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Archive for December, 2006

Some Differences of Human & Animal Mind:

Posted by khuram on December 29, 2006

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There is fundamental difference between human and animal mind, due to which humans possess ‘knowledge’ whereas animals do not. Actually ‘knowledge’ is the ‘theoretical awareness’ of any thing or phenomenon. Only humans are theoretically aware about their surrounding environment as well as about their ownselves, so only humans possess ‘knowledge’. I have discussed this issue in brief, and in quite general way, in my essay on topic: The Knowledge Explosion in the Modern Times.

Instead of considering ‘human knowledge’ just as some kind of advancement in so called ‘animal intelligence’, which some modern philosophers do, if knowledge were defined as “theoretical awareness of any thing or phenomenon” then other animals, at once, would be ousted from the domain of knowledge. And if only humans possess knowledge and animals possess no knowledge at all, then surely there must be a fundamental difference between human and animal mind, which is responsible for the fact that only humans possess knowledge whereas other animals do not.

The above referred modern school of thought actually believes in some difference in the degree of intelligence, of humans and animals. According to this school of thought, only such a difference in the degree of level of intelligence could account for the difference in human and animal knowledge. Again, according to this school of thought, knowledge is just some advanced form of same animal intelligence. But I believe in the fundamental difference between ‘intelligence’ and ‘knowledge’ too. Other animals can be intelligent for they are able to learn what they have been taught, or they are able to associate related events or things etc. But animals possess no knowledge at all because they know nothing in the theoretical format. In other words, they possess no theoretical stuff at all. So ‘knowledge’ and ‘intelligence’ are two separate and distinguished entities, in my opinion. Generally animal childs are more intelligent than human childs. Actually ‘intelligence’ is just the ability of organism to take actions as per the demands of environmental situations. Obviously different animals respond to environmental situations within the framework of their maximum abilities. We consider an animal ‘intelligent’ when it can display or show its optimum or best possible response to the environmental situations quickly, or in timely manner. An animal would be considered to be ‘intelligent’ when it shows the ability of taking right actions in its struggle for addressing to its bodily needs. When it becomes able to independently search its food sources etc. When it becomes able to be given ‘training’ for such tasks which are possible to be undertaken by its species. In this context, many animal childs can acquire all their possible abilities of taking actions as per the demands of situations in their much early life as compared to any human child. A normal human child, on the other hand, remains unable to even sit at his/ her own for as long period of his/ her early life as five or six months. Animal childs become ‘independent’ and so ‘intelligent’ in their very early life as compared to any human child. In this way, we can say that generally animal childs are more intelligent than human childs. But despite the fact of being ‘less intelligent’, it is only human child who possesses the potential of acquiring ‘knowledge’. It is due to the fact that there is fundamental difference between human and animal mind. And this fundamental difference has nothing to do with the degree or level of intelligence, which humans and animals possess. The most intelligent animal would be having no knowledge at all whereas the duffer most (grown up) human would still be theoretically aware, may be even in incorrect or wrong way, of at least some aspects of his environment.

Here, some people can agrue that animals are conscious, and thus self-conscious, and thus aware of their environments and themselves. In response to this, I would accept that animals are ‘conscious’. But I shall not accept the derivation of this conclusion that animals are self-conscious too, just because they are conscious.

Actually animals are ‘conscious’ only in this sense that their instinctive faculties can interact with the environment via sense perception. And in my opinion, there is also a basic difference between animal perception and human perception. In animal perception, sensory data interacts only with the instinctive faculties of animals such as hunger, thirst, fear, pleasure, comfort/ discomfort etc. and animal actions are thus guided in this way. Human perception, on the other hand, happens to have additional features also. In human perception, sensory data would interact not only with instinctive faculties, but also would interact with some additional features which are (i) psychological feelings and; (ii) theoretical propositions. At the most which I can reasonably accept is that for determining the differences between animals and humans, any hard boundary line cannot be established between the instinctive faculties and these two additional features because practically this boundary would penetrate, up to some extent, to the area defined as ‘psychological feelings’ also. This boundary line however, in no way, reaches to the area of ‘theoretical propositions’. Animal perception therefore, may have just something to do with ‘psychological feelings’ but can have nothing to do with ‘theoretical propositions’.

