One-stop shop to make India 20 times richer

Category: Philosophy

Hobbes was right. Pre-state societies had 100 times higher murder rates than modern societies.

As I’ve elaborated in DOF with a lot of evidence, “a team of Spanish researchers pretty much settled the debate. Hobbes was right: man is inherently bad, but civilisation can make us less so.” [Source]

Not for nothing do I call Hobbes the founder of liberty (along with Locke). The man was the first truly scientific political philosopher. He was a political scientist.

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Separation of the state and church – what do we mean by it?

In DOF I’ve shown how it was Romans who worked out the need for the state to be separate from the church. Till Constantine went crazy and made Christianity the state religion, all religions were largely tolerated in Rome.  I say “largely”, since different Roman rulers took slightly different approaches. This was not a well established principle.

It was John Locke, through “A letter Concerning Toleration” who first advocated a secular state and the separation of religious and governmental institutions.

He pointed to the “Necess(ity) above all to distinguish between the business of civil government and that of religion”

He noted that: “the whole power of civil government is concerned only with men’s civil goods”

and “Civil government is confined to the care of things in this world, and has nothing to do with the world to come”.

Therefore, according to him: “Civil power ought not to prescribe articles of faith…by Civil law”.

Now, it is clear that not all these views have percolated into the Western world.

However, Jefferson clearly referred to the separation of the state and church while recommending the First Amendment to the US Constitution which prohibits the making of any religious laws. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Now, this did not carry through in intent and even in the USA there remains a bit of a mix up between the state and religion. However, it is far less than the mix up found in India. India has actual religious laws, e.g. Hindu Act, etc.  – a blatant intervention of the state in matters of religion. These types of laws would be deemed unconstitutional in the USA.

I believe the Supreme Court has made a somewhat belated attempt to recognise this principle (see this blog post). I think it needs to do a lot more.

ADDENDUM

I recorded this on 11 January 2017 during my lunch walk.


ADDENDUM

Here is a preliminary note by Sarita Rani

 

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The Upanishads and the fiction of transmigration (metempsychosis). They have nothing to do with reason.

A discussion has come up somewhere regarding the Upanishads.

First a few notes.

MY BLOG POSTS THAT TOUCH UPON THE UPANISHADS

The Metaphysics of the Upanishads (Vichar Sagar) by Nischal Das #1

The Metaphysics of the Upanishads (Vichar Sagar) by Nischal Das #2

The Metaphysics of the Upanishads (Vichar Sagar) by Nischal Das #3 – in this third note I discard the claim (sometimes made) that the Upanishads are rational or somehow superior in their critical thinking process. They are NOT rational.

In addition, I’ve written extensively on the advaita/ vedanta – particularly in the context of Vivekananda’s research.

THE UPANISHADS

There are 108 Upanishads: Details on Wikipedia

TIMELINES

The Brhadaranyaka and the Chandogya are the two earliest Upanishads. They are edited texts, some of whose sources are much older than others. The two texts are pre-Buddhist; they may be placed in the 7th to 6th centuries BCE, give or take a century or so.

The three other early prose Upanisads—Taittiriya, Aitareya, and Kausitaki come next; all are probably pre-Buddhist and can be assigned to the 6th to 5th centuries BCE.

The Kena is the oldest of the verse Upanisads followed by probably the Katha, Isa, Svetasvatara, and Mundaka. All these Upanisads were composed probably in the last few centuries BCE.

The two late prose Upanisads, the Prasna and the Mandukya, cannot be much older than the beginning of the common era.” [Source]

NOW FOR THE DISCUSSION – ON TRANSMIGRATION

I have claimed that the Upanishads are fictitious imagination. I cited two examples: (a) transmigration of the soul and (b) cosmology.

A commentator disputes that the Upanishads refer to transmigration. According to him, “my understanding is that Upanishads don’t talk about death n afterlife.”

TRANSMIGRATION THEORY

It appears that the idea of transmigration started with the Upanishads. It had no (or very limited) basis in the Vedas:

The most fully articulated doctrine of transmigration is found in Hinduism. It does not appear in the earliest Hindu scriptures (the Rig Veda) but was developed at a later period in the Upanishads (c. 600 BC). [Source]

In The Vedas, translated by Ralph Griffith, we have this:

This is also the view expressed in The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads – By A. B. Keith (I’ve OCRd and uploaded here. The document is available in PDF on google)

10. The Doctrine of Transmigration

The origin of the doctrine of transmigration is one of the most difficult problems of Indian philosophy: its extraordinarily firm hold on the mind of part at least of India, which is shown by the fact that Buddhism rests on the doctrine as an essential presupposition, makes it natural to seek the view in the earliest period of Indian religion, and this desire to find metempsychosis in the beginnings of Indian belief takes two forms. On the one hand there have been seen direct references to metempsychosis in the Rigveda, and on the other there have been traced there ideas which explain the genesis of the conception.

The references to transmigration which have been seen in the Rigveda are all of the most improbable character: it is to ignore the nature of poetry to press the wish that there may be long life for man among the gods into the view that it contemplates rebirth: the attempt to find references to it in two of the verses of the riddle hymn of Dirghatamas  is bold, but not very plausible : the allusion, in which Vasistha is made to refer to his previous birth, is quite impossible, and the same criticism can be applied in every other case.

The effort to find such views is naturally not modern merely : the commentaries on the Upanisads themselves seek to trace the idea, and the fact that they can adduce nothing worthy of consideration is surely conclusive proof that there was nothing.

