Should be reading more and writing less, but well...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Fuzzy thoughts (contd.)

The nature of the Self is dominant in what we think/do/feel. But what makes it fuzzy is the priorities given to the levels of selfishness under different circumstances. There are people who die for those they love. Those who sacrifice years of life for ideologies. Martyrs who die for their countries. Revenge, Patriotism, Love, Sacrifice, etc do not fit well into the conventional thought on selfishness. Now, here is where we see skewed priorities, and in my attempt to explain some of them, I run into a wall of fuzzy thought, which in itself goes unresolved. The priorities and their explanations flutter precariously in the wind. And now....

I listen, I think and I blink
Each time it feels lacking in something
I console myself; its a matter of time
To get it all in order. Peace.

After a while, a riddle resolves.
I take to poetry, fuzzy my thoughts.
Feelings become thoughts,
thoughts try a few words;
I try to save them
before they get caught in form.

Dangerous this is,
I can read these words many ways.
But that is Thought,
I haven't known it anyways.

PS: Thanks Saraswati, you have no idea how this helped me.


Would you let go already!! I have a million fuzzy thoughts! But stopped asking myself what it means or what it implies. Should everything really make sense? Dont you think it's best sometimes that they dont?
Saraswati , the hindu god ?
Saraswati, the ancient river ?

~ Prof Hudson (Indologist, University of Zambezi)

As I begin towrite I realize that selfishness itself is fuzzy. Worse, it may even be irrational. John Nash has demonstrated that in many games a collaborative strategy serves individual self interest better than the best selfish strategy. To the novice in game theoey, which I am and which I presume most of us are, this itself is irrational enough.

All I can say is, in the game of life, the value of payoffs is highly subjective. The value of a million dollars is different for different people. To the beggar, it's the kind of money byond the math he knows. To us ambitious proletarians, it's the kind of venture capital needed to take us from rags to riches. To Lakshmi Mittal, it's pro'ly less than a fiftieth of his daughter's wedding expense. To UR Ananthamurthy pro'ly a million is same as a billion which is same as a hundred dollars. When such is the fate of something as terribly quantifiable as money, think of what might have happened to the intagible payoffs. When the value of a dollar itself is not the same across people, can we expect the value of a kiss or the value of belonging to a nation to be an invariant?

Different as the value of payoffs might be, I still there to theorize that people try to maximise the sum total of the subjective value of their payoffs, tangibe or intangioble. I'm afraid I can't prove it. Nonetheless, I can give an example or two.

There are/were people like Bhagat Singh who could kill and die for their fatherland. But why? Perhaps they could connect with their countrymen so much that the freedom of their countrymen meant more than their own life to them. And they believed the killing and dying brought freedom closer to their countrymen.

There are laborers in communist states who work for free (2 square meals a day.) Why do they? They do coz they are gonna die if they don't and they feel being alive is more important than living a good life. These men are also in a way, maximizing their payoffs, which is determined by themselves.

Interestingly, the concept of MAslow's hierarchy might come in handy to lend some rationale into the seemingly irrational acts of humans. The hierarchu goes like this -
Food, Sex, Shelter, Clothing-> Entertainment, Education-> Social affiliations, Love, family->Career, Occupation-> Luxury, status-> Self actualization.

Self actualization is simply jargon for ego massage. It's an intangible necessity for people who feel content about their material accomplishments and the material fulfillment of their necessities. It's a necessity to feel important to oneself. (On the other hand, the necessity to feel important to others is much more premitive.) The operation of MAslow's hierarchy is this.

A person at a particular level in MAslow's hierarchy is interested in moving one level up. Things that are many level up don't grab is attention. Things that are below his level are taken for granted and they fail to grab his attention either. He has a 'been there, done it' feeling about things that are below his standing in the hierarchy. Thus a software engineer doesn't care about being unable to own a private jet. Neither is he bothered about a bicycle. It is something he has had and grown out of. All he cares about is upgrading from Maruti 800 to Ford Icon. Thus we can somewhat generalize that the thing of highest value to a person is the thing which is one level above him in MAslow's hierarchy. This is the reason why beggars and slum-dwellers cast their vote based on booze rather than idealogy and why others don't do the same. I feel we have lent some, though not much logic into human necessities and decisions with this.

As a think more, I begin to understand that the mechanics of love, sacrifice et al. is not as simple as I've made it out to be. Chances are that we humans have no way to estimate what the actual value of a million dollars is to us. Chances are that our actions in matters of love, hate, sacrifice and patriotism are simply knee jerk. Most importantly, chances are that I'm making an ugly attempt to rationalize something that is beyond the realm of reason. (I don't say it's illogical). Perhaps the very concept of reason is fuzzy, something that would reinforce the point that our writings and thought experiments are futile.
Tat was an amazing stretch of 2 hour non-stop reading... UFFF !!! I read all the blogs from feb 2004 to march 2005 and now going thru the "ADDA" .. Can u expect anything more from someone who hasnt read a novel all his life !! :))

Makla, khusi aaitu.. Keep it going !
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