One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year

The year was 1999 and I was interning at an auto-workshop as part of requirement for completion of my technical training certification. Although the people around were friendly but the weather was not friendly at all. At mornings, you wouldn't like to touch any metal object as they were brutally cold and it was one of the reasons that everyone were keeping the mostly used spanner (wrench) sizes in their pockets to keep them warm and at times, it was creating small conflicts. To avoid the conflicts over spanners, some had bought their own spanners and had marked them. Aside from cold, the long distances that we were riding our bicycles in the mornings to work and at nights back to home, were really draining our energies. So, on the eve of the New Year, we were hoping to have a day off on the January 1st. We went to the grand master, who was a Christian (Muslims weren't celebrating the new year of the Georgian Calender) and asked for a day off in celebration of new year. He smiled in his puffed-up style and said, "If we shut the workshop on the first day of new year, it would be a bad omen for the rest of the year. Tomorrow, we are going to work longer so we could get more work during the year". That was the most unexpected answer and was more biting than the chilling cold. 

Now, that I see a sudden burst of Happy New Year messages, I wonder if anyone really cares about the first day of New Year? May be some like to spend their first day of new year in writing their resolutions, but I would delay that for days to come and I will try to do 2 things, start working on my new project (So, I have a meaningful and productive year ahead of me) and also think around 1 minute ideas for changing some neglected habits with "big" impacts (To be an agent of change, at least in myself in the new year). Let' see... Before forgetting, let me wish you a Happy New Year (Although nothing changes by beginning of new calender but wishes have placebo effect and that is better than nothing)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Newton's Apple and Mullah's Walnut

So, we just survived an apocalypse that was scheduled by avid people (modern) who have a deterministic view of history. Although, it is fun to read the jokes around such events and then forget them soon afterwards but it is noteworthy that, it is not just Mayan Calender that was used to create global gossip and believe it or not, some philosophers and religions have their own versions of  "deterministic view of history".  As we all know, deterministic views of history are and have been the sources of painful and seemingly unending tragic conflicts. A deterministic view of history envisions global hegemony for an Utopian world at the end of history that we can call "the promised time". I expect that, "all know" religious versions of deterministic history" so I am not going to repeat them and instead  go after the most notable name among philosophers with  a deterministic view of history; George Frederick Hegel's dialectical progression of time and the triumph of reason  by the end of history (The Utopia of rationality, in which rational form of society and state will become victorious at end of history) was the source of inspiration for Marx to envision the hegemony of proletariat (victory of communist utopia) and also the source of inspiration for Francis Fukuyama's article, "The End of History" in 1989 to declare the  collapse of Soviet Union as sign of "victory of rational societies" (This article was enlarged into the book, "The End of History and the Last Man" in 1992). Fukuyama was so quick in declaring victory of "rational societies" that, the 9/11 attack and the chaotic decade following it seems the beginning of a new history  that is strongly trending towards irrational societies (He may now write, "The Beginning of New History; Are humans fed up with rationality?").

My purpose for this introduction was to emphasize that, though it is really tempting to think of an ultimate version of rationality or in case of religions, an ultimate version of belief system that people slowly realize and finally accept and bring perpetual peace but perpetual peace by dominance is both against nature and human nature (Evolution doesn't predict/envision a final product).

Let me make it light by bringing two similar legends, one from 13th century Islamic world (A time when Muslims were dominant power) and one from 17th century Europe (an early period of modern Europe) with different conclusions that each represents two different world of ideas that are condemned to not reach to a consensus (even if the contents of the observations are the same as in the case of the following myths). Although, 13th century and 17th century look distant but the core ideas of those times have come back strongly (of course in new costumes) in our time....

Again, I expect that you all are familiar with the Newton's apple incident but is not going to harm repeating it for sake of comparison; On a hot summer day after lunch, Issac Newton was sitting under an apple tree and reading that apple fell ("and hit his head"). It made him wonder, why the apple didn't go up or sideways and fell towards center of earth. This incident became the start of a contemplation and experiments that lasted for two decades to become Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. In short, the falling of an apple on the head of Newton led him to conclusion (after two decades) that from smallest particle to largest objects in the Universe, all have to follow the forces/laws of Nature without exception.

Now, let compare it with another legend from 13th century legendary Mullah Nasreddin, a sufi and wise character that is popular for highlighting paradoxical traditions by his lighthearted and wise acts;

At noon of a hot day, Mullah stopped by a tall walnut tree to take siesta. While he was laying on his back under the tree, he noticed a big watermelon growing on a thin vine near the ground. Mullah looked up and prayed, "Oh God, I am wondering, how the small walnuts grow on the strong branches of this huge tree and the large watermelon grows on the weak vine that runs on the ground. Logically, it doesn't make sense. Shouldn't big watermelons grow on strong branches of tree and small walnuts grow on the weak vines?" .... At the very moment, a walnut fell from high up on tree and hit the forehead of Mullah.... "Ah, I understood the Nature's logic. If a large watermelon fell from  high up of tree and hit my forehead, I could have died."... Mullah Nusreddin thanked God...

Although, Newton's Apple and Nasreddin's Walnut is not comparable but still, the purpose of this comparison was to highlight that observing Nature doesn't mean reaching the same conclusions. The religious scholars observe the Nature and see the Evidence of God in them and the secular scholars observe the Nature and see no evidence for God and I don't think, this division of perspectives will be resolved at any time in coming future. But why is this important? This is important because both secular and religious scholars draw the laws from Nature, with secular emphasizing the role of humans in making of laws and religious scholars emphasize on the holy scriptures in making of laws. As the divide of secular and religious thoughts are not going to reach a census in any coming time that we could call the end of history hence, the only way out is the Humans Rights that protect all humans and allow everyone to have the freedom of their beliefs and thoughts. If only religious people and secular people, instead of emphasizing on dominating the world and falsifying each other, start emphasizing on Human Rights, the world would become much better place and would restore the trust of people in religious and secular principles. I know, it is too dreamy to even think of compromise between these two worlds but still there are a lot of people that value human lives and dignity above everything else and this knol is dedicated to them... Cheers :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The 5th Dimension

Although our senses are familiar with 4 dimensions, 3-D space and Time as fourth dimension, there is one more dimension (metaphorically) that we sense but have not become efficient to communicate well, as we do in case of the Space-Time and that is; the distance between humans. While other 4 dimensions need  an outward looking approach to make a good sense, the 5th dimension requires an inward looking approach to make a good sense of it. In Sufi world, it was evolved into a well developed body of knowledge but unfortunately, this tradition is dying fast. In our time, people take great pride for their ability in critical thinking and analyzing past or possible future outcomes by hypothesizing/creating All Possible Scenarios based on observable data but it takes me with great surprise that, for the last few years that I have read tens of books and articles on the so called psychological findings, they have proved to me, too wee in their practicality and ability to guide in how to become more efficient in sensing the 5th dimension. When I compare them with manuals of Sufis that are usually only few sentences on different aspects of how to self-control and treat others, the distinctions  become more evident and it tells me that just understanding, how humans have evolved and how their brains works do not make a body of knowledge useful unless, it gets engineered into some sort of practical manuals. Take the Sufi manual of speech for example, that is commonly known as four gates of speech;

