Knowledge in Philosophy of science

The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work

One of the hardest things in life is to know when to keep going and when to move on.On the one hand, perseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field. Anyone who masters their craft will face moments of doubt and somehow find the inner resolve to keep going. If you want to build a successful business or create a great marriage or learn a new skill then “sticking with it” is perhaps the most critical trait to possess.On the other hand, telling someone to never give up is terrible advice. Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit. As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Life requires both strategies. Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts. Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new. The key question is: how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?One way to answer this question is to use a framework I call the 3 Stages of Failure.The 3 Stages of FailureThis framework helps clarify things by breaking down challenges into three stages of failure:Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes. They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details. A Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes. They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want. You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes. They occur when you don't set a clear direction for yourself, follow a vision that doesn't fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do.In the rest of this article, I’ll share a story, solution, and summary for each stage of failure. My hope is that the 3 Stages of Failure framework will help you navigate the tricky decision of deciding when to quit and when to stick with it. It's not perfect, but I hope you find it to be useful.

Space,Time and Einstein

An enlightening introduction to the philosophy of time and space. This book offers an introduction to one of the liveliest and most popular fields in philosophy - time and space - aimed specifically at a beginning readership with no background in philosophy or science.

Origin of Life

LIFE : Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate. Biology is the science concerned with the study of life. Any contiguous living system is called an organism. These animate entities undergo metabolism, maintain homeostasis, possess a capacity to grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce and, through natural selection, adapt to their environment in successive generations. More complex living organisms can communicate through various means. A diverse array of living organisms can be found in the biosphere of Earth, and the properties common to these organisms—plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria—are a carbon- and water-based cellular form with complex organization and heritable genetic information. Scientific evidence suggests that life began on Earth some 3.7 billion years ago. The mechanism by which life emerged is still being investigated. Since then, life has evolved into a wide variety of forms, which biologists have classified into a hierarchy of Taxa. Life can survive and thrive in a wide range of conditions. The meaning of life—its significance, purpose, and ultimate fate—is a central concept and question in philosophy and religion. Both philosophy and religion have offered interpretations as to how life relates to existence and consciousness, and both touch on many related issues, including life stance, purpose, conception of a god or gods, a soul or an afterlife. Different cultures throughout history have had widely varying approaches to these issues. Though the existence of life is only confirmed on Earth, many scientists believe extraterrestrial life is not only plausible but probable. Other planets and moons in the Solar System have been examined for evidence of having once supported simple life, and projects such as SETI have attempted to detect transmissions from possible alien civilizations. According to the panspermia hypothesis, life on Earth may have originated from meteorites that spread organic molecules or simple life that first evolved elsewhere.Origin:Evidence suggests that life on Earth has existed for about 3.7 billion years,  with the oldest traces of life found in fossils dating back 3.4 billion years.  All known life forms share fundamental molecular mechanisms, and based on these observations, theories on the origin of life attempt to find a mechanism explaining the formation of a primordial single cell organism from which all life originates. There are many different hypotheses regarding the path that might have been taken from simple organic molecules via pre-cellular life to protocells and metabolism. Many models fall into the "genes-first" category or the "metabolism-first" category, but a recent trend is the emergence of hybrid models that combine both categories.  There is no scientific consensus as to how life originated and all proposed theories are highly speculative. However, most accepted scientific models build in one way or another on the following hypotheses:The Miller-Urey experiment, and the work of Sidney Fox, suggest that conditions on the primitive Earth may have favored chemical reactions that synthesized amino acids and other organic compounds from inorganic precursors.Phospholipids spontaneously form lipid bilayers, the basic structure of a cell membrane.Life synthesizes proteins, which are polymers of amino acids using instructions encoded by cellular genes; the polymers of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Protein synthesis entails intermediary ribonucleic acid (RNA) polymers. One possibility for how life began is that genes originated first, followed by proteins; the alternative being that proteins came first and then genes. However, because genes are required to make proteins, and proteins are needed to make genes, the problem of considering which came first is like that of the chicken or the egg. Most scientists have adopted the hypothesis that because DNA and proteins function together so intimately, it's unlikely that they arose independently. Therefore, a possibility, apparently first suggested by Francis Crick,  is that the first life was based on the DNA-protein intermediary: RNA. RNA has the DNA-like properties of information storage, replication and the catalytic properties of some proteins. Crick and others actually favored the RNA-first hypothesis even before the catalytic properties of RNA had been demonstrated by Thomas Cech.  A significant issue with the RNA-first hypothesis is that experiments designed to synthesize RNA from simple precursors have not been nearly as successful as the Miller-Urey experiments that synthesized other organic molecules from inorganic precursors. One reason for the failure to create RNA in the laboratory is that RNA precursors are very stable and do not react with each other under ambient conditions. However, the successful synthesis of certain RNA molecules under conditions hypothesized to exist prior to life on Earth has been achieved by adding alternative precursors in a specified order with the precursor phosphate present throughout the reaction.[60] This study makes the RNA-first hypothesis more plausible.  Recent experiments have demonstrated true Darwinian evolution of unique RNA enzymes (ribozymes) made up of two separate catalytic components that replicate each other in vitro.[62] In describing this work from his laboratory, Gerald Joyce stated: "This is the first example, outside of biology, of evolutionary adaptation in a molecular genetic system."