This Alice Oswald poem is one of my increasingly favorite sonnets. In the three-minute video, Sir Andrew Motion touchingly interprets it as: “rush and change of the poem is its own point. It makes us think, first and foremost, about transformations, about the changes that love creates, and the changes that art creates, as it takes hold of familiar experience, illuminates it and passes it back to…
sarangi turned nine: Aftab's Late Winter Collection
Sparrow – Rajasthan, 19th Century
sarangi.info‘s ninth birthday was on 28 January 2014. It has been observed that when parents are busy with their work or the kids are in the middle of their exams, birthdays are often postponed to a more convenient day, like a weekend or two later. Nothing of that sort was the case here since Aftab had uploaded all this music in October 2012 and has been…
Here’s a draft of a paper to be presented at a conference at UNC in May. Â As always, comments, criticisms, questions, etc. are most welcome. 1 Introduction Gone are the heady days when Berna…
'According to Leiter, Nietzsche believes in a “Doctrine of Types,” according to which “Each person has a fixed psycho-physical constitution, which defines him as a particular type of person” (2002, p. 8). These type-facts are meant to be “physiological facts about the person, or facts about the person’s unconscious drives or affects” (Knobe & Leiter 2007), and they largely determine both what a person can do and what a person should do from the point of view of his own well-being.’ To support this interpretation, Knobe and Leiter cite Nietzsche’s claim that a
well-turned out human being […] must perform certain actions and shrinks instinctively from other actions; he carries the order, which he represents physiologically, into his relations with other human beings and things. (TI “Errors” 2)
[Then come passages that conversely support the social construction of character.]
"If someone obstinately and for a long time wants to appear something it is in the end hard for him to be anything else." (HH 51)
"The reputation, name, and appearance […] of a thing […] nearly always becomes its essence and effectively acts as its essence." (GS 58)
'It may be hard to square the passages that support the doctrine of types with those that support the social construction of character, but here’s a try: Nietzsche thinks that many people have the precise character traits they do because they have been labeled with those traits. The idea is that type-facts limit the palette or menu of traits that someone could end up with, but do not uniquely determine how his character will develop. From that menu, social pressures select and shape the character that results.'
'In a seminal study, Miller, Brickman, & Bolen (1975) compared the effects of labeling with those of moral exhortation on the behavior of fifth graders. Participants in the exhortation group were asked repeatedly by the principal, the teachers, and the janitor to keep their classroom tidy. The labeling group, by contrast, heard congratulatory (false) announcements of their above-average tidiness over the course of eight days. On Day 1, the teacher praised them for being ‘ecology minded’ and mentioned that the janitor had commented that theirs was one of the cleanest classrooms in the school. On Day 2, the teacher noticed some litter on the floor but explained, “our class is clean and would not do that.” On Day 4, the principal visited the class and commended their orderliness; after he left, the students actually complained that the teacher’s desk was not as neat as theirs. On Day 8, the janitors washed the room and left a note thanking the students for making their job so easy. After a brief improvement in their behavior, the exhortation group settled back into its old routine, but the labeling group exhibited higher levels of tidiness over an extended period.
'Other experiments have corroborated the tidiness study with other trait attributions. Jensen & Moore (1977), for instance, found that children labeled as charitable donated more than those who were subjected to moral suasion. Grusec, Kuczynski, Rushton, & Simutis (1978) announced to experimental participants that a questionairre they had completed indicated either that they were competitive or that they were cooperative, inducing congruent behavior in a subsequent game. Grusec & Redler (1980) found that ten-year-olds who helped once and were then labeled (“You know, you certainly are a nice person. I bet you’re someone who is helpful whenever possible.”) contributed 350% more in a subsequent trial than students whose actions were praised after helping (“You know, that was certainly a nice thing to do. It was good that you helped me with my work here today.”) These are just a few examples, but the point should be clear: praise and exhortation are worse ways to elicit trait-congruent behavior than attribution. People become what they are by becoming what they are called.
'Thus, while I agree with Knobe and Leiter both that Nietzsche believes in the doctrine of types and that there is strong empirical support for the doctrine of types, I think that they overlook Nietzsche’s insight into the social construction of character and the empirical support for the social construction of character. These two positions may seem to be in tension, but ultimately I think that both can be accommodated. Types are diverse. What counts as aggressiveness, neuroticism, extraversion, and so on differs from case to case and person to person. Character traits develop through the interaction of types and social influence, and even they exhibit a great deal of diversity. In a recent book, Adams (2009, p. 182) argues that courage should be divided up into “modules” that include physical courage, social courage, financial courage, and vicarious courage (the courage not to be overprotective or paternalistic). This echoes Nietzsche’s own distinctions between different types of courage.'
