Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Current financial crisis is the result of no models

L. Venkata Subramaniam has left a new comment on your post "When complex systems evolve over time the paths th...":

I think nobody took mathematical modeling seriously so they built very simplistic models with bad assumptions and bad data. I dont think the current financial crisis is the result of bad models, infact it is the result of no models. Posted by L. Venkata Subramaniam to Savitri Era Learning Forum at 12:48 AM, December 31, 2008 12:58 PM

R. Venkata Subramani has left a new comment on your post "When complex systems evolve over time the paths th...":

Mathematical models or no mathematical models - the present crisis is just on account of too much greed and throwing all common sense to winds. What else can you call the so called Credit Default Swaps on Fixed income securities - when the total bond size is 25 trillion USD and the notional value of CDS is 63 trillion USD? Do you call this protection or pure gambling? Posted by R. Venkata Subramani to Savitri Era Learning Forum at 11:24 AM, December 31, 2008

Intelligent agent modeling in economics from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen

In my possibly overdogmatic view, economics is most useful when its models are relatively simple and intuitive. We've run out of new models which are simple and intuitive. So the theory game is over. The standard, old data sets have been data mined to death. We're now on to the "can you build/create your own data set?" game. That game can and will last for a long time; in some ways it will favor go-getter extroverts just as the theory game favored introverts.
I don't yet see that there is a new game in town. My preferred reform of economics involves more history and anthropology, I might add.

A Professor Forgets The Fallibility of Merchants and Manufacturers and That Ayn Rand was Not a Smithian from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

Allen Greenspan was a adherent to the philosophy of selfish egoism of Ayn Rand, which had little enough to do with the self interest and moral philosophy of Adam Smith.

The sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Cuttack summons Peter Heehs

Court summons Aurobindo book writer
The Asian Age - Enjoy the difference Bhubaneswar, Dec. 30:

The sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Cuttack, on Tuesday ordered Peter Heehs, an American author, who wrote a controversial book on spiritual gurus Sri Aurobindo and Shreema to appear in the court on February 20, reports our correspondent.
In response to a petition filed by one Devi Prasad Dash, a devotee from Cuttack, the court took cognizance of the derogatory and defamatory information on the lives of both the gurus written in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
Although the book has already been published in America, the Orissa high court had stayed its publication and distribution in India last month, following a writ petition filed by one Geetanjali Bhattacharjya of Balasore, 200 km from here. About Us Contact us Advertise with us Careers Site Map Feedback © Copyrights 2006 Asian Age

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Revolutionary terrorists too were aware of the theatrical side of violence

OPED Saturday, November 22, 2008 The bomb that shook an Empire Peter Hees

Aurobindo Ghose and his band of youthful 'terrorists' stood as accused in the famous Alipore Bomb Case exactly a century ago. The issues they threw up still rankleA hundred years ago, a trial was being heard in Calcutta that brought the issue of revolutionary terrorism before the people of modern India for the first time. There had, of course, been acts of violence against the British almost from the moment of their arrival. But when Khudiram Bose threw a bomb into a carriage that he thought was carrying a district judge on April 30, 1908, he started something new. A bhadralok youth, recruited by an organisation that was established and directed by highly educated men, used a state-of-the-art bomb in an attempt to assassinate a member of the foreign bureaucracy. Khudiram was tried and executed for his act, becoming one of India's most celebrated revolutionary martyrs. The leaders of the organisation, notably Hemchandra Das, Upendranath Banerjee, Barindrakumar Ghose, and Barin's brother Aurobindo Ghose (later Sri Aurobindo), were also put on trial in what became known as the Alipore Bomb Case. After proceedings that lasted almost a year, the first three were convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Aurobindo was acquitted but soon left the political scene, becoming a philosopher and yogi in Pondicherry.

Aurobindo had never thought that scattered acts of small-scale violence would do much to advance the movement. His original idea was the preparation of an "armed insurrection", consisting of "guerrilla warfare accompanied by general resistance and revolt". His organisation "did not include terrorism in its programme", he wrote in 1946; "this element grew up in Bengal as a result of the strong repression and the reaction to it in that province". It was Barin, Upendranath, Hemchandra and others who thought that terrorist methods would be useful. In this they were wrong. Despite all the drama of the Indian revolutionary movement, and the undoubted valour of men like Khudiram, Surya Sen, and Bhagat Singh, Indian terrorists were not very good at accomplishing their aims, and had little practical (as opposed to psychological) effect on the movement.