[63] Such experiments make the possibility of a primordial RNA world even more attractive to many scientists.Miller/Urey Experiment By the 1950s, scientists were in hot pursuit of the origin of life. Around the world, the scientific community was examining what kind of environment would be needed to allow life to begin. In 1953, Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey, working at the University of Chicago, conducted an experiment which would change the approach of scientific investigation into the origin of life. Miller took molecules which were believed to represent the major components of the early Earth's atmosphere and put them into a closed system The gases they used were methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O). Next, he ran a continuous electric current through the system, to simulate lightning storms believed to be common on the early earth. Analysis of the experiment was done by chromotography. At the end of one week, Miller observed that as much as 10-15% of the carbon was now in the form of organic compounds. Two percent of the carbon had formed some of the amino acids which are used to make proteins. Perhaps most importantly, Miller's experiment showed that organic compounds such as amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made easily under the conditions that scientists believed to be present on the early earth. This enormous finding inspired a multitude of further experiments. In 1961, Juan Oro found that amino acids could be made from hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and ammonia in an aqueous solution. He also found that his experiment produced an amazing amount of the nucleotide base, adenine. Adenine is of tremendous biological significance as an organic compound because it is one of the four bases in RNA and DNA. It is also a component of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is a major energy releasing molecule in cells. Experiments conducted later showed that the other RNA and DNA bases could be obtained through simulated prebiotic chemistry with a reducing atmosphere. These discoveries created a stir within the science community. Scientists became very optimistic that the questions about the origin of life would be solved within a few decades. This has not been the case, however. Instead, the investigation into life's origins seems only to have just begun. There has been a recent wave of skepticism concerning Miller's experiment because it is now believed that the early earth's atmosphere did not contain predominantly reductant molecules. Another objection is that this experiment required a tremendous amount of energy. While it is believed lightning storms were extremely common on the primitive Earth, they were not continuous as the Miller/Urey experiment portrayed. Thus it has been argued that while amino acids and other organic compounds may have been formed, they would not have been formed in the amounts which this experiment produced. Many of the compounds made in the Miller/Urey experiment are known to exist in outer spaceTheories of origin of life1. Scientific Evolution: This theory relies strongly on the Big Bang theory of the Creation of the Universe, which was the beginning of the formation of matter. This eventually led to the creation of planets, Pangaea and life on earth as it evolved over millions of years in a natural environment of chemicals and enabling elements. Evolution of life can mean many things. Some use the word to refer to any change at all. Obviously the creation/evolution debate is not about that kind of a definition. Creationists agree that many changes take place, but disagree with the theory of evolution when it is used to mean that a gradual progression from molecules to man produced all living things by natural means, that is, without the involvement of an intelligent Creator. 2. Special Creation: According to this theory, all the different forms of life that occur today on planet earth have been created by God, the almighty. This idea is found in the ancient scriptures of almost every religion. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma, the God of Creation, created the living world in accordance to his wish. According to the Christian belief, God created this universe, plants, animals and human beings in about six natural days. The Sikh mythology says that all forms of life including human beings came into being with a single word of God. Special creation theory believes that the things have not undergone any significant change since their creation. Creationists generally believe the Bible's explanation that God created a number of basic groups of animals and plants as described in the first part of Genesis. They believe that while God created each group with the possibility of a good deal of variation, they brought forth according to their own kind. By definition, the faith-based Theory of Special Creation is purely a religious concept, acceptable only on the basis of faith. It has no scientific basis. 3. Biogenesis: The belief that living things come only from other living things (e.g. a spider lays eggs, which develop into spiders). It may also refer to biochemical processes of production in living organisms. The Law of Biogenesis, attributed to Louis Pasteur, states that life arises from pre-existing life, not from nonliving material. Pasteur's (and others') empirical results were summarized in the phrase Omne vivum ex vivo, Latin for "all life [is] from life", also known as the "law of biogenesis". Pasteur stated: "La génération spontanée est une chimère" ("Spontaneous generation is a dream"). 4. Abiogenesis: In the natural sciences, abiogenesis - also known as spontaneous generation - is the study of how life on Earth could have arisen from inanimate matter. This is also referred to as the "primordial soup" theory of evolution (life began in water as a result of the combination of chemicals from the atmosphere and some form of energy to make amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which would then evolve into all the species). It should not be confused with evolution, which is the study of how groups of already living things change over time. Most amino acids, often called "the building blocks of life", can form via natural chemical reactions unrelated to life, as demonstrated in the Miller-Urey experiment and similar experiments, which involved simulating the conditions of the early Earth. In all living things, these amino acids are organized into proteins, and the construction of these proteins is mediated by nucleic acids. This of these organic molecules first arose and how they formed the first life is the focus of abiogenesis. Egyptians believed that mud of the Nile River could spontaneously give rise to many forms of life. The idea of spontaneous generation was popular almost till seventeenth century. Many scientists like Descartes, Galileo and Helmont supported this idea. 5. Theory of Chemical Evolution : This theory is also known as Materialistic Theory or Physico-chemical Theory. According this theory, the origin of life on earth is the result of a slow and gradual process of chemical evolution that probably occurred about 3.8 billion years ago. This theory was proposed independently by two scientists - A.I.Oparin, a Russian scientist in 1923 and J.B.S Haldane, an English scientist, in 1928. 