05 Jun

Competition and Cooperation

The debate between individualism and collectivism lies at the heart of all modern political debates, but it is obvious that we could not live without both. If everyone acted individualistically, society—which hinges on cooperation—could not exist; there could be no common agreement on social laws that aim for the greater collective good over (sometimes) individual good. If on the other hand we prioritized the collective good over individual good, there would be no incentive in the individuals to act out of their own agency, resulting in the relinquishment of individual responsibilities. What is the right balance between individualism and collectivism? This question hinges on the problem that these two ideas seem to be fundamentally contradictory and this post hopes to show that they are not.

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02 Jan

The Four Legs of Dharma

The word ‘dharma’ means duty. In the Śrimad Bhāgavatam, dharma is described as a ‘bull’ who stands on four ‘legs’—austerity, cleanliness, truthfulness, and kindness. These principles are common to all aspects of human life, including that which is not directly associated with a ‘religion’. Indeed, ‘religion’ in the Vedic context is simply one’s duties associated with one’s role. The roles, however, are hierarchical and a person is simultaneously in multiple roles. The duties associated with the highest role—in relation to God—are called ‘religion’. Other duties, which are lower in the hierarchy, include one’s social duties such as ‘father’, ‘employee’, ‘student’, etc. The four legs of dutifulness are associated with both lower and higher duties. This post discusses the meanings of these four ‘legs’ of dutifulness.

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30 Apr

Quantum Theory and Human Experience

That quantum theory tells us something new about the material world, as compared to classical physics, is undisputed. The dispute is regarding what the new thing is that quantum theory is telling us. Accordingly, there are numerous interpretations of quantum theory, some even by those who claim to follow the Vedic traditions. However, in none of these interpretations do we find a clear articulation of the nature of free will, how this free will interacts with matter, the question of right and wrong action, which then leads to moral consequences, and how such consequences shape the future experiences. The crux of Vedic philosophy is not a theory of matter, but how consciousness interacts with matter, how this interaction is judged right and wrong, and how that judgement produces new circumstances, in which the living entity is successively trapped. When these central ideas are ignored or marginalized, then the interpretation constitutes a heresy. In this post I will discuss how quantum theory can be seen as a theory of moral causality.

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