January 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
Since forever, everywhere we see, we find competition. Men striving to prove their worth by performing better than the other men. Be it politics, economy, sports, art, education, profession or even selecting a partner for life.
A word so commonplace it has almost become embedded in every aspect of our lives. A word that comes closest to defining the world today.
I stop and read again. “Men striving to prove their worth by performing better than the other men.”
Two questions pop in my head.
Why does anyone have to prove themselves to others? Have they no self-belief at all that they need to rely on others’ belief in them?
Why is their worth measured by their performance against the other men? Don’t we all agree that every individual is unique, and true comparison can only be done between two essentially similar things?
And yet it exists. It has existed forever. And it has conquered too. Or is it?
December 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Aam Aadmi. How proud we are to call ourselves that.
NGOs. Social Service. How proud we are to call that our profession, our calling in life.
Opinions. Views. Everywhere. Talk about a topic and we are sure to refer to one or reflect their objective.
Our thoughts? “That’s what she said”.
Etiquettes. Society quos. Courtesies. Log kya kahenge? Koi dekhelega toh?
We worry so much about what others have to say about our thoughts, our actions. We try so hard to please everyone around us. Agree with each one.
Diplomacy: the flavor of the society.
All this makes me wonder: Are we living in Toohey’s “world of the future”?
Ya, guess I am still not over Ayn’s classic. But then again, are we?
“A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought of the brain of his neighbor who’ll have no thought of his own but an attempt to guess the thought of the next neighbor who’ll have no thought—and so on, around the globe. Since we must agree with all. A world where no man will hold a desire for himself, but will direct all his efforts to satisfy the desires of his neighbor who’ll have no desires except to satisfy the desires of the next neighbor who’ll have no desires—around the globe. Since all must serve all. A world in which man will not work for so innocent an incentive as money, but for that headless monster—prestige. The approval of his fellows—their good opinion—the opinion of men who’ll be allowed to hold no opinion. An octopus, all tentacles and no brain. Not judgment, but public polls. An average drawn upon zeroes—since no individuality will be permitted. A world with its motor cut off and a single heart, pumped by hand. The hands of a few, very few other men who know what makes you tick—you great, wonderful average, you who have not risen in fury when we called you the average, the little, the common, you who’ve liked and accepted those names. You’ll sit enthroned and enshrined, you, the little people, the absolute ruler to make all the past rulers squirm with envy, the absolute, the unlimited, God and Prophet and King combined. Vox populi. The average, the common, the general. Do you know the proper antonym for Ego? Bromide. The rule of the bromide. But even the trite has to be originated by someone at some time. We’ll do the originating. Vox dei. We’ll enjoy unlimited submission—from men who’ve learned nothing except to submit. We’ll call it ‘to serve’. We’ll give out medals for service. You’ll fall over one another in a scramble to see who can submit better and more. There will be no distinction to seek. No other form of personal achievement.”
This most unforgiving speech by Toohey really gives me the creeps. Goosebumps. Not because of his sharp and stinging tongue but because it seems so …close to heart. A ruthless reflection of today..
And he doesn’t stop just there.
“Remember the Roman Emperor who said he wished humanity had a single neck so he could cut it? People have laughed at him for centuries. But we’ll have the last laugh. We’ve accomplished what he couldn’t accomplish. We’ve taught men to unite. This makes one neck ready for one leash. We found the magic word. Collectivism. To act together. To think—together. To feel—together. To unite, to agree, to obey. To obey, to serve, to sacrifice. The individual is held as evil, the race—as God. No motive and no virtue permitted—except that of service to the race. We’ve fixed the coin. Heads—collectivism, and tails—collectivism. Fight the doctrine which slaughters the individual with a doctrine which slaughters the individual. Give up your soul to a council—or give it up to a leader. But give it up, give it up, give it up.”
Are we giving up? Have we given up? Have we successfully sold our souls to give way to a world of collectivism?
December 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
“…and the figure of Howard Roark. The End”
I close the book and roll onto my back. Staring up at the bare ceiling there’s a foolish smile on my face, a strange sense of peace.
A few days ago, midway through ‘The Fountainhead’ a friend asked what the book was about. For a moment I was blank: I had never asked myself that question. I had bought and begun reading it for the simple reason that it was a classic. And while reading, the book captured me enough to forgo any other thoughts, even about deciphering the depth of the book itself.