‘Consciousness’ basically is a manifested form of ‘sensitiveness’ and ‘responsiveness’. Only instinctive faculties, and in some cases, instinctive faculties plus fractional part of psychological feelings can generate these forms of ‘sensitiveness’ and ‘responsiveness’.

‘Self-Consciousness’, on the other hand is much-advanced feature. It is a ‘concept’ basically. This type of concept has to do only with the theoretical type knowledge. So ‘self-consciousness’ is the property of only humans.

I firmly believe that ‘theoretical awareness’ is the unique property of humans. Secondly the school of thought which takes human knowledge as just some advancement in ordinary animal intelligence, also considers ‘concepts’ as product of intelligence. I consider it the generosity of that school of thought that they give as much honor to ‘intelligence’. As I believe that some animals can be more ‘intelligent’ than some humans and in any case whatsoever, I would like to pay more respect to humans, so I do not consider ‘concepts’ as product of ‘intelligence’. Instead, I believe concepts as the product of human ‘rationality and wisdom’. This ‘rationality and wisdom’ is comprised of only those aspects of intelligence that can interact with theoretical propositions. So these aspects of intelligence have to be the part of only human intelligence and cannot be the part of animal intelligence.

I also have discussed some other aspects of differences of human and animal mind in my artical on “Desires – As one of Most Basic Differences of Human and Animal Mind”.

For further detailed analysis of the differences of human and animal mind, please check my article titled “Human Knowledge and its Expression”.

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Posted in -Home-, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge | 20 Comments »

Mind – a Phenomenon or Concept…???

Posted by khuram on December 28, 2006

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Mind – a Phenomenon or Concept…???

Humans are ‘rational’ in their character and essence in the sense that they always tend to get somewhat ‘theoretical explanations’ of whatever ‘phenomenon’ they observe in their environment. Let us take, for instance, the ‘phenomenon’ of falling objects on ground. Here, in my assessment, the ‘falling of an object on ground’ would be an ‘observed phenomenon’, whereas the idea or notion of ‘gravitation’ will be the ‘explanation’ of the above said phenomenon.

Secondly, the types of knowledge can be classified in two main categories i.e. (i) Perceptional Knowledge and; (ii) Reason Based Knowledge.

In the above-referred example, the observable phenomenon of a falling object is ‘perceptional knowledge’. The ‘Reason Based’ knowledge, in this example, would be of further two sub-types i.e. (i) If we generalize our observation and say: “Objects fall on ground” … This ‘generalized’ knowledge would be the first type of ‘reason based knowledge’ and; (ii) The idea or notion of ‘gravitation’ is also a form of ‘reason based knowledge’, in this case. The idea of ‘gravitation’, basically is a form of ‘analogical conclusion’ which might be the result of comparison of the above referred first type of ‘reason based knowledge’ with other similar entities where other objects also exert some type of attraction on other objects. In this way, what I want to say is that every type of ‘conclusion’, whether it is just ‘generalization’ or ‘deductive’ or even ‘analogical’, can be regarded as ‘reason based knowledge’.

Now come to the issue of ‘mind’. In my opinion, idea of ‘mind’ is also a form of ‘reason based knowledge’. In order that there be any ‘reason based knowledge’ whatsoever, there has to be some clue in the ‘perceptional’ knowledge for it. It means that we can move towards any ‘reason based knowledge’ only in such way that the ‘reason based knowledge’ has to be completely traced back in our ‘perceptional knowledge’. See details here.

In this way, knowledge of mind i.e. a ‘reason based knowledge’ is also completely traceable to our perceptional knowledge. We can take notice of many observable and apparent differences between humans and other animals. We can talk in terms of many theoretical concepts. We can produce literature, poetry, philosophy etc. The ability to talk and the physical existence of such things as literature, poetry, science and philosophies etc. ultimately lead us to the conclusion of the presence of ‘mind’ in humans. The concept of ‘mind’ helps us in accounting for the presence of literature, poetry etc. in the way that now we would consider these things as ‘products’ of mind. It is just like that the idea of ‘gravitation’ helps us in accounting for why objects fall on ground. And again, just like it, the idea of ‘photon’ also helps us in accounting for various types of laboratory experimentation readings.