Sensing this as early as 1911, Aurobindo wrote to a collaborator that terrorism was "our only enemy". He called for an end to "these theatrical assassinations, these frenzied appeals to national hatred with their watchword of Feringhi ko maro, these childish conspiracies, these idiotic schemes for facing a modern army with half a dozen guns and some hundred lathis". Yet to the end of his life Aurobindo never renounced his belief that "a nation is entitled to attain its freedom by violence". "Terrorism" has now become such a charged word that it is hard to use it in a discussion of national heroes. Historians of the immediate post-Independence era preferred the term "militant nationalism". This was not a good choice: the revolutionaries had little military training. Later historians were not afraid to use the term "terrorism", but they defined it carefully as the use of small-scale violence by urban groups to achieve political ends. This is what Barin Ghose and his friends were doing, and there was no reason not to call them terrorists, however unpleasant the word might sound. However, over the last two decades, the meaning of "terrorism" has become restricted in the popular mind to certain types of violent acts, notably ones in which members of the public are targeted as symbolic stand-ins for an inaccessible government. There is a world of difference between terrorists who leave bombs in public places, or detonate suicide vests in buses, and revolutionaries who assassinate carefully chosen colonial officials.

Contemporary terrorism's association with random, often anonymous, violence has fundamentally altered the meaning of the word in public discourse. Another association that colours most people's understanding of the term is the perceived link between terrorism and religion. Certainly many contemporary terrorists, whether operating in Gaza, Baghdad, Mumbai, or London, claim to be inspired by religious beliefs. But this link is not inevitable. Viewed historically, terrorist methods were first used by the Jacobins during the French Revolution in an attempt to maintain state power against perceived reactionaries. Religion never entered into the picture, except perhaps to label Catholic institutions and individuals as ‘reactionary’.

The second great era of terrorism was during the 19th and 20th centuries, when revolutionary groups used small-scale violence against the state. Some of these groups had a religious identity, such as the Irish National Army and some organisations in India, but the fundamental aim of revolutionary terrorists was the weakening of an oppressive state as a step towards its replacement by a more popular one. Revolutionary terrorism is still with us, but the characteristic form of terrorism in the 21st century is what I call 'apocalyptic terrorism', as exemplified by groups such as AUM Shinrikyo of Japan, and the transnational group, al-Qaeda. Both of these made (and make) use of religious discourse, but it could be argued that their inspiration and aims were (and are) not religious but rather apocalyptic: the overthrowing of a whole way of life in all its forms. Apocalyptic terrorist groups are unlikely to achieve their declared aims. How do you attack or destroy a way of life? Well-trained terrorists can hit symbolic targets such as the Tokyo subway system or the World Trade Center, but the world goes on as it always has. Viewed pragmatically, apocalyptic terrorism is more a form of theatre than a means of bringing about constructive change.

Revolutionary terrorists too were aware of the theatrical side of violence – Barin Ghose wrote that part of his aim in sponsoring terrorist attempts was capture headlines that would inspire young men to emulate him – but most revolutionaries had achievable and justifiable aims, and their acts contributed to some extent in their realisation. Can the same be said about the terrorism – much of it ostensibly religious – which continues to plague modern India? Most attempts over the past few years have succeeded in little else but sowing terror in the populace. The perpetrators have rarely identified themselves or their enemies, and achieved nothing beyond the immediate loss of life and property. This is duly reported in the Press, giving rise to frantic public debate; but neither the demographic makeup nor administrative direction of the country is changed in the least. Much of this recent terrorism seems to be nothing more than the simple acting out of revenge, one aggrieved community attacking another, leading to further retaliatory attacks, and so forth ad infinitum. In a democracy that offers all its citizens a chance (however slight in some cases) to air their grievances and bring about change, this terrorism of revenge looks like the pointless working out of a mechanical impulse.

On November 10, 1908, Kanailal Dutt, one of the accused in the Alipore Bomb Case, was hanged in Calcutta. Ten weeks earlier, he and his accomplice Satyendranath Bose had assassinated the government informer Narendranath Gowsami. Asked in court why he had pulled the trigger, Kanailal responded simply: "It was because he proved a traitor to his country." The funeral procession that followed his body to the Ganges was probably the largest ever seen in Kolkata. After his cremation, hundreds of people surged forward to take ash and pieces of bone as holy relics.

The Indian press hailed Kanailal as a martyr, most British papers condemned him as a coward; but an editor The Pioneer, a paper representing the interests of Empire, took issue with this: "Such a crime may be properly described as desperate action, but it is fatuous to call it a cowardly one. If the people of Bengal chose to enthrone Kanailal and Satyendranath "in popular remembrance" as the Greeks had done with the tyrannicide pair Harmodius and Aristogeiton, "it is not easy to see how anyone could justly object to the selection". It is hard to see how such an encomium could be published for those in modern India who leave tiffin-carriers packed with RDX in suburban commuter trains or holy places. -- The writer is an American historian on modern India. The Search Results are given below using word ALIPORE BOMB CASE 'God cannot be jailed' 22 November, 2008 The bomb that shook an Empire 22 November, 2008 100 years of righteous terror 22 November, 2008 Politics of reaching out 11 October, 2008 Alipore bomb case to be exhibited at SC museum 12 May, 2006

Monday, December 29, 2008

Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems

Samuel Huntington, seer of 21st-century cultural conflicts The Australian, Australia - FOR millions of ordinary readers, as for conservative politicians and pundits, Samuel Huntington was the man who predicted the grand narrative of the 21st century...

