Posted in philosophy, tagged anthropology, Benny Thomas, biology, cultures, emotions, evolution, fear, infanticide, religion,, violence on April 13, 2012 |
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First let me give opinions of an anthropologist and a biologist. ‘Our emotions make us unique
While human aggression is a naturally evolved phenomenon we have in common with other animals, the difference between human and animal violence comes down to the complexity of the emotion driving it, said Elizabeth Cashdan professor of Anthropology of Univ. of Utah in 2009.
Aggression in few animals goes beyond protecting one’s territory, mates, offspring and food — there is some evidence that domestic dogs and chimpanzees do hold grudges, said Carrier, a Biologist also from Univ. of Utah — but human violence has evolved to stem from less typical sources.
“Humans are unique in the complexity of their social relationships and their highly developed social intelligence. Revenge and spite are quintessential social emotions and so are not likely to be found in many, if any, other species,” she said.
“For example revenge killings, and the cultural institutions that support and restrain it,
shape human aggression in new ways,” said Cashdan. The intelligent reasoning that lets most of us override any innate desire to be violent also makes some people, such as parents that kill their children, as well as institutions justify violence illogically, experts say.
With our complex brain we splice frustration, fear for the future all the emotions violent and beautiful into shapes never thought possible. A chimpanzee can never commit hara-kiri a ceremony to wipe of dishonor. Whereas a man can flagellate for God or to show his intense sorrow for a dead saint.
Worry over the future
An understanding of the evolutionary roots of human aggression could help institutions make better policy decisions, according to experts.
“Evolution didn’t just shape us to be violent, or peaceful, it shaped us to respond flexibly, adaptively, to different circumstances, and to risk violence when it made adaptive sense to do so. We need to understand what those circumstances are if we want to change things,” said Cashdan.
Though conflicts like the ones that occurred in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s may seem a distant memory, the tipping point between peace and that sort of violence is a finer line than we think, said Carrier.
“My personal opinion is that Western society, as a whole, is in mass denial about the magnitude of the problem that violence represents for the future”.
In a caste riddled Hindu society breaking rules of gotra the village elders may punish man and woman with death. If we consider such acts can only occur in a primitive society think of Grimmer of Texas, America.
Rachelle Grimmer, 38, pulled a gun on the welfare office supervisor, Roberto Reyes, and her two children out of her frustration at being denied food stamps. The office’s other employees were able to safely evacuate the building, according to the San Antonio Express.
A SWAT team surrounded the building, and officers communicated with Grimmer throughout the ordeal.
But at midnight — shortly after Grimmer hung up on police — three shots were fired, causing the police to storm the building.
(abc Good Morning America-7 Dec.2011)Frustration in progressive society is over future and in a primitive society is over the past. While we speak of superstition and ridiculous beliefs of the other cultures how we feel about future rely on the brain that is less than efficient. Our emotions we may shape into new forms but cannot escape the forces that bear upon the brain.
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Posted in philosophy, tagged Benny Thomas, brain, Cosmic Mind, free will, iPad, neuroscience, progress, rational conduct, religion,, The Accidental Mind on April 12, 2012 |
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What is evolution but adapting things that are already existing? Thus we have some primitive parts from lizards and jellyfish.As a result our brain at its best have to account for what it is built upon.
“Although the things it can do are very wonderful and impressive, its design is very poor engineering in many respects,” says David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the author of The Accidental Mind.
These parts may have been OK for their original owners, he says, but they aren’t ideal for us.
Take brain cells, for example.
“They are slow. They are inefficient. They leak signals to their neighbors,”
We’re still using a communication system developed 600 million years ago by jellyfish.
Deep Down, We’re Lizards.
Jellyfish don’t have a brain, but they were the first animal to have any sort of nervous system. It’s a loose network of nerves called a “nerve net,” says Chet Sherwood, who studies brain evolution at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Evolution’s tinkering gave lizards the brain they needed to hunt and survive in a tough world, and our brains still have that ancient wiring.
The brain of an adult human is about three times the size of a gorilla brain.
In evolutionary terms big brain gave our human ancestors bigger volume for brain and it is still evolving and at the root of it we still have the reptilian brain.