6. Theory of Catastrophism: This theory on the origin of life is simply a modification of the theory of Special Creation. It states that there have been several creations of life by God, each preceded by a catastrophe resulting from some kind of geological disturbance. According to this theory, since each catastrophe completely destroyed the existing life, each new creation consisted of life form different from that of previous ones. French scientists Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) and Orbigney (1802 to 1837) were the main supporters of this theory. 7. Inorganic Incubation: Proposed by Professor William Martin, of Düsseldorf University, and Professor Michael Russell, of the Scottish Environmental Research Centre in Glasgow, this theory states that Instead of the building blocks of life forming first, and then forming a cell-like structure, the researchers say the cell came first and was later filled with living molecules. They say that the first cells were not living cells but inorganic ones made of iron sulfide and were formed not at the Earth's surface but in total darkness at the bottom of the oceans. The theory postulates that life is a chemical consequence of convection currents through the Earth's crust and, in principle, could happen on any wet, rocky planet. 8. Endosymbiotic Theory: This theory, espoused by Lynn Margulis, suggests that multiple forms of bacteria entered into symbiotic relationship to form the eukaryotic cell. The horizontal transfer of genetic material between bacteria promotes such symbiotic relationships, and thus many separate organisms may have contributed to building what has been recognized as the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of modern organisms. James Lovelock's Gaia theory, proposes that such bacterial symbiosis establishes the environment as a system produced by and supportive of life. His arguments strongly weaken the case for life having evolved elsewhere in the solar system. 9. Panspermia - Cells From Outer Space: Some scientists believe that the simplest life-forms, whole cells (especially microbial cells), have been transported to the Earth from extraterrestrial sources. In this way, a process called panspermia (means seeds everywhere) might have initiated life on Earth. Most mainstream scientists have not supported panspermia, but early challenges have been thwarted in recent years due to discoveries such as terrestrial microbes that survive in extreme environments and incredibly aged yet viable microorganisms found in ancient rocks. In addition, water (essential for life) has been discovered on other planets and moons, and organic chemicals have been found on meteorites and in interstellar debris. 10. Cosmogony: Cosmogony is any theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. In the specialized context of space science and astronomy, the term refers to theories of creation of the Solar System. For example, Greek mythology and some religions of the Ancient Near East refer to chaos, the formless or void state of primordial matter preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in creation myths. Cosmogony can be distinguished from cosmology, which studies the universe at large and throughout its existence, yet does not inquire directly into the source of life or its origins. Biological classificationThe hierarchy of biological classification's eight major taxonomic ranks, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia. Life is divided into domains, which are subdivided into further groups. Intermediate minor rankings are not shown. Traditionally, people have divided organisms into the classes of plants and animals, based mainly on their ability of movement. The first known attempt to classify organisms was conducted by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC). He classified all living organisms known at that time as either a plant or an animal. Aristotle distinguished animals with blood from animals without blood (or at least without red blood), which can be compared with the concepts of vertebrates and invertebrates respectively. He divided the blooded animals into five groups: viviparous quadrupeds (mammals), birds, oviparous quadrupeds (reptiles and amphibians), fishes and whales. The bloodless animals were divided into five groups: cephalopods, crustaceans, insects (which included the spiders, scorpions, centipedes, and what we define as insects in the present day), shelled animals (such as most molluscs and echinoderms) and "zoophytes." Though Aristotle's work in zoology was not without errors, it was the grandest biological synthesis of the time and remained the ultimate authority for many centuries after his death.  The exploration of the American continent revealed large numbers of new plants and animals that needed descriptions and classification. In the latter part of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th, careful study of animals commenced and was gradually extended until it formed a sufficient body of knowledge to serve as an anatomical basis for classification. In the late 1740s, Carolus Linnaeus introduced his method, still used, to formulate the scientific name of every species. Linnaeus took every effort to improve the composition and reduce the length of the many-worded names by abolishing unnecessary rhetoric, introducing new descriptive terms and defining their meaning with an unprecedented precision. By consistently using his system, Linnaeus separated nomenclature from taxonomy. This convention for naming species is referred to as binomial nomenclature. The fungi were originally treated as plants. For a short period Linnaeus had placed them in the taxon Vermes in Animalia. He later placed them back in Plantae. Copeland classified the Fungi in his Protoctista, thus partially avoiding the problem but acknowledged their special status.  The problem was eventually solved by Whittaker, when he gave them their own kingdom in his five-kingdom system. As it turned out, the fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants.  As new discoveries enabled us to study cells and microorganisms, new groups of life were revealed, and the fields of cell biology and microbiology were created. These new organisms were originally described separately in protozoa as animals and protophyta/thallophyta as plants, but were united by Haeckel in his kingdom protista, later the group of prokaryotes were split off in the kingdom Monera, eventually this kingdom would be divided in two separate groups, the Bacteria and the Archaea, leading to the six-kingdom system and eventually to the current three-domain system.  The classification of eukaryotes is still controversial, with protist taxonomy especially problematic.  As microbiology, molecular biology and virology developed, non-cellular reproducing agents were discovered, such as viruses and viroids. Sometimes these entities are considered to be alive but others argue that viruses are not living organisms since they lack characteristics such as cell membrane, metabolism and do not grow or respond to their environments. Viruses can however be classed into "species" based on their biology and genetics but many aspects of such a classification remain controversial.  Since the 1960s a trend called cladistics has emerged, arranging taxa in an evolutionary or phylogenetic tree. It is unclear, should this be implemented, how the different codes will coexist. Linnaeus 1735 Haeckel 1866 Chatton 1925 Copeland 1938 Whittaker 1969 Woese et al. 1977 Woese et al. 1990 Cavalier-Smith 2004 2 kingdoms 3 kingdoms 2 empires 4 kingdoms 5 kingdoms 6 kingdoms 3 domains 6 kingdoms (not treated) Protista Prokaryota Monera Monera Eubacteria Bacteria Bacteria Archaebacteria Archaea Eukaryota Protoctista Protista Protista Eukarya Protozoa Chromista Vegetabilia Plantae Plantae Plantae Plantae Plantae Fungi Fungi Fungi Animalia Animalia Animalia Animalia Animalia Animalia

