Sunday, January 31, 2010

Charvaka - ii

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in his 'Indian Philosophy' (Vol I) lists some of the quotations attributed to Charvakas. I'm quoting few of them below.

The Agnihotra, the three Vedas, the ascetic's three staves, and smearing oneself with ashes —
Brihaspati says, these are but means of livelihood for those who have no manliness nor sense.

If a beast slain in the Jyothishtoma rite will itself go to heaven,
why then does not the sacrificer forthwith offer his own father?
If the Sraddha produces gratification to beings who are dead,
then why not give food down below to those who are standing on the house-top?

While life remains, let a man live happily,
let him feed on butter though he runs in debt;
When once the body becomes ashes,
how can it ever return again?

If he who departs from the body goes to another world,
how is it that he come not back again, restless for love of his kindred?
Hence it is only as a means of livelihood that Brahmans have established here
all these ceremonies for the dead, — there is no other fruit anywhere.
The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons.
All the well-known formulae of the pandits, jarphari, turphari, etc.
and all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in Aswamedha,
these were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to the priests,
while the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by night-prowling demons.

Radhakrishnan observes, "Obviously this account has an element of caricature of the cArvAka position. A philosophy professed seriously for centuries could not have been of the coarse kind that it is here reported to be."

However, I look at it differently. I have previously argued that Carvakas were fringe philosophers as they were always against the authority (which in religious matters were invariably Brahmins). In my opinion, the above quotations are nothing but frustration from their part. Common people understand only blunt and direct arguments. They were probably resorting to coarseness so that common people could see the commonsense in it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Moral Individual - i

I'm arguing with Maju whether shame is a social construct or it's an innate trait. My opinion is that the society can not create but only work on emotions those already have their roots in instincts. The social mores that dictate the values to which we should abide otherwise should feel guilty cannot stand on its own if we don't have the innate feeling that drives us to self-correctness.

I think shame can develop instinctively because of interplay between dependent instincts along with the unintended application of one of those instincts.

I will consider lust as the fundamental instinct. Aggression and hunger are subordinate to lust. All these are reward seeking behaviours. We do know that people indulge in sex just for pleasure (rewarding feeling) which is not necessarily very meaningful. This is true for violence and eating too. So important thing is people indulge in sex, violence and gluttony because those are rewarding behaviours.

Among these, I'll concentrate on 'aggression'. Consider the case where two children are fighting. These two children do not have any identity of their own. Without any definite identity they are part of an in-group. During the fight one of them gets hurt and shows the pain. Now, what kind of response that would generate in the second kid?

In my opinion, two emotions come into picture. First one is 'empathy'. This is an innate instinct. However, how do you define empathy? It's an understanding of others' pain. Now, in a fight between two children which is for innocent pleasure, one kid is responsible for the pain and he also understands other kid's pain. This translates into he is responsible for something wrong. Morality by definition is a distinction between right or wrong. So, empathy in this case tells him, he is immoral. Therefore empathy is nothing but our innate moral code. Therefore, the shame that he develops because any transgression to this moral code is also innate. It's more likely that he may not get into that kind of situation.

Why does society need to create moral codes when we have something inherent? I think that's because multiple identities make people part of different groups. Even a family is a group. For Homo Sapiens these identities are social and geographical constructs(thus meaningless and unnatural as all of them are cross cousins). From the look of it, group identities are dangerous as they have killed individual moral man. However, as we know all instincts show a spectrum of intensity. In one of the extreme ends there are people who lack the empathy. If they also happen to be violent pleasure seekers a certain kind of groupism is required to overcome them. But that groupism results in the development of an out-group. It should be noted here that out-group is not necessarily a group of people with their own identity. Out-group is part of the population that is not in-group. Of course, this tells us that hatred against an out-group is not a fundamental idea behind the creation of an in-group. But eventually this results in hatred. However, the pain caused by these group clashes certainly lacks the empathy. As a group there are no inherent traits. All the traits are individualistic. Therefore, a social moral code is required.

But this is no longer true for present times. We have a rule of law that can act without the help of groups. I believe unless we kill all the identities based on religion, language and geography and create an alternate for family we can't establish our individual moral self.

