Jul 31, 2011

Scandinavia: The Best Place on Earth - What Emile Durkheim Never Knew!!

The empirical fact, easily  and freely accessible to anyone who can do as much as a goggle search, is that the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and for all intensive purposes Finland, Iceland and Netherlands) ARE...

...at the top (or the top category) of pretty much EVERY meaningful metric of human well-being LIKE...

Jul 30, 2011

Paul Bloom: The origins of pleasure

Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are Essentialists (as in Essentialism) -- that our beliefs about the history of an object profoundly change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) actually is.

Paul Bloom is a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and art. Paul Bloom's latest book is called How Pleasure Works - which is indicative of the kinds of questions he looks at, the big basic ones:  Why do we like some things and not others? How do we decide what's fair and unfair? How much of our moral development, what we think of as our mature reasoning process, is actually hard-wired and present in us from birth? 

I strongly recommend Paul Blooms' introductory course on Psychology (Psych 110 - delivered at Yale) available as a serial webcast on youtube. I've done it and its awesome!!

Jul 15, 2011

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig: Book Review

The context…
‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance’ (ZAMM) is the largest selling philosophical novel ever. It is listed in the Guinness book of world records as the bestselling book that faced the highest number of rejections (121) before finally finding a willing publisher. It is a window into the mind of a remarkable man (author Robert Pirsig) whose obsession with the ‘grand truths’ of life took him to the verge of self-destruction and even beyond it (he was institutionalized for Insanity and forcibly put through electroconvulsive shock therapy). He is a defining example of a genius (he was tested to have an IQ of 170, a 1-in-50000 result) as traditionally conceived – coruscating and inspirational but tortured and solipsistic.

The book itself…
is essentially an exposition of a new philosophical thesis that is put forth embodied in a series of meditative reflections interspersing the course of a motorcycle journey through northwestern United States.
The narrator has his son Chris for a pillion during the entire journey; it must be said that a certain poignant tension continually attends their relationship which progressively reveals itself in the course of events.

Pirsig and his son on the roadtrip described in the book (Actual photograph)
Then of course there is the constant companion, the motorcycle, which the narrator recurrently employs (as a readily accessible epistemological and ethical object) in his annotations to ‘concretize’ the many otherwise often abstract themes.
There are a host of other characters, none of whom occupy the Mise-en-scène throughout, but all of them serve as exemplars of a more general ‘type’ and help in anatomizing, for the reader, the many varied perspectives that stood considered by the author en route to his grand thesis.

Opinions on Ron Paul's economics :|

The following is (also) a case against the calls for dissolution of central banks worldwide.

Ron paul's analysis of the financial crisis is unsophisticated and his understanding of economics superficial . His contrived contrarian views seem to be an attempt to gain public office. TO EQUATE the Fed's lending operations to the tune of 5 trillion dollars to the treasury and the major banks in exchange for underperforming-nevertheless-undervalued securities WITH an equivalent increase in deficit is intellectually puerile .

"Fed in it's history of lending to financial institutions hasn't lost a single cent" says Ben Bernanke.