"Before you speak, make sure your words pass through these four gates;

1. Are these words true? if it passes this criteria then ask, 

2. Are they necessary? if it passes this gate then ask, 

3. Are they beneficial? if it passes through this one also then ask,

4. Are they kind?

If a speech passes all these four gates then definitely, those words will make people around more open-minded in accepting others as him/her and see through curtains that humans have constructed over ages to think of themselves above the average. The 5th dimensional is a blurred area mainly because of strong susceptibility of humans to "above average effect" or Illusory Superiority that get even worst across human groups. Here is another practical manual, that have turned studies in how to do things;

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Involuntary Meditation

What really interests me is that, "the metabolic activity of the brain is remarkably constant over time (In case of sleep deprivation or electrical stimulants, it definitely changes), and despite its relatively small (in the average adult human, the brain represents about 2% of the body weight), the brain consume about 20% of the oxygen and, hence, calories consumed by the body"1. The heavy investment of energy in the brain is just an illustration of what "we already know", the survival value of brain and for sure, there are several defensive mechanisms for its protections. If the skull is the physical defense of brain, there must be some behavioral defenses for the functions of brain. One of the behavioral defenses of brain is sleeping, that has mainly a energy restorative function; " Compared with wakefulness, sleep reduces brain glucose demands to 44% and oxygen demands to 25%. Although, ATP (cellular energy currency) levels are maintained at a steady state levels during spontaneous waking but the levels exhibit a surge in the initial hours of sleep in brain regions with predominantly wake-active neuronal activity."2 

OK, it is understood that, sleeping has an energy restorative function, but what about dreams? What is their function? Beck defines it, "dream is a visual phenomenon occurring during sleep. Its content is relatively uninfluenced by the immediate external environment." and immediately clarifies the vague nature of its reporting by subjects, "The interpretation of dreams, unlike certain other phenomena, is so dependent on the introspective report of the subject that there is no inter rater reliability regarding the phenomenon of the dream itself. In other words, it is a “private”—as opposed to a “public”—experience". 3 Despite of the limitation in dream interpretations, Beck thinks that, there are correlations between the contents of waking fantasies (waking ideation),  contents of dreams during sleeping and personality and hypothesizes that, it is a continuum process of spontaneous thoughts from verbal to visual.

From this introduction, two points becomes somewhat obvious; (a) high  energy consumption of brain and sleeping as a energy restorative behavior, (b) there appears to be a correlation between spontaneous thoughts from verbal (memory pop ups), to verbal-visual thoughts (daydreaming) to visual (dreams during sleep) with personality. If personality is a cohesive force among a range of spontaneous thoughts, then there  is the likelihood of  continuity from involuntary thoughts to voluntary thoughts as is suggested by Freudian structural division of personality between id, ego and superego; While id is involuntary instinctual needs, the ego is voluntary part, making them communicable and agreeable to external world's demands and superego refines them most agreeing to conscience. Coming back to our topic, if dreaming during sleep and wake ideations during wake-sleep are spontaneous thoughts to restore energy then, are voluntary behaviors, consciously acting for energy restoration? Prayer and active meditation come as two universal behaviors (irrespective of diversity in practices and underlying philosophies or the questions on their rationales  but, they differ from involuntary thoughts in consumption of energy. Still, the results or the consequences of these involuntary and voluntary behaviors are the same; "significant effect" on blood circulation and metabolism of nervous system. 4 Having said all these, it is noteworthy that, most of the hypotheses about mind and associated processes are speculative and mind-body/brain problem is still not resolved. It was just an effort to make a sense of common experiences. Although, structural divisions of mind and linking spontaneous and non-spontaneous meditations to them is mostly speculative but they are at least explaining vaguely understood phenomena for time being. Any sort of rational commentary or clarifications are most welcomed.

Speculative diagram of "structural inter-relationship of energy restorative behaviors"; KD

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Human Paradox

“What does that symbol do on your body armor?”... Colonel

“A peace symbol, Sir!”.... Private Joker (war correspondent)

“Where did you get it?”

“I don't remember, Sir!”

“What is written on your helmet?”

“Born to Kill, Sir”

“Born to kill on your helmet and you wear a peace button... what is that supposed to mean... some sort of joke!!!?”... Colonel asks angrily

“No Sir!”... Joker

“What does it supposed to mean???”

“I don't know, Sir!”

“You don't know very much... Do you??.....You better to ask your ass or I will get a giant shit out of you !!!”

“Yes Sir!!!”

“You answer my question or you will be standing tall before the men”

“I think, I was suggesting something about duality of men, Sir!”


“The duality of men, the Yin Yang thing, Sir!!!”

Colonel pauses for a while...appears to be thinking and then continues asking,

“Whose side are you, son???”

“Our side, Sir!”

“Do you love your country?”

“Yes, Sir!”

“How about getting into the program...Why don't you jump in the program for the big win”

“Yes, Sir!”

“Son, all I ask my marines is to obey my orders with the word of God...We are here to help the Vietnamese because inside of every gook is an American trying to get out... it is hard boiled world, Son...We try to keep our hate until this peace craze is over”...

“Aye Aye, Sir!”

and then both salute each other...

This is my favorite dialogue from a scene of the 1987 movie, “Metal Jacket”... (I understand that the language of dialogue is not appropriate but it is also a fact that is the language of the world's most popular entertainment giant; Hollywood and expect that the main message is not sacrificed for the language ). May be it is the best depiction of yin yang thing by any writer I know...What I like most is the composition of the symbols; Peace medallion (as representative of conscious mind) and "Born to Kill" (as representative of unconscious mind)... Everyone has its own way of looking at works of arts and personally, I look at compositions in them, just like a poet compose words to express his/her inner-self . Even arranging things in a manner that speak something meaningful is a work of art to me. I usually do this to objects around me and I call it "composition". When I moved to the new apartment, it had three paintings in it (of course printed ones and I was thinking "to compose" them).. The first one has a giant peace symbol with faces of people from around the world in the background and a sentence in the bottom saying, “Give peace a chance”... The second one is Van Gogh's “starry night” and third one is an abstract art with the title, “les bites dela mer” … So, according to my "composition"  these three paintings/portraits together speak about human condition. Humans want peace but they are scared from each other (doesn't matter if they are weak or strong; Just look at expenditures and the conflict hotpots; they speak by themselves) and are apathetic to majority that are out of the sphere of their interests (like abstract arts that are usually disconnected with reality)...

