It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow human beings: M. K. Gandhi / People all seek to know what they do not know yet; They ought rather seek to know what they know already-Zhuang Zhou.
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Cognition and History: The Evolution of Intelligence and Culture
A brilliant address on the part played by intelligence in its own evolution:
The inaugural Science and Society Lecture; Amsterdam, 24 October 1996
by Henry Plotkin; Department of Psychology; University College London
It will come as no surprise to social historians that history matters, to use S.J.Gould's phrase (Gould, 1986). However, this has not always been a universally accepted position in science. Two examples of how causes are framed in science will illustrate different approaches to the issue of history as having causal force. The first is that of the Russian chemist Mendeleev who invented in the middle of the last century the Periodic Table of the elements, building on Dalton's earlier proposal that each element has a characteristic atomic weight.
The Periodic Table was a brilliant insight, being based on Mendeleev's understanding that atoms have an internal structure. It is this structure that causes elements to have the properties upon which Mendeleev ordered the elements in his Table; and it is this structure that enabled him correctly to predict the existence of elements, and their properties, not then known. When later they were discovered, the Periodic Table and the theory underpinning it was vindicated and Mendeleev's fame was ensured. Now the point is this. The Periodic Table, a fabulously successful scientific insight, was based on the assumption that the laws of chemistry are absolutely constant and have always held. Had Mendeleev lived and worked 4.5 thousand million years ago, when the Solar System formed, he could have used the same observations and insights then to construct the Periodic table as he did in the 19th century. For example, since the beginning of time on this planet, when the elements sodium and chlorine have been mixed together they have formed a compound, table salt, which has rather different properties from those of its constituent elements.
This accords with the principles upon which the Periodic table was constructed and as a 19th century chemist, Mendeleev assumed not just that observations that he made of table salt on Monday would be the same on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that he could have made the same observations and drawn the same scientific insights thousands of millions of years ago. He was correct in this, but the general conclusion that was drawn that there is no temporal element to the laws of chemistry, that time in the form of historical antecedence does not have causal force, we now have reason to doubt.
Our second example comes from Darwin, who learned from 19th century geologists another way of thinking about causation. When Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands he observed over a dozen different species of finch, sometimes unique to different islands in the group and each distinctive, especially in their beaks and feeding behaviour. He concluded that these different species were all descended from a single mainland species, individual members of which had sometime in the past found their way to one of the islands, the descendent species resulting from the gradual migration of birds to other islands and the relative isolation of the islands from one another. This explanation of Darwin's finches was just one case, one illustration, of Darwin's wider thesis which asserts that all living things are related because all of life forms a tree-like structure that is descended from a common origin.
Darwin's theory included an exposition of the processes that drive evolution, and these processes have the same quality of apparent timelessness as does atomic structure; whenever and wherever evolution occurs, these processes must be present. But the nature of causal explanation of Darwinian theory embraces historical antecedence as cause, and hence is very different from that espoused by Medeleev. In order to understand why a finch has this beak shape now, today, one has to invoke not only those universal and timeless processes of variation, selection and the transmission of selected variants, but also the form of beak that these processes acted upon in the past, yesterday...
Pakistan and National Unity is an important position paper of the Communist Party of India, and a far-reaching text in the history of the Indian communist movement. The resolution dated September 19, 1942 contains an outline of the CPI's support for what it called the 'just essence of the Pakistan demand'; and the Report by Gangadhar Adhikari is a detailed explanation of the resolution. The resolution was confirmed by the First Congress of the CPI in May 1943. Its arguments may be contrasted with the pamphlet titled Who Rules Pakistan? published in Bombay in August 1948, as a 'Communist Party publication' - and is one of the earliest position documents of the Communist Party of Pakistan. The document is titled File CPI-31/1942 ; and forms part of the P.C. Joshi Archives at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The text of the resolution and report is also available in the book entitled Remembering Dr Gangadhar Adhikari: Selections from Writings, Part 2 ; e
'Do you know', Napoleon once said to Fontanes, 'what astounds me most about the world? The impotence of force to establish anything. There are only two powers in the world: the sword and the mind. In the end, the sword is always conquered by the mind' Conquerors, you see, are sometimes melancholy. They have to pay some price for so much vainglory. But what a hundred years ago was true of the sword is no longer true today of the tank. Conquerors have made progress, and the dismal silence of places without intelligence has been established for years at a time in a lacerated Europe. At the time of the hideous wars of Flanders, Dutch painters could still perhaps paint the cockerels in their farmyards. The Hundred Years War has likewise been forgotten, and yet the prayers of Silesian mystics still linger in some hearts. But today, things have changed; the painter and the monk have been drafted - we are one with the world. The mind has lost that regal certainty which a c
NB : Mike Davis is the author of Late Victorian Holocausts , a detailed analysis of the 19th century drought and famine that took millions of lives of the poor in India and China DS The current pandemic expands the argument: capitalist globalization now appears to be biologically unsustainable in the absence of a truly international public health infra-structure. But such an infrastructure will never exist until peoples’ movements break the power of Big Pharma and for-profit healthcare. The original H1N1 found a favored niche in army camps and battlefield trenches where it scythed down young soldiers down by the tens of thousands. The collapse of the great German spring offensive of 1918 has been attributed to the fact that the Allies, in contrast to their enemy, could replenish their sick armies with newly arrived American troops.... It is rarely appreciated, however, that fully 60 per cent of global mortality occurred in western India where grain exports to Britain and bru
There are still people who admire Godse for shooting a defenceless, unarmed old man at point blank range in a prayer meeting.. After all, modern society is awash with extremist beliefs, including support for suicide bombers and vigilante violence. E xtremism has taken centre-stage i n the guise of communal ideology and prejudices. People in high of fice believe in collective guilt (denouncing entire communities for the sins of a few), controlled mobs, revenge killing and vigilantism. Click the title for Parts 1 & 2 of the Report [of the 6 volume document] of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi by Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur [Supreme Court of India]. The commission was established in 1965 & submitted i ts report on 30 Sept 1969 . A whiff of evil A message and an appeal Peace as a punctuation mark in eternal war The Supreme Court,Gandhi and the RSS Apoorvanand: गांधीजी का आखरी महीना - Talk on Gandhiji's Last Month Pune, Oct
NB: This line of theoretical and sociological inquiry is crucial for an understanding of the contemporary world, and has been neglected (in the main) by political scientists and historians. Alexandre Koyre (1892-1964) was a Russian-born philosopher and historian of religion and science. His 1945 essay on The Political Function of the Lie was used by Hannah Arendt as a source for insights into her study of the origins of totalitarianism . Some observations and extracts are supplied below, along with links to Koyre's original essay, as well as a 2010 lecture on lying in journalism. They are worth reading, as a reminder that the deceitful and intimidatory atmosphere of our times is rooted in political phenomena that were commented upon decades ago - DS A perceptive analyst and a close reader of Alexandre Koyré, Arendt described totalitarian regimes as being “ secret societies established in broad daylight .” (see Koyre, pp 296-7). By imitating the apparatus of secret societies wit
NB: Today is my father's thirteenth death anniversary. A few of his students from the first few batches have circulated their personal recollections. It is mainly with them in mind that I post this essay which I wrote in 2008, for a Penguin collection. (And here is something I posted in 2018, on his birth centenary). I hope it triggers some golden memories! Love to you all. Dilip Of Bagpipes, Horses and Golden Orioles Dilip Simeon from Recess: The Penguin Book of Schooldays Palash Mehrotra (ed); New Delhi, 2008 This is a very personal story about a public school. There will undoubtedly be names that I’ve left out, but I trust I’ll be pardoned my lapses. What I’m sure about is that all of us who joined it in its foundational years share a powerful affinity with a Haryana village named Kunjpura. (Dist., as they say, Karnal). Thinking about schooldays at a point in life when middle-age is edging towards elderly-ness, can be a strange encounter with oneself. I recall
Covid County Simulator Overview Select the state and county using the drop-down boxes at the top of the page and the page will update with: Daily active cases 3-week forecast of active cases 100-day projection of active cases and deaths Note that you have to look below the graph to see the total projected deaths. Check covidcountysim.org daily as the regression forecast and simulation may change when we upload data each day from Johns Hopkins' GitHub site. Mortality rate : You can override the calculated rate by typing a new one into the field. The model will use the new rate to calculate the number of deaths at the end of the simulation until you refresh the page. Running a social distancing ‘intervention’ The intervention date is set to after the prediction period ends. Then use the slider to increase or decrease social distancing. You will notice that this changes the target Rt value, which is the value you are targeting based