Jan 31, 2010

Richard Dawkins: A thesis seeking resolution of the "why" questions vs. "how" questions in human enquiry.

All the intellectual force, humor, razor-sharpness that is Richard is on a wonderful exhibition here. I would prefer a theatrical release of his talks actually.
Of particular interest in this talk is the thesis of "Archaeo purpose vs. Neo purpose" and the "Subversion of purpose".

Jan 18, 2010

A Passive Metaphysic of Existence

Perhaps this is just a disembodied soliloquy that lost its way into my consciousness... perhaps is it just me using words as a metaphysical device to achieve a connection with my own "self".

I am me... siddharth kaushal… i… am... siddharth kaushal... my being representable by a textual configuration. What is 'siddharth kaushal'?... whats my being?... I, the subject, ask myself this question and let my self, the object, answer me... Not 'myself' but 'my self'...

I make the necessary distinction between 'myself' and 'my self'... between the 'I' and the 'Me'... the knower and the subject known. 

My being is primarily apprehended as my life… which is in turn cognized as the 'aggregate' perception of my existence.. !! My life is, in all its magnificence, in its existential entirety a perception of my existence. By the intellective force of reason it accesses itself. What separates me from the rock outside, the chair I rest my material form on, from the road that swathes my house, from the notebook that lies in front of me…they all exist as is do.. just that they are devoid of , bereft of, oblivious to any perception of being in existence...

Jan 16, 2010

Yours Truly - Your Ambition

The only thing that truly belongs to you in any absolute sense, is your unique, personal sense of ambition in life.

The question here actually begs as to what it means for something to belong to something/someone else?

Let’s make a neccessary distinction  between the commonly used concepts of ownership, possession, title, property and the general idea of “having something” on one hand and true belongingness on the other. While you own things paid for, you possess objects and artifacts at your disposal, you have the title to your property, you “have” friends to call your own etc... none of them actually belong to you insofar all of them are 'not you' by their make/nature. Belonging, in the purest sense is matter of constitution, i.e. the very constitution(elemental construction) of an entity or a “thing” is what determines its belongingness.
From the instances mentioned above… the car by its constitution is metal and rubber, the watch would be metal and quartz by its make, the property is made up of a lot of cement and bricks (which in turn are reducible to matter “other than you”)…. Of course your friends are “whole other” human beings. So now what does it mean?? that all these things are by constitution, by nature's construct different from you, and while you may “have” them in some way or other, in some form or shape, by some arrangement or mechanism you may 'relate' to them…. They never completely “belong” to you.
Your ambition on the other hand is an absolutely native element in your person. You’re ambition is made up of your emotions, your experiences, your feelings, your thoughts, your dreams, percepts, cognitions, your personal history and in fact your identity. All the else which make up the person that is you, which constitute your personhood. Thus, your ambition is made up of you.

Your ambition by its constitution is yours, it’s your personal reaction, response to the fact of existence. It’s logically and by the virtue of being 'immensly exclusively' related to you ...the highest and purest ideal in “your” life. It’s what gives meaning to your life, in fact it really is how you give meaning to your own life. The only thing worth the moment that it fills.

(i) Ambition is not just a career objective or a temporary goal. In fact it is not even just one thing, in its truest sense ambition is a dynamic equilibrium that you hope to achieve between your personal, professional and social goals

Jan 6, 2010

Deconstructed: 5 Minutes of Life - A Primer

Deconstruction: An artistic rendition

Let my start be an emphasis on the fact that this is a rather abstract and esoteric description of a conception which, as within actuality, is a simple experience of life, a plain picture to imagine once it is constructed correctly but due to our conditioned experience, comprehension and semantic representation of the world it may prove elusive initially to perfectly internalize the view that I hope I succeed to deliver. We will first deconstruct the view that we hold of the 'passage of life' through time and then reconstruct the composition it in a particular manner with different (substitute) elements. Now instead of actually stating that what I am going to eventually describe I'd rather lay a foundation on which to do so.
A moment of reflection is enough to imagine the vividness and variety of the experience of life that we all undergo everyday. More specifically the stream of consciousness that characterizes the passage through time. You will have to imagine the “going-on” of life as a flux of consciousness through the cross section of time. This cross section of time is ‘the present’. For any given moment, the very given moment is the present and thus the temporal cross section through which stream of consciousness comes from a theoretical future, be-comes the perceived present and the very next moment be-comes part of actual past. Look at it the other way, where you imagine time flowing “through”consciousness, here the consciousness becomes like the ‘filter-detector’ we ‘dip’ in the flow of time and perceive certain aspects of it that get filtered through the consciousness into the semantic center of our brain. I hope you’re able to think this idea as a visual representation where consciousness is like the light which illuminates the invisible flow of time.    
Let us understand one thing very clearly, there is potentially infinite information that we passively ‘encounter’ every moment and our consciousness is the filter that only lets us selectively process the relevant information from it and this happens as per our picture of the world and every associated concept in our head. Now its we can all imagine how a regular TV screen radiates only light in a combination of three primary colours in continuously varying proportions and/but we perceive it as a meaningful image. Much the same way from of the whole domain of our sensory channels, i.e., the sum total of all that there is to ‘sense’ at a given moment, we only perceive what our particular sensory system is conditioned to pick from the reality (that given moment) by our meta-consciousness.
We see different objects, backgrounds, colours, shapes, sizes, features, contours, luminosities etc using our visual equipment. We hear many sounds, the noise of vehicles, objects clashing with each other/rolling over each other, musical notes, the wind blowing, water gushing, people talking, metal banging, background noises etc using our auditory equipment. Same goes for touch, all the different ways we sense it, be it water trickling down the body, the sun burning down on it, the touch of another person, the feel of fabric on our skin etc. All these senses combined with a cognitive/psychological interpretation/view give meaning to our everyday experience of life. Before i reveal the purpose to touting this here I’ll ask you to picture a common situations plucked right from life as we all know and live it.