At unconscious level, humans might not be very different from other animals and it is appears that conscious mind have evolved to make our behaviors agreeable as docile humans and it is why, we see there are contradictions between talks and actions on peace, empathy and human rights. They say actions speak louder than words but perhaps not. Despite of contradictions between words and actions, men have learned to rationalize the contradictions so artfully that, they don't feel it much.  Human contradictions appear in everything that humans have a hand in it. Look at this statement for example, “God has created man on His image”... If humans by nature are full of contradictions and humans are presumably an image of God then, you know what I mean (It is a clear contradictions but humans have learned to make a way out; wherever they fail to rationalize they take refuge into beliefs. Believing means accepting something as "self-evident truth" that can't be questioned)... Frankly, despite of my respects for all religions, recently it has become hard for me to rationalize the clear contradictions that I observe. Let's take the value of human life in the Muslim world for example. From one side we frequently hear that, “the murder of a single human being is like murder of whole humanity” and other side we see planned campaigns of text messaging and social media messages in Quetta city of Pakistan quoting, “Kill the infidels, wherever you find them” and then we see vegetable vendors, coal miners, passengers and shop keepers are targeted killed all over the city. It looks to me that, we are all like the Private Joker in the “Metal Jacket” movie wearing peace medallions on our armor jackets and “born to kill” statement on our helmets and are scared of every other human beings that does not belong to our groups. The same is true about Human Rights cries. Wherever, the interests of the international community lies, they rush for “humanitarian interference” and where there is not much of interests then, they become apathetic. Everyone might draw their own conclusions from human paradoxes and my conclusion is that, for living it is required to stand to the world, otherwise face the barbarism of hardliners/fundamentalists/extremists (name doesn't matter; simply most scared people who see their safety in destruction of others) and apathy of moderates.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Are You?

"What are you?"... A secular? , atheist?, liberal?, agnostic?, religious? , sufi?, fundamentalist? , nationalist, huamnist... and so many other ...ists? This is the most damning question ever to me. Why should someone define one by circles that others have created? OR, how come it became one's responsibility to defend worldviews that set limits for others? Or even clearer, how it makes sense at all to create an imaginary boundary and define others by that, unless you want to DAMN others. If people in power does so, it is understandable, as it serves their interests but I have really  hard times to understand when commoners do so. It is good, if these terms or relevant movements  are debated rationally or discussed by scholars to bust them out and it makes sense to entitle those who use these terms for their purposes but entitling commoners with these terms is non-sense. 

I can't walk properly in others' shoes. I am fine in my own shoes. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A comment on US election

I don't know, if you have read Ghulam Abbas' short story, "Overcoat" (If you have not read it yet, I strongly recommend to read this short story). I suppose, all those who have attended high school in Pakistan is familiar with this short story. OK, let me come to the point; a paragraph of the story reads (translation may never come close to original but hope you get the point), 

".......Now, it was 7 O'Clock and he was walking on sidewalk of the Mall road. Orchestra music was playing in a restaurant. There was more people outside the restaurant than inside. Most of people outside  the restaurant were drivers, coachmen, vegetable sellers who had sold their fruits and were standing there with their empty baskets and some passersby that have stopped there; some of them were laborers and the rest were beggars. Although it was a western music but the people outside of the restaurant were looking more fond of the music than people inside as they were not making any noises and silently listening to the music. The young man stopped for a while and then continued his walk....."

It seems that, there are more zeal and interests outside US about the current US election than among US citizen inside US (Please forgive me; I have no intention to offend anyone. It is just this paragraph from Ghulam Abbas' short story that came to me and I could not stopped myself but to share it). What if we don't have a say in the election but at least we can enjoy the ORCHESTRA (Just like the people who couldn't afford the food in the restaurant but still stopped to enjoy the music that, they were not understanding).....  Cheer :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Learning to enjoy misunderstanding

One of the basic drive of curiosity is pleasure. People gather information about things that do not have survival value or any other kinds of utility but they enjoy doing them. In college, I had a friend who was frequently visiting provincial library. The library had a compilation of newspapers collated in chronological order. Strangely, he was not going to library to read books but to go through newspaper compilation to catalogue the records of cricket matches and cricketers. It was looking to me as wasting oneself. Later, when I experienced that, the more one learns about something, it gradually becomes interesting and then one starts to enjoy doing it. In other words, there are things that we have to learn in order to enjoy. Reading is one of such things. From my childhood, I was hearing that, books are men’s best friends. Now, I know why books are men’s best friends. You get the bests of what the bests of humanity had produced so far. If you enjoy reading books, you are definitely in many ways belong to future as only best of present make it to be in future. Reading is one of the must have habits for personal development, it is why I believe that, the greatest gift that parents can give to their children is to make them enjoy reading. By instilling the habit of enjoying reading, they not only provide their children the best of the teachers that humanity had produced but also satisfy a large part of drive that come from curiosity and hence save them from the evil habits that might come through curiosity. Curiosity is the initiative force for a range of addiction from smoking to video games.

OK, enough of benefits of reading but why I needed this introduction at the first place? I was needed to clear some of the confusions and misunderstanding. Although books and other forms of writings are the best thoughts of the authors but it is not necessary that readers have the same wavelength in thinking levels, the same kinds of tastes in usage of communication tricks or the time to invest in becoming familiar with thought processes and expression styles of the authors. Our limitations both in thought processes and lingual/communication preferences create usually barriers ripe for misunderstanding. It is the limitations that open the door for recommendations and interpretations. The recommendations and interpretations of the people we trust most or close to us, also influence our understanding. Still reading is thinking and the more one reads in particular area, the deeper becomes one’s levels of understanding and it is another important factor in levels of understanding.  In short, it is important to;

-          learn enjoying misunderstanding

-          learn enjoying criticism

-          learn enjoying limitations

-          learn enjoying unfamiliar or exotic expression/communication tricks

-          learn enjoying imaginative speculations

Despite of being sympathetic to human creations, when I read that, by end of century half of current 7000 languages are going to die and over last 500 years, half of world's languages have gone extinct, I scratch my head in an effort to make a sense out of it. I am not scratching my head on why people are concerned about language preservation (It is their area of interest and I look to interests as individual's niches in the growing 'cultural forests') but I am scratching my head to make a sense of it for myself. I look to language as an expression of human intelligence. It is the most economical way of communication compared to biochemical and physical communication (body language) and it is why human can afford to create complex cultures out it. I just can read and write in three languages and have some patchy familiarity with a couple of more languages and these are the limitation of my communication skills that sometime cause disadvantages for me. Having my limitations in mind, if I get concerned about preservation of 'dying languages', what can I do for them? To me, the majority of existing languages are already 'dead'. They are 'dead' for me because I can’t afford to learn them. I can't blame the world for losing half of the languages over past 500 years because it was beyond their capacity to maintain them. When a language loses its basic purpose; an economical way of communication then it becomes costly for individuals to learn and maintain them. There is no mystery or hypocrisy in it.

Just like my limitations in affording to learn more languages, I have similar limitations imposed by nature in knowing things. I can’t know about things that are beyond my physical world (like life after death, existence of supernatural beings etc). Yes, I can imagine about them but I have to make clear distinctions between “Real world” and “Imaginary Worlds”. Uncle Einstein says, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and I do enjoy imaginative speculations about possible scenarios for things or events beyond my physical world. There are things that are beyond my limits to prove with confidence so I can only tell, whether I “Believe” in them or Not (and that is something personal). 

