Tag Archives: Philosophy

Philosophical Development from Upanishadic Metaphysics to Scientific Realism

Philosophical Development from Upanishadic Metaphysics to Scientific Realism

Upanishadic philosophy: preparing the ground for rationalism

Although the Upanishadic texts (like some of the earlier Vedic texts) are primarily concerned with acquiring knowledge of the “soul”, “spirit” and “god” – there are aspects of Vedic and Upanishadic literature that also point to an intuitive understanding of nature and natural processes. In addition, many of the ideas are presented in a philosophical and exploratory manner – rather than as strict definitions of inviolable truth.

Although the Upanishadic texts goaded the Upanishadic student to concentrate on comprehending the inner spirit,  rational investigation of the world by other scholars was not entirely squelched, and eventually, the Upanishadic period gave way to an era which was not  inimical to the development of rational ideas, even encouraging scientific observation and advanced study in the fields of  logic, mathematics and the physical sciences. 

Following an era when rituals and superstitions had begun to proliferate, in some ways the Upanishadic texts helped to clear the ground for greater rationalism in society. Brahmin orthodoxy and ideas of ritual purity were superseded by a spiritual perspective that eschewed sectarianism and could be practised universally, unfettered by an individual’s social standing. Much of the emphasis was on discovering “spiritual truths” for oneself as opposed to mechanically accepting the testimony of established religious leaders. Although there is a thematic commonality to the Upanishadic discourses, different  commentators offered subtly varying  perspectives and insights.

The concept of god in Upanishadic (and even earlier Vedic) thinking was quite different from the more common definition of god as creator and dispenser of reward and punishment. The Upanishadic concept of god was more abstract and philosophical. Different texts postulated the doctrine of a universal soul  that embraced all physical beings. All life emanated from this universal soul and death simply caused individual manifestations of the soul to merge or mingle back with the universal soul. The concept of a universal soul was illustrated through analogies from natural phenomenon.

“As the bees make honey by collecting the juices of distant trees, and reduce the juice into one form. And as these juices have no discrimination, so that they might say, I am the juice of this tree or that, in the same manner, all these creatures, when they have become merged in the True, know not that they are merged in the True. . . .”

“These rivers run, the eastern (like the Ganges) towards the east, the western (like the Indus) towards the west. They go from sea to sea (i.e., the clouds lift up the water from the sea to the sky and send it back as rain to the sea). They become indeed sea. And as those rivers, when they are in the sea, do not know, I am this or that river, in the same manner, all these creatures, proceeding from the True, know not that they have proceeded from the True. . . .”

In another story, the “wise” father, expounder of the Upanishadic concept of god, asks his son to dissolve salt in water, and asked him to taste it from the surface, from the middle and from the bottom. In each case, the son finds the taste to be salty. To this his father replies that the ‘universal being’ though invisible resides in all of us, just as the salt, though invisible is completely dissolved in the water. (Chanddogya, VI)

As a corollary to this theory emerged the notion that even as individual beings might refer to this universal soul – i.e. god in varied ways – by using different names and different methods of worship – all living beings were nevertheless related to each other and to the universal god, and capable of merging with the universal god. This approach thus laid the foundation for egalitarian and non-discriminatory philosophies such as Buddhism and Jainism (as well as non-sectarian streams of Hinduism) that followed the Upanishadic period. As is evident, such an approach  was not incompatible with secular society, and permitted different faiths and sub-faiths to coexist in relative peace and harmony.

In the course of defining their philosophy, the scholars of the Upanishad period raised several questions that challenged mechanical theism (as was also done in some hymns from the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda). If god existed as the unique creator of the world, they wondered who created this unique creator. The logical pursuit of such a line of questioning could either lead to an infinite series of creators, or to the rejection or abandonment of this line of questioning. The common theist solution to this philosophical dilemma was to simply reject logic and demand unquestioning faith on the part of the believer. A few theists attempted to use this contradiction to their own advantage by positing that god existed precisely because “He” was indescribable by mere mortals. But, by and large, this contradiction was taken very seriously by the philosophers of the Upanishadic period. The Upanishadic philosophers attempted to resolve this contradiction by defining god as an entity that extended infinitely in all dimensions covering both space and time. This was a philosophical advance in that it attempted to come to terms with at least the most obvious challenges to the notion of god as a human-like creator and did not require the complete rejection of logic.