And so in my opinion, for the cases of both ‘falling objects’ and ‘mind’, first entity has to be ‘perceptional knowledge’. In the case of ‘falling objects’, the first entity is the observation of individual falling objects. And in the case of ‘mind’, the first entity is the physical existence of such things as literature, science, poetry, philosophy etc. For the case of ‘falling objects’, the second entity i.e. the ‘reason based knowledge’ would be the idea of ‘gravitation’ and in the same way; the second entity for the case of existence of literature, poetry, and science etc. would be the idea or notion or CONCEPT of ‘mind’.

And the existence of such things as literature, poetry, philosophy etc. is the proof of existence of ‘mind’. On the other hand, the complete absence of these things would be the proof of non-existence of ‘mind’.

Here I have considered observation of individual falling object as ‘perceptional knowledge’ whereas the generalized observation i.e. “objects fall on ground”, as ‘reason based knowledge’. Actually I am ready to call both of above entities i.e. (i) individual observation and; (ii) generalized observation as PHENOMENON.

Just ‘generalization’ cannot be regarded as ‘explanation’. Generalization is actually the first step towards the way of getting the ‘explanation’. And ‘generalization’ is not the ‘analogical’ process. The process of ‘analogy’ would come at the ‘explanation’ stage in this case, through which we shall reach at the concept of ‘gravitation’. In this ‘analogical’ process, in that stage, we would compare our generalized knowledge of “objects fall towards ground” with some other similar ‘phenomenon’ where some other objects also exert some kind of attraction upon other objects. In this way, finally we shall arrive at the concept of ‘gravitation’. Process of analogy has been explained in above referred link.

To summerize the above, first we ‘perceive’. In this way we take notice of a ‘phenomenon’. Then we strive for getting some proper theoretical explanation of so noticed phenomenon. I have briefly described the process of taking notice of any new information regarding any phenomenon and then of finding the necessary explanation etc. in my essay on The Knowledge Explosion in the Modern Times. I have discussed similar topic in my article on “Animism and Mythology” as well.

Posted in -Home-, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge | Leave a Comment »

Progress in Philosophy and Difference between Philosophy & Science:

Posted by khuram on December 26, 2006

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Progress in Philosophy and Difference between Philosophy & Science:

Humans face many questions and Science and Philosophy are considered to be important sources for finding the answers to those questions. Problems or questions etc. are basically of two types i.e. objective and subjective. Science has found solutions to only a few of objective type problems. Rest of objective type questions as well as the whole sphere of subjective type issues still fall under the purview of Philosophy.

As far as ‘objective’ issues are concerned, their progress is visible to even uneducated or less educated people. Progress in subjectivity however is concerned with the intellectual insights of some individuals – I mean Philosophers or other Spiritualists. Subjectivity is not concerned with finding the definite answers to the issues/ problems but it is concerned with determining the nature, extent and types of those problems. So progress can exist, in subjective issues also. But this type of progress has to be invisible to Non-Philosophical/ Non-Spiritual type people.

And a very important function of Philosophy is to elaborate, explain and account for the general but vogue feelings of a common person. The common persons may not be conscious of those feelings before having read the Philosophy. But while reading the Philosophy, the reader must feel as if it were the same things that already should have been known to him.

Function of Philosophy is to draw theoretical pictures of whatever we observe or feel. Philosophy should be concerned as much with generating questions as to the finding of answers. As a matter of fact, Philosophical assertions cannot be regarded as objective truths. Philosophy is subjective by nature. To be subjective does not mean to be inferior. Fact is that to be ‘subjective’ means to be ‘superior’ … because only humans are subjective whereas computer can be regarded even as an objective thinker.

‘Science’ is basically whatever can be proved objectively. And whatever can be proved objectively, initially it was already known to humans in subjective style. General theory of Relativity is Science because it can be supported by objective evidence. But point is that Einstien had conceived this theory perheps in 1916 whereas its experimental proof was found in 1919. It means that before when this theory bacame ‘science’ or that before when it could be proved objectively, it was already in the notice of humanity in subjective style.