As I said, the more we learn about something, the more interesting it becomes and the more interesting something, the more we enjoy doing them. If it is right then, it should be applicable to our limitations and its products such as misunderstanding, criticism and imaginative speculation :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cartoon's Perspective on Evolution

I love cartoons and I don't know, why nobody has tried to listen to their perspectives (OK, I am here to make them speak :) While, there are areas where biology becomes more of philosophy like cultural evolution, cartoons don't need all that. The time  of their creation and  their creators (should be intelligent, right? hehehe) are known... 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

The whole day, I was waiting for hurricane sandy to see, how it looks (may be it is because of media hype around it; Wish everybody stays safe :)... so, every time, I feel a wind blow, I go out to see the Sandy and so far, it is just normal winds mixed with rain (Looks good :)... The nice part was that, family and friends have called and asked, if I am safe (That is sweet; Thanks a lot :)...


Tuesday Morning Update; Luckily, our area didn't hit by hurricane, state of emergency has lifted and services have resumed (Good relief). It is really amusing to find that, doodling sublimate great part of mixed emotions for an expected "threat" into something that roughly may be called, "art"... Here is one of my doodles on a used envelope...


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Ego of Reductionism

This knol is 4th part of " why it takes time to have a centralist position?",   "Nature does not discriminate" and "Pure Rationalism is destined to failure".

And now, back to our first definitions,

I look to "rationalism as another name of reductionism". Logic is the art of reducing things to their fundamentals and by "pure reductionism", I mean fundamentalism in reductionist approach. While, reductionism helps us in clear understanding of things and correlating among different things to generalize our world views but we have not to forget that, these generalizations are our mechanical reflections of reality and is one among many others. For example, we reduce the matter to fundamental particles and it allows us to generalize the whole Universe as one but that can't explain everything. For life, we need another level and as you are aware, genes are the current currency. Apart from physical reality, we have mathematical and  digital realities that are other expressions of reductionism.

Cartoon Source; XKCD

Fine, the real world is far more complex and interactive than bits but what does it have to "nature" of things and why fundamentalism in reductionism is destined to failure?

As the main purpose of "reductionism" is to have an understanding of the world, so it is basically tied to humans. One of the most philosophical reductionist exercise was performed by Rene Descartes; he doubts everything but  can't doubt his own existence and famously declares, "I think, therefore I am". To understand "reducitonism", we need it to understand humans. Just for sake of current argument,  lets reduce humans to an individual like, "I" or "you". What "I" or "you" stands on? The core of "I" is "ego". Theoretically, ego is the mediator between human instincts and reality and it helps humans behave and appear as they seem to. Now, how "ego" mediate between reality and instincts depends on the cultural conditioning and it is why, we need to rationalize things. It is the urge of ego to make the interpretations of reality fitted to its cultural conditioning. If it fails to rationalize things properly, the ego won't be able to mediate well between reality and the basic instinctual desires and the results are either "suppression of instinctual desires" or "loose control" over it. For example, war is an abnormal situation, when the cultural norms under which egos were conditioned break down and egos lose the ability to mediate well between instinctual desires and reality and the "abnormal behaviors" such as killings, looting and all sorts of abuses come as common tragedies. Of course, ego still pushes to rationalize the instinctual desires by a cultural covers such as religion, nationalism, patriotism, or simply rationalism to continue its basic functions. Don't take it wrong. Ego in general is  for our good and it is the basic drive for goal settings, achievements, confidence and social responsibilities. However, the wrong cultural conditioning can lead to negative rationalization of instinctual desires. For example, the current cultural trend, in which children are conditioned around their "personal wants and liking" are making people less concerned on collective good or they escape social reprehensibility by negative rationalizations. This "selfish" and "narcissistic" ego is the result of reductionism based on "I" and "you" approach. "Do, what you want/Like" is just half of the reality in which, we live. The other half is, "Do/want for others as you want others want/do to you".

Just as mentioned earlier, Descartes reductionist exercise was to show that, "Man is a rational animal" as it is ascribed to Aristotle. Although Men have tendency to be rational but, are they really rational by their own standards of rationality? Basically rationality falls to serve two basic human needs; (1) to make one's world view based on evidences (epistemic rationalism) and (2) to help one makes right choices and function in best ways to optimize one's abilities/talents/safety (functional/instrumental rationalism).

It is not going to take time in finding countless examples and ways that, we (humans) tend to bypass rationality. Some big ones are culture, situations, costs, time, laziness, unfamiliarity (poor information) and pleasure/pain. If you are an optimist person, you may conclude; Yes, humans have the rational competence but may act or do bad reasoning due to performance errors based on some of the mentioned conditions. But, if you are a little bit skeptic, you may conclude; humans are not good at reasoning and the chances of errors are high due to different rational competences and conditioning and it is why, cross-questioning are needed to reduce the errors and a rational conclusion is an open ended inference.

Back to our Aristotelian definition of humans as, "rational animal"; Why he had used the term "rational animal"? Why he had compared humans with animals to define the rationalism? An  unequivocal explanation comes from observations that, animal behave under obligatory natural laws. Animals never had to devise laws, set standards of morality or claims of divine laws. It is only humans, who have the ability to understand natural laws by their observations, communicate to their consciences to set up the standards for nobility and morality and obligate themselves to things, that are not obligated by nature, e.g, to help people in need that are genetically and culturally distant. Despite a common characteristics of humans in understanding and making higher standards than natural laws based on their rationality, the standards of rationalism greatly vary and naturally the standards of morality and that is something, I like to discuss in the next knol.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dedicated to Malala

Intolerance and supremacism are interwoven and is a cultural trend that grow in a beaten and scared society, that finds its safety in destruction and denial of others. The cover might be any of fancy words that rationalize damning of others. It doesn't matter, what one stands for, if he/she gets scared of others' expressions or existence ..... it is the symptom for it..... Names doesn't matter as it changes with time but the symptom matters. It comes again and again under different banners. I understand, some may get irritate by usage of animal, women or stereotypical faces but I think, it is one of the ways to let this symptom show off... Sensitivity to women, animals, books, cartoons, expressions are not ..... you know, what I mean...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rationalization illustrated

People have become sophisticated and have learned to rationalize their acts and ideas. I have tried to illustrate this process via my cartOOns (In case, you couldn't get my point, I will take blame for that).  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why it takes time to have a centralist position?

This knol is 3rd part of "Nature does not discriminate"  and "Pure Rationalism is destined to failure"

To me, it is wrong to think that, one of the main jobs of philosophy is to look for meaning in life. Aristotle is thought as father of logic and he had formulated his logic approximately 23 and half century ago and have remained the core of deductive reasoning. Last century new efforts were made to apply logic to mathematics and vice versa (Gottlob Fregeand Bertrand Russell among big names). But despite of BIG names in Philosophy and its long history that stretches over three millennia, it has failed to answer the main questions, that revolve around the meaning of life. Luckily, George Dvorsky has gathered 8 of these core questions in his recent article, "8 Great Philosophical Questions That We’ll Never Solve" so, I can just skip this part.