Another philosophical advance of the Upanishadic period was that religion was transformed from the realm of bookish parroting of scriptures to the realm of advanced intellectual debate and polemics. The Upanishadic philosophers did not lay down their conclusions as rigid doctrines or inviolable laws but as seductive parables – sometimes displaying remarkable worldly insight and analytical skill. By attempting to win over their followers through analogies from nature, and by employing the methods of abstract reasoning and debate, they created an environment where dialectical thinking and intellectual exchanges could later flourish. (Also see ref. below)

In the very process of their questioning, (and albeit speculative reasoning about god), they had opened the door for rationalists and even outright atheists who took their tentative questioning about the role and the character of god as “creator” to conclusions that rejected theism entirely. But in either case, many rationalist and/or naturalist philosophical streams emerged from this initial foundation. Some were nominally theistic (but in the abstract Upanishadic vein), others were agnostic (as the early Jains), while the early Buddhists and the Lokayatas were atheists. Thus even though the Upanishads contained much that should rightly be dismissed as abstruse intellectual jugglery and philosophical mumbo-jumbo, the Upanishadic philosophers had levelled the ground for the seeds of rationalism to flourish in Indian soil.

The Vaisheshika School

The Vaisheshika school (considered to be founded by Kanada, author of the Vaisesika Sutra) was an early realistic school whose main achievement lay in it’s attempt at classifying nature into like and unlike groups. It also posited that all matter was made up of tiny and indestructible particles – i.e. atoms that aggregated in different ways to form new compounds that formed the variety of matter that existed on the earth.

Their philosophy was described through the enumeration of the following concepts: Dravya (Substance), Guna (Quality), Karma (Action), Samanya (Generality), Visesa (Particularity), Samavaya (Inherence) and abhava (non-existence).

Dravya (or substance) was understood as the specific result of a particular aggregate effect – i.e. the combination of atoms in a unique way. Substances were repositories for qualities and actions. Guna or quality was that which resided in a dravya. Qualities did not however contain qualities themselves. 24 qualities were enumerated, such as – color, form, smell, touch, sound, number, magnitude, distinctions, conjunction, disjunction, nearness, remoteness, heaviness, fluidity and viscosity. (As was typical of the times, psychological attributes such as pleasure, pain, desire, aversion, effort, tendency, cognition, impression, and ethical attributes such as merit and demerit were also included in the list, i.e. – qualities that were inapplicable to inanimate objects were not treated separately)

Action or Karma represented physical movement. Unlike quality which was passive, Karma was dynamic. Action was the determinant of conjuction and disjunction. Five types of action were noted: throwing upwards or downwards, contraction, expansion and locomotion.

Satta or physical existence was viewed as being the common attribute of substance, quality and action – i.e. only existing (as opposed to imaginary) entities could have substance, qualities and be capable of action.

Samanyata or ‘generality’ was seen as a mental construct to create common classes of substances, qualities or actions while Visesata (particularity) was used to identify and separate individual items from their general classes. Samavaya or inherence was a relation that existed in those things that could not be separated without destroying them.

Four categories of Abhava as negation or non-existance were listed: pragabhava or prior non-existance, referring to the absence of an object before it’s creation; dhvamsabhava or posterior negation, as the absence of an object after it had been destroyed; anyonyabhava or mutual non-existance, refering to an object being distinct and different from the other; atyantabhava or absolute non-existence, indicating non-existence in the past, present and future, citing the example of air as permanently lacking in smell – (which was presumably true in a period where air pollution must have been uncommon!).

An important contribution of the Vaisheshika school was a careful study of the time-relation in a chain of causes and effects. In a very rudimentary way, the school (along with other such schools) anticipated the theory of time calculus which could also be extended to space calculus.

The Vaisheshika school thus served as an important step in the study of science by enumerating concepts that could further the study of physics and chemistry. In addition, the the study of medical science (including veterinary science) received considerable impetus from such attempts at methodical observation and classification.

The Nyaya and related schools

The Nyaya schools complemented and built on the Vaisheshika school by elaborating on the process of accumulating valid scientific knowledge through accurate perception and generating valid inferences.

The school articulated four means of acquiring valid knowledge: pratyaksha or perception through one of the senses; anumana or inference; upamana or comparison with a well-known object; or shabda – verbal testimony.

