Tuesday, August 15, 2017

US Policy in North Korea!

Trump's policy to deal with North Korean problem is quite different from the the policies favored by the previous administrations including those of Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Trump's policy is to bend the affiliation of Kim Jong Un's regime from China and Russia towards the US! You should expect an official  Kim Jong Un visit to the US in the near future as a success of Trump's policy!

Unlike the policy of the previous administrations, the new American poolicy does not aim at a regime change in North Korea! This new approach in the American policy towards North Korean regime has a historical background that needs elaboration.

After the fall of USSR, the dictators and regimes installed and protected by the USSR to serve its interest during the cold war era were left stranded, and their fate looked uncertain.
Both Bush senior and Clinton administrations had a very clear policy towards these communist regimes and dictators.

Post USSR American policy was mainly aimed at supplanting these dictators and regimes--dotted on the world map-- with democratic system and values. Initially the efforts of both Bush Senior and Clinton admnistrations were focussed in the East Europe where the dictators like Chaussesco and Melasevic were removed from the power and the countries were given a democratic system. A better system of governance!
It was easy for the Clinton administration to convince the people living under dictatotships in East Europe, for the people clearly knew that the nations who went with the Western powers had better economic, social, and political life conditions as compared to the countries in the communist world.

The dictators there clearly knew that the US was not going to tolerate any sort of antidemocratic ideaology in the region, and the only chance they had to continue their dictatorial rule was they sought help from Russia. Russia, however, was not in a position to help those regimes, and hence, those dictators generelly fell before the US power.

In the George Bush era, the focus of the US policy shifted towards the Middle East and the Islamic World. In the Islamic world there were two types of dictators and regimes: those who were supported by the West, and those by the USSR. Those who were supported by the USSR included Saddam, Gaddafi, Hafizul Assad, and the Iranian regime. Though the Iraninan regime wasn't installed by the USSR, it was anti West, and hence was on the US list of the regimes to be removed. However, during the Bush era certain incidents and factors rendered the decision making complex.

During the Bush era the situation complicated due to two factors! First of all, the first Gulf war created an antipathy against the West in certain extremist quarters of the Muslim society! A mutiny against the US was initiated by the once pro American Jihadists who participated in the war against the USSR! This mutiny in the Islamic world was led by the rogue organizations like Al Qaeda, and its aim was to remove the Western influence from the Islamic world!

This mutiny led to a terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001! This accidentally changed the US policy, and instead of pursuing regime changes in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, the US went after the Taliban regime in Afghanistan! The Taliban regime was installed by the Pro West Jihadists powers, supported by the front line allies like Saudia and Pakistan!

Hence, President Bush, instead of going after the Bathist-Pro-Soviet dictators,  went after the Taliban regime, and overthrew it with no effort! After the US forces had removed theTaliban regime, President Bush turned his attention towards Iraq, and removed Saddam from Power!

The removal of Saddam opened up a pandora's box of problems for the US strategists, for the sectarian and ethnic conflicts in the region flared up, and the transtion from Saddam's dictatorship towards a robust democratic system couldn't be made. Dictatorship couldn't be supplanted with an effective democracy in the post Saddam Iraq, like it was in the post USSR East Europe. Similarly, in Afghanistan, the reconstruction efforts were  thwarted, for on the one hand the allies of the US like Saudia and Pakistan didn't approve the US relationship with the Shias and the non Pashtun minority, and on the other the newly established democratic government couldn't handle the menace of corruption and lawlessness!

Both Iraq and and Afghanistan turned into great failures for the US policy makers who were thinking about these Middle Eastern and Islamic countries in terms of their successes in the East Europe! In East Europe, once the dictators were removed, the democratic values were lucidly established! However in Afghanistan and Iraq ethnic and Sectarian divideds continued and haunted the US policy makers!

President Bush and his policy makers had no answer to these newly emerging problems, and they just overlooked such problems!

The second problem emerged at home!In the 80's the strong Western rulers like President Regan, and the British PM  Thatcher had in principle accepted the neo liberal philosophy of open market and globalization! The initiated the process of privitization of corporations and services, and worked for the globalization of the world economy.

Furthermore, the leftist Clinton administration took the torch of globalization from the previous administration and established the realm of WTO! However, the WTO regime, globalisation, and free market didn't fare well with the White American labour class and backlashed! Empty ghost towns in the US created due to the shift of labor to the third world rendered the white blue collar Americans job less! The hardline leftist  thinkers in the US criticized Globalization and free market, for it had harmed the Blue collar Americans' economic interest!Thinkers like  Susan George paved the way for a wholesale condemnation of globalization, and provided the blue collar American with an alternative view point.

The situation worsened in the 2008, when the US economy crashed, and sealed the fate of Republican Party for the coming elections. After the economic melt down of the Bush era, a deciive majority turned against the corporate greed and voted for Obama not only in 2008 but also in 2012 elections!

Obama didn't go against globalization, yet he resolved the immediate problems of American economy that emerged in the backdrop of the economic melt down of the Bush era!

In the elections of 2016, Republican party found itself helpless against its own voter who chose Donald as their new president.

I am not going to go into the depths of economic reasons that led to the election of Trump, or the purpose of this article is to explain the US policy in North Korea!

And in order to explain this new policy towed by Secretary Rex Tillerson, I will have to go back to the failures of Obama in the Middle East!

