Philosophy
 

I've been published in the Mad Philosphers Guild Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, Fall 2005. This issue focused on Human Future. If you'd like to read my article titled Objective Morality, it's available here on page 10.

Some other published writing on philosophy:

Long Live Manhood! was printed in Men Talk (August/September 2006, 30:4). In 2007, the same article was reprinted in a bimonthly newsletter - Perspective - which goes to members of the Association for Humanistic Psychology (since 1958).

Tehelka also carried a piece that describes my initiation into celibacy. Titled My Faith Would Be A Farce If It Made Life Worse For Anyone, it's not an easy read - probably because it's not an easy subject to share!

As philosophy is pretty much what rules my world (!), I leave you with an article commissioned by Writer Corp (India)...enjoy!

Chaos, its prevalence in our world and its future?

 

A noisy courtroom.

The Babel of the jury, solicitors, prosecutors, harried relatives, spectators, ushering peons et al, as all await the judge.

He arrives, a pompous figure and seating himself down, wields a small mallet.

‘Order order! Let the proceedings begin.’

 

As a race, we are inclined to call ourselves to order; the seemingly indisputable fact being that we dislike chaos. Or possibly, we echo God’s desire for order? The Book of Genesis narrates how God implemented his plan for creation. An earth without form was organized, divided, and labeled by an omnipotent God. Thus, God imposed divine order on chaos, and declared it good: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (1: 31).”

 

Genesis indicates that the creation of our universe was purposeful, thus suggesting that even apparent chaos is only a part of a larger order – an order that is ultimately "good."

 

It is perhaps because of a human tendency to extremism and a misinterpretation of the Biblical account of creation that the western world emphasizes order with prejudice to chaos, thus viewing order and chaos as opposites – the former desirable and the other to be badgered into some semblance of order at the earliest instant.

 

In the west, brainstorming over means to set in motion the wheels of progress of civilization has yielded many methods that manifest our penchant to convert chaos to order. Reductionism and specialization were both born to understand our world and its inherent systems better. Humanity has struggled to make sense of all that is. Breaking things down to their essential components has been considered the tool to comprehend the larger picture.

 

If we had never generalized, there would be no art, codes of etiquette, culture, education, history, laws, mathematics, science, religion, rules, or even the literature, to teach us how to deal with unique situations. There would be total chaos, whereas now, at least we live in controlled chaos, en route, as many God-fearing devout would believe, to the humanist ideal of order, the complete manifestation of God's plan for order.

 

However, this approach is predominantly western. For both the broader outer picture and the inner picture, western philosophy attempts to use a microscope to study detail. Western medicine too, demonstrates this same attention to the intricacies of every organ of the human body. Western physicians tend to work with named diagnoses and their causes, and specialize in particular organs of the body rather than with the whole person.

 

Born as it is of the theory of reductionism, western medicine is flawed in its very essence, for it ignores the fundamentals of life. If you take a mechanical clock to pieces you can see what each part does and find out how it works. Some things, however, can't be investigated in this way. While there is much to be learned by dissecting a rat in terms of body parts, for example, but in dissecting it, we kill it and cannot know what gives it life.

In the process of reducing all phenomena to its logical conclusions by the theory of reductionism, the human mind has sought to change the method by which the world should be understood. It has created a divide between order and chaos as perceived by our senses.

 

This very dichotomy between order and chaos supports disciplines such as humanism and transcendental religions. But, what if we refuse to see the world as divided between what is organized and what is disorganized?

 

What if we stand back and look at the whole system to understand how things work, rather than fracture it into its components?

 

What if instead of finding support for meaning and stability in the science of division, we look within the human subject itself, and specifically within the human capacity for creativity?

 

At the end of the 18th century, western thinkers entertained such thoughts. They pondered whether we should describe all of creation as an elaborate machine or clock, as a vast and complex cause and effect system, and thus, end up taking it to pieces to make sense of it all. Or, should we see the universe rather as a dynamic and organic whole, one in which each part is vibrantly linked to all others, not simply by a system of cause and effect, but by an unseen spiritually organic force? The German philosopher of nature, Wilhelm Schelling, called this force “The World Soul”.