The conditions of perception, and it’s range and limits were carefully studied. Trasarenu – the minima sensibile (i.e. the minimum visible), anubhuta-rupa – the infra-sensible, abhibhuta – the obscured perception , and anubhuta-vriti – potential perception, were recognized as different types of perception.

A general methodology of ascertaining the truth (tattva) was described which consisted of describing a proposition (uddesa), the ascertainment of essential facts obtained through perception, inference or induction (laksan or uppa-laksana), and finally examination and verification (pariksa and nirnaya). This process could involve examples (drishtanta), logical arguments (avayava), reasoning (tarka) and discussion (vada) – , intellectual exchange, or interplay of two opposing sides in the process of arriving at a decisive conclusion. A successful application of this method could result in a siddhanta – i.e. established principle – (or in the case of mathematics – a theorem or theory) elucidated through proofs (pramana). Alternatively, it could lead to a rejection of the initial proposition.

The Nyaya school identified various types of arguments that hindered or obstructed the path of genuine scientific pursuit, suggesting perhaps, that there may have been considerable practical resistance to their unstinting devotion to truth-seeking and scientific accuracy. They list the term jalpa – an argument not for the sake of arriving at the truth but for the sake of seeking victory (this term was coined perhaps to distinguish exaggerated and rhetorical arguments, or hyperbole from genuine arguments); vitanda (or cavil) to identify arguments that were specious or frivolous, or intended to divert attention from the substance of the debate, that were put-downs intended to lower the dignity or credibility of the opponent; and chal – equivocation or ruse to confuse the argument. Three types of chal are listed: vakchala – or verbal equivocation where the words of the opponent are deliberately misused to mean or suggest something different than what was intended; samanyachala or false generalization, where the opponents arguments are deliberately and incorrectly generalized in a way to suggest that the original arguments were ridiculous or absurd; uparachala – misinterpreting a word which is used figuratively by taking it literally. Also mentioned is jati, a type of fallacious argument where an inapplicable similiarity is cited to reject an argument, or conversely an irrelevant dissimiliarity is cited to reject an argument.

The Nyaya school also recognized that intelligent and meaningful debates were not possible if certain fundamental principles and basic definitions and concepts were not mutually accepted. Nigrahasthana was the term used to identify disagreements based on absence of mutually acceptable first principles. An example might be a debate between a theist who rejected logic, and a non-theist who rejected faith.

The Nyaya school also listed five classes of logical fallacies (hetvabhasa) : savyabhichara or the inconclusive type which employed reasoning from which more than one conclusion could be drawn but was used to insist on a single specific conclusion; viruddha or contradictory, where the reasoning used actually contradicted the proposition to be established; kalatita – where the elapse of time had made the argument invalid; sadhyasama, the unproven type, where the reasoning employed rested on arguments or principles that had not been proven and require proofs themselves – i.e. this was the type of fallacy where one unproven result was merely converted into another unproven result.; and finally prakaranasama – where the reasoning employed provoked the very question it was designed to answer – i.e. a recursive fallacy.

In this manner, the Nyaya school defined a very sophisticated school of rational philosophy where the process of scientific epistemology was analyzed threadbare and all the dangers of unscientific reasoning and propaganda ploys were skillfully exposed.


Buddhist and Jain scholars, as well as later Hindu scholars offered their own approaches to scientific reasoning. Virtually all the rational schools were concerned with describing causality and causal relationships, and recognized that effects may not have single causes but may require a group or conjunction of causes to occur. Buddhist scholars emphasized that cause and effect need not have a linear effect but that desired effects may also require the right conditions for their fruition. (That is to say that for a plant to grow successfully, it would not only need the right seed, but that it would also need the right type of soil, fertilization, sunlight and water.) 

Both the Jains and the Buddhists correctly speculated that a potential for the desired effect must also be present in the cause or causal agent. (For instance, only a mango seed could produce a mango tree because only the mango seed incorporated  the potential of developing into a mango tree.) As another example, one could note that  something with  brittle properties such as glass might break upon impact whereas something strong such as steel would survive. Thus a physical impact on substances of different properties would have different results.  

The Nyaya school also recognized co-effects – i.e a series of antecedants could cause a series of effects – either successive and staggered in time, or near simultaneous. Nyaya texts on causality indicate that there was an awareness that light travelled at a very high speed but the transmission of light was not instantaneous.

