Philofisi...seems a new name....yeah, I combined the two Greek words, Philo and fisi to make this word...."Philo"means love and "fisi" means literally Philofisi means the love of nature.... Of course we all love nature but we like to enjoy it rather to understand it... Understanding nature definitely increase the pleasures of enjoying nature... This blog is dedicated to my love of nature.... so I will try to bring the topics related to nature in very light way....The reason that I chose the word of "Philofisi" is rooted in my understanding that we are returning to the age of naturalist not because that we get tired of specialization but because it provides enormous opportunities to uncover the secrets of nature and help us in better understanding of nature.... until now we tended to simplify or reduce facts to get the basic principles of nature...but Scientists are slowly realizing that nature cannot be grasped by simplified natural laws... It is why we see...Newtonian Physics....Quantum Physics...and Choas Physics are complementing each other.... Biologists likes to view the world with simplistic perspective of natural selection but it seems that they are also realizing that life is more complex that could be explained so easily.... Like Physics it needs to depart toward multi-mechanistic approach... I think this small introduction is not the place to discuss all these issues so I invite you to explore the blog and enjoy yourself :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ecologists as Clergies…

The moment you settle down on some constants to draw conclusions, beware, you are stepping out of reality. The reason? Well, the reason is that, reality is organic and evolution as the dominant process of nature is a rebellion against finitude. Don’t believe it? Take a moment to refresh your memories and look back and you will see that we know both the history of life and earth as a record of series of catastrophes that have replaced one reality by another. There is a consensus that life was started in water and it was not until, Ordovician that some amphibious animals and plants started colonizing land and then in middle Devonian trees colonized the land and made it possible for animals to spread across land. Avian creatures evolved to colonize the air and now human are imagining and struggling to colonize the space. Simply, the evolution didn’t like the limitations of water, land or air and now having an into space (And we certainly do not know if there are space creatures out there or not). Life needs a break and if the break is not permitted, it just breaks. Imagine, if you were a Tyrannosaurus, the most dominant terrestrial vertebrate and aware of your 160 million years of dominance on face of earth, would you imagine that one day, the only place where people could make guesses on you while looking at your skeleton are museums? Human history is not an exception. The fall and rise of nations make the core of the human history.
Apart from the physical form of life where catastrophes are inevitable, human always liked to grasp intellectually on reality and have a whole picture of reality as if the reality is not tied to evolving world. Well, Scholars of every era have been disappointed by the fact that they couldn’t come up with a coherent reality that could be used to explain with certainty. No one is more aware of this fact than Philosophers so it is why we see a discontent within contemporary Philosophers with what once people thought invincible and that is “Science” or “Scientific reality”.
If we call our time as age of “ecology” it wouldn’t be wrong as it is very long that popular fields of Science like Quantum Physics and Astrophysics are silent to bring some new realities as it famously did before. Newtonian Space was replaced by that of Einsteinian Space and now the news, that neutrino has a speed slightly more than speed of light have put a big question mark and disbelief in Einsteinian Universe also. World is waiting for a new Universe to replace it but there is deep silence. The only field that talks and talks a lot is “Ecology” so it is justified if we call it the age of ecology.
As I mentioned before, Philosophers have problem with the age of ecology as they think that ecology has become a new religion and ecologists have started playing the role of clergies. It is not me who says so, it is a Philosopher, Slavoj Zizek who says so and I think, it is worth to ponder upon. Have ecologists started to finite human potentials by trying to enforce the strict rules of “Do and Do not” as once religions were doing? Are we pushed into a new dark age, now chaired by ecologists? I am not sure, as our age has a different mechanism where people do not accept authorities and wherever it is enforced, people tend to rebel. What I am really sure as I said in the beginning that life likes break and if breaks are not permitted, it just breaks. So the moment we settle down on some constants to draw conclusions, we must be aware that we are stepping out of reality………. I am not sure if you got what I wanted to say or not…Just kidding :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Stranger that laughs on our “smartness”

