness- Relative and Absolute.

"If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over head, and a place to sleep, then you are richer than 75% in the world.  If you have money in the bank, your wallet and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy."

I come across a picture with these lines on facebook. To many, the figures provide a sense of comfort, a sense of assurance of their supposedly better life. On the face of it, there seems to be nothing wrong with being happy about how blessed our lives are, compared to the less fortunate ones. I wonder if happiness is really so elusive that people stoop to these levels of comparison. Let’s answer this question – “Are the above numbers truly necessary to be happy?” I don’t think so because these statistics weren’t available a century ago and people still were happy.

Next comes the much more important and vulnerable aspect of being happy this way: It is relative i.e. it springs in relation to something/someone external. If my happiness feeds off the misery of others, I’d rather be unhappy than be happy in this degenerate way. Why? It is unethical and inhumane. Even otherwise, putting the ethical considerations aside, this kind of happiness is not permanent. The moment my being in the top 8% of the world’s wealthy changes to say the top 20%, I am less happy. If my happiness springs out of something so external, something not in our hands, I am left very vulnerable. The relative kind is temporary and doesn’t stand the test of time.

It is only logical to seek happiness from within – the absolute kind. This is precisely what the existentialist proposes. A step further, seeking happiness from within and requiring the very minimum to be happy is what is embodied in the strict life of a Brahmin. Please don’t take the word in the narrow context of our caste hierarchy. What is referred to here is the philosophical concept of a Brahmin. All the constraints/guidelines are not mere superstitions, but logically thought out solutions. The question has always been about how little does a man need to be happy.  It is very easy to happy when all is hunky dory. It is only when the trial of time tests us do we understand the import of the restrictions – the recent tsunami in Japan and its wreckage being a case in hand.   

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Futility of Comparison

Comparison is a part and parcel of our lives. We compare our achievements with those of our peers. We do so with property, dressing, looks and every god-damn sphere of our materialistic life. Amidst all this insanity comes the sane advice to not compare ourselves with others. After a decent amount of analysis, I am convinced of the futility of comparison, albeit for different reasons. If people avoid comparison because of the discomfiture it causes, that is no reason at all. This reason is akin to blindfolding ourselves to the sun and denying its existence. It only gets worse with flowery phrases like “You are beautiful in your own way” and other sappy, hypocritical crap. Like always, what is attempted here is a logical post-mortem of the activity of comparison.

For comparing two entities, one needs a common basis, a constant reference so to speak. I can compare two numbers on the real line, because I have an origin to do so. The distances/directionalities of these numbers from 0 are compared here. Similarly the potential energy of two falling masses or two reservoirs at different heights is compared from a common ground level.  A common reference level is essential for this activity. Coming to people, there is NO such common basis. On the physical side, we are born of different parents-people with different body make-ups; and hence comparison on the physical front makes zilch sense. On the mental front, the impulses that the mind receives are different for different people. The mind is like clay-it’s current state is determined by the previous stress history. Again mind is not a static entity- it waxes and wanes. The very task which I had easily completed a year ago might require all of my mental energies to solve presently. You can Google “The Mozart Effect” – kids exposed to Mozart’s music for a good amount of time have shown considerable increase in their IQ levels. Though the study is far from being conclusive, you get the drift. To compare two people we need to ensure that they receive exactly similar mental training from day one. Even if we do this, we are still helpless with the prenatal fund of knowledge that one is born with – which varies from person to person.

The only thing close to constancy is the same self of mine through all this time; and hence comparing the “I” of today with the “I” of yesterday is the only logical thing to do. Comparison with one’s own self is the only rational option. And what’s more, it doesn't throw you off balance like peer pressure (a direct consequence of comparison) does.

P.S : I do not claim to have arrived this without any comparison activity of my own. It is foolish to expect to learn that the boomerang comes back with out even hurling it. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

The year gone by

I guess there have been a sufficient number of abstraction intensive posts from me in the recent times. For a change, I try and attempt a breezy introspective write up, one that is in the moment.  Change has been the only thing constant during the last year. I no longer have those semester breaks where I am literally on a holiday; catching up with friends, doing nothing for a good 30 days or so. And not to mention the care-free devil may care routine in college life. Things are considerably different. The current post is a reflection on the year gone by; how a seemingly static period has changed my relations with friends, my work outlook etc.