So when she asked the question I had to pause and think. And then I didn’t think. I repeated another reader’s view: It is about reaching that ‘ideal’ form of living. But, given today’s world and our own lifestyles, it is impossible for us to actually achieve it. (or something else with this gist)
*sigh* Had I not understood Ayn at all. I look at the closed paperback still in my hand. Haha. I close my eyes again.
“‘Ideal’ form of living”. Hadn’t she been disappointed when I said we couldn’t reach it? And without even knowing what the “it” was. But the bigger fool was I. I knew neither what idealism is, nor whether we could attain it.
Now thinking of it, what was she expecting the “it” to be? And was her “it” the same as mine? Same as Ayn’s?
Oh wait. I open my eyes in unexpected realization.
Before this one, the book I had read was the “Mahabharata”, the English edition by Ramesh Menon. The book presents very definitive views about idealism and how to reach it, especially in a world as corrupt as ours. Exactly how I would synopsize the fountainhead too.
And yet the two are so different. Not in their method to approach the “it”..but in the “it” itself. Idealism, according to Ved Vyas and Ayn Rand were unique, individually.
Vyas’ “Idealism”, he was very sure was right. This was his ideology, and it made complete sense. He preached what he believed ought to be.
And so was Ayn. Her own idealism. Her own “it”.
The shock of this sudden comprehension washes off my face as soon as it had appeared. A smile takes its place. I am feeling so silly. It had always been there. Everywhere. For everyone to see. And yet.
Everyone is different. Unique. Individual. And so is their “it”, what they want ideal to mean, what they believe is the best form of living. Where their happiness truly lies.
And its very much within our reach. The hardest part is to interpret our own distinctive “it”.
I sit up. Did I just redefine “religion”?
August 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Leave your bag of money in a busy Saudi market. Go back the next morning to find it sitting right where you left it!”
I really don’t know how much of that is true, but when my friend told me this, unsurprisingly I was surprised. I responded with a ‘how come??’. “It’s due to the extremely strict and cruel judicial system there”.
Wow! Other than the cruelty of the judiciary, isn’t that the situation India needs today, when we are increasingly insecure about everything, and trust is a word well forgotten!
…and then there was this motorbike ad which said something about a village where there were no doors! Though I neglected that thinking that it can surely not be anything but an advertising gimmick!
So why exactly am I writing this piece: is it to discuss how to make our judiciary more cruel and strict??
No, it’s because my thoughts regarding this have changed. Coming to the why’s and how’s, read along…
The first ten days of 2010. It was after a very long time that my parents and sister along with me were going on a family vacation. We had decided on the beautiful and pristine Andaman & Nicobar Islands. I just hadn’t known how pristine it was even from the rising insecurity in the mainland.
At first we were just surprised by the fact that everyone trusted everyone else! “We need not lock the door of our room in the guest house or hotel, nothing’s going to happen” “I left the car unlocked when I went out for some time, but nothing could have happened”!
But when my sister forgot her brand new mobile phone on a luxury cruise one evening, we were more than sure of never getting it back, and proving the islanders that we were right, you shouldn’t trust everyone for everything it can prove dangerous.
But looks like they were right after all!
The sweeper cleaning the ship after its last trip that day (which was ours), found the phone, and sincerely gave it to the captain of the ship, who (again unselfishly) called on the last number dialled and informed of a such-and-such phone being found on the ship.
Imagine our surprise when my cousin from Chennai called to ask if any of us had an LG Cookie and that Captain X supposedly had its custody!
And so getting back the cell phone was not only about saving the money, the precious photos and messages and contacts on the phone; it was about the happy realisation that there does exist a well developed place in India, where a strong sense of security still exists!
I don’t mean to say that our judicial system doesn’t need any changes, and it’s just us who need to change, because you bet it does! …more effective court sessions, smaller length of trials, lesser corruption…the list may be endless!
But before that we need to learn from the southern-most state capital of India how to trust everyone, maximise our sense of security, and …the next time you find a mobile phone worth Rs.12000, return it!
August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Conversation. With the logic, thought, idea and the pinch of salt. – or was it a football match?
June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Equations change. Paradigms shift.
Aastha Aggarwal And people adjust.
Shreya Ray Nah! Adjustment is just a name given to what happens by default. It is not really an action.