In this way, science is only that portion of humanity’s subjective knowledge that could be proved objectively. And objectivity and truth are not Synonymous at all. Subjective ideas can be true whether or not they are supported by the objective evidence. During the period 1916-19, General Theory of Relativity had been remained such a subjective theory which was true in fact, despite the fact that no experimental proof had been found in that period.

Philosophy is much broader than science. Science is what questions have been objectively answered. Philosophy is what could be the more and more questions and what could be all the possible answers to those more and more questions. Philosophy takes precedence over science because it is Philosophy which has to raise questions and then to propose answers. Science takes only those answers, out of all the ‘proposed answers’, which can be experimentally proved by using the available experimental techniques.

Still another important difference between Science and Philosophy is the determination of quantitative relationships beween variables. Philosophy is NOT concerned with this activity whereas, in my assessment, Science overemphasizes the role and importance of this activity. In this way, Philosophy has to find the possible variables and to propose any possible relationships between those variables. Science then has to work out the exact quantitative relationship between those variables. Thus, in my assessment, the part of Newton’s second law which asserts the existence of positive relationship between force and acceleration, is Philosophical in nature. On the other hand, the formulation of exact quantitative relationship in the form of formula i.e. “F = ma”, is Scientific in nature.

And it is often said that Philosopher creates knowledge by mere ‘thinking’ whereas Scientist creates knowledge by ‘observing’. My point of view is that ultimate input for any kind of ‘thinking’ has to be found in ‘observations’. The role of philosopher is to systemetically shape the already existing observations into the form of Philosophical assertions regarding the existence of various inter-related variables. Scientist actually would purposefully ‘observe’ those already identified variables with the view to just test the already proposed kind of relationships between them. Galileo’s experiments about speed of falling objects having different weights as well as about the projectile motion were actually his purposeful attempts to just check the validities of the already established Greek Philosophical views regarding these matters.

Similarly, Michealsons & Morley’s experiment which led them to find the notion of ‘relative constancy of the speed of light’, was also basically their purposeful attempt to just check the validity of already existing philosophical type idea about the existence of ‘eather’. I am having the opinion that creation of Knowledge is not the role of Scientist. To create new knowledge is actually the role of Philosopher. The role of Scientist is just to extract the objective truths out of already existing ideas. Through experimentation (i.e. through purposeful observations), the scientist would bring refinements in many already existing vouge philosophical ideas by establishing the exact quantitative relationships between already existing variables.

There is another positive role of Scientist. He has to practically implement his so refined theories by inventing and applying new technologies also.

Posted in -Home-, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Subjectivity/ Objectivity and Scientific Method | 14 Comments »

“Desires” – As one of Most Basic Differences of Human and Animal Mind:

Posted by khuram on December 26, 2006

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“Desires” – As one of Most Basic Differences of Human and Animal Mind:

Generally we consider animistic, or magical or other superstitious ideologies as baseless or irrational, but these are after all an important source of understanding the functionality and capabilities of human mind. Even these ‘irrational’ ideologies are the unique characteristics of human beings. Any other known life form doesn’t possess any form of superstition. Study of superstitions can give wonderful insight into our true nature or essence. Humans want to control the external world events but at the same time long for that they may not have to do any effort for the purpose. They tend to find easy solutions for every task. Mostly they perform those tasks in just daydreams. More ‘practical’ people take help of a magician. Wise people ask help from supernatural beings. Scientists insist that only materialistic causation principle is the solution for performing any task. But tasks before humans may not always be accomplished by the material causation principle. Humans want to defeat death, which causation principle may not allow. But religion offers its solution in the form of belief in after-life.

