G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Friday, July 25, 2014

तत्त्वज्ञान ही सर्व ज्ञानाची जननी असेल...Why must Philosophy have the Last Word?




Jeanette Winterson:

"As explanations of the world, fairy stories tell us what science and philosophy cannot and need not. There are different ways of knowing. "Bring me the two most precious things in the city," said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird."

Julian Baggini:

"...Who knows? Indeed. Which is why philosophy needs to accept it may one day be made redundant. But science also has to accept there may be limits to its reach..."

Jennie Erda:

"…the philosopher encapsulates the idea of the nature of things, but the novelist runs with it. Philosophy can state the facts of our own mortality, but perhaps only the novel can explore the hammerblow moment that deprives us of everything that gives sense to our lives..."

Lou Marinof:

“What are the first words a philosophy graduate utters? ‘Would you like fries with that, sir?’"

I first read the following by John Gray a few years ago:

 "Contemporary philosophers are not so bold as to claim that philosophy teaches us how to live, but they are hard put to say what does teach."

After reading that humility, imagine my shock when I read the following:

श्रीनिवास हेमाडे, लोकसत्ता, June 5 2014:

"...आता, जर तत्त्वज्ञान ही सर्व ज्ञानाची जननी असेल; तर तिचा संसार कोणता? तिचा संसार म्हणजेच ती अनंत संकल्पनांना जन्म देते, त्यावर आधारित जीवन व्यवस्थांचे पालनपोषण करते आणि दुष्ट, अधर्मी मुलांना प्रेमपूर्वक पूर्णविरामसुद्धा देते. म्हणून उदाहरणार्थ, प्लेटोचे राज्य अस्तित्वातच आले नाही आणि मदांध ब्रिटिश राज संपुष्टात आले, चेंगीजखान अन् नाझी भस्मासुर  अखेर भस्म झाला.
तत्त्वज्ञान हे रामकृष्ण परमहंसांच्या कालीसारखे दुष्ट मुलांचे निर्दालन करते..."

(Prof. Shrinivas Hemade:

"...Now, if philosophy is the mother of all knowledge, what is her world? Her world is that she gives birth to infinite concepts, and nourishes life-systems based on them and terminates, with affection,  the evil and  irreligious kids. Therefore, for instance, Plato's kingdom never came into existence and arrogant British-Raj came to an end, Genghis Khan and genocidal Nazism in the end burnt down.
Philosophy like Ramkrishna Paramhansa's Kali obliterates evil kids...") 

After quoting a baloney like this, I offer you an antidote on it: John N Gray's book 'Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals', 2002. 

 If only I knew about the claimed powers of philosophy, when I finished my middle-class schooling in 1975, I would have majored in philosophy and, more importantly,  used it against one or two 'evil' kids who used to mildly rag me in the high-school!

Instead my father a college teacher in anthropology and English told me to stay as far away from arts as possible if I wanted to be employed. He also said philosophy departments in most colleges, indeed universities, were closing down. If at all one still wanted to do arts, one should major in sociology or economics. 


Prof. Hemade's claims can be challenged on several fronts but I will restrict myself to only a couple.


It's obvious that a statement there is loaded with ignorance of history when it equates Genghis Khan with Nazis. (चेंगीजखान अन् नाझी भस्मासुर  अखेर भस्म झाला)

Read what Jack Weatherford says in his book 'Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World', 2004: 

"...Although he arose out of the ancient tribal past, Genghis Khan shaped the modern world of commerce, communication, and large secular states more than any other individual. He was the thoroughly modern man in his mobilized and professional warfare and in his commitment to global commerce and the rule of international secular law. What began as a war of extinction between the nomad and the farmer ended as a Mongol amalgamation of cultures. His vision matured as he aged and as he experienced different ways of life. He worked to create something new and better for his people. The Mongol armies destroyed the uniqueness of the civilizations around them by shattering the protective walls that isolated one civilization from another and by knotting the cultures together..."

I have never read anything remotely like this for Hitler or his cronies. 

I love philosophy the way I love many other things in life. But my problems with it are fundamental because I don't feel humans are very different from animals.


And I quote from John Gray's book: "...As commonly practised, philosophy is the attempt to find good reasons for conventional beliefs. In Kant’s time the creed of conventional people was Christian, now it is humanist. Nor are these two faiths so different from one another. Over the past two hundred years, philosophy has shaken off Christian faith. It has not given up Christianity’s cardinal error – the belief that humans are radically different from all other animals..."

The claim has been made that 'Plato's kingdom never came into existence' (प्लेटोचे राज्य अस्तित्वातच आले नाही). Maybe but just count the cost humanity has paid in just pursuing it.


"...Plato’s legacy to European thought was a trio of capital letters – the Good, the Beautiful and the True. Wars have been fought and tyrannies established, cultures have been ravaged and peoples exterminated in the service of these abstractions. Europe owes much of its murderous history to errors of thinking engendered by the alphabet..."