Buddhist and Jain Atomic Theories

The Buddhist and Jain philosophers also proposed their own variations of the atomic theory. Like the Vaisheshikas, atoms were perceived as infinitely small by the Jainas. But the Jainas went a step further by positing that the union of atoms required opposite qualities in the combining atoms – as is true in the case of electrovalent bonding. However, they erred in thinking that covalent bonding (which does not require opposite polarities in the combining atoms) could not occur. But their intuition that opposite polarities created mutual attraction and facilitated chemical reactions was correct. In the Buddhist view, matter was in fact an aggregate of rapidly recurring forces or energy waves. Their theory was illustrated with examples drawn from natural phenomenon involved with light emission. An atom was perceived as a momentary flash of light combining and separating from other atoms according to strict and definite laws of causality. Physical matter was thus seen as a denser and more concentrated form of light. Although at odds with other atomic theories of the time, their approach fit in with their general view that all things in nature were temporal, that there was constant change in nature – that degradation and renewal were continuous processes.

The Syadvada system of Jain Logic

Jain philosophers also made certain important contributions to the science of epistemology by proposing that the truth of a concept or observation could not only be true or false but indeterminate – and combinations of the above – such as true under some conditions (or true at a particular time or place – or true based on the validity of certain inferences) and false under other conditions, or true under some conditions but indeterminate under others, and so on. This led to a matrix of seven possible states of the truth (true, false, true or false, indeterminate, true or indeterminate, false or indeterminate, true or false or indeterminate). 

Jaina rationalists also studied the relationship between the universal and the particular and made important points concerning generalities and individual peculiarities. They also noted that  objects in the real world exist in a network of relationships with each other – and have specific attributes that mark them temporally and spatially:  “Every real is thus hedged round by a network of relations and attributes, which we propose to call its system or context or universe of discourse, which demarcates it from others.” Jaina philosophers also successfully synthesized earlier debates on change and permanence by positing that all objects (or parts of objects) passed through phases of  “existence, persistence, and cessation” and that reality was therefore a complex combination of things relatively permanent yet also relatively changing. 

These ideas thus formed the foundations of Indian science and contributed to the gradual elaboration of mathematics and astronomy, as well as agricultural and meteorological sciences. Developments in metallurgy and civil engineering also followed. Medicine and surgery perhaps received the greatest and the earliest impetus from these developments. Developments in philosophy also led to concomitant developments in the realm of art and culture. 

Yet. to a considerable extent, knowledge about the progress of science and reason in Indian history is often scarce.  These (and other such) historical contributions were either denied or demeaned during the process of colonization, and are only now beginning to be re-acknowledged within India and abroad. But in A. D 1068, Indian contributions to the mainstream of science were held in great esteem and readily acknowledged in some parts of the world:

Here is what Said Al-Andalusi, an 11th C Spanish scholar, court historian and chronicler wrote then: Among the nations, during the course of centuries and throughout the passage of time, India was known as the mine of wisdom and the fountainhead of justice and good government and the Indians were credited with excellent intellects, exalted ideas, universal maxims, rare inventions and wonderful talents … They have studied arithmetic and geometry. They have also acquired copious and abundant knowledge of the movements of the stars, the secrets of the celestial sphere and all other kinds of mathematical sciences. Moreover, of all the peoples they are the most learned in the science of medicine and thoroughly informed about the properties of drugs, the nature of composite elements and peculiarities of the existing things.” (Abu’l-Qasim’s comments on India in Tabaqat al-Umam (Categories of Nations))


  • Examples of Vedic/Upanishadic Texts: Atharva Veda, Book 19, Hymn 59; Rig Veda, Book 9, Hymn 112,  Book 10, Hymn 127;  Kena Upanishad, supplement to the Sama Veda; Chandogya Upanishad; Verses from the Bhagavata Purana etc.

  • K. Damodaran: Indian Thought, A Critical Survey

  • Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya: Lokayata: A study in Ancient Indian Materialism

  • Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya: In Defence of Materialism in Ancient India

  • Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya: What is Living and What is Dead in Indian Philosophy

  • R. C. Dutt: A History of Civilization in Ancient India

  • Studies in the History of Science in India (Anthology edited by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya)

  • http://india_resource.tripod.com/upanishad.html

Alignment Test

 I have found the test through the Lorelei Scrolls blog. Interesting.