1. Humans crave violence just like sex
2. Empathy partly based on genes, Mouse study says
3.Social exchange and solidarity: in-group love or out-group hate?
Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 30, Issue 4, Pages 229-237
T. Yamagishi, N. Mifune

Friday, January 22, 2010

Battle of the Sexes - vi

According to Freud girls' superego is never fully developed and they stay locked into the 'Electra Complex'. Because of this women are never as civilized or cultured as men. Very sexist. But a new study says women's sexuality is not as evolved as that of men.

Men's subjective and physiological measures of sexual arousal showed a greater degree of agreement than women's. For the male participants, the subjective ratings more closely matched the physiological readings indicating that men's minds and genitals were in agreement. For the women, however, the responses of the mind and genitals were not as closely matched as men's, suggesting a split between women's bodies and minds.

Via Science Daily

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Enchanted Capitalism - i

Just like Karl Marx, another German sociologist Max Weber also observed alienation of urban worker. However, his life appears to be a prime example of marriage of enchantment and capitalism.

His personal life had taken natural recourse on love and lust. As I have mentioned before love is asexual and only related to motivation. He had a love relationship with his wife Marianne Weber which was asexual. However, he also had lust relationship with two women. Now, the only transgression or irrationality appears to be having lust relationship with more than one woman. But that probably indicates his misunderstanding of love and lust.

Had he understood scientific nature of these feelings (which he thought irrational) he would have handled his personal life more methodically. In his case, over rationalization of marriage led enchanted escapism with a third woman(or second in lust scale). In the end though he had a very scientific relationship with his love (asexual), his lust lost the point as it didn't produce any offspring too.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Approach to Comparative Anthropology - III

Should anthropology involve itself in finding a common underlying theme and social interpretations of data? I think not. Anthropology should only pile up data and do nothing. What is the point? I haven't figured it out.

Out of India - II

I have already argued that major Y-Haplogroup of North Africans is close to their dark skinned southern Africans. However, their skin colour and looks differ. I have argued it is probably because of matrilineages that are close to European matrilineages. Hebrew Bible gives some clues for this.

# And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
# And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
# Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
# Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
# And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
# The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.

As the characters of the Hebrew Bible are traced to present day Iraq/Iran regions, the chances are high that they were originally Y-Haplogroup J2a and mtDNA H or U people. It is likely at least one of the mutations responsible for light skin (on SLC24A5) arose in North-West of India. We have to observe West Asia aboriginal male J, European aboriginal male I are closely related to Indian aboriginal male H.

I have blogged about a recent study that discusses how West Asia and Europe is colonized by Proto-Indians. I feel we need to study some of our lighter skinned tribes like Halakki-s in Karnataka. Though their Y-Haplogroup is predominantly H, their mtDNA is majorly U something that is predominant in West Asia, North Africa and Europe.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Western Philosophy - v0.000001

I am reading Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy". All I understood was Western philosophy is a pointless mysticism (I think that's what people used to say about Eastern philosophy too). A true philosophy is the one that defines and explores with empirical methods and models mathematically. Science does the latter two parts but sometimes overlooks the exact definitions.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Notes on Dravidian Words - side note

Some of the Dravidian proto-sounds that I have discussed till now.

f -> p
f -> h
Correspondence: Basque f -> h

b -> v
Correspondence: French b -> v

r -> zh -> y
Correspondence: Scottish/Scandinavian r -> zh

r -> D -> L

vowel ending -> no vowel ending
Correspondence: English distinct -e ending to loss of -e

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Notes on Dravidian Words - v

Vowel Ending:
Among South Dravidian languages Telugu and Kannada end their words with a vowel. However, Tamil and Malayalam lack it. Which is the proto-state?

If you consider English, until 14th century the ending -e was pronounced distinctly by the English. However, the later generations dropped it. But since spellings were standardized by that time, the written language still shows the words with -e ending. But it is clear that the old forms of languages generally tend to have vowel ending. Hence Kannada and Telugu have retained the older forms.