Obama failed in the Middle East! Obama failed to establish democracy and peace in the Middle East like his predecessor George Bush.
Obama continued the efforts to change the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East. However, unlike Bush, Obama favored another path that led towards the aim of removing dictators from their rule. That path was the path of political uprising. The political uprising of the middle, the Arab Spring,  resulted in many revolutions in the Muslim world and removed dictators like Gaddafi and Honi Mubarak.

Despite the successes of  Arab spring certain unacceptable things also resulted from the it. First of all, the countries from where the dictators were removed never returned to normalcy, and the political tumoil worsened into ethnic and sectarian conflicts. Second, in the case of Egypt, an orthodox Islamist regime came into power, and that regime was not acceptable to any of the major player in the region including Saudia, Israel, and the US itself. A counter revolution occured in Egypt and an army general Al Sisi removed Musi from power, and Egypt went back to dictatorial rule.

In Libya and Syria extremist organizations came into prominence. The worst of these extremist organization was ISIS. ISIS appeared on the scene due to the deadly sectarian conflict in Iraq and Syria. ISIS not only threatened the peace in the Middle East, it also carried out deadly terrorist attacks in Europe and America. Arab Spring was largely considered a failure for it didn't produce the desired outcomes.

These outcomes of the Arab Spriong allowed a few in the US to press a review of the anti-dictator, or anti-strongman policy of the US. President Donald Trum, commenting on the Middle East situation during his presedential campaign expressed his wish to back dictators and strongmen in troubled Middle Eastern countries.

Removal of the strongmen from the scene, according to President Trump's vision, resulted in the creation of  ISIS and Sectarian violence. For him the strong man of the Middle East like Saddam,  Gaddafi, and Bashar Ul Assad were successful in establishing peace and were  lesser evils as compared to ISIS.

The Trump Voter saw the Paris attack, the rising Islamic militancy that was caused by the ethnic and sectarian rifts in the Middle East, as immediate adversaries! Such rifts not only harmed peace in the Islamic World but also in Western Europe and America!

By the time Trump came to power, it was the turn of  the South China Sea to receive the tremors of the US policy! While handing Trump the rule of the US, Obama told Trump that North Korea was the next big problem, and there was a Middle Eastern backlog too!

Now for Trump the situation was clear! He had to solve the North Korean , but he was not in favor of regime changes any more!
Hence the policy of the US in North Korea is not of regime change, but to convert the affiliation of Kim Jon Un in favor of the US! He just want Kim Jong Un to change his fidelity from China to the US! That is what the policy of the US is in North Korea! The US wants Kim Jong Un to shift his dependence from CHINA TO THE US!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dostoevsky: The Quantum Mechanics of Emotions

Dostoyevsky is a marvel of Russia! Dostoevsky has shown, through his writings, that humans can fathom the depths of reason without losing the guidance of heart. The great Russian novelist, Dostoevsky, was in fact a mathematician of human emotions. Dostoevsky was a unity of art and higher level mathematics.

Where he shows that he viewd the affairs of human like a Pascal or Al Beruini? When he knits his character through defining his/ her limitations, aspirations, and struggles.
The example of limitations that Dostoevsky beautifully imposed on his characters are economical and emotional , and rational limitations. 

Economical limitations are the most obvious ones! Look at the Characters of Prince Myshkin, Mitya, and Raskolnikov! Donia, Gurushenka, Nastasia and Sonia! These characters are finacially bankrupted , but have great emotional lives. To a certain degree all these characters are difined by their economic worth or worthlessness! 

Money is essential! But money isn't the goal of these characters! These immortal characters live in stark poverty, yet they aren't interested in money: their aims are higher than the gold. Yet it is strange to say that their worse plight, their sufferings are mostly enhanced if not caused by the dearth of money. Mitya needs 3000 roubles, Raskolnikov has no money and has reached his hypondriasis through the route of stark poverty, Prince Myshkin is poor in the initial stages, Donia suffers due to the poverty of her family, and Sonia sells her body to feed the kids of her step mother. Stark poverty is a great source of suffering in Dostoevsky's novels.

Poverty is the route to suffering, yet these magnanimous souls nver run after money! They throw the money in the face of those who want to buy their emotional lives with the help of money. Dostoevky looks too much inspired by the lesson of the Temptations in the New Testament. He has mentioned that incident in the beginning of The Grand Inquisitor. 

Yes! Dostoevsky follows the Christian ideal of a free of temptation love and faith. Where there is a temptation in love, there it becomes worthless! A desire for money cannot be mingled with a desire for love! The result of such conmingling are the characters like the " Fiance of Donia in the Crime and Punishment. The Suitor of Nastasia whom rhagozin insulted in the " Idiot." Even Rakitin is close to such a sinister conmingling of the love for money and love. The result is eternal damnation in the world of Dostoyevsky. 

It is quite clear that money isn't the aim: So Donia doesn't surrender her soul to the lust of Sividrigailov. Raskolnikov didn't allow his sister to Donia to marry the greedy lawyer. He refused the career and money for the sake of true human relations. Nothing is important in this world than human love. 

And yet sometimes reason leaves the love behind, and drives a man crazy! " Ivan was described by Mitya " as a tomb." " Ivan is a tomb" says Mitya.  Why? For Ivan was an embodiment of reason, and it was his reason that ultimately pushed him towards the abyss of madness. 

Raskolnikov was deceived by his reason into an act of utter violence. An act of violence that was a burden on his conscience. " When he was free he was in prison, and when was in prison, he was free! " Says Dostoevsky about Ivan. What was his Prison? In one word , the sting of his conscience. What was his relief? Acceptance of his crime, and go to the prison. The police officer who was following his trail knew that he would eventually confess the crime just because he couldn't bear the perpetual sting of conciense. 