Creation Myths

Creation myths are by very nature, cosmogonical. That is to say, they deal directly withany given culture’s understanding of how the universe came to be. These myths influence the collective worldview of that culture, and shape the manner in which it relates to the natural world, and the universe at large. In this paper, I look at selected Hindu creation myths and attempt to ascribe their significance within the religio-cultural history of South Asia. Unlike many other religious cultures, cosmogonical myths in the Hindu tradition are not universal, but take shape in different textures of narrative, “each myth celebrating the belief that the universe is boundlessly various, that everything occurs simultaneously, that all possibilities may exist without excluding each other.”(Doniger, Wendy. 1975) Yet, if there is a basic pattern to these narratives, beginning with the Ŗg Veda, it is the carving out of distinguishable elements from the indistinct state of primeval cosmic flux; the idea of forming order out of chaos. Another pattern that persists through much of Hindu cosmogony is the idea of primeval incest. The Ŗg Veda speaks of an unnamed father who sheds his seed in his daughter, the spillage of which creates the world. There is very little detail offered in terms of names and context.In the Brāhmaņas, a collection of commentaries on the Vedas, this myth is expanded upon. In the AitareyaBrāhmaņa, among the older of these, the father is identified as Prajāpati, the lord of creatures. In this narrative, a certain sense of moral normativity acquires shape in the form of a fuller exploration of the consequences of incest. Here, Prajāpati takes the form of a stag and approaches his daughter-some say she was the sky, some say she was the dawn- who has taken the form of a doe. The gods, who are enraged by this, assemble a fearful deity called Rudra. Rudraasks for, as a boon, the overlordship of cattle. He then goes on to pierce Prajāpati, spilling his seed, and forming a lake. The lake is surrounded by several deities, who transform it into black and tawny cattle, the buffalo, the ox, the antelope, the ass, and the camel. From a contextual reading of this narrative, it appears that the influence of cosmogonic myths on inhabited reality goes the other way round too, and there exists a complex interplay between the two. The period in which these texts were written was a period during which humans organized themselves in largely pastoral societies. Before money could emerge as a separate institution, cattle were the most important units of wealth. (Davies, Glyn. 2002) The inclusion of cattle and other domesticated animal forms in the creation myths of that period appears to validate their sanctity and value. It is not very unusual therefore, that Rudra asks for the overlordship of cattle, when he could have asked for anything in the universe. Therefore, by seeking to understand the evolution of these myths in the context of the provenance of the divergent narratives in which they take shape, we may also understand how they shape, and are shaped by, society. ReferencesDoniger, Wendy. 1975. Hindu Myths. London: PenguinDavies, Glyn. 2002. A History Of Money. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, p.42