“The proper study of mankind is man, but when one regards the elephant, one wonders.” —attributed to Alexander Pope
“To the ancients, soul was anima, that which animates, the living-, moving-, breathing-ness of a biological being. In this sense, not only animals but plants have souls (of different capacities appropriate to what they are). For many religions, by contrast, the soul is specifically incorporeal, perhaps immortal, and believed to be unique to human beings, who are responsible (to a point) for its condition. To modern science it is, if anything, the hard problem of consciousness, also commonly thought to be the province of just one species.”
“From some combination of existential loneliness and intrepid curiosity, we also have for decades now been calling out for someone past the borders of our known experience. Meanwhile, although we’ve been working on it for millennia, the real depths of terrestrial intelligence are almost as unplumbed. Whether there are millions or just one, what does it mean that there is such a thing as Elephant?
“The scientific enterprise, that special activity of human beings, brings us proof of their abilities and tools to unriddle them, but scientific language simply breaks down in describing who they are — as it does with beauty or with love — leaving us at the edge of a vast field of signals out of ordinary range. Listen with your ears, your eyes, your heart, your mind, your soul for the message from these kin as improbable as life itself, different and yet the same. We are not alone.”
جہاں زاد، کیسے ہزاروں برس بعد اِک شہرِ مدفون کی ہر گلی میں مرے جام و مینا و گُلداں کے ریزے ملے ہیں کہ جیسے وہ اِس شہرِ برباد کا حافظہ ہوں! (حَسَن نام کا اِک جواں کوزہ گر ۔۔۔ اِک نئے شہر میں ۔۔۔ ۔ اپنے کوزے بناتا ہوا، عشق کرتا ہوا اپنے ماضی کے تاروں میں ہم سے پرویا گیا ہے ہمیں میں (کہ جیسے ہمیں ہوں) سمویا گیا ہے کہ ہم تم وہ بارش کے قطرے تھے جو رات بھر سے، (ہزاروں برس رینگتی رات بھر) اِک دریچے کے شیشوں پہ گرتے ہوئے سانپ لہریں بناتے رہے ہیں، اور اب اس جگہ وقت کی صبح ہونے سے پہلے یہ ہم اور یہ نوجواں کوزہ گر ایک رویا میں پھر سے پروئے گئے ہیں! )
جہاں زاد ۔۔۔ ۔۔۔ یہ کیسا کہنہ پرستوں کا انبوہ کوزوں کی لاشوں میں اُترا ہے دیکھو! یہ وہ لوگ ہیں جن کی آنکھیں کبھی جام و مینا کی لِم تک نہ پہنچیں یہی آج اس رنگ و روغن کی مخلوقِ بے جاں کو پھر سے اُلٹنے پلٹنے لگے ہیں یہ اِن کے تلے غم کی چنگاریاں پا سکیں گے جو تاریخ کو کھا گئی تھیں؟ وہ طوفان، وہ آندھیاں پا سکیں گے جو ہر چیخ کو کھا گئی تھیں؟ انہیں کیا خبر کِس دھنک سے مرے رنگ آئے ۔۔۔ ۔۔۔ ۔۔۔ (مرے اور اِس نوجواں کُوزہ گر کے؟) انہیں کیا خبر کون سی تتلیوں کے پروں سے؟ انہیں کیا خبر کون سے حُسن سے؟ کون سی ذات سے، کس خد و خال سے میں نے کُوزوں کے چہرے اُتارے؟ یہ سب لوگ اپنے اسیروں میں ہیں زمانہ، جہاں زاد، افسوں زدہ برج ہے اور یہ لوگ اُس کے اسیروں میں ہیں ۔۔۔ ۔۔۔ ۔ جواں کوزہ گر ہنس رہا ہے! یہ معصوم وحشی کہ اپنے ہی قامت سے ژولیدہ دامن ہیں جویا کسی عظمتِ نارسا کے ۔۔۔ ۔۔۔ ۔ انہیں کیا خبر کیسا آسیبِ مبرم مرے غار سینے پہ تھا جس نے مجھ سے (اور اِس کوزہ گر سے) کہا: "اے حَسَن کوزہ گر، جاگ دردِ رسالت کا روزِ بشارت ترے جام و مینا کی تشنہ لبی تک پہنچنے لگا ہے!” یہی وہ ندا، جس کے پیچھے حَسَن نام کا یہ جواں کوزہ گر بھی پیا پے رواں ہے زماں سے زماں تک، خزاں سے خزاں تک!
جہاں زاد میں نے ۔۔۔ ۔۔ حَسَن کوزہ گر نے ۔۔۔ ۔۔۔ ۔۔ بیاباں بیاباں یہ دردِ رسالت سہا ہے ہزاروں برس بعد یہ لوگ ریزوں کو چُنتے ہوئے جان سکتے ہیں کیسے کہ میرے گِل و خاک کے رنگ و روغن ترے نازک اعضا کے رنگوں سے مل کر ابد کی صدا بن گئے تھے؟ میں اپنے مساموں سے، ہر پور سے، تیری بانہوں کی پنائیاں جذب کرتا رہا تھا کہ ہر آنے والے کی آنکھوں کے معبد پہ جا کر چڑھاؤں ۔۔۔ ۔۔ یہ ریزوں کی تہذیب پا لیں تو پا لیں حَسَن کوزہ گر کو کہاں لا سکیں گے؟ یہ اُس کے پسینے کے قطرے کہاں گن سکیں گے؟ یہ فن کی تجلی کا سایہ کہاں پا سکیں گے؟ جو بڑھتا گیا ہے زماں سے زماں تک خزاں سے خزاں تک جو ہر نوجواں کُوزہ گر کی نئی ذات میں اور بڑھتا چلا جا رہا ہے! وہ فن کی تجلی کا سایہ کہ جس کی بدولت ہمہ عشق ہیں ہم ہمہ کوُزہ گر ہم ہمہ تن خبر ہم خُدا کی طرح اپنے فن کے خُدا سر بسر ہم! (آرزوئیں کبھی پایاب تو سَریاب کبھی، تیرنے لگتے ہیں بے ہوشی کی آنکھوں میں کئی چہرے جو دیکھے بھی نہ ہوں کبھی دیکھے ہوں کسی نے تو سراغ اُن کا کہاں سے پائے؟ کِس سے ایفا ہوئے اندوہ کے آداب کبھی آرزوئیں کبھی پایاب تو سَریاب کبھی!)
یہ کوزوں کے لاشے، جو اِن کے لئے ہیں کسی داستانِ فنا کے وغیرہ وغیرہ ہماری اذاں ہیں، ہماری طلب کا نشاں ہیں یہ اپنے سکوتِ اجل میں بھی یہ کہہ رہے ہیں: "وہ آنکھیں ہمیں ہیں جو اندر کھُلی ہیں تمہیں دیکھتی ہیں، ہر ایک درد کو بھانپتی ہیں ہر اِک حُسن کے راز کو جانتی ہیں کہ ہم ایک سنسان حجرے کی اُس رات کی آرزو ہیں جہاں ایک چہرہ، درختوں کی شاخوں کے مانند اِک اور چہرے پہ جھُک کر، ہر انسان کے سینے میں اِک برگِ گُل رکھ گیا تھا اُسی شب کا دزدیدہ بوسہ ہمیں ہیں!
Homosexuality was removed as a mental illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry in May 1974. A woman wrote to Freud, that since you work on the mind and stuff, my son has the problem. Just look at the letter (that he wrote in…
Once when I was in the Agha Khan University hostel, napping in the afternoon, I woke up at sundown, went out of the room, came back and saw a red finch perching on my red towel on the small clothesline we had. It was staring at me and I slowly went to it…
Last night, I dreamed that I was walking with my brother, who is just older than me, through a bazaar where there were fruitsellers, iron smiths, grocers, and other people. I didn’t even know what he wanted to get, but we walked so long past the populace…
Knowst thou the land of flowering lemon trees?
In leafage dark the golden orange glows,
From azure sky there wafts a gentle breeze,
Calm the myrtle, high the laurel grows,
Knowst thou it still?
There would I go, beloved mine, with thee.
Knowst thou the house? Its column-bedded roof,
The shining hall, the inner room aglow,
The marble statues gaze but do not move:
What have they done, poor child, to hurt thee so?
Knowst thou it still?
There would I go, protector mine, with thee.
Knowst thou the mountain, stepping up through cloud?
The mule in mist treads out his path; a cave,
And in it dwells the ancient dragon brood;
The crag swoops down and over it the wave;
Knowst thou it still?
There goes the way, father, for thee and me.
