Sunday, July 23, 2017

Book Review: Think: A compelling introduction to philosophy

Think: A compelling introduction to philosophy by Simon Blackburn is an overview of most of the important questions answered by philosophy. The author mentions at the outset: "This book is for people who want to think about the big themes: knowledge, reason, truth, mind, freedom, destiny, identity, God, goodness, justice - the things that men and women wonder about naturally" The first chapter itself set in motion my efforts to think. For, as the author puts it rather dramatically, Knowledge began "on 10 November 1619.      On that date...the French mathematician and philosopher RenĂ© Descartes...opened the unfolding of the one true way to find knowledge." And the scientific revolution left us with more problems, a significant one of which is analyzed next - mind. How the knowledge of our own minds fares vis-a-vis the knowledge of the rest of the world. How to understand things and describe them we have come to specify various concepts that are rule-governed, which has given rise to realism, conceptual-ism, and nomilalism. Our idea always is to find harmony between our thoughts and the world, the bridge we build between past and future. The sense of what the physical world contains and how our minds fit into it, are all topics which keep the finest thinkers of each generation busy. There always is the hope of a better world.
The book goes on to discuss other such topics, like, mind, free will, etc.

I enjoyed the book. I think it reflected many of my thoughts. For example, see the discussion about self. In one word, self-reflection represent human nature. "Human beings are relentlessly capable of reflecting on themselves. We might do something out of habit, but then we can begin to reflect on the habit. We can habitually think things, and then reflect on what we are thinking." (I have written about this, how the very idea of philosophical thoughts arises from a biological need!)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: Internal time management

'Internal time management: slowing the pace of life' by  Harold L Taylor. This book begins with an admission. "We’re not that great at judging the passage of time since our concept of time is influenced by many things." Hence there is a need for holistic time management, which should address the problems involved in ensuring a happier, healthier, longer, more productive and fulfilling life. The first chapter, 'time is in the eye of the beholder', harps on the necessity for internal time management, to account for personal priorities while living a fuller life and achieve significant goals. How to slow down one's perception of time such that one feels fuller, is discussed next. Here, the thrust is on the need to do things slower, as, the faster one goes, the faster, life seems to go. The need to choose memorable events and accomplishments that will stick with one for a lifetime, and will have a major impact on ones life, is covered in next. 
Then comes variety, the spice of life. Its significance in providing each experience unique, is elaborated with reference to the necessity of maintaining a wider circle of frends and associates. What is touched upon then is the danger of overloading, where, if one does not spend adequate attention to  a task, one may lose much more than one's gain.
The danger of rushing through life, multitasking, and always thinking ahead about the next item on a “To Do” list, comes next. Simply put, "Later in life one will wonder where the time went".
 What follows is one of my common doubts, how to do things in a mindfull manner. The use of planners notes, etc. in ensuring one's concentration to the present, is described here.
The secret of assuring a good, successful life is simple - keep life simple. How to keep life free of 'the complexity crisis', 'the paradox of choice', or other pitfalls of modern times is covered. And technology is always there to seduce one. Here, use creativity to one's advantage, author tells.
I liked this short guide. Unlike many books dealing with such topics, where the authors turn one to the abstract and give a permanent feeling of guilt to the reader that one isn't doing things the correct way, this book reasons each and every suggestion well. "Go at you own speed, make your own memories. For, what one person may consider a waste of time, another may see as a gift of time"

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Fermi Paradox: Is This an Answer?

The Fermi Paradox: Many stars are older than the sun and the evolution of intelligence on Earth was a long and slow process. There is every reason to suppose therefore that intelligent life could have appeared on other worlds long before ours. Assuming more or less uniform conditions throughout galaxies, we should expect that technological civilizations have arisen millions if not billions of years ago. But it is just 5,500 years since the earliest writing in Ancient Sumeria and Egypt, 400 years since the first telescope, 120 years since the first radio communications and 30 years since the dawn of the World Wide Web.

If my finding I proposed in my book 'The Unsure Male' is right, the brilliant technological advance of our civilization, to a substantial degree, happened as efforts taken by human beings in avoiding post mating agony. And in that case, we need not expect such a technological civilization as ours, elsewhere. Could this be an answer to the Fermi paradox?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: Sex and Character

The idea behind this book, tells Otto Weininger, the author of 'Sex and Character', is an attempt to, rather than collecting distinguishing characters, to refer to a single principle, the whole contrast between man and woman.
"A blunt Separation of them into males or females no longer suffices for the known facts," the author tells at the beginning itself. Each of us being composed of both the male element and the female element in differing proportions, certain laws can be formed to explain their union, author continues. "For true sexual union it is necessary that there come together a complete male (M) and a complete female (F), even although in different cases the M and F are distributed between the two individuals in different proportions." Thus for a man who is 3/4M and 1/4W, the best partner shall be a woman who is 1/4M and 3/4W.
He then talks of the laws of sexual attraction, that we always should respect the natural. For example, the use of a substituted stallion in impregnating a mare results in the progeny showing extreme nervousness. Which, the author says, should be discouraging marriages for reasons other than love. Here he also observes that the degeneration of modern Jew is because of things like this.
While examining cases of sexual inversion, like homo sexuality, where there is invariably an anatomical approximation to the opposite sex, the book talks of the parts played by both 'very female men' and 'very male women'. The existence of a female mental type and a male mental type and how these affect the social life, along with women and their emancipation is analyzed next.
Now comes the second part of the book, where the sexual types of male and female is further analyzed. The difference between them is notable in the different way in which men and women enter the period of puberty. "In the case of the male the onset of puberty is a crisis; he feels that something new and strange has come into his being, that something has been added to his powers and feelings independently of his will. The physiological stimulus to sexual activity appears to come from outside his being, to be independent of his will, and many men remember the disturbing event throughout their after lives. The woman, on the other hand, not only is not disturbed by the onset of puberty, but feels that her importance has been increased by it." And when it comes to intellectual pursuits, with the woman, thinking and feeling are identical, for man they are in opposition.
Areas like psychology, psychical phenomena, like perception and sensation, and logic and ethics, are then examined to discover the differences between different members of humanity, always, man coming out in bright colors. 
Even in other areas one choose to study, though there will be found a good number of men, representation of women shall be scant. Author says here, "the woman does not interest herself about herself", something I have tried to reason in my book 'The Unsure male'!
While examining other aspects of sexual urge, author mentions of the prostitute instinct, to covet being sexually excited by any stranger, as another feminine feature.
The essence of this discussion, if I put in the author's words is this: "man possesses sexual organs; her sexual organs possess woman."
This book is a well researched one, given the half cooked ideas existing in our midst, especially on matters concerning the female sex. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why are human societies unstable?