On which of the two paths described in text are you currently travelling? Can you think of any reasons for switching paths?

I am a teenager just stepping out into the world. The Upanishads, in the words of Death, say, “There is the path of joy, and there is the path of pleasure. Both attract the soul” (Page 7. Dialogue with Death). The almost limitless lure of ‘moh – maya’ in the form of material possessions tempt me and lead me to the path of pleasure. I do want to experience all that life has to offer because it is one way to know the world. By doing so, I will also be better educated and experienced to be able to distinguish between right and wrong. I am also aware that finally I should keep in control my giving into worldly attractions as I know these are fleeting and frivolous.            The Upanishads tell us, “There is the path of wisdom and the path of ignorance. They are far apart and lead to different ends” (Page 7. Dialogue with Death).  I think I am wise enough to know that in the end, it is not the worldly material pleasures which will sustain me through the tribulations of life. Rather, it is the joy of give and take, helping others, building meaningful relationships and passing on my education and experiences to others which will give me inner peace and satisfaction, and that is the real joy of life.


The ‘Republic’ is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BCE (19 years after Socrates was executed). It is a philosophical treatise on ethics, morality and political theory amongst other timeless questions which have significance and influence in every age and society. In Books I and II, Socrates discusses the meaning of justice during a lively and heated argument with Thrasymachus, Glaucon, Adeimantus and others. One of the points raised is whether to live an unjust life is better than to live a just one. Prima facie, the answer to this seems obvious. However, I am going to place this in the context of today’s world and argue in favour of living an unjust life. Theoretically living a just life is better, ethically and morally. However, that may be true only in an ideal society as envisaged by Socrates, the great thinker. We live in modern times, and one has to adapt and modify ancient philosophical teachings accordingly. In order to be successful, one cannot afford to be bound by rigid walls of what is just and unjust. It will be my attempt to show that in the context of the modern world it is better to lead an unjust life than a just one. I will examine the material and moral implications of this point of view and also address the objections some of my readers may raise against my argument. Early in Book I, we have Thrasymachus make two statements –“I say that justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger.” (Book I Page 14, 338c), and that it is “……the advantage of the established rule”. (Book I page 15, 339a). History is witness that this is true. Through the ages, kings and emperors have acquired land, wealth and power through unjust means. But once attained, albeit unjustly, these riches and power have been used for making lives of the multitudes better. In India, for example, Akbar the Great waged wars and subjugated neighbouring kingdoms. The immense wealth and power he acquired was used not only to maintain an opulent Court, but also to build enduring architectural marvelslike Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. He also extended patronage to art and culture and to the “Nine Jewels” of his Court. Various reforms in judiciary and revenue collection for ‘just’ administration and the welfare of his subjects were put into place. Another example is of the British who got a foothold in India through the unjust trading practices of the East India Company. The British may have used unjust means to colonise India, but they then used their superior knowledge and resources to bring about improvements in transportation, communication and education systems. Besides construction of impressive buildings like India Gate, Parliament House and RashtrapatiBhawan, to name a few, reformatory laws for women for abolishingSati and child marriage were also passed during this time. The cut-throat competitive world of business is the best illustration of Glaucon’s statement that the Unjust who appears Just “gets the better of his antagonists, and gains at their expense, and is rich, and out of his gains he can benefit his friends….”