Does philosophy attempt to reach the truth or peace of mind/  tranquility?

"...The ancient Greek philosophers had a practical aim – peace of mind. As it was practised by Socrates, ‘philosophy’ was not the mere pursuit of knowledge. It was a way of life, a culture of dialectical debate and an armoury of spiritual exercises, whose goal was not truth but tranquility. Pyrrho – the founder of Greek Scepticism – did not need to go with Alexander to India to discover philosophies whose goal was inner peace. The ancient Greeks were at one with their contemporaries in India..."

And is tranquility itself overrated?


"...If philosophers have rarely considered the possibility that truth might not bring happiness, the reason is that truth has rarely been of the first importance to them. In that case, we are entitled to ask whether philosophy merits the authority it claims for itself, and how far it is qualified to sit in judgment over other ways of thinking. If happiness is what we are seeking, is it to be found in mere tranquility?The Russian writer Leo Shestov contrasted Spinoza’s quest for peace of mind with Pascal’s struggle for salvation:

Philosophy sees the supreme good in a sleep which nothing can trouble. ... That is why it is so careful to get rid of the incomprehensible, the enigmatic, and the mysterious; and avoids anxiously those questions to which it has already made answer. Pascal, on the other hand, sees in the inexplicable and incomprehensible nature of our surroundings the promise of a better existence, and every effort to simplify or to reduce the unknown to the known seems to him blasphemy.

Like the ancient Stoics before him, Spinoza sought relief from inner unrest; but what is so admirable in being ruled by a need for peace of mind? We need not share Pascal’s fears or hopes to grasp the force of Shestov’s question. If what is at issue is not truth but happiness and freedom, why must philosophy have the last word? Why should not faith and myth have equal rights?.."



'That To Study Philosophy Is To Learn To Die' or is it?

Artist: Salvador Dali

2 comments:

एक रेघ said...

Aniruddha,

Apt.

I have not read much of philosophy in any sense. Still I would add one more opinion in the crowd of opinions on philosophy. Sane Guruji has translated Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy in Marathi. In his preface Sane Guruji says- ''तत्त्वज्ञानात एक प्रकारचे सुख आहे. अध्यात्माच्या मृगजळातही एक प्रकारची मोहिनी आहे. एक प्रकारचे आकर्षण आहे. तत्त्वज्ञानाच्या प्रत्येक विद्यार्थ्याला या गोष्टीचा अनुभव येतो. परंतु शेवटी विचाराच्या अत्युच्च शिखरावरून मनुष्य रोजच्या रामरगाड्यात येतो.----

--- आपल्या जगण्यातील कितीतरी भाग निरर्थक वाटतो. आपण चंचल असतो. आपण आपणास पुसून टाकीत असतो. आपल्याला धरसोडीमुळे, चांचल्यामुळे आपले खरे स्वरूप काय तेच कळत नाही, परंतु माझ्या प्रश्नांना उत्तर मिळावे, माझी जिज्ञासा शांत व्हावी ही मला इच्छा आहे. या सर्व सतत बदलणाऱ्या व नष्ट होणाऱ्या क्षणभंगुर पसाऱ्याचे मूल्य समजून घेण्याची आपणास इच्छा असते. रोजच्या चाकोरीतून स्वतःला ओढून घ्यावे, भोवऱ्यातून बाहेर यावे अशी मनात असोशी असते. लहान वस्तू लहान, महान वस्तू महान हे वेळीच समजावे असे वाटत असते. 'अनंततेच्या प्रकाशात' नित्य जशा दिसतील तशा पाहाव्या असे आपणास वाटत असते. चिरकालीन सत्याच्या प्रकाशात या सर्व आसमंतातल्या गोष्टींना जे मूल्य असते ते समजून घेण्याची आपणास इच्छा असते. त्या मापाने सर्व मापावे असे वाटते. जे अपरिहार्यच आहे त्याच्या समोर हसण्याची, मृत्यू समोर दिसत असला तरी हसण्यास शिकण्याची आपणास इच्छा असते. आपणास पूर्ण व्हावेसे वाटते. आपल्या वासनांमध्ये मेळ घालून त्याचे नीट परीक्षण, निरीक्षण होत नाही. आपण अर्थशून्य असतो. सारे व्यर्थ वाटते व दिसते. उगीच खटाटोप. मनात व बाहेर जगात सारा गोंधळच गोंधळ दिसतो.''

(So) if it is only about मृगजळ (to a certain extent).. "why must philosophy have the last word? Why should not faith and myth have equal rights?.."

best.

Aniruddha G. Kulkarni said...

Thanks Ek Regh.

Guruji would really appreciate: Why should not faith and myth have equal rights?

After all he knew the power of novel (e.g. translating novels like Les Misérables), faith (e.g. Bhāratiya Saṃskṛti) and myth(in a way Shyamchi Aai)...

best,