In the case of English, the time changed vowel ending. But in the case of Dravidian languages it is geography. Though it should be noted here that North Karnataka is more at ease with vowel ending than South Karnataka.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Communism and Kerala -i

Maju told me Communism succeeded in regions where aristocracy and the serf system were still prevalent (both in Russia and China). There were no noticeable middle (Bourgeois) class and hardly true urban workers. In Western Europe where peasants became free and workers remunerated well, Communism didn't make much impact. I thought this was exactly the situation in Kerala and West Bengal too.

As far as I know Communism is revolt by proletarians (urban workers) against the bourgeoisie (business men). We should note that both Kerala and West Bengal never had socially influential bourgeois class (The class created form merchant and artisan guilds during medieval Europe) as both these castes were either numerically negligible and low in their caste position. I believe when Communism was first conceived in Europe, bourgeois class had become educated. However, this was not the case in Kerala (I'll leave West Bengal as I don't understand much of its "scribe" dominated feudal system.)

It is said that Communism though failed in the economic prosperity of the region, developed an egalitarian society in Kerala (Just like in Eastern Europe and China). However, if we compare the neighbouring state Karnataka, the socialist dominated political parties have managed the land reforms(a major catalyst for an egalitarian society). However, Karnataka lags behind Kerala in terms of literacy. Where Kerala's literacy rate is above 90%, Karnataka is still struggling with 65-70% literacy rate. But that doesn't give the true picture. Tulu region of Karnataka has similar social indices as Kerala. Also, communist ruled West Bengal lags behind Kerala at 70% literacy. So, the common factor for Kerala and Tulu Nadu's high literacy rate appears to be the matrilineal system. Open attitude towards girls' education probably was a major catalyst for this development.

Then we talk about other systems like healthcare, everything is comparable to Tulu region. And Tulu region even moved from centre to right in its political orientation where as Kerala has always remained centre-left. So, I don't think any credit could be given to Communism for social development too. A comparison with Tulu region which shares similar cultural motifs with Kerala gives a true influence of Communism.

At the end of the day, communism only appears to give irrelevant intellectual aura to this region. However, its supposedly main beneficiaries, the working class people have been generally dubbed as "kings at home and slaves abroad". It appears keeping them poor and equal hasn't improved their self respect.

To be fair to Communism, it gave real aspiration to people to come out of their slavery. However, as a movement for workers its abilities were limited and becomes irrelevant over time with more worker friendly policies. As western European nations have shown this could be done even without a communist government. China probably has understood Communism's role mainly as removing social hierarchies and isn't applying the ideology to other domains of social development.

Movements and ideologies - India

I was discussing with Maju about various people's movements in Europe. I thought of making a note on Indian movements.

Indian National Congress: Humiliated feudal+clerical nexus(no longer aristocrats since British were in place, Ethical secularism by nature) and Bourgeoisie (Ethical religiosity by nature). Against British aristocracy. Socialist turned capitalist.

Muslim League: Humiliated Muslim feudals (no longer aristocrats since British were in place, Unethical religiosity by nature) and Bourgeoisie. Initially, against British aristocracy but later Islamic ethnocentrism to re-establish feudal order. Feudal economy.

Indian Communist Party: Humiliated educated feudal+clerical nexus (no longer aristocrats since British were in place). Against feudals. Socialist.

Dravidian movement: Bourgeoisie (Officially atheist and unlike any other Bourgeoisie in this respect). Anti-Clerical and anti-religious. Theoretically capitalist.

Bharatiya Janata Party: Hindu Bourgeoisie + clerical nexus. (Unethical religiosity, unlike European Bourgeoisie movements which were ethically religious). Against secularism. Capitalist.

Janata Dal/Samajawadi party/Bahujan Samaj Party: Caste based. Numerically strong castes (farmers, herders and Dalits respectively). Against discrimination. Socialist. (BSP-Capitalist?).

Hindu nationalist movements: Clerical(Unethical religiosity by nature). Anti-Islam and anti-Christianity.

Islamic fundamentalist movements: Proletarian(Ethical religiosity by nature). Used by the Muslim feudal establishment. Anti un-Islam.