. (Book II 50-51,362)Multi-million dollar corporate houses routinely decimate their smaller competitors in unjust hostile takeovers. Their increased revenues not only earn their Board of Directors handsome profits but the smallest share-holder too receives increased returns. Their thousands or lakhs of employees also benefit from infrastructures like housing colonies, schools and hospitals built specially for their use. Many corporates funds charities, adopt villages and perform other CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities. So, their use of harsh/unjust means to build their profits leads to a better life for so many people. Socrates may say “injustice is never more profitable than justice.” (Book I Page 31 354a)But in the recent past, in India itself, we have live examples of men who, when they perceived themselves to be in a situation whereby they can profit and lead a good life, have chosen unjust measures to ensure that profit. Such men do not even care for the ‘appearance of being just’. Take examples of Vijay Malaya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi and many others – they are all unjust men, having fled the country after duping the banks and taking the hard-earned savings of thousands of Indians. Before fleeing they all accumulated wealth and transferred it to foreign bank accounts. Did they feel any remorse for looting the hardworking people of their country? No. Are they happy and enjoying their wealth secured by unjust means? Yes. For philosophical argument’s sake,Socrates’ discourses about justice and just life being more virtuous and good are fine and correct, but in today’s life a just man will only talk virtuously, remain a pauper, discontent and subjugated, whilst an unjust man, even though knowingly leading an unjust life, will be enjoying a full and content life. In today’s world, it is seen that an unjust man leading an unjust life becomes adept at concealing his injustice under the guise of justice – and the rewards are great – he can enjoy the fruits of his unjust life as well as enjoy the reputation of being a just man. Thus, a man leading an unjust life profits both from the injustice and the “appearance” of justice. Even though this person knows that he is unjust, he is happily unjust because he is enjoying this life to the fullest. There is no doubt in my mind that the example of “Ring of Gyges”, given by Glaucon to Socrates to establish his point, is very true in our lives – an unjust man will behave unjustly, whilst a just man, having been given the opportunity to become invisible and do whatever he wants, will behave unjustly. Even though Socrates argues that justice is a virtue, whatever the circumstances, Glaucon, very correctly, brings out, quoting the example of the shepherd in the story, that it is more rewarding for the unjust man, reaping the benefits of injustice, to “appear” to be just, thereby incurring the honours and reputations consequent upon the “appearance” of justice.This is what Glaucon means when he says of the perfectly unjust man, “…...he must be one who can speak with effect; if any of his deeds come to light, and who can force his way where force is required by his courage and strength, and command of money and friends.” (Book II Page 49 361). Most of our country’s politicians too seem to follow Adeimantus when he says, “No one has ever blamed injustice or praised justice except for the view to the glories, honours, and benefits which flows from them.” (Book II page 56 366). With unjust and corrupt means, they ferret government money into their personal pockets and spend a little of that on charity or on vote-giving public to show that they are very ‘just’ and they and their followers continue to enjoy the good life of their high office.           All the above instances amply demonstrate my support of the argument that it is better to live an unjust life than a just one as it leads one to gain materially and enjoy both worldly comforts and an elevated social standing. One can then help not only one’s friends and family but also contribute towards alleviating the problems of those less fortunate. One has to be honest and face the unpalatable truth as stated by Thrasymachus, “a just man always gets less than an unjust one.” (Book I page 19 343d). Here I would like to bring out the fate of some of the “just people” of our country in recent times – the seekers of truth, RTI activists, renowned writers and rationalists like Gauri Lankesh, MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar – to name a few. All were killed. Did they or their loved ones gain anything from their living a Just life? Some of my readers may be upset by my apparently cynical and materialistic views.  “It is morally and ethically wrong to be unjust”. “Our religion forbids us from being unjust,” they may say. They may quote Socrates too, when he says “…...justice is a soul’s virtue, and injustice it’s vice.” (Book I page 31 353e). However, I feel one has to keep things in perspective. I am a part of Gen Y, eager to conquer the world on the basis of my own capabilities and enthusiasm. I believe this is one short life we have to live and we must make the most of what we have been given. So, my way of thinking may perhaps be a bit scandalous but it is honest. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that in today’s world one cannot afford to forgo life’s opportunities. There is no point living a just life and being miserable. It is better to live an unjust life if it is the means to reach, nay, surpass one’s potential to do well for oneself and others. This, I feel, is the realistic and practical way to move forward.

Does the change of substance affect the Personal Identity? Locke says Yes, do you agree? Why or why not?