Staying strong in the face of outside threats was a classic Huntingtonian theme, but in his last book, Who Are We? (2004), he cautioned against the enemy within. The US's national identity, he argued, was in danger of being eroded in the face of sub-national, dual-national and transnational loyalties. Writing for a popular audience "as a patriot and a scholar", Huntington argued that some Americans, most notably liberal elites and Hispanics, were undermining America's fundamentally Anglo-Protestant culture.

Built on Christianity, the English language and British legacies of justice and government, and mixed with the "American Creed" and its principles of liberty, equality and individualism, this was a culture that every immigrant group had assimilated - until recently. But globalisation meant a growing chasm between "the cosmopolitan and transnational commitments" of elites, and the "still highly nationalist and patriotic values of the American public".

The most controversial chapter, on Mexican-Americans, warns that the fast-growing Hispanic population's reluctance to assimilate could lead to "a bifurcated America", with two languages, Spanish and English. These new immigrants would achieve the American Dream "only if they dream it in English", he argued.

Such bluntness led admirers to laud his bravery and critics to charge that he was pandering to nativist sympathies. Huntington was a self-declared conservative, but an old-fashioned one, critical of the neocons in the Bush administration. Though US and British pundits used his ideas to promote the invasion of Iraq, Huntington was a steadfast critic of it, dismissing George W.Bush's plans to install a Western-style democracy as a "joke".

"Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems," he had written in The Clash of Civilizations. "It is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous." Huntington is survived by his wife, Nancy, and two sons. The Times

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Massimo says economics is founded on "complex mathematical models", when it is not

Massimo Pigliucci says so many false beliefs that it's far easier to tell all to ignore him than to attack each one of his falsehoods. Massismo confuses Academia with "science". Massimo says economics is founded on "complex mathematical models", when it is not. Massimo says economists get Nobel prizes yet neglects to tell you that the Sweden Central Bank pays for the Nobel prize in Economics, a central bank built on paper currency with a history of grave errors in central banking. Massimo seems to lack knowledge about the doctrine of rationalism and confuses being wrong with "irrational". Massimo seems to be unaware that economics is the science (recorded knowing) of exchange -- the trading of one right of claim for a thing for another.

Massimo seems to hold a false belief that because a former physics guy, Alfred Marshall, switched to the field of economics in the late 1800s and who wrote a wrong textbook for the field, which lasted for decades, that economics and economists base the field on physics. Massimo, by his words, shows he knows nothing about money, legal tender money, central banking, inflation and the crash results of any central bank driven credit expansion. Smack MacDougal (not verified) 12/24/08 15:23 PM

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sri Aurobindo was well versed in both the Vedic and the Western philosophical and scientific traditions

Eric Weiss Category Link 1 / Category Link / Category Link / Category Link
Chapter Two–Doctrine Of The Subtle Worlds and the Cosmology of Sri Aurobindo

A decisive move towards the rehabilitation of the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds in Western civilization was taken at the end of the Nineteenth Century by Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical movement. While the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds had fallen on hard times in the West, it had remained a significant part of the Vedic understanding of reality. The Theosophists were exposed to Vedic cosmology with its Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds by teachers in the East, and made a heroic effort to translate that Vedic cosmology into the terms of a scientific metaphysics23. The original Theosophical writings were supplemented in the early part of the Twentieth Century, notably in the works of Alice Bailey and Rudolph Steiner. The ideas they introduced have been influential, though they have yet to reach mainstream academic discourse.

Sri Aurobindo, the great Twentieth Century philosopher-mystic, took the work of the Theosophists to an entirely new level. Sri Aurobindo brought to his cosmological work three major assets: he was an accomplished yogi who seems to have had personal experience of the subtle worlds; he was well versed in both the Vedic and the Western philosophical and scientific traditions; and he wrote in English. The works of Sri Aurobindo are the only primary Vedic sources that have ever been written in English, and thus have not suffered the diminishment of translation.
Sri Aurobindo’s opus is a masterful synthesis which weaves together Vedic cosmology and Western evolutionary cosmology. In creating a framework for this synthesis, he developed a new version of Vedic metaphysics – a system which he called “Purna Vedanta,” or Integral Nondualism – which provides a context within which he can reconcile these apparently differing cosmological views. Sri Aurobindo has given us the most philosophically coherent presentation of the main outlines of Vedic cosmology that we have in the English language.
Our concern in this essay is the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds. Therefore, in the following pages, I shall present just so much of Sri Aurobindo’s ideas as are necessary to illuminate his version of that Doctrine.