(This translation is dedicated to the memory of Gerard de Nerval)
Translated by Christopher Middleton
“Music does not express this or that particular and definite joy, this or that sorrow, or pain, or horror, or delight, or merriment, or peace of mind; but joy, sorrow, pain, horror, delight, merriment, peace of mind themselves, to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without accessories, and therefore without their motives. Yet we completely understand them in this extracted quintescence. Hence it arises that our imagination is so easily excited by music, and now seeks to give form to that invisible yet actively moved spirit world which speaks to us directly, and to clothe it with flesh and blood, i.e., to embody it in an analogous example. This is the origin of the song with words, and finally of the opera, the text of which should therefore never forsake that subordinate position in order to make itself the chief thing and the music the mere means of expressing it, which is a great misconception and a piece of utter perversity; for music always expresses only the quintescence of life and its events, and never these themselves, and therefore their differences do not always affect it. It is precisely this universality, which belongs exclusively to it, together with the greatest determinateness, that gives music the high worth which it has as the panacea for all our woes. Thus if music is too closely united to words, and tries to form itself according to the events, it is striving to speak a language which is not its own.”
Your spirit’s worth is no longer requited, noble form, These legions are not men-at-arms but visitors in awe. Once these very pavilions had sheltered earthy kings, Today, they harbor shadows and rear no glory save their own. The blood of countless years and masons nourished you; Only great ambition could animate your lifeless walls. Though these fountains have been robbed of precious stones, Profaned by hasty plunderers, your sight remains sublime. Caprice creates and soon destroys with the heartlessness of time – You know too well and still inspire just noble thoughts; Enduring much, reality would mean to you no less, no more. And since you speak and petrify in every way except with words, I wonder: When these gates are closed each night unsung by dancing flames, That once arose from lamps arrayed in glorious niches, Do you not hear past flourishes and whimpers imprisoned in your dungeons; Do not the stones within these walls resonate and sing; Do not those houris’ candles delight in chambers of the king; And to the darkest, stillest hour before dawn Does not the queen lay bare her heart and weep?
The Chinese Room argument, devised by John Searle, is an argument against the possibility of true artificial intelligence. The argument centers on a thought experiment in which someone who knows only English sits alone in a room following English instructions for manipulating strings of Chinese characters, such that to those outside the room it appears as if someone in the room understands Chinese. The argument is intended to show that while suitably programmed computers may appear to converse in natural language, they are not capable of understanding language, even in principle. Searle argues that the thought experiment underscores the fact that computers merely use syntactic rules to manipulate symbol strings, but have no understanding of meaning or semantics. Searle’s argument is a direct challenge to proponents of Artificial Intelligence, and the argument also has broad implications for functionalist and computational theories of meaning and of mind. As a result, there have been many critical replies to the argument.
The ideal of morality has no more dangerous rival than the ideal of supreme strength, of a life of maximum vigor, which has also been called the ideal of aesthetic greatness. That life is in truth the ultimate attainment of the barbarian, and unfortunately in these days of civilization’s withering it has won a great many adherents. In pursuance of this ideal man becomes a hybrid thing, a brute-spirit, whose cruel mentality exerts a horrible spell upon weaklings. —Novalis
Reddy’s newest project, funded by an NEH fellowship, looks at changing attitudes toward romantic love in Western culture. Here we asked Reddy, the chair of Duke University’s history department, to meditate on the realm of Venus.
One thing is needful.— To “give style” to one’s character—a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added, there a piece of original nature has been removed:—both times through long practice and daily work at it. Here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed, there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime. Much that is vague and resisted shaping has been saved and exploited for distant views:—it is meant to beckon toward the far and immeasurable. In the end, when the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small: whether this taste was good or bad is less important than one might suppose,—if only it was a single taste!—
from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (section 290, translated by Walter Kaufmann)
It is precisely by means of … modes of knowledge, in a realm beyond the world of the senses, where experience can yield neither guidance nor correction, that our reason carries on these enquiries which owing to their importance we consider to be far more excellent, and in their purpose far more lofty, than all that the understanding can learn in the field of appearances. Indeed we prefer to run every risk of error rather than desist from such urgent enquiries, on the ground of their dubious character, or from disdain and indifference. These unavoidable problems set by pure reason itself are God, freedom, and immortality. The science which, with all its preparations, is in its final intention directed solely to their solution is metaphysics; and its procedure is at first dogmatic, that is, it confidently sets itself to this task without any previous examination of the capacity or incapacity of reason for so great an undertaking.