Google Analytics

Saturday, September 16

We the choicemakers !

The comments on last post deserve more than a reply. The deserve a post :).

Yes, the question is dreaded because we ask it to ourselves. Akshaya thinks that we have to take a stand, we have to pick a side and I wonder how? How do we pick a side? Can we pick it by tossing a coin as I did? What's wrong in that? Is it possible to reason out your way to one of the choices? Isn't there always that last but, that last if and that last maybe? Is there a final decisive purpose that would tilt the scales without doubt?

But may be we have to depend on our gut feeling after a level. I think gut feeling is a over hyped concept, nothing but your biases which you are too ashamed to accept that you have. And what if your gut feeling was wrong? Doesn't matter right? So why does it matter if I toss a coin? If I refuse to entertain any biases I may have? Please note what works for me, may not work for you because it ultimately reduces down to what you value most, what puts your heart at ease. It varies from person to person and this is what makes the world such an interesting place !

Somehow for me, it never makes sense to choose a position too firmly. I will give two examples here. One is of a colleague in my last company. We were having some problems with the product. And it was not immediately clear how to resolve the issues. This guy thought of a new way of doing things which would require radically changing everything. I knew that he is strong technically and that his hunch may be right. But I was a little hesitant in taking the leap. And then one day in a heated discussion, came out the golden words that he was not able to see any problems with his new approach and we should take it asap. I lost my trust in him on the spot. Anybody who is not able to see any problems, any issues with his stand, with his approach, I think doesn't understand his stand. And it applies to both technical and other issues. And while in technical issues, it might be possible to estimate and choose one thing over another, the situation is much more difficult in real life.

Another example is of the famous linguist Noam Chomskey. He has been one of the most influential thinkers of last century and his contributions to many fields are really innovative, fundamental and good. However one thing that I really find frustrating about him is that in his hay-days, he not only furthered his theories, he virtually destroyed others'. There are fields of enquiries that literally got shut after he attacked them with one paper or one review. No aid, no jobs, whole bunch of people changed loyalties. For 50 years, Chomskey's theories in linguistics have eclipsed everything else. It is only now that people are beginning to realize that his may not be the last word. There are problems with his approaches and slowly the things which were completely neglected, are making a comeback. I am not sure how he feels about it but if I would have been at his place, I would have surely asked myself, was it all worth it?

And anyway I think it a man's ego that makes him believe that he can actually make a choice and it is his ego that makes him suffer later when the choices come out to be wrong or makes him proud when the choices turn out to be right. I want to let go of both, of joy and of sorrow. I live without the burden of having made choices. Yes, I realize that this may precisely be the route of escapist but then again, it may not be ! And I don't think I know.

And Ragini, I really liked how you put it: "Sometimes it is not about why? It is about how."

4 comments:

Braveheart said...

Abhaya, I have no ideological trust in you anymore. Your reply is, in one word, shameful.

Instead of making so much effort defending not to make a point, you could do well to sit and relax. Shunning responsibility will never be forgiven and you must suffer for it. Reason is, always remember, not mine but your tool to shoulder responsibility, which is why you are crying. It's your weakness which is pinching you, and always will. There is no replacement for character! You can be forgiven for everything that you did but not unless you take its full responsibility.

I knew this will happen, but it's too soon to surprise even me.

-- Akshaya

P.S.: You MUST watch 'DOGVILLE', a film by Lars Von Trier.

abhaya said...

Ideological trust? Whatever that means !

And I will never shy away from any responsibility if that is the impression you got. I am not saying, "hey people ! If my decision to come here was wrong, it was not my fault. Blame the dice." No ! never ! After all it was me who decided to toss the dice. And moreover why do you assume that a dice precludes every other consideration? How do you decide if you want to give 1 Re to the begger or 2 Rs.? What values come in to picture there?

The problem my friend is that if you are only going to try hard and see effects of America on me, you will succeed even earlier. The short time that surprises you might as well has you rown contribution to it. Mahakavi kah gaye hain: Jaaki rahi bhavna jaisi, prabhu moorat dekhi tin taisi ! Jai Shri Ram !

rnxgn said...

Interesting point about the role of ego! And your criticism of Chomsky destroying alternate theories makes me think of modern science, and how I, as a disciple of Science, am on the verge of rejecting 'alternate theories'...I may not want to, but I don't see how I can reconcile the diversity.

Tom said...

Hi,
came to your blog after a long time. So, sorry if I am late with my comment.(The post resonated so well with me that I've been tempted to comment...)

Your post reminded me of a quote from Feynman - "What is not surrounded by uncertainty cannot be the truth."

And indeed, I would definitely agree with it and in fact would add that one hasn't tasted freedom, if he/she doesn't know how to say "I don't know". One of the best things I like about science is that it teaches you precisely that. Indeed, it also shows you how to make progress : "formulate hypotheses" "experiment" "try to quantify your ignorance and knowledge- do error analysis". Indeed, no physicist worth his/her name would believe an empirical data if the experimental uncertainties are explicitly stated. To just repharse your statement "Anybody who is not able to see any problems, any issues with his stand, with his approach, I think doesn't understand his stand." ,Anybody who is not able to state errors in what he/she has measured doesn't understand the experiment :)

People who are afraid of uncertainty are really afraid of a kind of vacuous relativism that uncertainty can lead to. And they're indeed right about that. But, I think that problem is circumvented provided you have a way to convey the different levels of uncertainty, provide you can state the "confidence levels" so to speak, if not quantitavely atleast qualitatively. One really can't be 100% certain that earth is round, but one can be very confident about it with good reason - and one can quantify this confidence with how far our empirical observations can justify that claim. But, I'll agree that that kind of quantification is very difficult - more so when the object of study is oneself...