Jan 1, 2010


Emptiness.. to a remarkable degree of certainty, is my favourite topic to talk, write and think about.(as well to pontificate on!!) Hopelessness.. to an even greater extent has been the leitmotif of my life of late. They together fill up all the space there is to accommodate my experience of being alive. Its the remarkable combination of the two(hopelessness and emptiness), which lends itself to making the journey through time, space and consciousness that we call life, particularly worthy of intellectual focus this moment.

Now a few disclaimers, I'm not trying to establish anything here, nor i am attempting to make a case for a particular view of life. What follows is a preliminary, over-simplified description of my first encounters with "Emptiness" which shan't be understood to be unctuous.

As i reconstruct/recollect my memories , with the benefit of hindsight, it now seems that my whole meaning of life, my view of the world and my place in it, my whole purpose of existence were just condemned inheritances which i assimilated into my personal constitution without any resistance. Always so caught up in the everydayness of life that could never look at it from an observers perspective. Did good at school, operated fine with women, got through the best colleges et cetera. There was pleasure to be found in other peoples' companionship, in establishing or at least extracting an acknowledgement of the superiority of my worldview, in reducing the whole world to a inherently prejudiced picture of an interplay between circumstances by principles that i had seemingly already understood, in being the perfect creature in the Darwinian sense - content with adjusting, reactively and in the least possible measure, to all the minor shifts in the your experience of life and maintaining your set of biases nonetheless.

There was a powerful undercurrent building all along. As a consequence of hiding, ignoring & denying every little insecurity that confronted me, as the aftermath of every lie i bred, as to every incomplete concept of life i built there were, undergoing an ontogenesis, the mental equivalent of tectonic faults. I did perhaps realise but presumably ignored that behind or underneath my supernormal (taken to mean better than normal but in the normal/normative sense) development i was like almost everyone else i ever encountered, was loosing touch with the truth of my existence, somewhere in the micrological intricacies of life. My concerns were undividedly limited to matters such as would describe 99 % of contemporaneous humanity - chics, money, ego. Wasn't tough i would now argue, to infer the engine powering my life and, sure enough, that of most people around me was Insecurity. Each and every little movement, little thought, little precept and concept had somehow been a way to deal with it.

By providence or otherwise there occurred a moment of epiphany when i first read an article by a person whose effect on my life has been, albeit indirectly, monumental and superabundant - Jacques Derrida. One casual skim through a few lines of an article proved plenteous to evince my immanent love/lust for philosophy. My native curiosity proved plentiful to steer me onto the likes of Socrates, Kant, Descartes, Nietzsche, Camus .. so on , so forth, so was it. I'm not going to write an expository piece on what each one said or for that matter what i understood of what they said but posolutely my whole conscious experience of life as it was happening, my cognitive interpretation of it as it had happened, my surmises of what it would happen in the future and most significantly my supposition of how it ought to be underwent and are still undergoing a massive reconstruction.

In trivial terms, the reluctance to, or perhaps just the sheer lack of the occurrence to me of the otherwise, ever truly know what is the whole point/purpose/possibility/nature of life caught up to me and screwed my conception of life at its very foundations. 

Today, all that i once knew was good, all that i once knew was right, all that i once knew was meaningful, all that i once knew was what a person ought to do in life, my whole composite integrated meaning of life has been, by my mental actions acting like blows, hammered out of all shape and form of which it was once a impressive embodiment. So have i wiped the slate clean ? Have i absolutely been able to unlearn all that i did or have i been, accompanied by a fair measure of success, been able to re-conceptualise my self , the world and my place in it ? No. Absolutely Not. Here i am today, this moment, having lost all my once-strongly-held notions, my perceived knowledge, my accumulated wisdom, my supposedly verified assumptions, my cognitive inferences, my customary morality, my sense of purpose, my direction in time,space & consciousness, my vulgar urge to defeat the one in front, my drive to prove myself to the other.. in brief.. all little bricks that housed, neatly in perfect order, my experiences in life and associated meanings have been deconstructed. Seems like, by just the sheer count of it, that i've lost quite a lot. In real, practical, everyday social life it meant that i became reclusive, disinterested in companionship of fellows around me, disregardful of the expectations of the systems that encapsulate your life ...be it the society, family, education, profession... so on. I may safely say that for a while I assumed a cynical misanthropic outlook towards life and all those who embodied it around me. Dis-illusioned in the truest sense.

What did i gain out of it though ? What was in it for me to adopt a nihilistic, plain existentialist view of life right after the peak of a phase filled with hedonism ? Well here is it, in my mindscape where there were once falsely constructed certainties , there were now magnificently perceived possibilities. Where there was a reliance on strongly rational reasoning, there was now a love for unrestricted imagination. Where there was a strong urge to just impress, there was now a desire to truly express. Where there was the safety of an incontrovertible purpose to life, now there is the comfort of life not compromised by it but waiting for me the 'experiencer' of it to give meaning to it. This is in short the story of me and my emptiness. This is how it came about and as i hope i've been able to describe with sufficient accuracy this was how i changed my whole conscious experience of and my emotional reaction to, being alive.

Hopelessness of the Emptiness is a slightly more challenging-to-describe fact of life. I will do it subsequently.