So, now the question arise, "if it is not the job of philosophy to find meaning in life, then what does it do for life?" . Well, one of its main jobs is to add value to life OR some may like to say, add value to survival. This is really fortunate that, Philosophy can't find answer to big questions that are the "sources for 'meaning' in life". If Philosophers were able to really convincingly answer these questions, there would be as many religions out there, as many philosophers. By its nature, philosophy is argumentative and appears absurd, irrational, irrelevant and non-philosophical to opposing sides. So, by questioning and arguing the accepted rationales, meanings and systems, it helps in making them to stay open and evolve (Previously, we argued, life is an open system).  Philosophical movements like Stoicism, Epicureanism and even modern one Existentialism were not to provide meaning in life but to add values in it.

 My response; People do not challenge each other on their visions but on
their identities,that are borrowed from past as they have learned past better
 than  learning from them....
Some also may like to know, if philosophy can't answer core questions in meaning of life then, why bother at first place about the meaning? What, I understand is that, it is "Human Nature" to look for meaning and Human Nature and Human Condition are two core areas around which major philosophies revolve.

One may blame a lot of thing for the great collapse of communist block in previous century but frankly, the human nature was the main force in driving it to failure (It is the favorite argument of the libertarians and I agree with it). Competition is part of human nature and it never ceases. Of course, everybody is born with talents but neither all talents are equal nor the talent of putting others' talents in use is universal.  The only way to bring equality is to manage populations and it is evident from the very beginning that, driving people against their nature is destined to failure. Likewise, the current visible cracks in the capitalism are another show of force by human nature. From ancient times, greed was symbolized by dragon or a large snake that has collected piles of gold and protects it. But, it was assumed that, the social pressure, ethics and education are self controlled systems which contain the greed to not grow out of control. The current economic crises and skinny 99% movement suggesting that, social pressure doesn't contain it. In short, the human  nature had  driven the extreme left and extreme right to failures. It really makes sense when Tariq Ali suggests, "Extreme left is most beneficial to extreme right and vise versa" (They compete with each other, analyze and keep in check each others performances). If we take a more direct and fresh example of how human nature makes questionable the most dear systems. Hatred is usually taken as childish attitudes but the movie, "Innocence of Muslims" and reactions to it have shown, the grown ups have grown up versions of it. With freedom comes responsibility but the insulting movie has shown that, in freedom, responsibility is the first victim of hatred.  Likewise, religion's main goal is to turn men into ethical beings but the violence have shown that here, the ethics is the first victim of overwhelming anger and hatred. Again, it is the religious people who are most benefited from atheists. Atheists make them think and let them not to sacrifice the core purpose of religion for things that are related to identity and are more for social and political consumption. Similarly, it is the Atheists who are benefited most from religious people and make them not to cultivate a religion out of evolutionary theory (From the missionary acts of some, it appear that evolutionary theory are used as  revelation for atheist religion). 

This knol is under construction... 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nature does not discriminate

This knol is 2nd part of the "Pure rationalism is destined to failure"

I guess, almost all know something about Dinosaurs, some know about Trilobites and few know about Archaeopteris trees. These were majestic and hegemonic organisms of their environments and  have left impressive imprints of their existence in the rocks records but went extinct. There could be disagreements on the causes of their extinction but no one can disagree that, they no more exist. Nature has laws and do not discriminate no matter how majestic, beautiful and great is a creature. When organs worn out, Nature has one solution for all and that is death either they are great Scientist like Einstein, Newton or Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan) , great Philosophers like Socrates, Plato or Mulla Sadra, great Kings like Cyrus, Alexander or Genghis Khan, great Prophets like Abraham (P.B.U.H), Moses (P.B.U.H) or Muhammad (P.B.U.H) or just an ordinary person. My purpose, from bringing the names of the few extinct  organisms and the names of  few historical figures are to stress that yes, men and man-made systems have impacted greatly on their environments but so are the creature before them and at the end, it is the nature that decides, which one has to continue and which one has to go into fossil records. 

"Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of Evolution",  Theodosius Dobzhansky... I agree with Dobzhansky except that, the traditional definitions of the evolution by Darwin and Modern evolutionary synthesis are reductionist and give a sense that evolution is an alien system (Natural Selections keep house in order) that does not follow general laws . So, we need an extensional definition to make them compatible with other systems. In the the introduction of his book,'Terrestrial Paleoecology and Global Change'1Krassilove writes, 

"Evolution of functional systems is governed by general system laws, which, for closed systems, are the classical thermodynamic laws. Closed systems evolve in the direction of a maximal entropy production. Conversely, an open system minimizes its entropy production by drawing matter and energy from external sources and by exporting wastes. Each open system thus affects the neighboring systems and is in turn affected by them. Any talk of biotic evolution going on independently of any environmental change is therefore meaningless."

As a rational creature, all human systems have their rationales but it appears that almost all of them have a common fate. Initially, when they arise, they are open systems and hence revolutionary to previous closed systems but once they grow to become dominant, they slowly grow xenophobic and turn into closed systems. If we look to the movements that began among weak and ordinary people and spread so rapidly  due to their revolutionary appeals that, we can confidently categorize them as punctuated equilibrium  in universal  human culture. I count Christianity, Islam, Mongolian campaigns and Western modernity in this category. It would be a repetition but again just to clear my point; when Christianity appeared, it was revolutionary to both earlier religious systems and to secular Roman empire. Because it was a liberating force to masses, it spread so fast that Roman emperors could not ignore it and adapted it to embed into power structure of Roman empire. Ruling classes have their own mechanisms; they need identity more than  revolutionary forces. Islam was also appeared as a revolutionary movement with promises of equality to oppressed masses and it spread so rapidly that almost ran over Persian and Byzantine empires. Soon the caliphates adapted the power structures of Persian and Byzantine empires and identity replaced the teachings.  Although, Mongols came out as a secular force just to conquer other nations but their openness  and eagerness to learn and respect for learning was in itself a revolutionary attitude that broke the chains of identities for a while and let the learning of Middle East, Central Asia, Far East and West interact with each other. South Asia, Central Asia and Europe were the beneficiaries of these conquests. As the Mongols didn't have a cultural movements of their own, these fusion couldn't evolve further. The Scientific and cultural movements of the modern West was however, the first revolutionary movement that were based on public participation and it really swept across the cultures. It is an open system and hence have a liberating appeal to masses. Again, there is no exception to natural laws as it is evident from the fate of communism. Communism was part of modern western scientific and cultural movement. It rose as a popular movement with a revolutionary ideology but it also couldn't survive once it reduced to a confrontational and reactionary force. Currently, libertarianism is the only force that still have public appeal and spreading but the economic meltdown of US and Europe and hegemonic attitudes are revealing some big cracks in it. These cracks are serious because once people lose hope in a system and they do not have alternatives, they turn into their roots and create their own version of fascist movements. I think, it is better that I define, what I mean by fascism to reduce the risk of confusion. I recognize a fascist movement by its three basic characteristics; xenophobia, fundamentalism and supremacist appeals. I think, there can't be clash of civilizations without spread of fascism. Unfortunately, due to poverty, ill education systems and failure to catch with rest of world, Islamic world was hopeless and Salafism as a religious fascist movement are spreading fast to turn most of Muslim countries into hell. Nationalistic fascism is also growing and I don't see these fires will soon extinguish without widespread destruction. I hope and pray that my judgments prove to be wrong, but all indicators appear to me, pointing to not a  promising future.