Jane Ewelyn It is an action cuz ur compromising in the end……u jus hv to notice that someone’s doing that for you!!! be sensitive!!!
Aastha Aggarwal Adjust is not by default. Circumstances are. What you do with them is- adjust yourself accordingly. A more precise word- adapt. (Is that better ma’am? :p)
Sankash Sood but cant things just fit in, no adjustment? i thnk shreya here means that:P
Siddharth Krishna You mean if I went out for a cheeseburst pizza and was offered barbecue instead and I chose to take it,it kind of happened by default?
Best way to explain it: Nash Equilibrium.
When equations and paradigms change, a new circumstance is created, one that may/may not allow one to do exactly what they want to and in the way they want.
But the rational person adjusts to the new situation and makes his decision, by choice- to maximise his current marginal utility (which in most cases is not the same as his dominant strategy).
So, Equations change. Paradigms shift. And people, according to the new situation, by choice, adjust.
Siddharth Krishna ’By choice,adjust’.Doesn’t that make it an action?As much as game theory interests me,but the very idea of a paradigm shift controlling my ability to adjust *shiver*.
Shreya Ray But there is no ‘choice’. There is no other option than to adjust. People might only choose in what way they adjust, like waiting for cheesecrust (compromise with time) or going ahead with the barbeque (compromise with interest). The other option is getting out of the shop, which is really not an option when we are talkin in terms of life.
Shreya Ray So, if you are doing anything different from what you had wanted to, because circumstances changed, its an adjustment.If you are changing what you want because you couldnt get exactly what you had wanted, its also an adjustment. And either is bound to happen. That’s called default.
Shreya Ray If you throw a guy, who doesnt kno how to swim, into water, you aren’t really giving him a choice, are you?
Aastha Aggarwal Siddharth- shifting of paradigms don’t change our ability to adjust. Nothing except our own conceptions and ideology can change that. What it does change is how we perceive and measure the choices on our palate when making that decision.
Now earlier when one has the want to have cheeseburst pizza- he has a choice to make- go to pizzahut and have cheeseburst pizza, go to pizzahut and have anything else (which includes the barbecue), (for both of the first two options though- he will weigh the taste-satisfaction with the current action he will have to abandon for going and having it) or not go to pizzahut at all. But at this point of time- his satisfaction from each is say 3, 0 and 0.
Later, when he is offered the barbecue, he again has a choice to make- wait longer for the cheeseburst (which he would if in context of that situation he valued savouring the pizza over the next event on which he is going to lose onto because of time), have the barbecue (again he would weigh having a satisfactory but not the tastiest meal with the next event which he may hold more importance to than the lunch- say an important meeting where he has the chance of getting a promotion, or a date!), or he may decide to walk out (which you, Shreya have ruled out as a possibility because your satisfaction from it is negative- I could have walked out, most loonies can/do- again is your satisfaction- maybe you know that two shops from this place you have a street-food centre which offers a dish- whose taste gives you satisfaction equal/more than the pizza!- a choice you had simply overlooked in the first place).
To think of it, I find the third possibility the best- as I get my satisfaction for the food, and don’t loose onto time. But you would choose to wait (as you seem to imply). And well, Siddharth here has said he would accept the barbecue instead (looks like he has one hot date later! :p …or was that a football match?). Again three different people- three different decisions.
But the best part- if you noticed- the choices we have in the second situation are actually quite the same as the first! (Pizza/anything else/out of pizza hut and a compromise on an earlier/later action of ours).
The only thing that the change of equation did change is our perception of and satisfaction from each.
Its still is a decision.
And it still calls for an action (after all talking to the waiter for the change of order/ eating the food on the plate/ or walking out of the outlet- all three are actions! :p)
So equations change, paradigms shift and people adjust.
All three are actions.
The two actually happening by default or out of the hands of the person are the first two.
The only action he can change is the third- by making a decision weighing the situation.
It is this action which differs from person to person and makes every persons individual lives (with his mistakes, lotteries, learning, struggles and happiness- each one is a choice).
Aastha Aggarwal Oh and did I forget to mention that?