But when the reason reaches its height on its flight under the guidance of love, it reaches the wisdom of Father Zossima, and his disciple Alyosha. THese two embodiments of reason and love are epitome of the Christian ideal in Dostoevsky's world. Father Zossima and Alyosha are always confronted with the paradox of faith, yet they are powerful enough to stand their ground in the face of the attacks of scepticism. Alyosha's faith is always tested, and succeded in defending itself. It was tested by Ivan's reason, by the death of the Saint Zossima, by his own father, by the sufferings of his brothers! And yet it sustains all the attacks. 

Another religious personality is the Idiot, Prince Myshkin. Who this man is? He is an idiot, for he is not selfish, and doesn't guard his self interest. He doesn't have any self interest, not owing to any kind of asceticism, but owing to his mentle illness. He is an idiot! 

And yet his doctor has asked, " Never lie to anyone, and to yourself." This man is a saint in it that he accepts everything that comes to his mind, he never has negative emotions that he could challenge. He only has an acceptance of himself, and he expresses what he feels. Prince Myshkin is like the God's fool whom the God loved. 

Dostoyevsky's world is amazing! It tells us about strange deals! Barters! Every dealing in the world of humans is a well thought out deal! In Insulted and humiliated a little girl, who has no one to take care of her, refuses the custody of a wealthy man. The reason? The wealthy according to that little girl wanted to adopt her because he had abandoned his own daughter. And to fill that gap he wanted to adopt her! The girl laid bare the true motive behind the intent to adopts her and refused to enter that deal.

Katrina Ivanovna had money, beauty, and she apparently even loved Mitya! Yet Mitya knew that she only loved herself, and refused her! Raskolnikov refused the deal between Donia and his fiancee saying that the only purpose he wanted to marry his sister was her povert and beauty. He wanted a wife who would always feel indebted to him! Such relations do not give happiness! 

Raskolnikov criticized Donia for her pity and support for her step mother's kids. That deal was harshly criticized by him, and yet Sonia didn't break that deal! She continued to sell her body for the survival of the kids. 

In such deals, in their explanation and analysis Dostoevsky seems to solve quantum mecjhanical equations of the emotional life! It is here that the mathematical skills of this master artist come to fore!

Khalid Rawat

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Critique of the Hindutva Concept of RSS and BJP:

The concept of Hindutva as presented and pursued by the BJP and RSS nexus has a basic flaw in it. It does not account for the new reality of the subcontinent! Now what is that new reality of the subcontinent that the Hindutva concept failed to address? The new reality is that each and every thinking mind of the subcontinent has to reconcile three authorities! These are Hinduism, Islam, and the Modern Western thought!

The fallacy of Hindutva lies in following the Manu's law as it is! Whereas it is quite clear that Manu's law contradicts certain important aspects of both Islam and the modern Western thought! What are those aspects? In order to know those aspects I would like to start from positing the basic tenets of Manu's laws!

Manu's law divides human population into four Vernas or classes according to their virtues! Manu's law rightly identifies that a society functions on the basis of four cardinal virtues! These virtues are Wisdom and knowledge, and Brahman class represents it. The second virtue is of courage and Kshatriya class represents it! The third vitue is the accumulation of wealth and marketing, and the Vaish class masters it. And the fourth virtue is of temperance that the Dalit or the service offering class has to master!

THese four cardinal virtues are necessary for the society! Manu Smitri has asked the society to promote and preserve these virtues! For a society needs a knowledge base, and a law giving class! A defending class embodied in the Kshatriya! A wealth earning class represented by the Vaish! And a service offering class represented by the working or the labor class!

Manu Smitri is brilliant in it that it has instituted laws to perfect these virtues, and advocated a class based society! Manu Smitri, or Manu's law wants to evolve social classes that are reared up to practice these virtues! It is a deep idea, and it requires a lot of discussion to understand its true merits! I have no objection on it!

However, after the advent of Islam, a new virtue was given the cardinal importance! And that virtue is the vitue of Taqwa! Taqwa means to abstain from the wrong doings, and practice the right parh! If we combine Manu's virtues with Taqwa we come across an interesting situation! Islam recognizes that Brahman is for knowledge, Khatriya is for courage, Vaish is for wealth and Shudra is for the services! However, in the course of history these four virtues were compromised! And vested interests stopped the Brahman from the true service of Knowledge! Kshatriya compromised honor! Vaish aspired to rule! And the Shudra aspired to pursue its material desires!

Islamic virtue of Taqwa asks all these four Vernas to sacrifice their ulterior motives for their Cardinal virtues! That is Taqwa! So Taqwa basically askes the Brahman to sacrifice everything else for the acquisition of knowledge! Taqwa asks Kshatriya to abandon anything else for the sake of honor! It asks Vaish to earn wealth for the socirty! It asks the sevice or the proleteriate class to perfect their skills!

It is quite evident that the cardinal virtue of Taqwa is essential for the society! It is a necessary virtue, for in the course of history the Vernas started following other motives! Taqwa is an essential part to be preaced in Hindutva!

The in put of the Western philosophy is also important and unavoidable!

In the Western tradition the believe in the functionalism of the four Vernas! But they say that in the modern times, since every Verna is corrupted, therefore it is no longer important to give the birth right to the classes! Modern West is against the birth right! It says that a Shudra can have an appetite for knowledge far exceeding the whole Brahman class! A Brahman can be a greater Vaish than any Vaish! And you can extend this line of thought to understand the fact that the birth right is no longer relevant! So the Western though promotes merit! It says that we accept the four Vernas but it is not a matter of birth right!