Your Character’s Alignment

Based on your answers to the quiz, your character’s most likely alignment is Lawful Good.

Lawful Good

A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.

–excerpted from the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6

Keep in mind the alignment suggested by the quiz is just that: a suggestion. It describes your character no better than a 36-question test would describe you. But it’s a good way to start thinking about how your character acts when confronted with issues of alignment.

Now that your character has taken the test, make a note of which questions scored in the opposite direction from your overall alignment. These exceptions can tell some interesting tales about your character Are you a good character with a greedy streak? Are you a lawful character who can’t stand the village elders? Don’t just roleplay your alignment — roleplay your alignment exceptions, too. Few characters perfectly embody their alignment choice.


The 48 Laws of Power

The 48 Laws of Power

by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers

Law 1

Never Outshine the Master

Always make those above you feel comfortably superior.  In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and insecurity.  Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

Law 2

Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn how to use Enemies

Be wary of friends-they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy.  They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove.  In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies.  If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.

 Law 3Conceal your Intentions

Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions.  If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense.  Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelope them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

 Law 4Always Say Less than Necessary

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control.  Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike.  Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less.  The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

 Law 5

So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your Life

Reputation is the cornerstone of power.  Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once you slip, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides.  Make your reputation unassailable.  Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen.  Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations.  Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.

 Law 6

Court Attention at all Cost

Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing.  Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion.  Stand out.  Be conspicuous, at all cost.  Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious, than the bland and timid masses.

  Law 7

Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit

Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause.  Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed.  In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered.  Never do yourself what others can do for you.

 Law 8

Make other People come to you – use Bait if Necessary

When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control.  It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process.  Lure him with fabulous gains – then attack.  You hold the cards.

 Law 9

Win through your Actions, Never through Argument

Any momentary triumph you think gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory:  The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion.  It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word.  Demonstrate, do not explicate.

 Law 10Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

You can die from someone else’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as disease.  You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster.  The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you.  Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.

Law 11

Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted.  The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have.  Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear.  Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

 Law 12

Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim

One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones.  Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people.  Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will.  A timely gift – a Trojan horse – will serve the same purpose.

 Law 13

When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest,

Never to their Mercy or Gratitude

If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds.  He will find a way to ignore you.  Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasize it out of all proportion.  He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.

 Law 14

Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

Knowing about your rival is critical.  Use spies to gather valuable information that will keep you a step ahead.  Better still: Play the spy yourself.  In polite social encounters, learn to probe.  Ask indirect questions to get people to reveal their weaknesses and intentions.  There is no occasion that is not an opportunity for artful spying.

 Law 15

Crush your Enemy Totally

All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely.  (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.)  If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out.  More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation:  The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge.  Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

 Law 16

Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

Too much circulation makes the price go down:  The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear.  If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired.  You must learn when to leave.  Create value through scarcity.

 Law 17

Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

Humans are creatures of habit with an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people’s actions.  Your predictability gives them a sense of control.  Turn the tables: Be deliberately unpredictable.  Behavior that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off-balance, and they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves.  Taken to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize.

 Law 18Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous

The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves.  A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target.  Better to circulate among people find allies, mingle.  You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd.

 Law 19Know Who You’re Dealing with – Do Not Offend the Wrong Person

There are many different kinds of people in the world, and you can never assume that everyone will react to your strategies in the same way.  Deceive or outmaneuver some people and they will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge.  They are wolves in lambs’ clothing.  Choose your victims and opponents carefully, then – never offend or deceive the wrong person.

 Law 20Do Not Commit to Anyone

It is the fool who always rushes to take sides.  Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself.  By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others – playing people against one another, making them pursue you.

 Law 21Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber than your Mark

No one likes feeling stupider than the next persons.  The trick, is to make your victims feel smart – and not just smart, but smarter than you are.  Once convinced of this, they will never suspect that you may have ulterior motives.

 Law 22Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

When you are weaker, never fight for honor’s sake; choose surrender instead.  Surrender gives you time to recover, time to torment and irritate your conqueror, time to wait for his power to wane.  Do not give him the satisfaction of fighting and defeating you – surrender first.  By turning the other check you infuriate and unsettle him.  Make surrender a tool of power.