The Metaphysical Background of the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds in Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo, in common with philosophers of many other mystical traditions, holds that the ultimate reality transcends comprehension by Mind. He holds, however, that the highest conception that we can form of that reality is the notion of a unity within which three aspects can be discriminated. Those three aspects are Existence, Consciousness/Force, and Bliss. This particular characterization of the ground of being is a traditional Vedic one. Existence, in Sanskrit, is Sat. Consciousness is Chit. Bliss is Ananda. Thus the ultimate ground is termed Sat-Chit-Ananda, or Sachchidananda. Force, or Shakti is held to be inherent in Chit.
Let us pause to wrap our imaginations around what it is that Aurobindo is here suggesting. Sachchidananda is the ground of all manifested existence. It is infinite Existence, infinite Being. Whatever substance or form comes to arise in any possible universe has it source here. Materialists also, at least implicitly, imagine an ultimate ground of Being, but the ground that they imagine is a dark, unconscious, and automatic play of blind potentialities. Sachchidananda is, by contrast, entirely transparent to its own knowing self-regard. It is not just Existence, but it is Existence that is conscious of itself – utterly self-illuminated. And the Consciousness which the Existence has of itself is inseparable from a Force, or Will that supports and upholds the being of the Existence. Finally, the Consciousness that the Being has of itself is inseparable from a profound self-enjoyment. Thus, for Sri Aurobindo, the ground of all manifestation is an absolute Existence that is absolute knowledge of itself, that is the absolute intention to be itself, that is absolute enjoyment of itself. It is conscious, intentional self-enjoyment of self-existence.
This notion of the absolute has immense philosophical and theological consequences, which Sri Aurobindo works out in some detail in his master philosophical treatise, The Life Divine.24 The question that concerns us here is this: how does this infinite, absolute Sachchidananda bring out of itself the kind of determinate universe in which we find ourselves?
The answer that Sri Aurobindo gives us is that Sachchidananda has the ability to manifest determinate universes through the operation of its Consciousness/Force, or Chit/Shakti. In particular, the Consciousness operates in various ‘poises.’ In one poise, the Consciousness knows and wills the Existence in its undifferentiated absoluteness. This is the poise of Consciousness in pure Sachchidananda, outside of manifestation. In the other poise, Consciousness picks out, discerns, or apprehends particular aspects of that Existence, particular truths of the One Truth. This is the ‘poise’ of Sachchidananda in manifestation. Now Sachchidananda, being ‘one without a second’, is entirely without any possibility of opposition. Those aspects of itself, or those truths of itself, which are discerned by Consciousness are, in the same movement, willed by its Force, and so they are manifested as determinate realities.
For finite beings such as ourselves, beings who live in a medium which appears to us as not-self, knowledge, will and manifestation are three different operations. But for a Being which is the absolute ground of all manifestation, these three operations are inseparable. What the Consciousness knows, the Will intends. What the will intends is invariably manifested. For Sri Aurobindo, then, manifested being arises when Consciousness discerns, and Force or Will intends, certain determinate aspects of the one truth of Existence.

This has, to Western ears, a rather mystical ring to it. But, as we shall see when we come to consider Alfred North Whitehead’s more thoroughly Western approach to the problem of manifestation, he comes to a rather similar position. In Whitehead’s mature metaphysical position, the two factors that logically precede the manifested universe are the Eternal Objects and Creativity. The Eternal Objects correspond rather well to that factor which Sri Aurobindo calls Existence. The Eternal Objects are like Existence in the unmanifested state of Sachchidananda — all possible forms of being are here latent, unmanifest in the One.25 Creativity is that ultimate principle by means of which those ultimate finite existents that Whitehead calls “actual occasions” come into being.26 Now actual occasions have two poles – a mental pole and a physical pole. These two poles correspond rather well to what Sri Aurobindo intends by Consciousness and Force. It is the mental pole of an actual occasions that discerns determinate truths of the one truth of being (as Whitehead would say, they “prehend” Eternal Objects), and it is the physical pole which enacts those determinate truths in the manifested universe. Thus what Sri Aurobindo describes as the process of manifestation has a rather strong resemblance to the process which Alfred North Whitehead calls ingression.
In any case, we have so far identified two major poises of Consciousness/Force – the poise which supports absolute Sachchidananda, outside of manifestation, and the poise which supports manifestation. This latter poise can be broken down into a number of other poises, and it is the analysis of these various poises of Consciousness/Force that supports Sri Aurobindo’s conception of the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds.