Thursday, October 29, 2015

From a discussion on facebook

From Anil Atluri's wall:
Me: I may be misunderstanding but Ramarao's concern is not really about aphorisms but about Indians. With the wide variety of people he meets in different countries, he probably noticed some problems in discussions like information, logic etc and probably thinks that popularising aphorisms may make these worse. I contend that the problems are more deep rooted. Ours is a culture of primacy of exegesis. Truths were there in some great writers and writings and what all we had to do is to interpret them and we often depend even for this interpretation on those who are supposed to have read them. Indians did some great stuff in astronomy and mathematics but there were never complete proofs. Though astronomy was probably always connected with observation of cosmic events for predictions from food gathering to agriculture, there were also connections with religion. In our case, the development of astronomy and mathematics seems to be primarily for astrology.. When astronomical observations did not tally with puranic accounts, Puranas were supposed to be primary.see, for example, Christopher Minkowski's 'The Pandit as a public intellectua'. My contention is that 'primacy of exegesis' is deep rooted in Indian culture and a few aphorisms are not going to make much difference.
Ramarao Kanneanti: Anandaswarup Gadde garu: I think you are right. I think aphorisms may be not my focus. It is not so much about the other countries, but other education systems that I was a part of, other text books that I have read perhaps influenced my views. From what I read from Meher, I think he too shares my concerns. His seeking out of scholars outside of the standard pantheon itself attests to that.

To large extent, my dissatisfaction with the western intellectual tradition is neglecting of mathematics, logic, model theory, statistics, and such in the literary and philosophical discourses. In the first part of 1900's, there was such an exhilarating confluence of these ideas -- perhaps I was unduly influenced by it.

And, in India, my dissatisfaction is all those and a few more. The culture of primacy of exegesis, as you put it may be manifesting those symptoms. The predominance of pathos, in preference to logos in public discourse, -- in particular excess of that -- strikes me as counter productive. Also, the openness to criticism or learning from criticism is something I find more open in the west. Is this preference for pathos make them seek spiritual solace or even words enriched with vivid imagery? I do not know.

Yet to large extent, I am afraid of querying along these lines. I feel that is is a measure of hubris to think the world should satisfy us. From my experience, it leads to heart break, misery, or at least active sense of being wronged by the world. I am sure I will grow out of it, but for now, I often try to make peace with it. And, "being in between many worlds helps me with that. May be that is my lack of commitment to one world that shows I am yet to grow up.

Now, back to my other world of high performance event driven architectures (for this week, at least)...

P.S. I acquired the phrase 'primacy of exgesis' from Aravindhan during a discussion in the site Hub. Some of his comments reproduced in a earlier poset ."Panini's grammar, from a methodological perspective, embodies two trends. The first is the trend towards the primacy of exegesis in scholarly discourse. For some reason, texts by renowned scholars came to have a very special status, eventually becoming a source of knowledge equal to or superior than observation. The second trend is the increasing importance of inductive reasoning, where you used specific examples to derive generalised rules. Taken together, these are capable of producing devastating errors.

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