Again, it is quite rational to have a strong identity but it is equally rational to have respect for identity of others. It is only open systems that are able to take energy from outside, grow and take waste out of system. When the doors are shut and a system becomes a closed one, it die out in its poisonous accumulating wastes. Evolution is always at work and closed systems that lose the evolvability go extinct and nature does not discriminate. 

End of Part 2


1. Krassilov, V.A, 2003. Terrestrial Paleoecology. 1st ed. Sofia, Moscow: pensoft publishers. p. xiii.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pure Rationalism is destined to failure

If you learn that, something will kill your confidence in yourself, what would be your reaction to it? The reason, that I am asking this question is to question what we usually do not question; The Logic. While logic has been the cornerstone of the human understanding and the progress of Sciences but the fundamental flaw in it have turned many of human successes into historical failures. I will give examples to support my argument but first let me illustrate the fundamental flaw in logic;

- Logic basically talks about "relationship" of things based on their properties not "nature" of things... (A)

- Causes and effects are endless chains that limit predictability.... (B)

- Cause and effects are non-linear on long run.... (C)

- Competing rationalities are deleterious.... (D)

Why these assumptions are fundamental flaws in logic?

Before, I go into details, I like to define "Failure" first, so it becomes clear, what I mean by failure and why pure rationalism is destined to failure.

"Anything that promises certain outcomes/results or certain goals to be accomplished and it fails to achieve those goals, it is simply failure. Yes, there are a lot of rooms for rationalizing the failures by excuses but excuses do not improve anything. One of the frequently used excuse is a "future promise (s)".

Some may argue that, by this measure everything is destined to failure as nothing is perfect and everything grows. Yes, that is a totally different thing and definition and that is not something "purely rational". Constant growth and leaning from failures are something organic not rational.

Let me explain it by an example from population growth;

Everyone knows that the resources are limited and the populations are growing exponentially. So, it is a common sense's logic that population growth is not sustainable forever. It is going to reach its limits. So what logic asks for? Population control, right?

Population control has now a history to see the results in some countries like China. The gender disparity (preference of male over female child) has outbalanced the population with increasing ratio of male to female population. The ratio of young have reduced to old people and even in countries with no population control but simply better life expectancy the uneven aging (population of old people are growing and young people are reducing)  and it is becoming a bigger issue in areas that fail to maintain economic attraction for young population and young population are migrating to cosmopolitan cities. The uneven aging are putting more pressure on younger generation. There is no need to detail the social and economic outcome of this as everybody knows, what it means.

Winner in Egypt

Winner in Saudi Arabia
Just for contrast; Egypt wasn't resourceful so the dictator had to step down and the Saudi Arabia was resourceful and she killed "Arab Spring" in the bud.

On other hand, countries that have not controlled the population, the outburst of young population with not as much job opportunities have become politically and economically unstable. The "Arab Spring" and the spread of instability in the Middle East are an illustration of outcome of unbalanced population.


We know, three dominant systems that revolves around distinct entities; Libertarianism around Man (individual), Socialism around State and Religion around God. The rest are either offshoots of these or composite of them. If one reads their literature and listens and watches their scholars, each of these three systems speak of rationalism and logic and promises humans certain things. Have they been successful to accomplish their promises? None of these three systems have been successful to accomplish any of their promises and their promises are still for future.

Socialism came as the most rational system with sound philosophical and historical reasoning (historical dialectic) and promised classless societies. Although, I don't believe in its fundamentals but I have respect for this system because right in times when communism movements were strong and spreading, Marxist intellectuals and philosophers accepted its failures and started to revise its fundamentals. The Frankfurt school is well known Philosophical movement. Both China and Russia have revised their systems. Although, they haven't found an alternative but they didn't insist on the absolutism of their systems. This is an attitude of growth.

Religions in general promises brotherhood, equality of humans and paradise in return for good deeds. Ironically, the more religious a place or a country is, the deeper are the hatred, prejudices and discrimination of all kinds and all these are justified by name of God. When passengers, laborers and students are killed because they were infidel to God, shrines are destroyed because they are signs of infidelity, historical statues are bombed because they challenge the status of God then no doubt, everybody understands, what they mean when they shout "God is the greatest". All those stories of brotherhood, equality and justice appear no more than fairy tales as everyday we watch on our screens slaughtering of people, hate speeches, insults and offensive attacks on each other beliefs and determinations to cleanse the earth of infidels. The absence of brotherhood and equality are clear failure of religion but I know, it doesn't makes difference as there is no room for thinking and there are endless excuses and justifications.

Libertarianism, although relatively more humane but still have failed. It has failed because it assumes that all individuals have equal capabilities and out-competing others are fair enough.  The results are amassing of excessive wealth, political power, control on information (main stream media) and privacy of people in the hands of top competitors that are small percentage of society. These have hindered effectively the economic mobility, health, education and active participation of majority. The excessive amassing of wealth and political power have been used more for destructive purposes than constructive purposes (The World is over-armed and peace is underfunded.. Ban Ki-Moon) and this have affected millions of civilians across the globe who don't care about politics at all and their lives revolve around their ordinary joys. The increasing limitation of freedoms and powerlessness of billions of people over their fates are nothing but the failure of this system.

Each of this systems are assumed to be based on some fundamental truths and ask for submission to them. When one submits, he/she put his/her confidence to the thing he/she has submitted and he/she no more speaks for himself/herself but rather rationalizes and provides explanations for what he/she has submitted to.

End of Part I 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

They do not mince their words

If it is true that, higher rate of saying words per second increase the Freudian slip (Parapraxis/ slip of the tongue)   then we should expect more Freudian slips from dwellers of larger cities compared to small towns and villages as people of larger cities tend to speak faster than relaxed and sit back towns, where people enjoy detailed chats. I don't have any statistics to either confirm or reject it  but one thing, I can tell with confidence and that is, the drivers in the crowded cities curse more frequently than drivers of less crowded towns. Unlike, the rest of society where it is emphasized to think before saying anything (means to keep a constant check on unconscious mind) drivers in large do not mince their words. Perhaps one of the reasons is that, they meet people of different attitudes on daily basis, deal and talk to them and it makes them more open but opinionated.