But all this apparent and observable human behavior is actually a clue, which can lead us towards finding the true human nature or essence. Some times we consider human desires as something negative. But this “desire” is one of the most basic differences between humans and other animals. Here term ‘desire’ doesn’t include instinct based bodily needs. Term ‘desire’ here stands for those ‘mental’ wishes of humans whereby they purposefully want to acquire those material or non-material things (such as skills, abilities, grace, beauty etc.), which they ‘observe’ in their environment and take notice that they themselves still do not possess those material/ non-material things. ‘Desires’ are therefore different from other instinctive bodily needs in that other body needs are independent of any kind of ‘observation’ and thus arise automatically because of natural instincts. We can feel hunger without having seen the food but we cannot get the ‘desire’ of acquiring latest fashion dresses until and unless we ‘observe’ or take notice of emergence of that new fashion. So ‘desires’ are actually those wants and wishes that cannot originate in complete absence of ‘observance’. This differentiation between desires and other body needs is important because those wants and wishes that originate only from observance, are found only in humans; though to relatively far less extent, can be found in certain monkeys and apes as well. In the article on “Animism and Mythology”, I have mentioned that humans possess two types of life. First one is their ‘physical’ life and the other one is their ‘mental’ life. ‘Desires’ are basically one of the most basic manifestations of human ‘mental’ life. Consider a child who does not own a bicycle. He ‘observes’ his friends or other age fellows who come and go, here and there on their own bicycles. In this way that child boy would develop a desire of having his own bicycle. Now consider a dog. It may ‘observe’ many people who travel on their own bicycles, bikes, cars and so on. But even after observing so many such things, a dog cannot be desirous of riding on car or bike etc. A dog can just be ‘trained’ to ride on bike or any other thing. By nature, a dog would be completely indifferent towards any such thing, which has nothing to do with its bodily instincts. It would become active, let’s say, only if it gets any odor coming from some food source etc. But it would never show any desire to ride on bike even if it happens to observe so many people riding on bikes. ‘Desires’ relate to ‘mental’ life of humans. Presence of ‘desires’ is a positive advancement in humans, which is missing in other animals. ‘Desire’ is not any bodily need but it is a ‘mental’ need. And every desire is an “ANALOGICAL INFERENCE” basically. Simple meaning of analogy is our tendency to think that two or more things, which are known to be ‘similar’ in some aspects, can be similar in some other aspects as well. Now I try to explain how a small boy’s desire of having a bicycle was an analogical inference. As the boy could see that he and his friends were ‘similar’ entities in many respects. But an aspect i.e. of having a bicycle was missing in him. This would be the simplest form of analogical inference whereby that boy would imagine himself of being ‘similar’ to his friends in the respect of having a bicycle also.

Most basic difference of human and animal mind is the ability of human mind of drawing analogical conclusions. All the animism and all types of magic are also one or the other “analogical inferences”, which an uneducated human mind like a small child or a primitive human can draw. When a magician digs in many needles in the statue of enemy, with the purpose to kill the enemy, he actually acts on an “analogical inference”. He thinks that real enemy and the statue of enemy are ‘similar’. So if the statue of enemy could be tortured by digging in needles etc., the real enemy, being a ‘similar’ entity, also would be tortured as a result. In my childhood, we had a Philips remote control television. My elders always hold that remote control and used to switch channels against my wish. My calculator was very ‘similar’ to that remote control. So I very sincerely and confidently used to press the buttons of calculator with the hope that I also could switch channels in that way. It never happened however. Similarly again in my early childhood, I happened to listen somewhere that there was a student in USA who while sleeping, used to keep his open book underneath his cushion. Next morning, as a result, he would automatically learn all the lessons. I also very sincerely did the same but … I could not learn the lesson in this way.

Anyways, I was discussing the most basic difference in human and animal mind. Human mind can draw analogical conclusions whereas animal mind cannot do it. Above given examples of magic and my own examples are stating somewhat complex form of analogical inferences. Animal mind, in no way, can reach to this much complexity. But in certain cases, animal mind does reach to the simplest form of analogical inferences. The simplest form of analogical inference is to just ‘copy’ or ‘imitate’ others. This ability exists in certain monkeys and apes.

Humanity’s views on ‘desires’ have interesting history. Some Indian schools of thought particularly consider ‘desires’ as the source of all the human misery and unhappiness. Underlying idea is something like that humans are caught by miseries and unhappiness when they fail to fulfill their desires. So if they stop desiring anything then any question of failure in fulfilling the desires shall not arise and therefore humanity will be free of any misery or unhappiness.