 Law 23Concentrate Your Forces

Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point.  You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another – intensity defeats extensity every time.  When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.

 Law 24Play the Perfect Courtier

The perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity.  He has mastered the art of indirection; he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over others in the mot oblique and graceful manner.  Learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court.

 Law 25Re-Create Yourself

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you.  Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience.  Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you.  Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions – your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.

 Law 26Keep Your Hands Clean

You must seem a paragon of civility and efficiency: Your hands are never soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds.  Maintain such a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat’s-paws to disguise your involvement.

Law 27Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following

People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something.  Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow.  Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking.  Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf.  In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.

 Law 28Enter Action with Boldness

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it.  Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution.  Timidity is dangerous:  Better to enter with boldness.  Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity.  Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.

 Law 29Plan All the Way to the End

The ending is everything.  Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others.  By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop.  Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.

 Law 30Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease.  All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed.  When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more.  Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work – it only raises questions.  Teach no one your tricks or they will be used against you.

 Law 31Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards you Deal

The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice:  Your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets.  Give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose.  Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose.  Put them on the horns of a dilemma:  They are gored wherever they turn.

 Law 32Play to People’s Fantasies

The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant.  Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes for disenchantment.  Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert:  Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.

 Law 33Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall.  That weakness is usual y an insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can also be a small secret pleasure.  Either way, once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage.

  Law 34Be Royal in your Own Fashion:  Act like a King to be treated like one

The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated; In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you.  For a king respects himself and inspires the same sentiment in others.  By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.

 Law 35Master the Art of Timing

Never seem to be in a hurry – hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time.  Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually.  Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power.  Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

 Law 36Disdain Things you cannot have:  Ignoring them is the best Revenge

By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility.  The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it.  It is sometimes best to leave things alone.  If there is something you want but cannot have, show contempt for it.  The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem. 

Law 37Create Compelling Spectacles

Striking imagery and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of power – everyone responds to them.  Stage spectacles for those around you, then full of arresting visuals and radiant symbols that heighten your presence.  Dazzled by appearances, no one will notice what you are really doing.

Law 38Think as you like but Behave like others

If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you only want attention and that you look down upon them.  They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior.  It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness.

Law 39Stir up Waters to Catch Fish

Anger and emotion are strategically counterproductive.  You must always stay calm and objective.  But if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain a decided advantage.  Put your enemies off-balance: Find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them and you hold the strings.

Law 40Despise the Free Lunch

What is offered for free is dangerous – it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation.  What has worth is worth paying for.  By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit.  It is also often wise to pay the full price – there is no cutting corners with excellence.  Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power.

Law 41Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes

What happens first always appears better and more original than what comes after.  If you succeed a great man or have a famous parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them.  Do not get lost in their shadow, or stuck in a past not of your own making:  Establish your own name and identity by changing course.  Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy, and gain power by shining in your own way.

Law 42Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter

Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual – the stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoned of goodwill.  If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence.  Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with them – they are irredeemable.  Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them.  Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter.

Law 43Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

Coercion creates a reaction that will eventually work against you.  You must seduce others into wanting to move in your direction.  A person you have seduced becomes your loyal pawn.  And the way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and weaknesses.  Soften up the resistant by working on their emotions, playing on what they hold dear and what they fear.  Ignore the hearts and minds of others and they will grow to hate you.

Law 44Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

The mirror reflects reality, but it is also the perfect tool for deception: When you mirror your enemies, doing exactly as they do, they cannot figure out your strategy.  The Mirror Effect mocks and humiliates them, making them overreact.  By holding up a mirror to their psyches, you seduce them with the illusion that you share their values; by holding up a mirror to their actions, you teach them a lesson.  Few can resist the power of Mirror Effect.

Law 45Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once

Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit.  Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt.  If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things.  If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.

Law 46Never appear too Perfect

Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses.  Envy creates silent enemies.  It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable.  Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity.

Law 47Do not go Past the Mark you Aimed for; In Victory, Learn when to Stop

The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril.  In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat.  Do not allow success to go to your head.  There is no substitute for strategy and careful planning.  Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop.

Law 48Assume Formlessness

By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack.  Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move.  Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed.  The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order.  Everything changes.


