Saturday, September 27, 2008

As we come to the end of the Certificate Course on Philosophy/Existentialism

We have come to the end of the Certificate Course in Existentialism/Philosophy which began on 30 June 2008. Come to think of it, we have spent three months engaging with the topic.

First of all let me thank all of you - UG and PG students, especially those who have been supporting all the certificate courses i organise, office and teaching staff of the University, and those from industry for having taken part in this course. I am extremely grateful to Dr Kachappilly for teaching the course. I am not sure but for this semester we could have ever been able to get him. I personally appreciate his down-to-earth attitude and scholarship.

I thank my colleague and friend Padmakumar for chipping in during emergencies, and being a constant support in all my activities.

I am grateful to Associate Dean and HOD-Media Studies, Mr Kennedy for helping me make the course happen, Certificate Course Co-ordinator, Mr George and Dean Prof Krishnaswamy for their cooperation, and the management for their regular support in such innovative activities.

A gentle reminder about the viva on Monday between 3 and 4 and 5 and 6. The last date for paper submission is 5 Oct. You may email your papers to me.

I am planning to organise a Certificate Course in Indian Philosophy which will be an introduction to the six systems of Indian Philosophy in the the first two weeks of December 2008. Will be in touch as it materialises. Those interested are welcome.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomorrow's class cancelled

Some of the course participants begin their exams tomorrow. Hence, they requested me not to have Existentialism classes as they would miss out on the lecture on Kierkegaard. I spoke Dr Kachappilly. He has agreed to cancel tomorrow's class.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Iconoclast

I really don’t understand what people find, so much to talk about. This has been my experience since child hood. ‘What do people find so much to talk about?’ that has always puzzled me. I don’t understand, if you are talking all the while when do you listen. ? I believe that we all are so frightened of being just us that we need to fill our lives with empty chatter.

The overcoming of this overdriving fear of being just ourselves, looking at us as how we are, without any shades of opinions colored by what others think , is easier said than done. Babies are really courageous creatures. I should say enlightened beings. They have no past, no future; they live in the everlasting present. Live life fully, whether crying or laughing in gay abandon, with no fear or greed. , looking for nothing. I am reminded of Peter Pan’s Neverland. As HW Longfellow said "A boys will is the winds will, and the thoughts of youth, are long, long thoughts."

And we grow up, and forget about joy in the process of living. Living ….? about that I am not so very sure. In childhood we were greedy to fill our bellies. Always munching something, not that we were hungry, but we were greedy to live. Then we grew up, and we became of this world and forgot to live. We became gluttons, wanting more than what we could eat , and we rush to clamber on the tread mill. And our dreams die. They don’t have cardiac arrests; they become leprous festering sores, infecting everything it comes across. That I think is one of the greatest tragedies of growing up, we let our dreams die. When our dreams die then a part of us also dies. We don’t stop there; we get married as we are afraid to face life by our selves. Let me not talk about marriage because that would need another blog write up by itself. But we get married have babies, and want them to live our lives because in our hearts we know that we are failures. We want our kids to live their lives for us; in ways we think it is correct. We scream at them when they smoke, when they get drunk, and when they fail because we believe that they don’t know how to live. Or rather when they don’t live their lives as per our models or our mores.

Society does not accept anybody or anything which is not in a framework it defines. It feels threatened by them ,it considers them to be dangerous creatures. But I am not so sure that is right I believe that to accept ourselves as we are, to hold ourselves responsible for our life is living dangerously. That kind of living is glorious, we define our standards. Defining one’s own standards are not anarchism. I believe defining our own norms is taking responsibility for our lives, and that truly is being an iconoclast. May our tribe increase!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Live Dangerously

If I were to look behind me and wonder, how I became the guy I am? Who influenced my thoughts to live the way I do, then I can say it without hesitation that it is Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. Paradoxically both were Germans. (Another German who inspired me during my childhood was Adolf Hitler, but later coming to understand his politics, Yuk!!! he is no more my hero) I will talk about Marx later. But today I will talk about Nietzsche.

I came across Nietzsche, with his quote ‘I am no man, I am dynamite’, with that I was hooked. And when he said ‘.. .believe me! - the secret of realizing the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment of existence is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships out into uncharted seas! Live in conflict with your equals and with yourselves! Be robbers and ravagers as long as you cannot be rulers and owners, you men of knowledge! The time will soon be past when you could be content to live conceal in the woods like timid deer!” with that I became his slave. The screen saver on my computer system has the words ‘ Live dangerously’ floating around.

And I believe that being true to oneself is to live dangerously , which Nietzsche was. I believe that with his statement that ‘God is dead” we enter into modernity. While there have been atheistic philosophers, but the impact of this statement is missing in them . It is missing because they offer some other substitute system to god , either society, science or something else. Nietzsche rips apart that comfort by making man responsible for himself and every individual responsible for himself though trapped in chaos . It is,Nietzsche's way of saying that the idea of God is no longer capable of acting as a source of any moral code or teleology as a comfort. He recognizes the crisis which the death of God represents, for existing moral considerations. The death of God is telling that humans are no longer able to believe in any such cosmic order since they themselves no longer recognize it. The death of God not just leads to the rejection of a belief of cosmic or physical order but is also to a rejection of absolute values - to the rejection of belief in an objective and universal moral law, binding upon all individuals. Verily one must have courage within oneself to dance with the stars and with existence.

Nietzsche believed there could be immense possibilities for humans without God. Relinquishing the belief in God opens the way for human abilities to fully develop. The recognition that "God is dead" is a freedom to become something new, different, creative, a freedom to be something without any predefinitions forced us to reject the baggage of the past which is be a heavy burden.

But the paradox is that we in our hearts don’t want freedom. We prefer to follow the the herd wearing blinkers. We live the lives which our fathers in their fear chose for us. Lives which was chosen by their forefathers. Is this all life is ? Living a life not by our making, and forcing our children to live their lives as per our fears, under the facade of freedom......

Freedom is the essence of the human situation. We are thrown in a situation not of our making, not by choice either. I can personally vouch for that. In the blink of an eye everything changes. What was a myth and something we could never have visualized becomes reality. Our reality. And the world does not really care and goes on its own way. This is the startling truth. So I don’t think there is anything called as absolute realty, for all times and all location. As Buddhism tells everything is impermanent, or annicca.

So that’s it in black and white , we are thrown into a world not of our choice nor our making but yet we are supposed to live by the rules which nobody has made, and which nobody really cares. And so how do we live? (I would rather phrase the question as why do we live? I have found no convincing answer for that except that it is given , period .) but back to my original question of how do we live, I just say “Live Dangerously’ , as i said I have it on my screensaver but I don't . And I live my life as almost everybody does...'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Link to Existentialism blog of the course participants

Now we have a digital space for the course participants of Certificate course in Existentialism. Congratulations to Ravi for mooting the idea and Kanasu for hoisting it and volunteering to be the admin.