As I stated previously that only humans can be desirous of anything. Those early Indian thinkers might have noticed this fact. In addition, they also might have noticed that many forms of miseries and unhappiness catch up only humans. They might have then rationalized the phenomenon of human misery by putting all the blame on human desires. They however included many forms of body needs also in the list of so-called ‘desires’. Jainism and Buddhism were the main representatives of this school of thought and both these religions originated in around 6th century B.C. By that time, Greek intellectuals still had not tried to determine the purpose of humans in Universe. Some traces are found in 5th century B.C however when some Greeks thought that ‘matter’ was the prison of ‘soul’ and the objective before humans was to get their soul freed of imprisonment of matter. So in this respect, Indian thought has important place in the history of humanity’s struggle for finding their objective in this world as they happened to be among the first people who tried to determine the objective before humans, which, according to them, was getting freedom from miseries which could be achieved through the control on desires.

But in the same period, Confucius, in China was telling his students that their objective was to become able to think over various practical matters of life RATIONALLY and should become able to express their opinions clearly and transparently.

Anyhow, ‘desire’ itself was not the source of human misery because the real source of human misery, under this line of thought, was the ‘failure’ of humans to fulfill their desires. Right strategy should have been to try to ‘control’ the rate of failure rather than to forbid the desires altogether.

What I think is that ‘desires’ are positive things. These are ‘desires’ which give us our most of the long-term objectives. ‘Desires’ make it possible that we try to improve our knowledge, abilities or skills over such long periods that may extend to decades. If we were limited to just bodily needs, then we would not be in need to make any ‘improvement’ in ourselves. Desires tell us two things. On the negative side, they tell us that we are lacking some important thing. On the positive side, they give us hope that we can remove that shortcoming in ourselves. Thus a movement towards better and higher levels becomes possible through the application of desires. I have described previously that all desires are basically ‘analogical inferences’ in nature. Analogical Inference works in a way that lets say I observe some entity, which is similar to me in some aspects. But I find that I am lacking some important characteristics, which exist in that other entity. If I imagine myself of possessing the same or similar characteristics, which I have observed in that other entity, it means that now I am ‘desirous’ of possessing those important characteristics. Its meaning is that if I do not observe any entity which is similar to me in any respect and possesses some important characteristics that I do not possess, I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO FORM ANY DESIRE in this case. If humans would never had seen flying birds, if they never had realized that they themselves were lacking in an important characteristic of ‘flying’, which a similar entity to them i.e. birds did possess, THEN HUMANS COULD NOT BE DESIROUS of flying like birds.

If human mind works by making analogies, it means that mind does not work at its own. It cannot get the desire of flying like birds without having observed that birds can fly and realizing that humans cannot fly. But if humans can observe many different things in the environment, then they would definitely tend to form one or the other desires.

And I also think that to be desirous of something would be better than having fulfilled all the desires. Fulfillment of all the desires would eliminate all the charms of life. Secondly it is also not possible to acquire the state of complete ‘control’ on desires. Any attempt to ‘control’ desires would actually ‘magnify’ the desires. One important component of ‘desire’ is the feeling of ‘lacking’ something. Any attempt to control ‘desire’ will actually strengthen those feelings of ‘lacking’ something and desires shall be magnified in this way. Buddhists tried to ‘control’ their desires related to sex … that desire ultimately magnified and then manifested in the form of amazing art work of Agentta caves. Technically ‘sex’ was a bodily need instead of a ‘desire’. But since art work relates to ‘mental performance’, so here I have considered it as a form of ‘desire’.

Issue of ‘desires’ is related to the issue of ethics as well. The question can be if desires are good or bad? In case we find that we are lacking some better or superior characteristic, which other people do possess; and we get a desire of acquiring that superior or better quality – this type of desire would be ‘good’. But if we find that we are lacking in some inferior quality, which some other people do possess, and in this way we become desirous of acquiring that inferior quality – this type of desire would be ‘bad’. Better and superior qualities are those, which are beyond the scope of our presently held skills or abilities. Inferior qualities are those, which could be acquired just if we do not employ our presently held skills and abilities in the best possible way. Furthermore better qualities are those, which suits to the personality of person who is desirous of those qualities. Some qualities may be superior in fact but may not be ‘suitable’ to the personality of person. To wear a princess like dress would be a ‘suitable’ desire for a girl but not for a boy etc.