No my point is that! If you want to institute Manu Smitri in today's world, you should promote both Taqwa and Merit!

Merit means even a Shudra can be a Kshtriya! And Taqwa means that a Kshtriya, selected on the merit should religiously follow his merit! This is what I want to say! I will write further on this subject if you ask me questions! But My conclusion is that: Manu, Islam, and the West don't contradict but supplement each other! I invite questions from the reader! And this means BJP_ RSS has to promote all three concepts of  society in the Indian subcontinent! 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Reflections on Nietzsche's philosophy

Nietzsche’s Philosophy
Nietzsche’s philosophy is not as complicated as it appears to be. The reason it appears complicated is that people try to read some absolute meaning in it, which obviously it does not offer. People try to see his philosophy as a positivistic fat or reality, which obviously it isn’t. Like everything else it is open to interpretation.
So how should we approach Nietzsche? The answer is we should approach Nietzsche in a manner that allows us to interpret his philosophy in a certain paradigm of meaning. A paradigm that befits our own individual situations.
What I am proposing here is an interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy from my perspective.
Nietzsche’s Theory of Language
In the Semitic religious tradition, the most praised intellectual quality of humans is termed as the ability to name things. This ability to name things places humans above angels and the rest of the creation.
“And He taught Adam the names—all of them. And then He showed them to angels and asked, “Inform me of the names of these, if you are truthful.”
The angels couldn’t name the animals, but when the Lord asked Adam, he successfully named everything before him.
This ability to name things is the very basis of the human cognitive abilities. Man knows his world, and the objects in it through their names.
What is a name? In the world of linguistics, a name is called a sign, and it is a combination of two things. A sound, or a word, and a concept. The sound or the word we use in a name joins with a concept to form a name.
It is said that the sound or the word we choose for a concept in a name is arbitrary, means there may or may not be a reason behind its choice.
The other part of a name or a sign, the concept, is formed through a long social process. This process is very much like the process of qualitative research.
The process of research starts with something that we want to study. We gather data about that entity, analyze it and then formulate a theory about that entity, after careful sifting and reductions.
The same process is used in the formation of concepts. People of a community interact with an entity or a situation. They share their experience with each other through mutual discussions, and then, after a process of reduction, in which everything non-essential is removed from different experiences, a general concept is formed.
This concept is assigned a sound image, and the way this sound image is chosen isn’t based on any resemblance with the object it names. Like the word lion that we use for the concept of lion doesn’t bear any resemblance with the being it designates.
However, once a sound image is chosen for a concept, no one is allowed to use it for any concept other than the one for which it was chosen.
This regularity in the use of a certain sound image for a certain image is ensured and guaranteed by a strict tradition or convention.
Hence, we cannot use the word poor to designate a rich man, and if someone does so, use the designation rich for the poor, he will be called a liar.
A liar is the one who defies the conventional use of a sign, and uses it to designate a being for which it is not conventionally used. A fox can’t be called a wolf, and a wolf a fox.
This then is the sense in which we use the designations truth and lie. Truth means to stick to the convention, and lie mean to defy the tradition.

This sense of truth and lie has a great consequence for the societies where certain concepts become debatable.

Dewey and Pedagogical content knowledge

Lee Schulman’s concept of a teacher’s work and knowledge, which is dominating the research interests in the present time, categorizes it as something which is closer to the notion of techne in Aristotle. This type of characterization of PCK or teacher’s work as techne stands in sharp contrast with the understanding of teacher’s work which is closer to the notion of phronesis or practical wisdom.
Lee Schulman has identified PCK as a special blending of content and pedagogical knowledge, while keeping in view the specific needs of learners, to be utilized in a classroom. He has actually presumed the distinction between the content and method to postulate that it is through a long experience and trial and error that a teacher comes to develop an effective blend of content and method. This formulation presumes that there is a content, which a teacher has to give a form, while utilizing the pedagogical strategies that he or she has learned from different sources.
Moreover, the activity of blending the content and method cannot possibly be an end in itself as far as teaching is concerned. Whatever maybe the place where this blending takes place, whether it takes place during a teacher’s interaction with his her students or while a teacher is reflecting on the experiences, it is true that it is the product of this blending that is important. The process of blending is not in itself a source of complete satisfaction for the teacher.
Aristotle while describing the nature of techne describes it as an activity that comprises in producing something out of nothing through blending a particular form with a content, through an activity guided by true reason. Techne does not have its goal within its activity; its goal is the product that is the end result of an activity.
This concept of techne closely resembles Schulman’s notion of PCK. In both cases there is an agent who is involved in giving a certain content a certain form through a chain of activities guided by reason. Both have an end product that is different from the initial stuff , that is content and form, and to both the activity in itself is not the final aim. The final aim is the product , that is to be utilized in a certain situation.

Although Schulman has acknowledged that he has followed the footsteps of Dewey among others in developing his ideas, his formulation of teachers work stands in a stark contrast with that of Dewey. Dewey’s notion of teacher’s work is closely associated with the Aristotelian notion of phronesis.
Phronesis, according to Aristotle, is different from techne in it that it is first of all concerned with doing , and secondly , it has no aim beyond the action itself. The aim and means in phronesis remain so close to each other that the performance of activity itself becomes the aim. One who exercises phronesis aims at the general good which is happiness or eudaimonia , and which is achieved by a morally good person as he or she performs the chosen activity. Phronesis involves in acting according to one’s dispositions and  the activity thus performed always results in satisfaction. A virtuous action is an end in itself, and does not aim at anything beyond it.