Why are human societies unstable?
In the past our societies were top heavy. Whenever a change was called for, like death or defeat of the ruler in war, the settlement found itself shattered to the core. Lack of stability was writ large on our ancient cultures.
Now there is no weight on top. Each part of the bottom goes on it's own way, the heavier parts make a stable group, and the lighter ones, idle. Though the idle ones  remain poor, others extend a helping hand.
In fact it is costly to be poor. People don't realize this as the cost is quietly borne by everyone in the society, except the ones permitted to be poor. Building the necessary infrastructure to enable the poor to lead a life, that too of an acceptable living standard, and constantly monitoring all related aspects, adds to society's load. It is the unequal distribution of this load that makes a society unstable.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Book Review: The Natural History of Religion

The Natural History of Religion by David Hume. The book, author tells at the beginning, examines two main questions regarding religion. One, that concerning its foundation in reason, and two, that concerning its origin in human nature.
The book begins by examining the primary forms of religion. Here, the author finds that the more we go into antiquity, the more do we find mankind plunged into polytheism. Reflecting further, he concludes that in all nations which have embraced polytheism, the first ideas of religion arose, not from a contemplation of the works of nature, but from a concern with regard to the events of life, and from the incessant hopes and fears which actuate the human mind. Also polytheism is more generous in distributing imponderables, the deities themselves do not adorn all the positions of stature.
Towards the last sections of the book, the origin of theism from polytheism is examined. Here, the author mentions of the necessity of a more holistic appreciation. The constantly changing human mind has a natural tendency to rise from idolatry to theism, and to sink again from theism into idolatry.
I liked this book. I can observe that this book poses more questions than answers. If there were reasons that brought polytheism to the early man, how those were met when he resorted to theism? Isn't it likely that we will again resort to polytheism, given that the present religious climate is not at all conducive to a healthy world, an indication that theism is not doing its job? Isn't the rather violent social atmosphere of these days, a pointer to such a move?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Science of Language

'Science of Language', by Max Muller, is a collection of interesting essays. The first one answers the question, 'how language can be called a science'. Author talks here about the need for re-formation of the word language, which actually should have been 'mythology', a combination of mythos (word) and logos (speech), and would have been accepted as a natural science. And since the word 'mythology' is already used elsewhere, let us adopt "science of language", says author.
In the next 'lecture', author talks about the formation and growth of language from mere gestures of communication, where artificial signs came to be fixed by mutual consent. Hence, the author says, the development of languages would have been taking place independent of each other and driven solely by convenience. There is no locus standi for a mother-daughter relationship here, between different languages, the book posits. 
Next lecture examines how laws could have come to language, when people had no idea about the possibility, benefit or use of laws. Here, author says, man happened to obey certain rules of language without knowing their existence, which over time became definite laws. Mutual consent being the most significant factor here, this is giving rise to plenty of dialects. This fact is the reason why schemes to prune languages of their irregularities do not succeed well. 
After examining the evolution of grammatical structure for different languages, and mentioning why, efforts to establish a relationship between those languages need not see success ("much real learning and ingenuity was wasted on this question"), the author opines that the proliferation of foreign words in languages is only incidental. 
Thereafter occurs a discussion on the language and wisdom of Indians, and how there are signs of mutual influence between Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Persian, German, etc., while supporting author's view that each language is completely independent. "It is impossible to class all languages genealogically, and thus to have a common origin of language".
Next dissertation is about the origin of language. "How images of the eye and all the sensations of our senses could be represented by sounds. Using sounds to express thought as well as for exciting thought, ie., change colour into sound and sound into thought?". Author goes further. "If we want to gain an insight into the faculty of flying, .. compare the structure of birds with that of other animals which are devoid of that faculty,..and thus we can find that man differs from other beings only in mental faculty" Author concludes that language is the result of rational combination of human speech along with mental instinct. The first natural and instinctive utterances of different clans, would fully account both for the first origin and for the first divergence of human speech. And the differing elements of speech we can observe in nature is evidently incompatible with the admission of one common source.
I liked this. It vehemently opposes the most popular idea of language: that it is only a means of communication. Especially, something formally developed for this. I think it adds support to the views I expressed through my hub          :

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Sometimes I wonder , how is that each one of my friends happens to be so memorable a character? One among them, who is also a little mo...