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).