Dewey’s understanding of a teacher’s work is closely related to this formulation of phronesis. Since Phronesis is different from techne, there is no question of blending a form and a content, to produce an end result. Similarly in Dewey’s concept of education the dichotomy between the form and the content is overcome. This renders education a form closer to phronesis.

The accounts of teachers’ experiences reported by various prominent researchers have suggested that the course of reaching success in teaching closely resembles the practice of practical wisdom. Let us see how the concepts used by Aristotle in the depiction of phronesis can be applied to the experiences of the teacher to develop a better understanding of the process of the development of PCK.
Saint Thomas Aquinas has described teaching as a combination of contemplative and active pursuits. One’s knowledge of the subject that one teaches, his knowledge of the various truths related to the learners and the issues of learning and one’s knowledge of the various methods of teaching corresponds to the contemplative side of the activity of teaching. Whereas, when a teacher enters a particular situation in which he or she has to teach a certain subject to the learners, to this or that particular learner, a teacher enters the domain of the active side of the teaching. And it is here that the understanding of practical wisdom helps us.
A successful teacher is in fact a practically wise person, who possess and practices phronesis. Thus, the teacher as a practically wise person has to satisfy certain condition of being practically wise. And there are two such conditions. Since practical wisdom enables a man to desire a correct end and a correct way of reaching that aim, therefore, a practically wise teacher should be able to desire correctly and should be able to select a proper means to do so.
What does a teacher desire? The desire of a teacher is to teach a piece of knowledge to his students. And his choice of the course of action to achieve this end is his method. And this choice of the means and end should be guided by the virtue or the disposition of the mind that a teacher has.
So what is the virtue of a teacher? What bent of mind should a teacher possess? The answer lies in the rising value that the educationist now a days place on democratic model of education, in which a learner is active and educational process is based on the true motivation of the learner to learn. The aspiration of a teacher towards the democratic and interactive model of education of Dewey is the right bent of mind for a teacher. So the virtue that the teacher of our times has to practice, and the value that a teacher is taught in the modern day teachers’ training program is that of democratic interactive model proposed by Dewey.
Teachers of our time are disposed towards the democratic mode. Their teachers teach them to value the modern educational ideals. This valuation of the democratic and interactive model develops a conscience in teachers that feels bad whenever a teacher fails to act in its direction. And that’s what John Loughran et al have described in their research titled Learning through experiencing. They equated the instant when a teacher realizes that something is wrong with his her teaching as a moment of awakening, and usually this moment of awakening lies in realizing that they have to replace the transmissive learning mode with an interactive one. They write:

Attempting to meet such aims obviously confronts the notion of teaching as transmission of information. However, in attempting to address these concerns, Mandi and Philippa found it to be demanding work. There was little real support available to them...Therefore , they were left to work through their issues alone and to construct their teaching in new and different ways...”

The further write:
“Just as Garry Hoban experienced an awakening in relation to his views of and subsequent approaches to teaching, for many teachers there are ongoing and subtle reminders of the mismatch between their
intentions for teaching and the practice that evolves as a consequence of the dailiness of teaching
(Loughran & Northfield, 1996).”

This clearly shows that it is an inner sense of dissatisfaction from the traditional way of teaching that changes the practice of a teacher. This type of awakening is in fact the awakening of a new virtue and new value system in education.
This is further enhanced by the excerpt:

PEEL (Baird & Mitchell, 1986; Baird & Northfield, 1992; Loughran, 1999) is an example of a
movement in education that directly responds to teachers’ concerns about students’ passive learning;
which itself is partly a consequence of “traditional” teaching. PEEL teachers view teaching as
problematic and have become expert at developing teaching procedures that are the antithesis of
transmissive teaching. The accumulated wisdom of practice evident in their work (shared and
disseminated through a diverse range of meetings, conferences, and publications) is driven by their desire to challenge students’ passive learning habits in order to develop their metacognitve skills, and to
therefore become more active, purposeful learners. As a consequence, PEEL teachers’ knowledge of
teaching is such that it demonstrates how thinking about teaching as something more than the delivery of information, is a foundation to strong, ongoing professional learning.

However the practice of this new virtue in one’s professional life is not easy. One finds oneself at odds with the whole system of education, with the routines one has to follow. The opposition is strong but not invincible.

Researches on PCK  have also revealed that teachers sometimes find what they have learnt from their teachers’ training courses in part irrelevant to the practical situation.

“What Mandi and Philippa then came to recognize was that the changes in their teaching comprised a
journey, not an event. They did not teach one way at the start of their adventure and then suddenly
transform their teaching overnight to become new and different teachers. They came to develop their
teaching as they experimented with their practice and built new understandings of teacher and student
learning. Their journey involved many false starts, much frustration, considerably more work and time
and the development of new scripts that challenged their previous routines in teaching science. Their
professional learning, while being personally rewarding, was not something able to be garnered from a
book on curriculum reform, or developed as a result of an in-service or professional development activity. “

The statement above that says that the professional learning has nothing to with the in-service professional development activity does not seem apt. For if teaching is the exercise of practical wisdom or phronesis, it should know both universal and the particular. Like a doctor who knows that this or that medicine cures this or that disease from his learning at the school, but knows how to use the medicine to cure a particular person only from experience. Similarly, the universal concepts of education should be known for their knowledge can be very effective in dealing with the particular situation.