Make them the person they are. 😀
Aastha Aggarwal P.S.- Sorry for the number of comments. Phone does not allow more than 1000 characters in a comment. Boy I wrote! :p
To cater to the comments I haven’t addressed :p-
Shreya- As for throwing the person into the water – no he doesn’t have a choice other than 1)call out for help 2)push himself to use his instincts and at least stay afloat for as long as he can or 3)give up and drown.
Not a choice at all.
Yet a decision and an action- that can make all the difference. 1)a normal person- scared of death 2)a brave-heart. An inspiration. And a ray of hope. 3)either too-cowardly or just too saintly.
The pushing (circumstance) was out of his control- kind of a default situation given to him- what he chose to do with it- his action.
Sankash- What exactly does it mean by things fitting in?- if the decision we make after the circumstance changes actually has an equal or better result than our earlier one we say so. Isn’t that again a choice and a decision followed by a definitive action?
Shreya Ray arrey yaar… what I am saying is no matter what you do, it will be called adjustment. Unless you die, of course.
Aastha Aggarwal And all I am saying is adjustment is also an action. And that too my choice and decision of the person- NOT by default! 🙂
Shreya Ray u kno, we both hav a diff meaning of ‘default’ in our mind 😛
Sunny Barua Ladies, Timeout, jst wanted to say, *Best Philo discussion Ever*, carry-on………….!
Shreya Ray :)
Sunny- thank you. Glad at least we have audience! :p
Shreya- Now now. I thought we were talking of the same meaning of the word. A different concept of default (siunds interesting) and that’s why I looked into the dictionary- and it seems to agree with me:
Default: the preset selection of an option offered by a system, which will always be followed except when explicitly altered.
What other meaning could there be I wonder.
^Point seconded,provided time,interest and rationality are parameters,variables and constraints respectively in the framework of the discussion.
One more thing I would like to add is about outer influences or to put it in a better way favourable/unfavourable chance or luck/bad luck.
What if somebody decided to build Domino’s in a place isolated from other eateries,what if there is a boat in that pond.
It brings us with a new set of choices or defaults to ponder upon.
Siddharth Krishna BTW,more likely a football match 🙂
There is one thing that you want- put this single constant element, whose value depends on the initial parameters, in a set, say set 1. And there is another set, say set 2, containing all the things that are different from this element.Now if you change the parameters, the control passes from set 1 to set 2 by default. I am making a reference to this default.
Now, you are saying that you have the powers to choose values from set 2, and yes, you sure can, whenever you have more than one element in set 2, which is usually the case. You might be referring to the absence of a default here.
Shreya Ray Outer influences…wel, I did not take them into consideration. But then , well, adjustment wont be the correct word here, but this will still come in set 2, i guess.
Siddharth- again, what you have offered are the changes in equation and shifts in paradigms which Shreya mentioned.
Shreya- yes the audience is great. Thank you! :p
As for the description of default- I don’t deny with a single thing except I am just showing you the broader view of what you just said-
Consider this- when I choose an option from the set 2 you mentioned that is my choice (say another singleton set 3). And this is what seems to be my want in this situation. Now super-imposing this interpretation on our initial want we realise that that too was a choice from yet another set of choices which were dependent on the circumstances present then.
Then again this implies our initial choice too was due to some default.
Now look at things in a slightly different light:
Consider the universal set of choices (set 1 U set 2) say set A. And the entire range of our satisfaction in terms of utils (or any quantitative measure) in another set B. Then, a relation R:A->B is what shows the satisfaction one receives from each of the choices. It is based on this that one makes his decision, and frames his plan of action.
When the scenario changes, one has two choices- to remain at the same plan of action or not. But the Relation R changes. Not by default but because my want/utility from each situation changes. Not necessarily for the bad.
Based on this new relation, I change my decision- because that particular choice (say x) no longer gives me the maximum satisfaction(not because I CAN’T choose it) and instead choose another one (which was available to me even earlier- though did not me as much satisfaction) which now gives me the maximum satisfaction. By choice- simple rational choice.
Aastha Aggarwal Even by your interpretation- the shift of choices is not a default. Because the universal set of choices was not a singleton set 1 or all other set 2. It is set1 U set2. And yes set 1 and 2 change as per the situation but still remain a part of the universal set. The re-allocation of choices between the two subsets is nothing but a rational concious decision.
Piyush Dhoundiyal sounds like science :P:P or is it maths!!!!
