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Posts Tagged ‘spinoza’

Mixtape

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 16, 2013

seven

“…most people, when in prosperity, are so over brimming with wisdom (however inexperienced they maybe), that they take every offer of advice as an insult, whereas in adversity they know not where to run, but beg and pray for counsel from every passer-by.”

Benedict de Spinoza, A Theologica-Political Treatise

While Spinoza traces the root of superstition in fear and despair, I couldn’t help but realize how often the above situation plays itself out in the corporate world. While some foolhardy, egoistic CEOs find it demeaning to consult their team members, those on the other end of the spectrum lose sight of the solution in search of way too many reassurances. A true leader is a good assessor of his own judgement and knows where to seek counsel when he lacks the ability to make the right call himself.

On the topic of similarities in geographically separated cultures, here is another one. In Vedic Astrology, every person’s life assumed to be 120 years) is divided into  9 unequal phases, each phase ruled by a planet. One of these phases is ruled by Ketu and has a duration of 7 years. This phase is characterized by the person being stripped off his or her material comforts and being left with the bare minimum required to survive. A seven year period where the person may struggle financially, the material outflow being more than the inflow. Seven years, the duration of the famine in Egypt, stated in Genesis.

Posted in Management Consulting, Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

state of nature vs State Authority

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 29, 2013

“In the state of nature, therefore, sin is inconceivable; it can only exist in a state, where good and evil are pronounced on by common consent, and where everyone is bound to obey the State authority. Sin, then, is nothing else but disobedience, which is therefore punished by the right of the State only….in the state of nature, no one is by common consent master of anything, nor is there anything in nature, which can be said to belong to one man rather than another, all things are common to all.”

Benedict de Spinoza, Ethica

Somewhere along the road, we drifted from living in a state of nature and slid into a civilized society living under a State Authority. This transition is  reflected in the way our religions have evolved, from ancient beliefs that were so closely aligned to natural elements to modern tenets that reek of authoritarianism. In India, Vedic Hinduism gave way to the Bhakti and Brahmanic movements. In Europe and Middle East, the Abrahamic religions replaced ancient pagan beliefs. Tortured by the excesses of an authoritative state, people found comfort in the arms of an authoritative God. Only an aggressive protector could save us from the struggles of a life that was now being governed by a State. We did not believe in the “passive” Nature Gods anymore because we did not live in a state of nature anymore.

The bottomline though is that we are intrisically a part of nature. Solutions to problems relating to our bodies, minds and souls cannot be found in the artificial state we have created around us. Hence I encourage people to try to connect with our roots, to connect with the elements that have formed us. Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Space hold the answers to all our questions. Adding to them the sixth element, our mind, completes the puzzle of life.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Why do people do bad things?

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on December 23, 2012

I have often wondered how people do things that seem “bad” and do not even recognize it as something not virtuous. Why do people not hesitate even slightly before doing something that I find “wrong”? I truly believe in the goodness of our original being. Then why does a Virtuous creation do “bad” things? Here’s an attempt to answer that question.

“The effort for self preservation is the first and only foundation of virtue. For prior to this principle nothing can be conceived, and without it no virtue can be conceived…..

….No virtue can be conceived as prior to this endeavor to preserve one’s own being”—–Spinoza, Ethica

If we believe in self preservation being the most important virtue, then it is not difficult to see how “bad” can be virtuous. What allows this contradiction to exist is the way in which we human beings have expanded the definition of “Self”. In an ideal world “Self” would mean the collection of body,mind and soul. In the real world “Self” includes another parameter which we shall label as “Ego”.

Proposition 1: People only do Virtuous things. We are innately Virtuous.

Proposition 2: Virtuous actions are Good

Enquiry: Why do People do Bad Things?

Investigation:

Virtue= Self Preservation

In Ideal World, True Self = Body+Mind+Soul (All factors are independent of what lies outside an individual)

In Real World, False Self = Body+Mind+Soul+Ego

Ego adds a 4th Dimension that introduces the influence of the external world into the “Self”. Self-preservation is no longer the survival of only the body, mind and soul but it is now the survival of a false image of the self which is a reflection of how the world around us views us.When we untertake actions that work towards the preservation of this “False Self”, we lose sight and understanding of Virtue.

Nature has trained our minds to instinctly recognize that whatever we do to preserve ourselves is Virtuous. Hence what we do to preserve ourselves must necessarily be good. Hence preservation of the self is a virtue and hence any action undertaken to ensure this is good. But this applies only when Self = True Self.

When Self=False Self, we are tricked into believing that what we our doing to preserve this “False Self” is virtuous. And hence we do not question the nature of our actions that preserve this “False Self”. We continue doing bad things without any guilt because we are tricked into believing that since they are preserving our “Self” they must be virtuous and hence good.

Therefore, in the real world, virtuous actions can be bad, because self preservation is actually the preservation of the “False Self”. People do not regard a bad action as evil because that action of theirs is preserving their “False Self” and hence they do not hesitate before doing such things. Their brains are tricked into thinking that the preservation of this “False Self” is a Virtue.