Lee Schulman described pedagogical content knowledge as a special blend of content knowledge and pedagogical strategies that a teacher uses in the teaching of a particular content area.
Researches on the nature of pedagogical content knowledge have described it as a highly content, context and person specific knowledge. It is a knowledge that results from years of practice and reflection on practice and it involves taking a right pedagogical decision at a right time and for the right purpose.
Thus pedagogical content knowledge does not only involve the in depth knowledge of the content area but it also involves a correct use of reasoning as to the selection of a proper strategy to teach that content to the student while keeping in view the specific students requirements in terms of their learning needs .
This way of describing pedagogical content knowledge makes it so specific that it is believed that it cannot be delivered to the teachers through instruction alone. Some of the researches suggested that owing to its specific nature, PCK can only develop through practice.
Although this way of characterizing PCK identifies it as a strictly specific type of knowledge, yet to be a type of knowledge there must be some kind of universal element in it. For the knowledge of a specific situation in which there is no element of generality cannot be called knowledge proper. Knowledge basically is an interaction between subject and object and hence bears the characteristics of both.
An in-service or pre-service teachers’ training program can contribute towards the development of PCK through teaching the general ideas related to the blend of content and method.

Nietsche's concept of Aristocracy

Nietzsche’s Concept of Aristocracy

Nietzsche has described the aim of his philosophic endeavor quite clearly, and that aim is to build an aristocracy for Europe that can create a thousand years long empire. He writes:
“But here it is expedient to break off my festal discourse…for I have already reached my serious topic, the “European problem,” as I understand it, the rearing of a new ruling caste to Europe.”
For Nietzsche, the real threat to Europe comes from Russia, whose disintegration he views in promoting the democratic ideal there. Russia for Nietzsche is a thousand years old empire that has acquired the qualities of a crocodile, that waits for its prey, hiding its predator energies behind its apparent laziness, but once it finds its prey within its reach, it devours it.  …But it is strongest and most surprising of all in that immense middle empire where Europe as it were flows back to Asia—namely, in Russia. There the power to will has been long stored up and accumulated, there the will—uncertain whether to be negative
That merely is the political background of his own age, in which Nietzsche wanted to create a European aristocracy, otherwise the reason behind his will to create a new aristocracy in Europe, is to assure a more stable European society. He writes:
“I mean such an increase in the threatening attitude of Russia, that Europe would have to make up its mind to become equally threatening—namely, to acquire one will, by means of a new caste to rule over the continent, a persistent, dreadful will of its own, that can set it aims thousands of years ahead; so that the long spun-out comedy of its petty stateism, and its dynastic as well as its democratic many-willedness, might finally brought to a close. The time for petty politics is past; the next century bring the struggle for the dominion of the world.”

Larry Hickman and technology

Dewey’s Philosophy of Technology: A bridge between theory and practice

In most of his writings, Professor Larry Hickman has presented three main ideas regarding Dewey’s philosophy of technology:
1.    How Dewey is similar to and different from the traditions of postmodernism and philosophy of analysis
2.    What is Dewey’s understanding of technology
3.    How this understanding of technology results in constructing a better society
It seems that the modern day commentators are quite unable to fathom Dewey’s philosophy of technology and are more or less caught in categories that do not cover the whole scope of Dewey’s philosophy. Some are committed to the destruction of metaphysics, and some are committed to criticize modernity, thus evading by a distance the true meaning of Dewey’s philosophy. Their perspective do not show them the whole of Dewey’s philosophy in a brighter light and leaves great masses of shadowy areas, leaving the reader in confusions and darkness on every now then.
In one of his essays Professor Hickman writes:
“Put another way, one of the central strands of American philosophy, Pragmatism, offers a third option, between Anglo-American conceptual analysis and French-inspired postmodernism. Its broad reach transcends the analysis of concepts and definitions in order to engage the real-world problems of men and women. And at the same time it rejects the notion of a “grand narrative,” it also transcends the postmodernist denial of commonality and referentiality. It engages the physical and social sciences, as well as technology, in ways that are rarely found within other philosophical traditions. (Contrary to the claims of some of his critics, Dewey also rejected the positivists' search for the “foundations” of science and mathematics, which he thought worked quite well enough and thus required no foundations).”(Larry Hickman, Why American Philosophy)

Professor Hickman has placed Dewey between Postmodernism and Anglo-American conceptual analysis. What is Anglo-American philosophy of analysis? It actually shares with pragmatism a general task and objective. The task of overthrowing, in the words of Hickman , the jettison of metaphysical ideas. Post modernism , owing to its Nietzschean background is originally a critique on the father of philosophy of analysis, positivism(postmodernism only partially shares the task of Nietzsche’s philosophy ,or any genuine philosophy in general, and feels content with the criticism of positivism and does not go on to posit new ideas). So here post modernism shares a basic task with Dewey’s pragmatism. The task of criticizing the reductionist approach of positivism and consequently of Anglo –saxon philosophy of Analysis.
Thus Dewey both shares certain aspects of Post modernism and philosophy of analysis and differs in other. This places Dewey at a point where he can carry out his pragmatic pursuit of building up consensus.  Professor Hickmann writes in his essay Why American Philosophy?
“American philosophy has its roots in the experimentalism that was required by a people who faced the task of coming to terms with the uncertainties of a radically new environment. But a true experimentalism always reaches out in an attempt to be inclusive – as American Pragmatist Jane Addams learned to do during her late 19th and early 20th century experiments with Hull House, the settlement house located in a section of Chicago where recently arrived immigrants spoke more than a score of different languages and where sharply differing customs rubbed up against one another. Her search for unity in diversity – a richly American concept – was to become a central feature of Dewey's philosophical outlook.“
The search for reconciliation of differences, cooperative attitude, merging and diffusing the previously hold boundaries for practical aims , such seeds constitute the real spirit of Dewey’s pragmatism.