If you let water to flow freely or round objects to roll freely, they rest in the lowest area. That is the nature of gravity. The nature of conceptions and beliefs are 180 degree in the opposite. Humans in general tend to have the highest of the concepts/worldviews/beliefs, that is packed in a single word; Truth. Very BIG events, very radical set of concepts and practices that challenge the very basic fundamentals of the world views/beliefs  that have been perceived as truth come as shocks. If you are conditioned by your situations to experience it again and again like drivers do, you will become more open but very opinionated. I call this phenomenon as "driver's condition". Two popular philosophers of the previous century, Ayn Rand and Jean Paul Sartre gave the world very rebellious philosophies after their experiences of their "driver's condition". Frankly, they are driver's condition philosophers. Ayn Rand was born in Russia, had witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution and bitter outcomes of it in the form of confiscation of her father's pharmacy by communists and near starvation periods. Writers have sensitive souls and if they discover the tendency to write very early, that is the indication of the super-sensitive souls. Ayn Rand is said to have decided to become a novelist at age 9. Bolshevik Revolution was her "driver condition" and it made her to become an extreme individualist  thinker and develop her philosophy of "Objectivism" that, if put in one phrase is best expressed as, "Man is an end in itself".

Jean Paul Sartre was born almost at the same time as Ayn Rand but things went smooth for him and he got opportunity to study philosophy at Germany besides his own country, France. His early works were mostly on psychological topics like emotions and imaginations. The bitter experiences of Second World War in general and occupation of his country, France by Nazi Germany particularly became his "driver's condition" with a big change in his thinking. He became obsessed with freedom and wanted to let men free from all kinds of social constructs and that is basically what "Existentialism"; it rejects all sorts of determinism (Existence precedes essence). Freedom and taking responsibility for one's own fate was his core idea, "As far as men go, it is not what they are that interests me, but what they can become".

In the current century, confidence on both religious and secular values are deeply shaken. It is shaken because the world have been witnessing again and again, the violations of the very basic Human Rights by secular forces and the violations of the basic Islamic principles by Jihaddists and Salafists. What have become a trend is "winning at all costs" and as it is known popularly ;  "values" are the first victims of war. This is definitely a driver's condition for any thinking mind, that has the ability of thinking and have the courage of expressing them in a coherent manner. It is possible that a Rand might escape from heart of Salafism or Sartre escape from prison of occupation to voice for "neo-objectivism" and "neo-existentialism"...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Non-Aligned Movement; A perspective

History and philosophy go hand in hand, and the most current proof is the claims and counter claims,  expressions of confidences and frustrations  over Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran. With the come back of cold war scenario (Cold War 2.0), the Non-Aligned Movement's philosophy became relevant again and in a sense became revitalized. This event also supports the belief of the people who believe that "history repeats itself". Anyone with a philosophical tendency can't ignore important historical events. Almost all analysts accept that, the current NAM conference is a historical event. It is historical not just because it is happening in a time that, the fate of the "Arab Spring" has become evident OR it is the high time for Iran-West tension OR the Security Council of UN is divided and have been stalled over Syrian civil war but instead, because it is a movement of nations following a philosophy; dividing the world into blocks are dangerous to world peace with highest costs for smaller nations.

Founding Fathers of Non-Aligned Movement
While some call the Non-Aligned Movement as a "sac of potatoes" and it might have some truth in it as the movement have not been able to take some solid steps but in fact, their inactivity have done much good to the world than their actions would have done. Simply, the voicing of 2/3rd of world's nations against the politics of "us versus them" and their passive roles in the world affairs had stopped the prolongation of cold war 1.0 and possibility of large scale escalations. Now, that the world is apparently moving towards neo-polarization (this time, it is going to be multi-polarized), the strong come back of Non-Alignment Movement is a source of hope and hopefully, it would slow the cold war 2.0 and the save the world from repetition of WWI and WWII scenario.

Ever since, I became familiar with Allama Muhammad Iqbal's poetry (The ideological father of Pakistan), this line from his poetry made me really puzzled, Translation; "If only Tehran could take the place of Geneva for the Oriental world; Then hopefully the fortune of this good earth might turn for the better". Whenever I hear it or read it, it only refreshes my puzzlement. Why Iqbal did say that? What is special about Tehran, especially that, at the time Iqbal wrote these lines, Tehran was not in good shape and there were struggles between traditionalists and modernists with no clear direction for the nation? The only explanation, that I can give is that, Iranians are most civilized, resilient and self-aware nation in the Muslims world and Iqbal was well aware of the impact that Iran had on Islamic civilizations. Muslims had conquered both Persian and Byzantine empires almost in same time but the Iranian imprints can be seen on every aspects of Islamic civilizations. Now that, Tehran has taken the leadership of NAM, the hope is that she behaves more responsibly and helps reducing the tensions that surrounds her. Iqbal was a visionary philosopher with a deep knowledge of history, so lets hope that the revitalized NAM and Tehran with a new role help in not letting Cold War 2.0 grow into a big disaster. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eid and Movies

Tomorrow morning, I am not expecting to see wrinkled finger tips and tonight, I am going to sleep well without waking up several times during the night to check the time. That is a big change in the tradition. The night before Eid was used to be a restless night. Our fists were wrapped up in a piece of cloth while holding henna paste. It was really hard to wait till morning to wash our hands and see the richness of colors, compare it with others and see ourselves totally anew in our new dresses, shoes and haircut and ready to go for collecting our Eidi. Nobody talks about it anymore as if there weren't a time like that. The crowd of tidy boys and girls were going up and down and the first place to check out was the "circus" to ride a camel, a donkey cart, a  pickup car, enjoy a wave swinger with wooden horses, egg tapping, shooting air guns at balloons, eat something from food carts, to buy plastic toys there or if totally run out of money then you could just walk to cantonment area that was well maintained and had some small road side parks. But most important thing was to back at home at 1 pm  or 3 pm for movie. For three consecutive days, there were Pakistani movie shows on each day of Eid at noon. That was not something to miss at all (At least for me). But then, there came a change in me. By time, I was big enough to ride a bicycle, I started to go and watch movies on big screen at Eid days however, there was a big danger and it was to be discovered by others. It was definitely a punishable crime and what is a bigger punishment than falling from grace. It was really hard to sneak out and go to watch a movie and someone does not see you. One day, someone living a few street down of our house saw us and for a few days, I had really uneasy days fearing that he might inform my father but thankfully nothing happened :)

How could I miss egg tapping on Eid? I boiled to color them for Eid :)
Here Eid comes again, and I can have all those movies and games on my screen within minutes but it doesn't match at all with the excitements of those three movies, that we were watching on Eid days. I am ready to trade my whole week for one of those days.

Even in normal days, the TV transmission was ending by 12 pm  . The national anthem at 12 pm was the last  thing to watch on TV. One of my favorite TV series was "Combat" that was starting at 11 pm and ending at 12 pm. That was really late at those days. One of our guests, once commented, "You guys watch TV till the national anthem". That was really offensive but was true for "combat" nights.