Friday, January 01, 2010

In support of bigamy

I was reading Francis Bacon's essay 'Of Love'[1]. I thought I found something to write about by comparing our present knowledge of love and his views. However, when I started writing it went beyond my original scope. I had no control over its direction. So, I stopped (like so many of my other posts) abruptly and started this post. In this post my ambition is rather limited and simple.

Some of the points that he makes in the essay;

a. You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love; which shows that great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion.
b. For it is a true rule that love is either rewarded either with the reciproque (reciprocal feeling) or with an inward and secret contempt
c. This passion hath his floods in the very times of weakness, which are great prosperity and great adversity (though this latter hath been less observed); both which times kindle love and make it more fervent, and therefore show it to be the child of folly.
d. There is in man's nature a secret inclination and motion towards love of others, which, if they it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable.

According to a recent study[2];
e. love and lust are two different feelings. The regions of brain associated with them are mostly exclusive with only a small part overlapping.
f. love is stronger than lust
g. love is associated with motivation, reward and "drive" aspects (and not with lust or emotions)

According to a program that I saw on Discovery channel;
i. Regular sex releases enough oxytocin which is responsible for the bonding between couple.

My assumption:
j. Even though the researchers try to link love with procreation, I don't agree with that. I believe people love without being sexually attracted to each other and it goes well with (g). Conversely, people lust without being in love. I suppose nobody would argue on that one and is the central point of my arguments. From (i) I can say that love is not required for bonding and only regular sex between people in lust will create that magic.

I was going thro' Francis Bacon's life and found that
k. Historians have debated his sexuality and opined he was a homosexual
l. The woman he courted broke up with him and married his enemy in the court who was wealthier. Bacon years later was regretting that he couldn't marry her.

m. If Francis Bacon was a homosexual, then it appears sexual orientation (lust) has no bearing on love. This is in agreement with (e). A homosexual person can feel heterosexual love. Of course, I'm considering (l) indicates he was in love with that woman. I can't say what is the prevalent notion about homosexual's love as it's a rather confused domain.

n. Bacon's opinion (c) doesn't go well with (g). I wonder why do you need motivation in the times of prosperity. I would think drive and motivation are required in the times of adversity. Only that I'm not sure of Bacon's definitions of prosperity and adversity. But considering that his observations were mostly of "martial" men, he could have said, men in adversity and men(even though prosperous) who were driven by adversities are likely to fall in love. This again goes well with (g).

o. I wonder what he meant by second part in (b). Does that have anything to do with his love betraying him for a wealthier man?

p. Curiously, he connects love with altruism (d). The latter is rather controversial and still not fully understood.

q. (d) makes it very clear that in his opinion love and lust are two different feelings.

r. There was and even today there is a big chunk of population holds love and lust are the same.

s. If (e) and (q) are true, then even without scientific finding few men naturally understood the difference between these two because of their personal experience. That means love is not felt by everyone and that explains (r).

t. If (s) is true, a few other passions that motivate and drive people render this passion unnecessary. That makes (a) believable. But then why Bacon being one of those great men still felt love and even had a regret about its failure. Probably, I should give a stress to 'madly in love' in (a). So, everyone feels love even when s/he has other passions.

u. But (r) is still true. Then probably other notion that you fall in love only a selected few is true. So, it is possible that a great chunk of people may not feel love or more precisely may not meet their love at all in their life.

v. So not all men/women motivate you just like not all men/women arouse you.

Why does one need motivation? I started my last post trying to explain this point and totally exhausted and confused. All I can think it has something to do with our speech ability which has developed a tertiary personality (Secondary being modern human behaviour).

w. Of course, one can find love and lust with the same person. But the chances are very slim considering that you either lust for or love only a selected few.

x. My assumption here is heightened libido doesn't need a person but just body parts. Hence person married only for love may be able to have sex. I suppose for procreation and monogamous bonding person should follow his/her lust and not love.

y. Love should be asexual and lovers should be together. Lusters should only meet for the purpose of sex.

1. The Essays by Francis Bacon
2. Love May Be A Lateralized Brain Function