Valentine Quote

Valentine’s Day Thought:

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.
                                                                    – Plato

Love(For Valentine’s Day)


First published Fri 8 Apr, 2005

This essay focuses on personal love, or the love of particular persons as such. Part of the philosophical task in understanding personal love is to distinguish the various kinds of personal love. For example, the way in which I love my wife is seemingly very different from the way I love my mother, my child, and my friend. This task has typically proceeded hand-in-hand with philosophical analyses of these kinds of personal love, analyses that in part respond to various puzzles about love. Can love be justified? If so, how? What is the value of personal love? What impact does love have on the autonomy of both the lover and the beloved?

1. Preliminary Distinctions

In ordinary conversations, we often say things like the following:

  1. I love chocolate (or skiing).
  2. I love doing philosophy (or being a father).
  3. I love my dog (or cat).
  4. I love my wife (or mother or child or friend).

However, what is meant by ‘love’ differs from case to case. (1) may be understood as meaning merely that I like this thing or activity very much. In (2) the implication is typically that I find engaging in a certain activity or being a certain kind of person to be a part of my identity and so what makes my life worth living; I might just as well say that I value these. By contrast, (3) and (4) seem to indicate a mode of concern that cannot be neatly assimilated to anything else. Thus, we might understand the sort of love at issue in (4) to be, roughly, a matter of caring about another person as the person she is, for her own sake. (Accordingly, (3) may be understood as a kind of deficient mode of the sort of love we typically reserve for persons.) Philosophical accounts of love have focused primarily on the sort of personal love at issue in (4); such personal love will be the focus here.

Even within personal love, philosophers from the ancient Greeks on have traditionally distinguished three notions that can properly be called “love”: eros, agape, and philia. It will be useful to distinguish these three and say something about how contemporary discussions typically blur these distinctions (sometimes intentionally so) or use them for other purposes.

Eros’ originally meant love in the sense of a kind of passionate desire for an object, typically sexual passion (Liddell et al., 1940). Nygren (1953a,b) describes eros as the “‘love of desire,’ or acquisitive love” and therefore as egocentric (1953b, p. 89). Soble (1989b, 1990) similarly describes eros as “selfish” and as a response to the merits of the beloved—especially the beloved’s goodness or beauty. What is evident in Soble’s description of eros is a shift away from the sexual: to love something in the “erosic” sense (to use the term Soble coins) is to love it in a way that, by being responsive to its merits, is dependent on reasons. Such an understanding of eros is encouraged by Plato’s discussion in the Symposium, in which Socrates understands sexual desire to be a deficient response to physical beauty in particular, a response which ought to be developed into a response to the beauty of a person’s soul and, ultimately, into a response to the form, Beauty.

More here:


The Identity Theory of Truth

The Identity Theory of Truth

First published Thu Mar 28, 1996; substantive revision Mon Aug 14, 2006

The simplest and most general statement of the identity theory of truth is that when a truth-bearer (e.g., a proposition) is true, there is a truth-maker (e.g., a fact) with which it is identical and the truth of the former consists in its identity with the latter. The theory is best understood as a reaction to the correspondence theory, according to which the relation of truth-bearer to truth-maker is correspondence. A correspondence theory is vulnerable to the nagging suspicion that if the best we can do is make statements that merely correspond to the truth, then we inevitably fail to capture the reality they are about and thus fall short of the truth we aim at. An identity theory is designed to overcome this suspicion.

Full article here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-identity/

What is a Dark Jedi & Who Cut Your Hair, Man?

To Be a Dark Jedi?

A dark Jedi. The connotations imply a selfish darksider who seeks power for himself alone. Angry and tormented but without the discipline of a Sith. This definition is NOT what I am speaking of.

My view of Dark Jedi is one who embraces both the path of the Jedi and the path of the Dark Side.(Sith, Krath, etc.) One who feels that either side is too limiting in its scope.

The Code of the Dark Jedi by Seti I Shadim

I am the walker between worlds
born of light & shadow
I embrace the All.
I hunt the Great Mystery.

I am known by names innumerable:
Jedi, Sith, Shadow & Krath.

I am the child of love & hate
cruelty & compassion.

I do not hunger for power
nor am I a selfless servant.

My code is honor and knowledge
My way is not balance.

I am a stalker of knowledge
for the sake of knowledge alone.

I am a Dark Jedi
seeking the ancient sophia
to drink the elixir, the dark ambrosia
from the fount of the forgotten Gods.