Brain has two halves like walnut. These are shot through two worlds: conscious and unconscious mind. our conscious self does not initiate all behaviours. Instead, it is somehow alerted to behaviours that the rest of the brain and body are already planning and performing. Also keep in mind conscious experience does play some moderating role. We think rationally and we speak as though we understand what we speak about. But do we?
Take the matter of religion.
Religion relies on mystery and requires certain rituals and symbols to maintain this mystery. People are ready to defend their faith to death. On the other hand what about the fascination with iPad or iPhone for which people are ready to kill themselves? Or do desperate things disproportionate to the intrinsic value of objects themselves, and sell their kidneys as one did in China only last week? People queue through the night, despite the inclement weather to be the first to grab when shops are opened for business. Are we not seeing Progress masquerading religion in this case? Some Nerd who cannot do anything else makes a jargon and creates applications into program and lo and behold, he is looked upon with wonder. He is a modern shaman. Craze for latest gadgets is controlled by which part of our being? Unconscious mind or Rational mind?
Our brain evolved over some 6 millennia as I mentioned earlier is not the best,- and communication system leaks, and we have no idea which part of it is triggering us?
Brain is our thinking part but it depends how we want to interpret external impressions that we see.
In an earlier post I wrote about Cosmic Mind. We make our experience as basis and draw necessary conclusions from these events around us. If we are thinking from our unconscious mind a little and from conscious mind we cannot tell.
When we look into brain we are going down in time,
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Do we have a choice in striking out a path for ourselves?
Look at the manner we have described progress in which man’ deliberate choices connect with similar needs and choices made by others. The nameless inventor of wheel didn’t anticipate flywheel for a watch, gyroscope or wheels, which are as essential in flying. Our choices, deliberate these must be to fit with our needs at a particular point of time and place, would always have to negotiate with those of others. My responsibility is therefore of short duration and how it is adapted in future is beyond me. One example will suffice: our ancestor made flint blades by breaking flint. He could scrape flesh from animal hide and use the leather skins for his clothes. Suppose another used the flint blade to commit murder. Is he responsible that it became a murder weapon in the hand of another?
No, he cannot be held responsible for it.
Moral responsibility for murder must surely lie with the one who used it to commit murder.
let us now look at the kind of “decision,” the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne talks about. Decision arrived at is merely a series of electrical and chemical impulses between molecules in the brain — molecules whose configuration is predetermined by genes and environment. Though each decision is the outcome of an immensely complicated series of chemical reactions, those reactions are governed by the laws of physics and could not possibly turn out differently. This has only validity where time is of essence and in the face of danger thinking is not an option. The question of fight or flee has been settled eons ago and it is what one may say knee-jerk reaction.
Free Will is where we make conscious choices and coolly and rational mind has determined it.
However progress makes connection of one with the other and it can go on infinite ways. The javelin hurled to fell an animal in hunt connects with arrows sent flying and to the sidewinder missiles that can sense the heat of the target and kill.
Free will is not consigned to molecular behavior of physiology but conscious choices we do to address a problem facing us.
Free will of Adam who on an impulse ate the fruit is an impulse. Those who are by nature impulsive would need an attorney called Restraint in order to move ahead.
Progress is innovations of a few given their widest range.
The Peking man may have settled for a bamboo cut sharp for a weapon as flint tools in the west. How such use ties up around the world gives Progress its value.
Foresight is how man satisfies his need at a specific time and place. Is it not irony that in course of time it shows up its shortcoming? The Bronze Age showed how inadequate Stone Age was. Now a bronze artifact is but a museum piece.
Progress in one direction also creates great many necessities in its wake. It is invisible and is according to cluster principle of which I have explained in previous posts.
To sum: Progress of man on foresight is like having only one paddle doing the job. Funny that hindsight is nowhere in view! Trouble with Progress as a result will have so many gray areas to work upon. Like the Nuclear Age we ushered in without realizing the rogue nations also will get hold of nuclear weapons some day.
Wealth will create more need for wealth and no way Progress can be expected to stop at some point and say,” Enough, we have reached the level of satiety! We are happy!’
Progress coming to think of it must have been Satan’s crowning achievement.