Substances, in a philosophical system, are those things which, according to that system, are the foundational or fundamental entities of reality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Eg., An Atomist considers atoms as the substance for they are the basic things from which everything is constructed, Philosopher David Hume considered Impressions and Ideas as substance, Philosopher Plato considered ‘Forms” as substance.            John Locke considered soul, body and a thinking element (the third term) as Substance. He considered Personal Identity to be founded on consciousness and not on substance of either soul or body, ie., Personal Identity consists not in the identity of the substance, but in the identity of consciousness. To paraphrase an example from Wikipedia, One may claim to be a reincarnation of Plato, therefore having the same soul substance. However, one would be the same person as Plato only if one had the same consciousness of Plato’s thoughts and actions that he himself did. Therefore, Personal Identity is not based on soul substance.            As I understand it, Locke holds that consciousness can be transferred from one soul to another and that Personal Identity goes with consciousness, ie., consciousness can be transferred from one substance to another, and thus, while the substance is changed, consciousness remains the same, thereby preserving the Personal Identity through the change.            From a personal perspective, what I think, feel do, experience, make up my Personal Identity. I am still the person I was, say, 10 years ago. But my body, mind and thought processes may have changed over time. These changes of substance have enhanced my consciousness. My Personal Identity remains the same, but it has been affected by these changes. So I agree with Locke’s point of view.

Answer the question by referring to any one of the theories of mind, body, soul and consciousness you have learnt so far.

Hinduism speaks of the cycle of “birth and rebirth”. It says one’s “Karma” in this life determines one’s future births until the soul,”Atman”, escapes to attain “Moksh”.            Similarly Plato says that the soul of those who indulge in vices like ‘gluttony, wantonness, and drunkenness” (Page 39), “And those who have chosen a life of injustice, tyranny, and violence” (Page 40) will be reborn as animals as diverse as asses, wolves, hawks and kites.            John Locke says, “The same immaterial substance, without the same consciousness, does not make the same person” (Page 14), which I interpret to mean that if a man’s soul has no consciousness of being the same “person” as when he committed a particular action, then he cannot be held accountable for that action.            I, honestly, find these thoughts extremely fanciful. I cannot fathom how one can be punished for what others think one may have done in the previous birth. I feel we have just this one life in which to act and face the consequences of our actions. One cannot mourn and despair over the troubles and miseries of this life and put the blame on the mistakes one may have made in the previous birth. One cannot feel guilty about wrongs one may have committed in a previous life that one cannot even recollect! Why should one be punished by suffering in this life for the so-called past life’s offences?

To what extent is my identity determined by external factors

A lot of external factors can influence the identity of a person. Sometimes a person himself /herself does not realize how their identity have changed. For instance, if a robbery takes place near a person’s house, then all of a sudden the person can turn from being a nice and hospitable human being into a very suspicious person who now doesn’t trust anyone. If we look in the case of Buddha , he was isolated from the outside world during his childhood. After he saw the disadvantaged lives of the people, he renounced his name and fame and started living in the woods until he attained nirvana. My identity could also be influenced by family and peers. If my father, my mother and my brother were all doctors , it would be most likely that I would too want to become a doctor. In the same scenario if all of my friends were part of some gang who were on the wrong side of the law, I could be tempted by my friends into joining their gang as it would be ‘cool’. Our own will power will also determine if we get influenced by external factors. If a new trend starts or if my friends are doing something bad , I should have the power within me to say no.

Is memory important in continuation of self? Refer to any of the theories that you have learned so far.

The movie 'Memento' explores the connection between memory and one's self-identity. The movie gets its name from tattoos and Polaroid photos. When the main protagonist, Leonard Shelby suffers a head injury during an assault, he loses the ability to form new memories and uses these two mementos to remember the present.The deliberate back - and - forth in time scenes, alternatively in color and black-and-white, confuse the audience as much as Leonard is confused as the continuity of his memories is lost. In the above attack, Leonard's wife is presumably killed, and the movie is all about his past identity (before the attack), and his present identity (after the attack) in which his aim is to find his wife's killer and take revenge by killing him despite suffering from brain damage that precludes him from forming new memories.Leonard very aptly describes his condition to a motel attendant, "I have this condition; it is my memory; I have no short-term memory.I know who I am, I know all about myself.It is just, since my injury, I can't make new memories-every thing fades."One can feel Leonard's frustration and helpless rage as he tries to cope with his condition. This makes us ponder deeply on how important continuity of memory is in making us who we are and forming our identity. John Locke (1632-1704), also propounds the same theory that consciousness is key to self and continuity of consciousness plays an important role in the identity of a person. As per Locke, I am the same person as I was 10 years back as I have memories of what I did when I was 8 years old. Similarly, after waking from a night's sleep, I am the same person in the morning because I have a conscious memory of myself before I had gone to sleep the night before. Thus, I am morally responsible for my past actions.On the contrary, Leonard has a short-term memory and has to store every new memory as mementos. He does not remember what he did a few minutes ago. Teddy says to him,"You don't even know who you are. "Leonard's past memory is till the attack in which his wife was killed, and that is why vengeance is so important to him. But if Leonard's existing memories of his life up until the injury are removed, then, who-is-Leonard?Thus, in John Locke's view, the 'present memory' Leonard is not responsible for the killings that he does in the movie, as he would not have been the same person as the actual 'past memory' Leonard. He does not have any conscious memory of the murders he commits. There is no conscious continuity in his mind.Continuity of memory makes up our 'self' or 'who we are.' However, sometimes our consciousness or memories deceive us; or maybe sometimes we deceive ourselves by choosing to forget or manipulate our memories of the past. I do remember many things from when I was 8, and I also do not remember so many incidents of that time that my parents relate to me. Thus I cannot be held responsible for many of those actions, even though I am the same person as that child of 8. In the movie, at the end, Teddy tells Leonard the 'truth' about the attack on him and his wife's'death. But is that what actually happened? Memento is thus a very complex and intriguing film but it does vindicate Locke's theory that one's consciousness is one's identity. If the memory of the act is not there, then that person is not responsible for the act. Without continuity of memory, one's self-identity cannot be maintained.  


The husband in the Havell's ad is of a parochial mindset, accustomed to being pampered and attended to, by wife and mother. The wife, too, seems quite used to this and is happy to stand and serve a meal to her husband, sitting only after she has done so. She takes umbrage only when she is compared unfavourably with her mother-in-law. The husband is taken aback when she becomes assertive. "25 types of chatni, banao"and "chatni......patni". He is flabbergasted with, for him, the unthinkable, that if he wants to eat something, he can prepare it for himself.   The advertisement tries to show us, and succeeds to an extent, that housework is not a woman's job alone. The advertisement's tagline, "Respect Women", though well-intentioned, does not quite hit the mark.     The second advertisement does a far better job of breaking gender stereotypes. A woman is shown seated confidently with her male colleagues in a boardroom. The male speaker addresses both her and the woman over the intercom politely and respectfully. The other two male colleagues are intrigued by "Rajat ki recommendation" of "Kiran" who is automatically assumed to be feminine, and the visuals accentuate this impression. The qualities of being hardworking, personable, eager to learn and willing to put in long hours would all have been commendable in a man, but their sneering and knowing expressions convey that these very attributes are feminine wiles to flirt and charm her way to a promotion. When "Kiran" is about to enter, one of the men sits up and straightens his tie, no doubt to make a favourable impression on the young woman he expects "Kiran" to be. When they realise that "Kiran' is a man, the change of expression from curiosity to embarrassment is very telling.     The tagline " Change the way you look at a woman's success. She is unstoppable now", is effective and gets a thumbs up for being a successful advocate for gender equality in the workplace.      The third advertisement starts on a promising note, with the daughter being a busy working professional. She has learnt responsibility and a good work culture from her mother, " tum hi se to seekha hai". But the archetypal mother is the selfless caregiver, juggling career and housework and worrying about her child's nutrition. She is indulgent but does not take her daughter's job responsibilities too seriously, " company ka sara bojh to tumhare kandhon par hi hai.".     Why cannot a man be shown packing a tiffin for his wife and daughter as they dash off to work? Why can't the two women unabashedly drink milk or eat almonds for their own health, for themselves? Why is the mother so self-effacing? Why can't a woman find a little time for herself?. The tagline, "Amul raises a glass to woman power" is thus only partially effective.     In conclusion, I feel that all three advertisements do try to shake us out of our preconceived notions about the role of each gender in society, but they still have a long way to go before they portray gender equality. 


There are 3 bad states of character- vice, incontinence, and bestiality. The opposite of these is a virtue, continence, and superhuman virtue.  There is a lot of inconsistency that surrounds the views of incontinence such as what sort of correct supposition someone has when he acts incontinently?Aristotle gives us four solutions. Firstly, he suggests that if a person has any knowledge of doing wrong but does not reflect on it, then he does wrong without thinking about it. Secondly, a person might reach a false conclusion while using syllogism because of ignorance of facts. Thirdly, a person who is not in his right state of mind might not be able to think clearly. Fourthly, if a person has a desire for something, that may influence him to act hastily and without reasoning.Licentiousness and incontinence are closely connected. The difference between licentiousness person and an incontinent person is that a licentiousness person acts out of choice but on the other hand, an incontinent person lacks self- restraint. As a licentiousness person acts on desire and choice, that person can be reasoned with, therefore they are more reasonable than incontinent people. A licentiousness person is wicked, while an incontinent person performs wicked actions without being willfully wicked.