The dull side
A sudden and substantial lull in your activity level changes your outlook on a lot of things, probably because you have the time to think about them. I do not get to meet my friends like I used to back in college. They seem to have (at least the majority) what is called the Vicinity Effect- you tend to be closer to the people you see daily. Some of them are pure utilitarian – they befriend people based on their utility. That does pinch me once in awhile, but hey, I am helpless in this regard. But, in this day and age of mass communication, I do not think staying in touch is so difficult, provided you have the intent. I am glad I have a couple of really close friends on whom I can blindly bank. I realise that most of the others barring this half a dozen, are my friends with in the limitations of time and space. I still talk to them because it makes me feel good. There is an unknown satisfaction in not expecting anything in return.

On the bright side
I became an uncle, so it’s pretty overwhelming currently. I have furthered my research on castes and eastern philosophy. People who converse with me upon on these topics will testify this. Not that money means a lot to me, but being independent is definitely a good feeling. No matter how clichéd it is, no amount of text book learning will make up for the practical part. I feel so much more confident after a couple of assignments at work. You have to visit the Taj Mahal or be in love to understand the respective feelings; no amount of talk will do. It is the same with practical exposure, I guess. For someone who is overly critical and always displeased with one’s own efforts, I am quite happy with the work I had accomplished during the last year. Frequent blogging (I have successfully completed 25 posts), attended a conference at IIT KGP during December, bug-free coding of a couple of simulators related to my Bachelor thesis, a suave website and an up to date linked in profile are the things I got done during the last year.  I am also excited to have zeroed in on two new research areas – Fracture Mechanics and Multi-Scale Methods. I have also developed interest in the musical works of Santana, Satriani, and Smashing Pumpkins etc. Finally, I have learnt to be satisfied and contented from within myself. A good dose of mental exercise, some fine music and some soul-searching make my day. Give me my books, laptop and a continuous electricity supply; I will be happy just about everywhere.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The eternity of time and other musings

I am unhappy with a draft on “The conception of God” because a) It is still quite long; and b) It expects the reader to be devoid of certain prejudices/misconceptions, which, unfortunately is not the case. I have noticed this big mass of hereditary and social bias at the back of the heads of so many people, albeit only recently.  This apparently random post of mine is hence warranted, before the one on the conception of God. The below arguments do not prove/disprove the existence of God. They only discuss the conception.

The Eternity of Time

The universe has been in existence since eternity. The law of conservation of energy comes in handy here. Suppose the contrary, that an event A marked the start of the universe. The energy required for this event couldn’t have come out of nowhere. It is known and settled, once and for all, that energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. The energy that manifests the event A must have been present in some or the other form previously. It is at once clear, that the event A exists in relation to a previous event; an event that occurred earlier in time than A; and had the energy required by A. Thus, A is not the starting point, as assumed. The Big bang or any other explanation for that matter is an explanation from a certain time period. It is an explanation only to a part of the problem and not the whole; hence they do not excite me much.  Any conception of God which goes contrary to this eternal nature of time doesn’t jibe with me.

Science and a couple of generic principles

One of the pillars on which science rests is ‘Repeatability’. Boyle had conducted experiments on a fixed mass of gas under Isothermal conditions. The conclusion derived is that the product of pressure and volume of this gas under such conditions is constant. What lends credibility to this assertion of his? It is the fact that we reach the same conclusions, if under similar conditions, we were to perform the experiment. It is this Repeatability. The same conclusion can be tested infinite number of times and it should pass every single time. Ditto with Biot Savart’s Law etc. Consider the mindset of a blind guy, who hears of the scientific fact called “The Sun” for the first time. The problem here is that he has no means to directly verify this. Argue as much as you may, it is well nigh impossible for a blind guy to have a direct perception of the sun. What cannot be repeated cannot and shouldn’t be a scientific fact. Perception is the starting point of all science. Because without perceptions, there can be no repetition. All this explanation is warranted by people’s misinterpretation of my previous post. Only that perception which can be had by one and all can classify for the conception of God.

The other aspect is that any scientific principle is the most perfect generalization possible. If Newton had cited gravitation as a principle exclusive to the falling of apples, then it wouldn’t have been a perfect generalization. The logic or the idea behind perfect generalization is simple. That which explains the whole also explains the parts, because the whole is but an addition of parts. But that which explains the parts, needn’t explain the whole. It is easier to understand with Venn diagrams (subsets and super sets). Based on this understanding, it is easy to see how futile the anthropomorphic idea of God- a human God who is pleased with some and displeased with others-is. A cow could similarly think of a cow God. The human God, so to speak, is susceptible to death- another irony of sorts. That conception which is the most perfect generalization can only be an ideal conception, if there is one.

That good and bad are not separate entities is another prerequisite towards a refined idea. This, a better understanding of perceptions and the conception shall come up in the next post. But, as an empirical example, food wastage is seen by most people as a ‘bad’ activity. But what is apparent wastage from the human view point is food to the bacteria and microbes. Sure, the food that we waste could have fed another human, but the microbes complete the chain. What is bad to humans is sustenance to the microbes! Our sense of good and bad are extremely narrow – imperfect generalizations. Other examples in this context. Ciao!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The limitation of Rationale

I wanted to club this topic with one on the conception of God, but because of the limit for a blog post that I have self-imposed, I thought of dealing with both of them separately. I am presently an agnostic, the reasons for which will come below. The reason why I wanted to write on the conception of God is that, very often we have none, or at best a hazy one, and still fight over it.

Coming to the current discussion, people often over look what are called ‘perceptions’ and see rationale as a disparate entity. Take the most beautiful of all sciences – Pure Geometry. You have what are called ‘axioms’ – which form the building blocks for theorems. A situation with only theorems would be like that in fig. It would be a complex network with no actuality, no concrete existence. All our arguments would then be in a circle.  Perceptions are what make theorems or logical deductions possible. For us to prove that a unique circle passes through 3 (non-collinear) points there should be 3 points. The existence of these points shouldn’t depend on something else.  Take the Archimedes principle. The perception here is that things weigh less in water/fluids. This can’t be derived but can only be ‘sensed/observed’. Based on this building block, further ‘theorems’ or conclusions can be derived. Put differently, there has to be a point where we stop asking “why”.  If we don’t, things will be in an infinite chain as in the figure. Some things are only axiomatic, and these are the result of sensual causality. If this be the case, we at once understand that rationale or reasoning cannot exist without perceptions.

The tricky part about perceptions is that they are not common for all of us. As I said in one of my earlier blog posts, you cannot convince a blind guy about the existence of sun based on direct visual experience. But that is the only direct way to prove its existence. Not only do perceptions differ, even among people with common perceptions, the ability to perceive- through our senses- is very limited. To instantiate, micro-organisms exist but are beyond the range of our naked eye. Light of very high intensity is beyond our range, so is that of very feeble intensity. Ditto with sound vibrations. One last example, it is well nigh impossible to count the number of hair strands on a normal guy. But we sure know the number is finite, otherwise the guy would never go bald. These examples only go to prove our limited perception capacity. And unfortunately, there cannot be any worthwhile deductions without perceptions.

Quick questions with the above primer: “What if God were axiomatic? What if God were a perception?” With such ridiculously poor capacity to perceive, hazy conceptions and no perceptions of God, the safest and most sound position is that of an agnostic. Also, these questions only highlight the need for a better conception of God, if there is one. To sum things up, rationale exists in connection with perceptions or axioms, and these axioms are related to our senses. Finally, our senses are very poor and limited. Will write on the conception of God in the next blog post. Ciao!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Caste-ism: Take Two

The current post won’t jibe well with people having even the tiniest amount of caste mania. I’d rather have them surf another page and skip this post. The first problem with Casteism is its tribal premise. The second shall be the point of this post. Coming to my personal stance, I am profoundly sure that sects there will be as long as people differ. Also, all castes are parts of a ‘whole’ – each trying to attain that whole. Each caste is limited in its reach, is imperfect, including that to which I belong. More than the caste, I see the qualities in a person, because they are more tangible than the highly variant abstraction of caste.

For any logical discussion of Casteism, it suffices to take it as a form of classification (of people). And any classification should be based on some solid, reasonable criterion. Like the classification of vertebrates and invertebrates was based on the presence/absence of a spinal cord. The only widely accepted grouping norm for castes is occupation, if any. Even the most hardcore caste maniac will agree with this. With this blue print, I’d like people to see the fallacy of their fanaticism. Take the Zamindari/Farmer class (Reddys, Khammas, Velamas, Naidus, etc). I will acknowledge a person of this heritage and his glory, if and only if he continues to be a Zamindar (a feudal lord). A guy claims to be of Zamindari descent and ends up being a public servant; he no longer is a feudal lord. If anything he is a Shudra. Sure, he could be at the highest position possible for a Civil Servant. But how does that matter to a logician? A servant is a servant, just as a chain is after all a chain, be it made of gold or iron. I have a Reddy friend who condescends Brahmins, their outwardly piety and practices. So do I, but the problem is that he generalises it to all and more importantly, this guy’s dad is a Professor. I mean, if anybody in this day and age is a Brahmin, it is his dad (based on the occupational criterion), for Brahmins are traditionally those involved in discourses/ teaching (secular or spiritual doesn’t matter)