Having postulated the general traits of Dewey’s philosophy , Professor Hickman has also identified the general outlines of his philosophy of technology. However the task is rendered very difficult by the fact that Dewey’s philosophy is very intricate. At a point professor Hickman has quoted one of his collegues as equating Dewey’s philosophy with a cobweb, easy to be traversed by an insider but very intricate for an outsider.
This intricacy is obviously because of the reason that people try to locate Dewey in one or the other category of philosophers, whereas Dewey does not fall within these narrow categorizations. 
As far as Dewey’s philosophy of technology is concerned it is repeatedly presented as a bridge between theory and practice. Technology as the bridge between theory and practice and having mixed traits of both theory and practice seems to be the great solution for all sociall problems and questions. The nature of tools is reconceived as including both tangible and intangible tools in the form of concepts and theories. Professor Hickman writes:
“At the heart of Dewey's philosophy of technology is his theory of inquiry, or deliberation.Breaking with the long tradition of Western epistemology, Dewey argued that inquiry isneither primarily theoretical nor primarily practical. It is instead a kind of production. Hethought that inquiry starts with raw materials and then reworks them with specializedtools. “
Inquiry is equated with production. This gives the idea that Dewey is actually trying to bring the task of theoretical reasoning to those who are involved in practical pursuits. This obviously is the greatest difference between Dewey and other thinkers from the tradition belonging to Aristotle and Plato.
One important point to be noted here is the type of commitment with technology in people like Borgmann and other commentators mentioned by professor Hickman, both in his essays and his book, seems to be different from that of Dewey’s. Dewey’s commitment with technology is a response to the problems emerged due to a new environ, a new society and landscape and a global change in the ideas and social structure. On the other hand,  recent commentators do not have any such meaningful task in their hands and sight. Their attempt is limited to the understanding of how people understand technology. Some are technophobic and others technophillic and nothing in between.
It seems that the evaluations and estimation of the modern commentators on technology do not have the merit to comment and evaluate Dewey. Actually most of them are not qualified to do so.
Those who are under the sway of postmodernism do not take into account the fallacies that postmodernists commit in their readings of philosophy. Philosophy is not a mere criticism, philosophy is a normative statement beyond narration of facts and criticism.

Similarly , positivists also relied on a mere criticism of metaphysics and did not have the merit of uttering any value statement, which obviously requires a courage and a holistic understanding resulting from the concrete experience of the philosopher.

Reflections on Pedagogical content knowledge

Lee Schulman described pedagogical content knowledge as a special blend of content knowledge and pedagogical strategies that a teacher uses in the teaching of a particular content area.
Researches on the nature of pedagogical content knowledge have described it as a highly content, context and person specific knowledge. It is a knowledge that results from years of practice and reflection on practice and it involves taking a right pedagogical decision at a right time and for the right purpose.
Thus pedagogical content knowledge does not only involve the in depth knowledge of the content area but it also involves a correct use of reasoning as to the selection of a proper strategy to teach that content to the student while keeping in view the specific students requirements in terms of their learning needs .
This way of describing pedagogical content knowledge makes it so specific that it is believed that it cannot be delivered to the teachers through instruction alone. Some of the researches suggested that owing to its specific nature, PCK can only develop through practice.
Although this way of characterizing PCK identifies it as a strictly specific type of knowledge, yet to be a type of knowledge there must be some kind of universal element in it. For the knowledge of a specific situation in which there is no element of generality cannot be called knowledge proper. Knowledge basically is an interaction between subject and object and hence bears the characteristics of both.
The situation can be viewed in the light of Aristotle's distinction between a man of experience and the artist. Art lies in knowing the reason for one's prticular choice in a particular situation, where as

Schulman Pedagogical content knowledge

Although Schulman(1986) acknowledged Dewey as one of the pre cursors of his ground breaking idea of PCK, no one has paid much attention towards the works of Dewey to find out his understanding of PCK . Lougharn(2012) claimed that each and every teacher has its own PCK, which maybe similar t or different from the PCK of other teachers. Moreover, different researchers have also identified certain important domain of PCK. Mostly it comprises knowledge of the content to be taught, teaching strategies that fit best to teach that content, student’s way of learning that content and curricular knowledge.
Not many researchers however have pointed out any kind of organized account of a teacher’s PCK. Mostly the teacher’s accounts of their PCK are in the form of raw data, needed further work to rduce the concrete account in the form ideas.
PCK does not owe its existence to Schulman’s articulation and discovery of PCK. It must be there right from the beginning. On this ground it can be said that teachers , even before the discovery of PCK, had this type of knowledge, if PCK has to qualify as an essential trait of a teacher. This amounts to saying that teachers of the past also had PCK , and not only that had their own PCK, they must also have expressed it .
Dewey being a great teacher himself and an ardent researcher and learner of educational processes and teaching, also had his notion of PCK, which he did not obviously presented under the title PCK, but must have presented in his writings. However, there are certain claims in modern research on PCK that can be utilized to confront this view that Dewey’s general reflections on method and content and cannot be subsumed under the heading of PCK.
In certain researchers it is claimed that the knowledge of pedagogical strategies that a teacher possesses is of a generic character, whereas the knowledge of content is actually of a concrete and specific nature. In other researches, this claim is contested and it is said that even the knowledge of pedagogical strategies is of a specific nature. They put forward the difficulty which a teacher faces in teaching a subject outside his or her content area. So if a math teacher, who knows his PCK well in the case of mathematics, teaches physics, he or she is certain to face difficulties finding proper strategies to teach physics.
If we grant the later view that teacher’s knowledge of pedagogical strategies is of a specific nature rather than a generic one, we, cannot deny the fact that a teacher, who in the course of time, has developed PCK in two different content areas, can somehow reflect on his or her PCK of both subjects to furnish the similarities and differences between the two. In case such an account is produced by a teacher, who has simultaneously mastered teaching of two domains of content area,  then that account can recognized as a general statement of pedagogical content knowledge.
Some people would argue that PCK of one subject is so different from that of the other that there is no possibility of drawing any similarity between the two.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Slave: A story from the prehistoric times