It seems that the world was in hurry in welcoming the age of reason and in the process has trashed some valuable experiences that current investigators are rediscovering them. The concept of the smartness is tied to quick judgments. A dictionary meaning reads smartness as, “Intelligence as manifested in being quick and witty”. Where are we quick in our judgments (the high show of smartness)? It turns out that most of us are quick in passing judgment about “Others”. Human tends to group quickly and establish a culture of norms that identify them from “others”, that have gone through the same processes and have established their own culture of norms and values. Certainly there come differences in the norms or values and hence provide a basis for the making judgments or developing the binary system of “wrong” and “right”. I have not to repeat that even within groups there are sub-grouping based on gender or social class. It is really common seeing girls passing judgments on boys or a social class passing judgments on others or one group passing judgments on other groups. In fact most of our jokes are based on these groupings when we like to laugh on what are “inappropriate” according to the norms of our social group.
In short, we have to distinguish between kinds of smartness and see whether we are smart in bringing quickly genuine solutions to genuine problems or we are quick in making judgments based on our established binary system of “wrong” and “right”?
It seems that it is not only in only in our quick judgments about “others” that the stranger laughs on us but he also laughs on our efforts to explain the human behaviors exclusively based on our theory of Altruism. In its July 30th Article, “Welcome, Stranger”, The economist magazine reports a series of recent studies that Human in general tends to trust the strangers and still continue to trust them even if they have gotten several times cheated on. The main reason is that, the overall benefit of trust is more than cost of the cheating. It is counterintuitive to the results of the traditional game theories (the results come from economic game theories in which participants are not sure whether they will meet in future to the strangers or not)
I can’t just pass over the first paragraph of the article. It really impressed me and it might be of interest to “others” (I intentionally put this word here),
“THE extraordinary success of Homo sapiens is a result of four things: intelligence, language, an ability to manipulate objects dexterously in order to make tools, and co-operation. Over the decades the anthropological spotlight has shifted from one to another of these as the prime mover of the package, and thus the fundament of the human condition. At the moment co-operation is the most fashionable subject of investigation. In particular, why are humans so willing to collaborate with unrelated strangers, even to the point of risking being cheated by people whose characters they cannot possibly know?”
Though there is no need that go one by one to each of the causes of extraordinary success of Homo sapiens, as it is very clear to all of us that human evolved all these four causes to a level that they themselves need decades of education to be good at them. They are definitely not innate characteristic though the ability to learn them are innate (have evolved).
In subcontinent, it was a tradition for centuries (and to large extent still it is) that mountain people who are living on Himalayas (especially Afghans), come to plain areas during winter (when their lands are covered with snow) in search of work. As most of these people were unskilled so they were doing menial jobs. The people who live on plains are genetically aliens (Indian) to those who come from mountainous areas (mostly Aryans) so were not only culturally strangers but also genetically strangers.
Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first Nobel prize laureate (1913) in literature of non-European origin (Bengali) has a short story by name of Cabuliwala/Kabuliwala (A fruit seller from Kabul) that illustrate the relations that these strangers make with people on the plains (Anyone who visits the plains of Sindh and Punjab now quickly notices that a lot of these people have settled permanently one plains and own their own lands and businesses). In the story the Cabuliwala makes a friendship with a Bengali (Little girl). He was bringing her gifts (almonds and raisins) and was passing jokes with each other. Cabuliwala was retuning for sometimes each year to his home and was coming back to continue his business of selling fruits over his shoulders. Once he fights with one of the residents who owed him money and had refused to pay and goes for 8th years in jail. When he was released from jail he comes to see his friend, The Little girl but her father refuses to let him meet her as it was her marriage day and then Cabuliwala says to the father of girl that he has also a little girl at home and The Little girl was always reminding him of his little girl and now that he sees The Little girl has grown up to the age of marriage it makes him realizes that his own little girl must also has grown up. The father of girl helps him to return to his home to see his own little girl…..

Here is a song from movie Kabuliwala,

It seems that there is no connection between the Cabuliwala and the innate nature of humankind in generally trusting strangers but in fact there are. Anyone aware of the whole process knows that most of mountaineers who were coming to plain were lending money to locals or selling items in hope that they will be paid in coming years.
In short, though groupings are common and people trust more in the people inside their groups but it is the human nature to cross the lines and break them. Evolution is just a line and human pleasantly break the lines… The complexity of Intelligence, tool making, language and cooperation are evident in themselves. Human is a subject of wonder for themselves………….