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Posted in philosophy, tagged adrenaline, Benny Thomas, Cosmic Mind, dopomine, experience, mind, perception, physiology, Science on March 25, 2012 |
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According to Dictionary.com it is defined as the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges which may be a catch-all to signify the totality of conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities in a human or any conscious being. Mind is conscious of self and it is set on an active mode when juxtaposed to another.
Animals become restive while another intrudes into their personal space. The distance which an animal marks safe also hitches its mind to a perception. Any violation would bring adequate response from it. Such perception works for both man and animal. A speeding vehicle coming towards us as though out of control immediately sets us to look to safety. We feel our physiology involuntarily taking control of us. The adrenalin rush in a manner of speaking ties us to space about us.
It also guides our preferences in the sports. Seeking thrill is one way of pumping dopamine into our brain, which hungers for it.
In our material presence we are an entity in the space as moon or a meteor. If a rogue meteor hits us it would not matter how far our personal space ought to be. Similarly such a question of personal space is out of place considering our thoughts, imagination have unlimited range. In order to give this infinite range from which we construct our thoughts we might give it a name Cosmic Mind.
Why we would need a Cosmic Mind? Experience of our race regardless of the age in which it occurred is bent and made part of our experience. It may be like a kangaroo word concealed in the direct experience or better still in our perception of it. Fight of flee? question of the Savannah is redundant in the adrenalin rush we feel while in our workplace we expect the axe to fall on us. Only that we have no place to run to as our ape-ancestor but get down to write a résumé and look for another job.
Time and Space coordinates of our physical presence in Cosmos is given 360 degrees so to speak so that experience of our past is a kind of net as well as foresight a guideline to go forward. The Cosmic Mind must cover the whole run.
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Posted in nature, philosophy, tagged Benny Thomas, Buddhism, nature, ontology, philosophy, soul, spiritual leader, Tibet on February 15, 2012 |
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Water could be in three states: but which state is its true state? Each state is a reality that is in direct context of ultimate reality, one aspect of the Golden Pagoda. We shall have no difficulty in looking at these one and the same, under certain conditions.
Let us look at a snowflake.
Snowflakes could be formed by molecules of water vapor at the freezing temperature from a series of incidents: molecules now spin in a stately rhythm with free- wheeling dust, then scudding topsy-turvy upon other molecules and in the ensuing scramble give each particle of dust a shape. No two identical shapes are produced in the above process. Dance of the molecules has its clear design though tempo may vary. If the crystal is like a composition of ferns it will have six- out pointing leaves; if like a star- fish, it will have six ribs. Out of synergy or Oneness what any material form assumes ( no matter whether one considers the form of man or a fish or a fern) has its own specific features.
When we try to figure out transmigration of souls as some religions explain the hereafter, we need to see the soul occupies the place of the grit around which forms are shaped.
Majority of people across the globe reveres Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader; but how he represents to the Tibetans and to the world at large holds a difference. Those Tibetans in exile or those who are left behind see him as a reincarnation of the last lama. He is the 14th of his line. As a living lama he represents to them the centre that holds their cultural and national identity together. In other words his soul carries different shades of meaning.
But soul of Dalai Lama is not borrowed clothes of any lama dead and gone but something that can bear the weight of all those lamas who had gone before him. Even if he chose to live a life differently it validates such a change.
His soul at a point of time carried a particular shade of meaning. That is all.
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“I could be bounded in a nut shell and count
myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I
have bad dreams.”(Hamlet-Ac.II)
Death of stars( Supernovae) gives rise to new stars in cosmos: those elements spewed out of a dying star are what make up calcium in our bones and iron in the blood. Can we think of life on earth without oxygen? Or for that matter carbon? These two also are by courtesy of a supernova.
In terms of life, anywhere within the Golden Pagoda, synergy underpins life in any form. If we have been drawn out of streaming debris from dying stars to give life a semblance of physical reality are we not justified to consider cosmos as our home?
In a manner of speaking we are ‘star children’ shaped by stellar events. In the 70s when the Hippy Movement was at its height didn’t we hear that we were the children of Stardust (remember the song of Joni Mitchell?)?
The truth is writ eternal: I am bound to the earth and yet I am a king of infinite space. My soul is the charter established in the Order of the Golden Pagoda.