Issue of ethics also has relationship with just how we try to fulfill our desires. If we employ unethical or illegal means, we would be ethically bad in this case. We are ethically good if we fulfill all our body and mental needs under the supervisory control of our rationality and wisdom.

I have discussed some other aspects of differences of human and animal mind in my post on the topic of “Some Differences of Human & Animal Mind” as well.

Posted in -Home-, Animism and Mythology, Emotions, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy Background, Philosophy in Pakistan, Theory of Knowledge | 4 Comments »

Knowledge of Objects and Properties:

Posted by khuram on December 22, 2006

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It seems that all our knowledge is confined to the knowledge of ‘objects’ and the ‘properties’ of those objects.

‘Objects’ are of two types i.e. (i) Material Objects and; (ii) Abstract Objects.

We get the knowledge of ‘Material Objects’ via our faculties of sense perception. Knowledge of ‘Abstract Objects’ mainly comes from ‘thinking and imagination’ activities. I also believe that we cannot ‘think’ or ‘imagine’ anything until and unless all the components or objects of our ‘thinking’ or ‘imagination’ are completely traceable to our ‘perceptional’ or ‘sense-experience’ based knowledge. What we do while ‘thinking’ or ‘imagining’ is just to manipulate, reshape, or re-organize our existing ‘knowledge’ or ‘information’. As our ‘existing knowledge’ contains knowledge of both ‘objects’ and ‘properties’ (or characteristics) of objects, so while reshaping this ‘existing knowledge’, we may assign the already known properties to any un-known or anonymous ‘object’ with the view to explain or account for any complicated or complex observable phenomenon. This is in my opinion, the way in which we get knowledge of ‘abstract objects’ using our faculties of ‘thinking and imagination’.

And the knowledge of ‘properties’ or ‘characteristics’ comes from two sources, which are (i) Sense Experience and; (ii) Thinking and Imagination.

Here I also differentiate between ‘sense perception’ and ‘sense experience’. We can think of ‘sense perception’ as ‘direct awareness’ of ‘material objects’ using our senses. This ‘direct awareness’ has to be restricted to only the present moment. For example as in the present moment, I am watching monitor screen, so this direct awareness of monitor screen is ‘sense perception’ in this case. ‘Sense Experience’ would have slightly different meanings in this context. ‘Sense Experience’ is not just ‘direct awareness’ of any object via senses. It is actually our knowledge of the ‘observed’ outcome of the ‘observed’ event. The observed event and its corresponding outcome may not relate to exact present moment. So basically ‘sense experience’ is the knowledge of a ‘causal connection’ between some event and its corresponding outcome.

The purpose of explaining the difference between ‘sense perception’ and ‘sense experience’ is to mention that we do not get knowledge of ‘properties’ or ‘characteristics’ of ‘objects’ via ‘sense perception’. We get knowledge of ‘properties’ or ‘characteristics’ either through ‘sense experience’ or ‘thinking and imagination’. Let, for example, I see two similar bags. The direct awareness via senses, of the presence of those bags is the ‘sense perception’. Now I do an experiment. I lift one of the bags and come to know that it is quite heavy. The knowledge of ‘heaviness’ i.e. a ‘property’ has come from an experiment, which is ‘sense experience’.

As I stated that in addition to ‘sense experience’, the other source of getting knowledge of ‘properties’ is ‘thinking and imagination’. It is important to remember that through the experiment of lifting one of the bags, I had got knowledge of the ‘heaviness property’ of only one of the bags. But since I possess the faculty of ‘thinking and imagination’ also, so I can make assessment about the corresponding ‘property’ of other bag without repeating the same experiment. Since both the bags are apparently similar, so I can derive an analogical conclusion about the corresponding ‘property’ of other bag in a way that I just ‘assign’ the already known ‘heaviness property’ of a similar bag to the other bag whose ‘heaviness property’ is experimentally unknown. In this way I have got ‘knowledge’ of ‘property’ of an object through the process of ‘thinking and imagination’.