Further Readings,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The limits of logic in real life……

The first time that I met a logician, I was really impressed by the convincing power of logic especially by its practical applications in life…Let me share one of his thought processes…..He said that ….his savings can buy him a cab and he wants to invest in cab business…. but because he is not familiar with cab business so investing in cab business, means taking a great risk…. Logic tells him to not take risk when he has just one chance….(if it fails then he doesn’t have the chance for a second attempt)…He continued, if I had saved enough money that I could buy two cabs then logic would allow me to buy one cab and see if it succeeds (In case it fails…he still has a chance for a second attempt…may be a business that he is more familiar with)….
Last month I met him again and he asked me, “Any update?”…”I don’t believe anymore in utility of logic in real life” and without waiting for his response I continued, “My experience of last few years is telling me that sometimes very small and negligible things, bring cascading effects on our lives that most of time are out of our control…. It has really surprised me that how others’ acts and decisions can change our lives….Despite of my resilience a lot of things have changed….” He agreed with me but we didn’t have the mechanism to explain the limits of the logic and cascading effects of chaotic events…. It was the first time that I realized the cause of universality and the varieties of the fortune telling business….Like majority of people I was believing that the sole reason for widespread practice of fortune telling are superstition…but when I learned about chaos theory and butterfly effects then it became clear that…the main reason is the unpredictability of events……….
It is said that Chaos theory is the third revolution in Physics after Newtonian Physics and quantum Physics… The butterfly theory that….In non-periodic events, small changes can cause unpredictable big changes…..beautifully explains not only events in personal lives but also big events in contemporary politics and also in historical events…..
The Arab Spring has not died yet, so the memories are still fresh…If you remember the Arab Spring originated by suicide of young Tunisian guy which then spread to armed and unarmed riots across Arab world namely, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Libya, and Jordan and somewhat in Saudi Arabia….. Who could imagine that a suicide can turn into a revolution that turns upside down the geo-politics of a whole region…. The same is true in recent London riots…I don’t know if you remember the same sort of riots in Greece…
The most horrible butterfly effect was that of First World War…. The WWI was started by assassination of Archduke of Austria (Franz Ferdinand) and his wife by a Serb… This single event caused a war in which 70 million soldiers participated and more than 9 million people were killed….. Isn’t it insane? (Totally illogical that an assassination can cause the killing of 9 million people)…
The fact is the logic works and works very well in periodic events and it is the cause of most successful theories, innovations and technologies…and yet we don’t have the luxury of precision in a lot of deadliest natural events like earth quake, volcanism and Tsunamis and have very limited (in matter of weeks) capability in predicting atmospheric and oceanic anomalies like Hurricanes etc…Though all these events are natural phenomenon and follow natural laws…..The reason that our predictions are limited is because small and negligible changes in the beginning can cause big changes that make it too complicated for our formulas to grasped them at all…….
Coming to personal life…sometime small decisions, acts that we do not care much about change the course of our lives…and later on we say…what if I did it this way…I had a totally different life now….That is what I have heard too many times from most of the senior people that I know very well… Well, I have too many butterfly effects in my own life that makes me really puzzled (Most of them caused by very small things)….
I aimed to keep this Philofisi article very light (nontechnical and non-philosophical) so let me share how sometimes very small thing change even the lives of great people who change the fate of a nation but their own fates were changed by very very small things/events/acts….
The most notorious story is that of Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar, the Iranian emperor,
Agha Muhammad Khan was the founder of Qajar dynasty and he united Iran after becoming fragmented and expanded Iranian empire to her earlier borders by recapturing Georgia at North and Khorasan at East. He was shifted Tehran then a small village into world famous city by shifting his capital from Sari to Tehran. You will agree with me that he was really an extraordinary person when you learn about his life. He was captured when he was only six years old and was castrated at the same age in order to stop him of becoming the chief of his tribe. Though he was eunuch he became chieftain of his tribe. Later on he was captured again and jailed for sixteen years. After his release, he started a rebellion and defeated small monarchs and united Iran to establish the Qajar dynasty.
OK, I had to tell you, how a negligible event turned the fate of such an extraordinary person,
Agha Muhammad Khan was a ruthless emperor. He was famous in massacring the whole population of his opponents and people really feared him. During his military expedition to North, one night had a big water melon in his dinner. He ate half of the water melon and gave another half to the guards. The guards ate the other half (may be thinking that emperor doesn’t need the other half)…. Later in night, the king asked the guards to bring the other half of water melon. But the guards had already eaten the water melon. He became angry….. that how could guards dare to eat the water melon without permission of emperor? He promised to kill them on dawn. The guards have witnessed the determination and ruthlessness of the Agha Muhammad Khan so in the middle of night, they swarmed the emperor’s tent and killed him while he was sleeping :(

The illustration of the Mandelbrot set: The Thumbprint of God -