If all life forms as well as celestial bodies are evolved out of interstellar gases and dust do we have a specific centre? Every element in our body has been a wanderer among clouds of interstellar gas, and having come together by some sort of an arrangement should we not have been equally at home in cosmos as well?
To all intents and purpose we consider the earth as our home and millennia of living here has shut out much of our cosmic ancestry; and in compensation we have acquired an ability to live on the earth. This truth is brought home when we try to travel in space. Can we just pack up and go as we do here on earth on a lark?
As a foetus our existence was something of a water creature,floating in the protective cocoon of our mothers, and we didn’t even complain of smog as a problem! By and by we realized we faced the real world where our amphibian existence was simply glossed over. How can we be sure even that is our true state? Only one area in the Cosmos speaks for us as well as creatures affected by MTP, Down syndrome or any other. Fetus or full blown, old or young also hold a royal charter beyond the accidents, violence of human existence. Their soul is non-negotiable.
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Posted in philosophy, tagged analogy, Benny Thomas, genius, Lewis Carroll, Pablo Picasso, philosophy, rainbow, soul, synergy, the Alice series, the Golden Pagoda on February 13, 2012 |
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“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings”(Lewis Carroll)
I hope I shall not stray from the point I want to make here. Suppose one has made an inventory of Picasso’s entire output and accounted for every day and circumstances in which he lived it would give us an insight into his life, the man his art. Would it not? Even so the real Pablo Ruiz Picasso shall remain less than the True. The point is that the physical man is only one aspect. His genius of course is drawn from the synergy that is incident on the natural Man. Even so it is not all there is to the man.
Synergy of the Golden Pagoda touched Picasso and the stuttering English Mathematics Don,- Lewis Carroll differently. Their works are even now followed as though they are alive. Lewis Carroll shall be remembered through his Alice series even after some 150 years.
Man has a physical and an abstract side the latter you may say a spiritual side or a thinking side according to your persuasion.
Essence of a man is not in either but somewhere between and betwixt. It is his true signature, the mass that gives him his place in Cosmos.
This is defined as soul.
It is like the very private rainbow of the previous post, It is not the white light or synergy within the Golden Pagoda but how it is dispersed according to the position you hold within the Pagoda.
Genius of Picasso and Carroll holds different shades of meaning and significance to us. The latter wrote some abstruse books on Mathematics apart from children’s classics. Alice is read by both old and the young alike. So a man cannot be mechanically constructed as a painting by numbers. The golden Pagoda is the free masonry of all life forms where Soul gives man a certain level of knowledge as in the case of Free Masonry.
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Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of a male figure perfectly inscribed in a circle and square, known as the “Vitruvian Man,” illustrates what he believed to be a divine connection between the human form and the universe. It is a symbol and it has power as a catchy slogan that one cannot help humming though it has no other merit. The jingle has taken over even though the point is lost.
An image is worth thousand words to paraphrase a Chinese proverb. Here I have given a model to explain synergy.
(Let me at the outset caution the Golden Pagoda model is merely a symbol, to illustrate possible manner Nature could translate the Absolute values in letting each life form develop.)
Da Vinci encapsulated a homocentric universe with circle and square.
In the case of the Golden Pagoda synergy of Nature gives us some foreknowledge and power to act.
Suppose three equilateral triangles are connected to one another would it not enclose space the fourth triangle by the courtesy of all other three triangles? This fourth face is signified as Nature. Consequently synergy of the three triangles is not merely the sum of individual parts. This is the Golden Pagoda where each side may be signified by characteristics that has a bearing on the fourth free side. Thus I may denote our reality is teased out of the three faces. Our reality finite in nature, is bound by ultimate reality ( Wisdom, Power and Will) and as the Preacher would describe our transient world is Vanity.
In a manner of speaking the concept of God is as beautiful as a mathematical equation. It cannot fail under any condition. Two plus two is four. Whereas synergy of the three triangles is not merely the sum of individual parts. As a Christian I see Nature occupying the fourth triangle where the Trinity supplies the three sides which hold Absolute value.
The point is that synergy by which each species further its biological imperative is drawn from the space enclosed,- Cosmos. As in the analogy of Golden Pagoda every life form in nature works with the characteristics that are beyond all comprehension.