Aastha Aggarwal It is a football match where the goals are philosophical but the ball with which we are aiming for our goals is science/logic. Maths has always been only a tool for understanding. 😛
Shreya – “Now if you change the parameters, the control passes from set 1 to set 2 by default.”
While changing the parameters you assume here that none of the parameters are under your control, which is never true, so suppose there are a few parameters in your control and a few out of your control, you can always play with the ones in your control to go back (or go wherever) you want no matter what happens with the parameters which are not in your control.
Life almost always works on a multiple regression model and a few of the independent variables are always under your control.
So in effect, there is no default.
PS: I hate my internet, it keeps deleting this for some reason!
Brijesh Bharadwaj Reactions are the default. Not adjustments. Adjustments are a subset of reactions. Take it up from here.
PS: Dear Lord, I so wish this discussion was actually happening in person and not on Facebook 😀
Shreya Ray Well, u ppl r sayin this bcoz u r not considering the strategy as a part of the choice. I want to get x by doing y. You want to get x, no matter by doing y, or by doing z, whichever givs u x under the present circumstances.
Aastha Aggarwal When i want x by y or z, no matter- then i am talking of one want. But when i am talking of having x by only y, i am actually talking of two wants (x and y) which can be explained simply by the same theory twice.
Shreya Ray That is not the point. What I am saying s dat my entire (x,y,z,…..) makes the entire thing I want so unique that a change in even a singe variable will not give me the same satisfaction, and I’ll just have to adjust with that.
Shreya Ray Talking of reactions, what I was saying is that, all reactions, whether conscious or unconscious, with the exception of leaving the game in some way or the other, is an adjustment!!!
Shreya Ray And it will just happen.
Shreya Ray ANd this phenomenon of it just happening is what I was calling default.
Shreya Ray Aastha Aggarwal : You just wanted to say that adjustment is a result of conscious action, right? Yes, that is true. But adjustment also results otherwise. You don’t really have to ‘act’ to adjust.
Brijesh- As far as parameters being in your hand are concerned- you dont always alter them and go back to the initial choice- because in the new scenario some other choice makes more sense
Shreya- Again if (x,y,z…) give you combined satisfaction that actually simplifies matters.
Say the total satisfaction you receive is some A. Now when the equations shift two things may happen- 1) (x,y,z…..) gives you a satisfaction not equal to the initial one, here A. Then you obviously (i hope you agree) will have a different set of choices (1,2,3…) giving you a satisfaction either more than or equal to A. or 2) (x,y,z…..) still gives you the same satisfaction (which you seem to assume) – then as i have said before there still exists at least one more combination or rearrangement of the same such that the satisfaction at least equal to A.
Aastha Aggarwal Shreya- yes. Adjustment is conscious and you do need to “act” to do it if not all then at least most of the times.
K. Tell me this- before the equations changed, in the initial situation- was one ‘act’ing?
Aastha Aggarwal If yes (which probably should be the answer)- then well- that couldn’t possibly have been the first change/shift ever, can it?
Doesnt that imply that it was rather the same scenario before the equations changed than after they did?
And if that is a yes too, then doesnt this “adjustment” qualify for “act”ing as well?
Brijesh Bharadwaj @aastha – yes, hence I said you can always go back OR go where ever you wish to. No default. I guess we each define adjustment in our own ways and hence the discussion. Shreya seems to put any rational decision under adjustment which is different from how I do. For me adjustment has an undertone of compromise and hence I refuse to accept it as ‘default’ in life.
Aastha Aggarwal True. Adjustment seems to give people the idea of compromise- which it actually may/may not imply because compromise only means that you are now worse-off. I spoke of adjustment or adaptation as making a new choice- maybe even better than the earlier.
But in anyway it cannot be termed as default- at least according to me.
Govind Raj Ayyangar i wonder 60 comments for such a short status?!..:P
lol read few of da comments bt later outa patience couldn’t read those big comments…lolol so can somebody finally write da exact jist of dis whole conversation???simple way!!!
Shreya Ray I’m tired. I am not disagreeing with what u r saying. I am just saying something else. Lv it.
Difference of closely-related opinions seem to be harder to clear than others.
But then again- we all enjoyed discussing it- and saw so many sides of a particular thought.
Govind- It was a discussion about different opinions about adjustment, action, and default.
To think of it- three small words stirred up quite a conversation.