To rid our world of this “Bad”, we will have to be able to differentiate the “True Self” from the “False Self”. Once this is achieved, we will only be concerned with preserving the “True Self” and since this is a real virtue, all actions emanating from it will be good.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

[Repost] Benedict de Spinoza:More Transparency in Both Government and Corporations

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 22, 2012

“It has been one of the songs of those who thirst after absolute power that the interest of the state requires that its affairs should be conducted in secret…But the more such arguments disguise themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive is the slavery to which they will lead…Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evils secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens.They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in the time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”- Benedict de Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus

One of the things that have always intrigued me is why Cabinet meetings of our ministers,that discuss important issues and Bills, are held behind closed doors and hidden from the view of the very public that those legislative actions are going to affect. Are they plotting against the citizens during time of peace?

Lets extend this argument to corporate big-wigs.Several strategy decisions are made in secret and for obvious reasons. One, to prevent sensitive data from reaching competition. Agreed. However, an arrangement should be made to video record these meetings and display them to the shareholders once the results of the decisions have been fully realized in the public domain. Shareholders, like citizens in a democracy should have the right to view the decision making process of the executives they  pay huge salaries to “protect their interests”.

After 60 years of Independence, India finally has a Right To Information Act. A bittersweet case of better late than never; generations from now it will be recognized as the one legislation that saved democracy in this country.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

Enjoy Spinoza while I Slog!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 18, 2012

I am happy 🙂 Today I am washing away at least 50% of my bad Karmas; Helping my parents unpack and settle in a new place they will be calling home. And unpacking and setting up a house is no easy task. In our culture parents are considered only next to Gods and serving them bestows one with the highest blessing. While I work on improving my next life even more, I leave you with a post that was inspired by one of my favorite philosophers, Spinoza. It is titled “Humility is not a Virtue”.

“Humility is a sadness which arises from the fact that a man considers his own lack of power.Moreover, insofar a man knows himself by true reason, it is supposed that he understands his own essence,his own power. So if a man,in considering himself, perceives some lack of power of his,this is not because he understands himself but because his power of acting is restrained.

-Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics

Not surprisingly, this has been a prevalent thought in Western Philosophy and a key tenet that differentiates it from Eastern thought. While the Athenians, Stoics, Epicureans and others treated man as part of a society and framed definitions inspired by man’s interaction with his external surroundings viz. the state, fellow humans et al., Eastern philosophy focused on the individuality of a man, his struggles with his inner beings, the divinity that lay within him.

So why the two different approaches? One possible explanation could be that while the Athenians were struggling to find the answer to a Utopian form of state, the East may have already figured out the best form of governance. The East was already beyond the struggles of community living and had now reached a level of spirituality where the biggest struggle for a man was against the forces within and not without. Any further explanations? Or is my observation off the mark?

 

 

 

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Philosophy-Science-Art-Business

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 22, 2012

The opening page of Spinoza's magnum opus, Ethics

The opening page of Spinoza’s magnum opus, Ethics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Every Science begins as Philosophy and ends as Art, it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement”- Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy

The key to innovation could not have been put in a more succinct manner. Compare this to one of the most successful consulting strategies in the world and you realize how hypothesis driven problem solving techniques yield better and faster solutions. Time to quote another one of my favorite thinkers, Spinoza. “…the motion and rest of the body must arise from another body, which has also been determined to motion or rest by another..”-Ethics

Spinoza was laying down his propositions for defining existence, body and mind. But if you apply the same postulate to science you find a relation with Newton’s First Law, that of Inertia.

The more one explores, the more one observes the symbiotic relationship that exists between philosophy, science, art and business. Exploring all dimensions can yield miraculous discoveries.Not surprisingly, the best discoveries and inventions have been realized by individuals who conducted research in multiple disciplines.

Posted in Management Consulting, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Benedict de Spinoza:More Transparency in Both Government and Corporations

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 18, 2012

“It has been one of the songs of those who thirst after absolute power that the interest of the state requires that its affairs should be conducted in secret…But the more such arguments disguise themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive is the slavery to which they will lead…Better that right counsels be know to enemies than that the evils secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens.They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in the time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”- Benedict de Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus

One of the things that have always intrigued me is why Cabinet meetings of our ministers,that discuss important issues and Bills, are held behind closed doors and hidden from the view of the very public that those legislative actions are going to affect. Are they plotting against the citizens during time of peace?

Lets extend this argument to corporate big-wigs.Several strategy decisions are made in secret and for obvious reasons. One, to prevent sensitive data from reaching competition. Agreed. However, an arrangement should be made to video record these meetings and display them to the shareholders once the results of the decisions have been fully realized in the public domain. Shareholders, like citizens in a democracy should have the right to view the decision making process of the executives they  pay huge salaries to “protect their interests”.

After 60 years of Independence, India finally has a Right To Information Act. A bittersweet case of better late than never; generations from now it will be recognized as the one legislation that saved democracy in this country.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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