Within such a Cosmos, to continue with the Golden Pagoda synergy of the fourth side is drawn from the other three absolute values acting as One System. The article we call conscience or moral imperative depends upon the way we consciously focus on our place in the scheme of things. Centre of gravity or the mass where our thoughts, emotions, will and action gravitate determine our essence.
Life requires mass as matter requires a booster shot to give it some stability. Is it Higgs boson particle? The Higgs mechanism proposes that there is a field permeating the Universe – the Higgs field – that allows particles to obtain their mass. Interactions with the field – with the Higgs bosons that come from it are purported to give particles mass. But is it God?
Without mass the working of universe would be unpredictable and chaos would be the result. Physical laws would be playing ducks and drakes with time and space. Suppose life is created in the lab artificially. Do you suppose the life form can deny the physical laws from making a claim on him? Surely within Cosmos life must bear the fingerprints of Wisdom and Power. Nature of the form must trade off with laws of Nature.
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Posted in philosophy, tagged Benny Thomas, body, collective memory, environment, experience, genetic push, life, life experience, man, mind, miracles, nature, progress, Thomas Malthus on February 2, 2012 |
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Man’s needs, say for a specific example his social needs have configured his anatomy accordingly. No one will dispute the fact he as a social animal requires speech in order to communicate. Apes also are gregarious and live in social groups and speak in a manner of speaking but speech of man is altogether of another league.
His speech owes to the larynx or voice box, that sits lower in the throat than in chimps, one of several features that enable human speech. Human ancestors evolved this roughly 350,000 years ago. We also possess a descended hyoid bone — this horseshoe-shaped bone below the tongue, unique in that it is not attached to any other bones in the body, allows us to articulate words when speaking. Add to this the use of hands where we can bring our thumbs all the way across the hand to our ring and little fingers. We can also flex the ring and little fingers toward the base of our thumb. This gives us a powerful grip and exceptional dexterity to hold and manipulate tools with. Thus man although he bears many similarities to other species have cut the bridges behind him so to speak. Research has shown that monkeys that live in larger groups grow bigger brains. If man did learn to speak at first with signs or clicking his teeth he went further to perfect speech. Here also modulated speech served him well to give different shades of meaning to his thought. Wisdom and power in the case of man was put to a specific purpose.
By inventing writing around 3100 BC he added his skills to strike a different path from other species. Writing led to other skills art and literature,- each step keeping his progress so unique, and reversal would never mean going back to the state where he began. Life experience of one has become common for all. His personal experience has become part of collective memory of his species.
Experience and his social back up are the two pinions that keep the species survivors. Miracles and ability to move through other dimensions are as trivial as a conjurer’s tricks. It does not add to the common experience.
No man lives for himself and his pioneering work adds to the common fount. Have you thought the invention of wheels by a nameless inventor is even now crucial to human advancement? Invention of movable printing freed man’s thought from the Church of Rome’s stranglehold. Man’s progress is fuelled by unrestricted exercise in setting goals for individual advancement and in meeting them experience has added to the whole.
We as humans traded off working with many dimensions in order to get our image of the physical universe in focus. Our body thus is made to prioritize our goals since we are mortals and bequeath our gains to our children. Our genetic push is not only in terms of hereditary traits but also our civilization. Is it not better to live focused and be vital in one’s short life than live useless playboy style of living for some 200 years, and competing with our children for livelihood and place in the sun? Nature also indicates this point according to Malthusian theory on Population and Resources. Under threat of limited resources wars, plagues and calamities Nature clears off the old, useless and the weak. The idea is that the young and strong stand better chance of passing on the gains forward.
In such trade off what we call as miracle is against natural laws. Every day Prophet Muhammed did not ride up his winged horse to commune with the Angel Gabriel. Nor did Jesus of Nazareth make five fishes and loaves multiply to go around. This being the case a man being able to enter another dimension or distort time holds for the world no practical value or merit. Nowadays the Church of Rome needs to propose a name for sainthood more often and ascribe miracles to the candidate, which seems more an exercise to distract the world from looking at the all pervasive sex abuse and corruption that goes under the Holy See.
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