Amid the sad news of on going killings, on this Eid, I just wanted to have a break from usual topics, so I dedicated this page to the time, when Quetta was peaceful and elegantly simple. Wish you all a very happy Eid :)

A short supplementary note;

                            Media saturation and sometimes super-saturation takes a toll on human imagination and human psyche. The abundance of the energetic food spread obesity and associated mishaps as human biology was slow to catch up with human discoveries and inventions. It is still too early to tell that, whether human psyche is going to catch up with the rate at which media saturation and super-saturation happening or it will also cause a problem similar to obesity and associated mishaps. Most of theories on the evolution of human psyche come from distant and selective environments of past (from pre-historic hunters-gatherers social groups) that weren't connected well. Here comes a modern phenomenon that is directly observable and posing practical challenges to human's psyche. I think, most the studies are focused on hard science of the brain instead of observing directly the adaptations of the human psyche to rapid saturation of media  that are creating new cultural environments by rapid development of the technology. Just in my life time, I have seen a rapid shift from Radio to TV and to internet, with each had created its own specific cultural environments.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Human Nature and Pakistan's Birthday

When we talk about "Justice", "Liberty", "curiosity", "equality" and "compassion", we do not consider race, ethnicity and geographical boundaries as we assume that, they are part of "human nature". This very basic assumption provides the foundation, based on which all philosophies and religions are based. Today, we don't see "Official Slavery" anywhere in the world while, slavery was an accepted practice, in almost all known civilizations throughout human history. The assumption that, all humans are born equal was provided a foundation for abolition of slavery. Having encouraged by "complete abolition of slavery", some thinkers  dare to foresee abolition of war and poverty likewise. Judith Hand, an ethologist thinks that, humankind will abolish war in the future and Muhammad Yonus, an economist thinks that, humankind will abolish poverty in the future.

Judith Hand
Muhammad Yunus
Although, both of these ideas are very Utopian, but they are originated from  same assumptions that ended slavery.  If these ideas are still Utopian then, why I am bringing them here?

Well, today is Pakistan's birthday (Some may call it, "Independence Day", but I am not going to call it independence day because we are not yet independent. In fact, we are dependent on Foreign Aid to run our economy, on Foreign Oil to run our power plants and rapid expansion of extremism is the biggest question mark on the very "Idea of Pakistan", are things that force us to consider Pakistan not independent yet and it is our saddest reality) and the news that make headlines about Pakistan is that, while population of Pakistan has swelled since her birthday, the population of the minorities have declined multiple times. The recent migration of Pakistani Hindus to India is just one of the several exoduses. And it is not just religious minorities that is leaving Pakistan but the ethno-religious minorities like Hazaras are taking great risks to find a place of safety outside of Pakistan.    

If there are people who dare to think and campaign about abolition of poverty and war from face of earth then, why not Pakistanis can think about abolition of extremism, that are dissolving the social fabric and identity of Pakistan? Have extremism mutated "our nature" to an extent that, we can't even dare to assume about Justice, equality, liberty and compassion?  If not then, why minorities are forced to leave their places of birth and find it very difficult to connect with their Pakistani identities?

Having said all that, loving the place of birth is also part of human nature especially that, she had made me able to be "free-spirited" and express myself openly. Were I born in a different country, I might have not been able to express myself. I am thankful for that to Pakistan and wish her "Happy Birthday" heartily, and pray for her Independence and a day when no Pakistani feel discriminated in Pakistan.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Soft" Power; India VS Pakistan

and now, why Pakistan walked on opposite direction, while sharing a common history and culture with India? Whenever, there is a talk about Indian and Pakistani culture, Pakistanis are quick in pointing to their "cultural superiority" by counting cuisines, language, music, performing arts, dresses, architectural trends that Muslims had introduced to India during Moguls but these arguments do not change the fact. Today, it is India that is successfully projecting herself as a soft power while Pakistan's image has tarnished even within and among Pakistanis.  The notion that, "insecurity" had pushed Pakistan in choosing to use her strategic location for "borrowing power" to create a security balance and status quo, instead of choosing to use her strategic location as a energy and trade corridor is a plausible explanation. One of the most obvious and undeniable evidence comes from sponsoring of Jihadists and Islamists against Soviets at the cost of the local cultures, indigenous Paksitani cultural trends and intellectual growth. The Answer is there and it is written all over but it seems there is no change in hearts and minds as the level of insecurity has increased by rise of India and turning of "war on terror" into 21st century version of cold war scenario. 

Internet and specifically social media has shifted the concept of "soft power" beyond States' policies. Although, state is still the main player but the increasing role of the masses in projecting cultural trends and image of a nation have become an undeniable force. Time will tell, whether Pakistan's young generation can overcome the sense of "insecurity" and fill the gaps to reconnect with the rest of the world or not? 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stephen Covey; Character and Personality

Here is my tribute to Stephen Covey,

                                            A few days ago (July 16th), Stephen Covey died. I was introduced to his bestseller book, "The 7 Habits of highly effective people" by my friend and roommate. I got it from Amazon, read it and didn't get much from it for two main reasons; first, it was a commercial product and naturally, like most other people, I have grown cynical about advertised products (Although, I read it by a friend's recommendation but the sensitivity was there) due to daily bombardments of commercial ads, and secondly; I came from a background, where "characters" were built around firm cultural and family values and there was little, if any awareness or focus on the "personality development". Therefore, by my own assessment, Stephen Covey's book was not suggesting something new to me. Having said that, I see a slow shift from the very basic cultural and family values that I was familiar and grew up with to adaptations of the "personality ethics" via media. The Pakistani private channels booms, cable and now internet are providing commercial cultural trends as an alternative to traditional cultural values and as most of the commercial products revolve around "image building" and "personality developments" so the "character ethics" are slowly eroding away.

Hearing the death of Stephen Covey, I dusted off his book once again, just to reread it and see, if there is a change in my mind after two years. The first thing, that I noticed was the observation of Covey. At the very beginning of his book, ("Inside Out") he talks about his research into last 200 years of success literature in US and discovers a shift from "Character Ethics" to "Personality Ethics" and it is what, we can observe happening in our community. In short, my understanding is that, the legacy of Covey is on stressing to build a personality around a character rather building it around the promotional trends. Please don't take me wrong; I am not against the social trends, as I know, the force of commercialization and aggressive advertisements (even political ones), however, I also believe in the power of conscience, rationality and the desire for making right choices. When it comes to "image", my observations  tell me that, the most vulnerable part of the society are "intellectuals". Because of their high level of "self awareness", really few dare to face their "prejudices" and talk and write according to their conscience and unfortunately, the most hardest hit segments  among intellectuals are "liberals" (Religious fundamentalists are out of discussion as they can't see out of their belief-paradigms). Sufis say, "Self is the only curtain between the creator and creature", likewise, the "prejudices" are curtain between liberal ideals and humanism (That is a character problem, Right?)