Posted in -Home-, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge | 1 Comment »

‘Happiness’ & ‘Enjoyment’:

Posted by khuram on December 22, 2006

There is difference between ‘happiness’ and just ‘enjoyment’. ‘Enjoyment’ is a temporary feeling whereas ‘happiness’ is characterized by durability, inner self satisfaction etc.etc. Enjoyment always come with momentery smiles and laughing whereas real happiness can bring tears of happiness. Enjoyment can be found in carelessness and irresponsible attitudes, whereas happiness comes mainly from caring behaviour and sense of responsibility.

But at the same time, ‘enjoyment’ and ‘happiness’ are not any opposite entities. Enjoyment also can lead to the ultimate destination of happiness.

Posted in -Home-, Emotions, Philosophy, Various General Topics | 7 Comments »

How to eradicate Poverty from our Country? And can our Education sector make any Progress if we just Increase Education Budget?

Posted by khuram on December 18, 2006

Mahatir Muhammad’s “Case of Asia” is a good book to understand how practically poverty can be eradicated within few decades from a poor country. Although he expressed his concerns about the setbacks to the Economies of East Asian Countries in late 1990s, but on the whole, he showed his satisfaction over the achievements of his government. Malaysia was a poor country in early 1960’s when Mahatir assumed power. He has discussed his long term planning aimed at how to eradicate poverty from the country. His people were mostly uneducated and did not know even how to do small businesses. His government first tried to understand the composition of country’s society with respect to their economic activities and level of incomes. They found that there was vast disparity in the type of Economic activities and distribution of Income. A sizable population of Malaysia consisted of alien people. Indigenous Malaysian people were in majority however but most Economic resources were in the hands of alien people. Mahatir discusses that his government could adopt such policies as to just re-distribute the economic resources among population through various indirect means such as through progressive taxation etc. But they thought it was wrong to deprive wealthy people off their hard earned resources. They realized that actual problem was not to just redistribute the resources. The issue was to generate new resources. The majority poor population was so ignorant and didn’t even know how to start a small business. Then Mahatir discusses how his government endeavored to introduce business culture in the society. In fact, his strategy was to introduce entrepreneurial culture in the society. His government first encouraged small enterprises through small loan schemes. His government launched a campaign to promote awareness among small business owners about the adoptation and utilization of modern techniques of Accounting and Finance. In this way, at first his government successfully made a sizable number of people the owner of their own businesses. All the economic activities boosted with increased business activities. Secondly his government did concrete efforts for the promotion of Foreign Investment in his country.

The difference between such a strategy and our policy is something like that we also study Accounting and Finance. But in our country, these subject are taught with the view to enable the students to find some clerical or so called Managerial job. Whereas Mahatir’s government launched campaign to make these modern techniques of doing business as part of business culture of country.

And I do not think that education sector can make progress only with the help of additional finance. We are having far more Economic resources than our own ancient ancestors. If they could make many achievements in educational, intellectual and scientific fields, then why we have been unable to do the same things while having far more Economic resources than our those ancestors could have? Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy considers it just a baseless excuse that we are backward in education sector just because of lack of some Economic resources. The question is, after all what we shall do of additional money if we double or triple our Education budget? Obviously we shall open some new substandard schools and universities. As a result, there shall be some more addition of half educated unemployed or under-employed degree-holder youth. There is actually need of many qualitative type reforms in our education system. Dr. Hoodhbhoy says ok that many types of Scientific research studies do require expensive laboratory equipment, but he says that laboratory equipment is not the necessary condition for all types of scientific research. For example, he has classified science into (i) Practical Sciences and; (ii) Theoretical Sciences. He tells us that research work in theoretical sciences do not require the usage of any expensive laboratory equipment. So we would rightfully blame our so called poverty only if we have shown any positive achievement in the area of at least theoretical sciences.

Furthermore, neither our education system is aware of any utility of theoretical sciences, nor our university syllabi include any theoretical science at all. Only emphasis is on just a minor aspect of practical sciences. My friend who did Masters in Botany told me that once university imported some expensive lab equipment from Japan. But that equipment was never used because if during its application some fault comes, it could only be removed by Japanese. So University management thought it better to not use that equipment at all…!!!

So how our education sector can make any progress if we successfully find many oil wells in our country but pay no attention to the qualitative aspects of education system?

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