The current state of people's occupations is so mixed and widely distributed that it hardly makes any sense to hold on to those age old dogmas of caste hierarchy and superiority. I mean, how ridiculous is it to claim to be a Reddy, and then set up a sweet shop. If anything, the guy is a Yadav (one who rears cattle, deals with milk etc). All those practising Engineering are Viswa Karmans, whether they know it or not; whether they have the brains to appreciate it not. I am also pissed off at the high nosed ‘forward caste’ people and their condescension towards backward class ones. Firstly, what was the basis for this division? -Financial status and that too way back in 50s; and these days you have filthy rich SCs, BCs and OCs. One more point of dissonance, you NEED a backward class for some other to be forward. All these are relative existences; there cannot be a backward class without a forward one; neither can there be a stand-alone absolute forward caste. Both are necessary for this conception. Of course I don’t expect this level of understanding from the pea-brained caste maniacs. And all conceited Brahmins are not worthy of their claim if they are salaried employees. Go for a tonsure, shed all materialistic belongings and go on wandering about the country with your spiritual discourses. Hell! Why go that far? How many of them are even well versed with the essence of Vedas, if not the slokas, verbatim!? If all this is not possible and there should be allowance for you people, let it be there for all.

In simpler terms, to the caste maniac, I have to ask ‘Traditionally, if your hereditary occupation has been so and so, are you still following suit? If not, why cling to a bunch of non-sense? Just because the ends of your names match? Again, if allowance has to be made for you, then let it be for all. ” The current state of occupational trends only dilutes the concept of Casteism. I request people to not mistake this post for one dealing with problems of Casteism. No, it rather deals with the conception of Casteism and tries to argue why it is wrong. I’d rather kill a thought at its inception than see its effects and then decide if it’s good or bad. That is, I would much rather reject the idea of caste because of the aforementioned fallacies, than see its negative impact and then discard it (a posteriori analysis).

Monday, January 31, 2011

A triplet of clichéd liners and their post-mortem

The last few blog posts have been so high on abstraction and the statuses on face book on frivolity that I thought of interchanging the trend. When you are as good a stickler as me, a good deal of light dawns even on the most trivial of things. So here I am doing justice to my blog again. (First paragraph of 'Doing justice to the URL of my blog)

I laud the bunch of people with such great levels of optimism, so much so that they defy realism. But I have one little problem here. How can you say that it will work out for good, ‘NOW’ with the ‘END’ nowhere in sight? Our reasoning power is so bounded that I cannot even say with confidence the current demand of onions in our country. (Demand at this very instant) Hell, why go so far? I cannot even say if the next coin toss will be a head or tail for sure. And yet here I am consoling a guy so deeply drenched in woes, with a line that can hardly stand on its own against some solid reasoning.  Say I miss out on an opportunity to buy a land at a very good price. And later, I realise that this one was plagued with problems of all sorts. Unless this happens, the apparent bad event, previously, will remain bad. As much soothing effect as this assurance can have, I am afraid it is one of the most poorly thought of lines. Metaphorically, the line puts the cart in front of the horse. Let the horse come in front, and then go about with your consolation.

This liner again crumbles like a mud-pie under the thrust of reason. Let’s try and understand the conception of a dream. I am dreaming vigorously of a date with Kristen Stewart, that she is swooning head over heels over me. Suddenly a mosquito bites me and I wake up in my wretched, pathetic bed; in a land where time stands still. How and when does one know that it’s a dream? Only when the dream has ended and when you have something ‘real’ to compare it against. By virtue of this understanding, we are in a position to call this world a dream only ‘when this life has ended and we have some concrete reality to compare it against’. Until then ours is the hopeless case of an agnostic.

Someone with this excuse to end a relation disappoints me. Not only is he/she not mature enough to understand the ‘Necessity of variation’; worse still, the expectation signifies the narcissism involved. I have one thing to say, if you really wanted so much in common, marry/fall in love with yourself, you narcissist moron.

The causticity in some of the lines is totally impersonal; only to blow some steam off. Cheers to the 25th blog post! A personal thanks to the followers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Relations, Vegetarianism and Principle of Minima

With changing social dynamics, the question of making new friends can get tricky. When exposed to a new set of people (like at your workplace, after your college), you are required to make new friends. You could, like the new age ‘practical man’ (meant in my most sarcastic tone), make friends based on utility. Pick those guys with whom you’d expect to get a lot of work done. As ridiculous as it might sound to some, it ‘actually’ happens. Ethicists might raise a hue and a cry at this idea, citing the selfishness present at its core. The other alternative is to befriend those people who make you feel good; those whom you like talking to. A philosopher, basing his arguments on pure rationale, is not happy with this either. Why? Because there is a certain amount of selfishness in the second option too. The people you’d befriend in the second case are those who make ‘you’ feel good, and this option is obviously selfish. Selfishness is inherent in either case. The solution out of this dichotomy is to choose that option which minimizes the selfishness involved. Since zero selfishness remains only an ideal, the next best thing is to minimize it. The principle of minima if you will. And clearly, selfishness is minimum in the second. Making people feel good just because it makes you feel good is the nearest that we can reach to the ideal.