 

In this view, the human being has the unique ability to create order, to take chaos as God does at the beginning of Genesis, and render it beautiful and meaningful. William Blake believed this dynamism helps to explain why it is that we can produce new things. In the giant clock or machine we can only uncover what is already there, and are unable to add anything truly new.

 

This pretty much sums up the eastern view. In the east, whether the ancient Chinese or the Indian view that is also studied in a branch of medicine known as Ayurveda, it is believed that every individual is a manifestation of cosmic consciousness, a unique phenomenon to be studied holistically. Whatever exists in the macrocosm exists also in the microcosm. So if there is chaos in the macrocosm, so too, will be the microcosm. Order in the microcosm follows, order in the macrocosm.

 

The moot point, in the case of East versus West, revolves around perception. As Blake puts it, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern”.

 

We disintegrated to grasp the essence, but ended up killing the spirit of our world. If our microcosm is but a reflection of the macrocosm that is slowly being swallowed by chaos, what can we individuals do to safeguard being engulfed in a vortex of disintegrating order?

 

Eastern wisdom and emerging western thought convey that if we choose to make sense of the whole, instead of merely concentrating on individual pockets, as a global society, we might just be able to avoid running into total chaos.

 

As humans evolving at our own paces, we need to recognize the astuteness of birds flying together in the sky. We generally assume that birds are rather intelligent to work out how to fly in formation. We probably also assume there must be a 'bird in charge' giving the others instructions. In truth, all that is required is for each bird to maintain the distance between it and its neighbours and fly in the average direction of its flock. From this alone the wonderful, swirling, complex patterns the birds make are seen. Simple rules can generate complex behaviour.

 

The key to our future lies in understanding the delicate relation between order and chaos, as nature exemplifies to perfection. Our complex and interdependent world requires new ways of thinking. A new frontier of research - the emerging science of complexity - may shed light on the interactions of economic, natural and social systems.

 

In reality, chaos and order are but two sides of the coin of actuality, forever interpenetrated and inseparably entwined.

 

Although the western and eastern perceptions of the singular identities of order and chaos differ, throughout the world, a common belief that order and ordered systems are born of chaos, prevails. Chaos is inherently unstable. Left to itself, it tends to 'break down' into order, which is a more stable state. Order once created, tends to chaos (a property commonly known as entropy) because order must yield back to the state from which it emerged. Both states are ultimately unstable - the overall tendency is toward cyclic change and infinite creativity. The wheel spins both ways.

 

But it is only at the “edge of chaos” that spontaneous “islands of order” are formed.

 

Like “dead” systems, life or our world system, is also caught in the tension between order and chaos, in terms of evolving. Too much order implies sameness, nullifying the action of creativity. Everything is modeled on one standard pattern. On the other hand, too much chaos means nothing lasts long enough for something useful to emerge. Between order and chaos lies the edge of chaos; the realm where there is enough chaos for novelty and creativity, but also enough order for consistency and patterns to endure. This region is magical, a zone where new, unimagined properties can emerge.

While considerable thought is now being given to the query as to whether natural ecosystems by default move towards the edge of chaos in search of an optimum location, in practice it has been hard to prove this logic. Apparently, staying at the edge of chaos is just too stressful. Organisms move to the edge of chaos for short periods where they generate meaningful order, but are not able to remain in that state so drop back until they have integrated the changes before once again approaching the edge of chaos.

 

The process of chaos yielding to order calls for an energy input from an external source. We know that, as does the judge calling his court room to order. Perhaps this is the stress causing factor that influences beings to lapse back into chaos after their fund of order inducing energy is exhausted.

 

Our future lies in being able to balance our existence at the edge of chaos, by acquiring the intelligence to stand back detached and view the world as it was meant to be seen, such that we can be energized to work as a self-organizing system rather than a self-destroying system, mutating slowly to counter the effect of entropy. As T S Eliot would say, to straddle chaos in our world both now and in the future, and create an order that can co-exist with nature, we need to go beyond the chinks that mark the thoughts and actions of hollow men:

 

“Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow”