November 16, 2010

Exploring digitized materials that previous humanities scholars did not have

[…] start exploring how technology is changing our understanding of the liberal arts. This latest frontier is about method, they say, using powerful technologies and vast stores of digitized materials that previous humanities scholars did not have.
These researchers are digitally mapping Civil War battlefields to understand what role topography played in victory, using databases of thousands of jam sessions to track how musical collaborations influenced jazz, and searching through large numbers of scientific texts and textbooks to track where concepts first appeared and how they spread.
This alliance of geeks and poets has generated exhilaration and also anxiety. The humanities, after all, deal with elusive questions of aesthetics, existence and meaning, the words that bring tears or the melody that raises goose bumps. Are these elements that can be measured?
“The digital humanities do fantastic things,” said the eminent Princeton historian Anthony Grafton. “I’m a believer in quantification. But I don’t believe quantification can do everything. So much of humanistic scholarship is about interpretation.”
“It’s easy to forget the digital media are means and not ends,” he added. Digital humanities scholars also face a more practical test: What knowledge can they produce that their predecessors could not?

Sri Aurobindo & Bio-Psychosocial perspectives

Punjab Governor inaugurates International Conference on Bio-Psychosocial perspectives Punjab Newsline Network Monday, 15 November 2010 CHANDIGARH:
The First International Conference of Asian Association of Applied Psychology organised by Panjab University here on “Enhancing Human Potential Bio-Psychosocial Perspectives”, took off to a grand start at the University Auditorium Monday. 
The Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Union Territory Chandigarh Shivraj V. Patil, inaugurated the three-day conference to the packed audience of nearly seven hundred and thirty delegates from within and outside India. Prominent international scholars Professor Lars Eric Unestahl from Sweden and Professor Alex P. Linley of U.K. were also present. Dr. (Mrs.) Vipin Sobti, Member, Educational Tribunal, government of Punjab and Chairperson of the Conference also graced the occasion.

The Governor of Punjab Shivraj V. Patil expressed happiness to inaugurate the conference. He also appreciated the theme and congratulated the university for organising the conference on such a holistic and interdisciplinary theme. He referred to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to elaborate his views on developing human potential. He emphasised that human potential cannot be considered mechanical as it encompasses humanistic and spiritual elements. In consonance with the ideas of the great Indian philosopher Aurobindo Ghosh, the Governor pointed out that a combination of thinking capacity and spirituality part play an important role in developing possibilities for human potential. 
This will ultimately result in enabling the individual to overcome the barriers of memory and connect past knowledge with awareness about the present and the future.  Patil further asserted that Vedas and Upanishads do not tell us how the prayers have to offered but the talk about Super Science and the entire nature emphasizing that individual is the almighty force. Such an attitude will unfold tremendous potential that lay hidden inside the individual. This requires handling the possible arrogance that the individual might develop by glorifying the self at the expense of others. It is here that positive attitude building becomes necessary where applied psychology can play a vital role. He narrated instances of his interaction with spiritual leaders and foreign dignitaries to emphasize the significance of spiritual upliftment that can help developing cosmic attitude which rises above the global and the universal. He recommended that science is not to be used alone but in combination with spirituality. Therefore, the need of the hour is to develop super science to evolve a better world.
Patil talked of dire need of discarding negativity and negative approach by inculcating positive virtues which is a sure way of becoming all powerful.  The cosmic attitude, he said, was a positive attitude wherein human beings ought to perceive everything with a creative approach.  The Vedas enjoin upon human beings to realize in oneself every other human being, other creatures, plants and even organic matter …. and this way one becomes powerful from within and non-destructive.  The governor urged to create an environment for making a conducive place for all living creatures to survive and flourish. 

Earlier Professor R.C. Sobti, Vice Chancellor, Panjab University presented the welcome address and impressed upon that to be human is to think feel aspire, strive and to achieve social goals. He deliberated that India being the youngest country in terms of average age of its populace has enormous human potential to develop with thrust on certain special issues which will be discussed in the forthcoming “academic feast” of the conference. 
Professor R.C. Sobti underlined the need of psychological development saying that human talent was the most valuable resource without which developments in other fields were meaningless.  Prof. Sobti said it was important to discover the tremendous hidden talent within us and make use of it.  Biological factors, the Vice-Chancellor said were closely related to human behaviour which made up our mental frame.  We must do introspection and develop positive attitude.

Professor Emeritus Dr. Jitendra Mohan, Director of the International Conference introduced the theme of the conference. He stated that in all seven important sessions on women sports, education, technology, management, health, bio-sciences and community participation will be held more than three hundred presentation including research papers from the faculty and posters by the students will be presented. According to him this is the largest possible response and concerned shown by the younger generation for the future of human kind to develop human potential. Chairperson of the International Conference, Professor Ajaib Singh proposed vote of thanks.

November 13, 2010

Wilber leaves essential information out of his presentation

From Integral World: The 'Spirit of Evolution' Reconsidered: Relating Ken Wilber's view of spiritual evolution to the current evolution debates by Frank Visser 
In his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977), the term "evolution" features prominently as the heading of Part One of two parts, Part Two being called "Involution". This sets the tone for a thoroughly spiritualist exposition of the subject. As he explained later, in the 20th anniversary edition of the book (Wilber, 1993: xix), at that time he was following A.K. Coomaraswamy's usage of these terms. Briefly, "Evolution", in this sense, means a movement from the One or God to the Many or the manifested world. (Other traditions would call this "emanation"). "Involution", then, is the opposite movement: from the Many to the One. In the first phase, Spirit loses itself in the world, in the second, Spirit returns to itself again as Spirit. In such a book, one would sooner find a reference to Dante than to Darwin...
In The Atman Project (1980), the meaning of these two terms is reversed. This time, Wilber follows Sri Aurobindo's understanding (Wilber, 1993: xix). This time, involution is the "downward" movement from Spirit to the world of the Many; and evolution the "upward" movement from the world to Spirit. This would remain the dominant model in Wilber's mind for years to come: evolution is seen as a movement that is both driven by Spirit and directed towards Spirit. In Up from Eden (1981), which was sub-titled "A transpersonal view of human evolution", the same scheme is used by Wilber to organize the field of human evolution, i.e. anthropology. Wilber starts his narrative with the first hominids, but does not cover evolution per se. […]

Somehow one gets the feeling that Wilber systematically overlooks the relevant literature. […] Unfortunately, The Blind Watchmaker is not referenced in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, and Brief History doesn't have any references at all. […]
It is equally obvious, then, that Wilber leaves essential information out of his presentation when making his points about evolution and its mechanism. He apparently disagrees with Dawkins on this matter, but without confronting Dawkins' arguments, Wilber's thesis becomes empty. Rhetorical maneuvers like repeating the word "chance" about seven times in one paragraph—as a kind of mantra—cannot compensate for this deficiency. […]

By not being responsive to online criticism directed at this theory, Ken Wilber has not lived up to the ideal of Habermasian "communicative rationality", in which viewpoints are freely exchanged in search of the best arguments. Nor has he taken responsibility for extreme statements on neo-Darwinism done in the past, when confronted with criticism. He has misrepresented a major field of science in a less than respectful way.
And finally, though this talk had as its manifest subject Ken Wilber's views on evolution, it's hidden subject has been—as you may have guessed—why has it been so extremely difficult to discuss these matters within the integral community? Openness to criticism and public debate are the hallmarks of science and philosophy. I would therefore like to give the last word to John Stuart Mill (1863: 17), form his treatise on liberty:
In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious.

November 01, 2010


on Mon 01 Nov 2010 03:30 AM IST  |  Permanent Link  |  Cosmos
A hundred years ago CR Das was fighting in the Alipore Case more for the Doctrine of Nationalism than defending an accused; the beauty is, for preaching such a Doctrine none can be held guilty. Should that not hold true when it is the matter of psychic and spiritual reverence to the Mother and the Master who attempted all and did all for us? We have to be at least grateful for all that we receive from them. Let me tell you that what I am fighting for are these basic spiritual verities. This is what the Ashram as an Institution should uphold. If it fails in it, then it has no reason to exist. 9:25 AM