In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad it is sought by Cankara, without any good ground, and not in accord with the Upanisad, to show that Vamadeva, the reputed author of a hymn beginning, “I was aforetime Manu, I the sun”, refers to his former births, and in another passage of that text, in the exposition of the doctrine of transmigration, a verse celebrating the two ways of the Fathers and of the gods, on which everything meets which moves between father and mother, is pressed by the Upanisad itself into service, though the reference is merely to day and night. A third passage in the Aitareya Aranyaka, which refers to a third birth after death, beside that from the father and by initiation, makes also use of a verse of Vamadeva, in which lying in the womb the speaker learned all the births of the gods, but it is not proved or even plausible that the Upanisad itself refers to transmigration at all : the third birth may most probably have been in the next world, and in any case the quotation had nothing whatever to do with the subject.

The effort to find suggestions of the origin of transmigration in Vedic beliefs  is worthy of more consideration. The ideas that the birds are the forms of the Fathers, and that the Fathers creep about the roots of the plants, and the practice of using an insect or other animal, which alighted on a garment spread out with an invocation to the soul of the dead, when his bones cannot be found, to serve in place of his mortal relics, are points adduced by Oldenberg as suggesting the groundwork on which the Indian belief developed. It is not necessary to brush these ideas lightly aside, or even to point out that the evidence for them is late, and not of value as proof for the early Vedic religion. What is necessary is to point out that, while the ideas thus recorded are of some value as showing the presence in Indian religion of the belief of the incorporation of the souls of the dead now and then in animals or plants— of the latter there is even a hint in the Rigveda itself—the importance of transmigration lies precisely in the fact that the doctrine is an ethical system, and that it has, therefore, not merely a value totally distinct from the mere belief suggested by the evidence above adduced, but is thereby referred for its real origin to something quite other than popular belief. That it should have been so fully accepted by the people in course of time was doubtless aided by such views as that mentioned : but no such view could create metempsychosis as a system of the marked character of the Indian view.

There is an ongoing debate. This article is helpful (but it claims that the Gita is part of the Vedas – a highly questionable claim). Quora has a discussion of this issue.

Regardless of whether the Vedas had a clear and explicit moral theory of transmigration, we know that the Upanishads went all out to explain transmigration in PHYSICAL and MORAL detail:

The first reference to transmigration occurs in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad which is believed to be the oldest and the longest of the Upanishads. It was associated with the sage Yajnavalkya.Another key text that proves the origin of the doctrine of transmigration is in a later portion of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. It is also repeated in the second-oldest of the Upanishads, the Chandogya Upanishad which has been proposed by another famous sage, Uddalaka Aruni.  [Source]

What Becomes Of The Soul After Death

This is the title of an extensive interpretation of the Upanishads.

Paraloka-Vidya or the science about the departed souls and their planes of living is a subject of absorbing interest. It has intimate connection with Panchagni-Vidya or the science of transmigration propounded in the Chhandogya Upanishad.

This book contains abundant information on this subject. It will give you a wealth of facts on this topic. It contains the essence of the Upanishadic teachings.

The writings in this book are far more extensive than the ones I’ve cited here (Vichar Sagar). They talk about the same or similar things, e.g.

CONCLUSION

Now, there might be some sense in the Upanishads (nothing written by humans is entirely bereft of sense) but it would be false to suggest that these have anything to do with reason. These remain the wild speculative assertions of ignorant humans.

We can learn nothing useful from them. There was an extraordinarily fertile period of free thought in India around 2500 years ago. One branch was Upanishadic thought (as well) – which I don’t value as highly as I do many other strands of Indian thought from that period.

The Upanishads don’t tell us about the origin of Indians from Africa – for instance. The Upanishads (along with all other religious literature) are an early work of human imagination, like ancient cave paintings.

I’ll comment a bit further on the Upanishads and their alleged relationship with critical thinking. time permitting.

 

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To the foolish anarcho-capitalists, I cite this as PROOF that man is a nationalistic animal. BORDERS ARE REAL.

There are a number of anarcho-capitalists who argue for open borders.

I have argued against them on numerous occasions.

In this case all I’m going to do is to cite 19:40 to 20:25 of the following video:

I rest my case.

Humans fundamentally oppose interactions with other “nationalities”. That’s in our genetic makeup.

Of course, the anarcho-capitalists have nothing to do their own animal biology and purport to live in an ivory tower.

But the stark reality is that we are ANIMALS. Period.

And animals HAVE borders.

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Marx, Gandhi and David Friedman are the same in one thing: all have failed to provide a transition path to freedom

Our fundamental equality arises from being animals of the same species. And yet some of us govern others. These are the Mafia with the capital M. The Government.

How did they get this role and power? We the Hobbesians have it to them.

To fight the Mafia has been the dream of Marx, Gandhi and David Friedman. They all had/have one goal – to make the state wither away, so humans can achieve the intrinsic equality that nature has given all of us.

But they have all failed, and failed miserably in getting rid of the Mafia.

Why is that so?

Because there is really no method consistent with human history other than using the government itself as a pathway towards a government-free society.

We need a transition path, which takes us incrementally to the stage where we can hand everything back to the markets, to ourselves.

What that essentially means is designing markets and institutions to allow people to manage their own affairs without recourse to the government.

This is a non-trivial task. We know that it was the advent of big government (kings, emperors) that incrementally led to modern civilisation. So government has played a key role in human advancement, even as governments have been the most vicious oppressors of the people.

There is an underlying “value” that government provides. We need to be able to solve the game theoretic problem that will allow us to achieve the same (or more) value through markets.

The fact that markets have solved such problems on their own is a positive sign (e.g. Hernando De Soto (ref. The Mystery of Capital); and James Tooley (The Beautiful Tree). But there is insufficient understanding of the detailed mechanisms by which markets can be enabled to solve such problems.

The task of philosophers and economists is therefore a detailed and technical one: how to design institutions to make government redundant. That can’t be done through exhortations but through hard intellectual work.

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