This (principle of minima) is the only logical basis of vegetarianism. All those fanatics who claim zero harm by being a vegetarian are only fooling themselves. Now the concept of vegetarianism is very subjective – eggs are vegetarian to some and not so to others; ditto with onions, fish etc. Again, where is the vegetarianism in our killing at least thousands of microbes (if not more) to have a glass of clean water? There is selfishness involved in both cases (of a vegan and a non-vegan diet). The amount is lesser in the former – that is the best that we can do. Please don’t think that I want the non-vegans to turn vegans based on this post. If that were to happen, we would face an acute crisis of providing employment to the current butchers. What should/would they do? I am of the firm contention that the world is too good a design for me or you to help it. (In an absolute sense)

In an abstract frame work, knowing that a certain amount of both good and bad is attached with every activity of ours (the proof of which is  a little abstract, I will skip it) , the only way out is a minimization of the negative. If one were to think that doing nothing (neither good nor bad, a very passive morbid life) is a solution, the walls are better examples. To even arrive at this analysis, one has to do some activity. In other words, the wheel is already in motion by the time we realize it, and we are moving with it. The solution is futile because it attempts to realize that a boomerang comes back without even hurling it! Its well nigh impossible.

P.S: Another instance of Math and its applicability to daily life situations. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Necessity of Variation

Before dwelling into the post, a word or two seem(s) fitting with the latest developments around me.  I have taken the liberty of sending an automated notification for every new post of mine to a select group of my friends/acquaintances. If anyone deems it to be a nuisance, or is uninterested, feel free to let me know that and I will make the necessary changes. Any of the other visitors interested in availing of the same, please let me know. I will be honored with the knowledge of a loyal reader. The second is that some people feel an aura of haughtiness in my blog posts, especially so due to the strong persuasive tone. I am sorry but I have always believed that truth is no body’s property. That I endorse something means that there is an ideal out there and I have found it to pass all my tests of reason. I make absolutely no claim to it. Besides with very little thinking, it will be obvious to anyone that every act is in some ways or the other an imitation of a previous one.

The current post has most of its underlying ideas from the previous posts. Since the casual reader has mostly missed them, and the abstract-averse ones have misinterpreted them, another ensemble seems reasonable. It seems almost impossible to make peace with people differing from us. The orthodox and the modern, the proponents of classic rock and those of modern punk/grunge, Mahesh’s fans and Pawan’s ,(the examples are endless) have always been warring.  Expecting people to think exactly like us is dangerous on many accounts. If everybody were to like the macho man, where would the new-age metro-sexual go? Ditto with simpletons and flashy-females. You need both kinds of people- those who like the former and the others who like the latter. Expecting the same shoe size to cater to all is more of a fanatic whim based on little or no thinking. The situation that would result from exactly identical tastes of all populace is that of a moribund, stagnant equilibrium.  This is the first problem – that having identical tastes is disastrous, in that it is morbid.

The second point is that there is no rationale in a preference. You cannot deduce a preference. Mostly it is so that you ‘prefer’ something (because of sensual causality) and then substantiate it. This is "the" sequence of steps and not the reverse, i.e. you don’t reason it out first. Somehow I got used to listening to Bon Jovi and then I saw the positives in the band – good lyrics, ballads etc. Again, what can be reasons for liking something can be equally good reasons for not liking it. That Bon Jovi composes good ballads has him termed a sissy by heavy metal fans. Further, what we perceive is our own world. As much as it appears and appeals to us that there is a common basis for preferences, I am afraid there is none. The differences in perceptions are subtle for normal people; but can best be exemplified in the extreme case of a blind guy denying the existence of sun because he doesn’t see it!! The same it has been with preferences. 

It is not a’ matter of fact’ ly dynamic (like the sun rising in the east), this process of liking something, for all of us to have the same set of preferences. Knowing that it cannot be so, I request people to have greater conviction in their tastes and not rub them onto others. A step further, all these tastes are sub-sets of a super set. Like sarcasm, farce, and other kinds of humor are parts of the ‘whole’ called humor; the whole doesn’t exist without the parts. This whole and part relation is the necessity of variation.