The Slave

The Slave is a story of a man who was enslaved by a newly emerging power. He escaped their captivity and established his own kingdom. A great thriller, romance and fiction.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Reality of ISIS(Islamic State of Iraq and Syria):

The Reality of ISIS(Islamic State of Iraq and Syria):

The Revolution: A Novel from prehistoric past
Apparently the name ISIS for the recently emerged militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a common name, but it is symbolic and has a deep relationship with Arab nationalism.
ISIS was the Egyptian goddess who led a political movement to take back the throne of Egypt from Seth. Seth killed Osiris, her husband and fatherly figure of Egypt(Osiris is some time equated with prophet Idris in Islamic tradition), and cut his phallus through intrigue. Isis reared up her son Horus who fought and defeated Seth and reclaimed the throne of Egypt, the root of all Middle Eastern Civilizations.
Isis was a symbol of political resistance to reinstate the right ruler, the true heir of the ancient father king Osiris.
In the present case, the Islamists joined hands with the nationalist Baa'th party to avenge the various Osiris like figures of Arabia like Saddam, Gaddafi(whose phallus was infact cut by the revolutionaries), Yasir arafat etc. ISIS, the fearsome alliance between the nationalist Arabs and Islamist has revived this ancient symbol of political struggle and it's goddess Isis. Isis was worshipped in various forms throughout the world in pre Islamic and pre Christian era.

Osiris, the husband of Isis is regarded as a sacred figure in Islamic Sufi and mainstream tradition. His green color is equated with Khizr and Idris. The green of Osiris is already the sacred color of Turkish and Iraqi Sunnis all over the world. Osiris is also significant in various Sufi orders like Bahais have a Osiris Sufi order. Naqshbandiya claim that they have their origin in Khizr(khizr is also equated with Osiris).
Isis is sometimes equated with Ishtar in Mesopotamia and Al- Uzza in ancient Arabia. ISIS was part of the trinity of Osiris, Isis and Horus. The father, the mother and the son, and in recent example it is replaced with the trinity of Saddam(Osiris or father), ISIS(the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria) and the allegedly coming new ruler of Iraq(the son Horus, maybe the son of Saddam or Gaddafi).

The strange thing is that the Shia also cherish a myth comparable to that of the political resistance of Isis, the goddess. shia conflict with Sunnis is for the heir-ship to caliphate. Shia struggle revolves around reinstating a legitimate ruler to the Caliphate of Islam. 
Khalid Jamil Rawat

Sunday, March 23, 2014

John Dewey


The Revolution: A Novel from Ancient past
John Dewey is one the great and famous thinker of 20th century. His book “Democracy and Education” is one of the most authentic works on education. He was born in America on 25 October 1859. He was awarded degree of PhD at the age of 25 years. Dewy served as a professor of philosophy in many universities of America.

Taneja (2001) claimed that The term pragmatism is derived from Greek word meaning action from which the words practical and practice have come.. Pragmatists are practical people believing in finishing the book here, solving the problem now making the social contact immediately striking the business deals at once. The emphasis of pragmatism is on action rather then on thought.

Thought is subordinated to action it is made an instrument to find the suitable means for action that is why pragmatism is also called instrumentalism. According to this the thinker is the manipulator not is holder he is engaged in his actions.

 Ideas are tools. Thought enlarges its scope and usefulness by testing itself on practical issues. Pragmatism also locates, identifies or traces values in the human experience. Pragmatism is also called experimentalism at first the man thinks in a more and more thoughtful nature as he approaches further he experience new things in his habit structure and doing the hard work which is the right way pragmatism accept everything that has practical consequences.

Pragmatism believe that man is a biological and social organism the man acts only where there is a biological and social stimulation pragmatism examines the great question of what is true? and answer that anything which helps in achieving our purposes and goals of life and works best in advancing and developing our life is true pragmatists’ also lay great stress on environment pragmatism has influenced education to the maximum extent. It makes activity the basis of all teaching and prefers self activity in the context of the cooperative activity. Individual must be respected and education be planned to cater to individual capacities.

 In order to produce creative, resource full and adaptable minds children should have conditions in the school which are conducive to the creation of these qualities of mind children should not be asked to work according to predetermined goals. The children should determine their goals according to their needs. UN like idealist the pragmatists are not interested in lectures because they require the children not to sit still and theoretical exposition they want them to do something children interact with their teachers and with their fellow students.

In pragmatism there is no place for reward and punishment as every activity is to be done in social setting where all the members are equal. The child has to become an enlighten member of the society. In conclusion it must be said that pragmatist philosophy is the practical philosophy having no fixed or absolute standards.


According to Purkait (2006) His philosophy of education is based on change, process, relatively and reconstruction of experience.

Experience is a key word in Dewey’s philosophy of education. It may be destined as interaction of the human organization with the environment. Since living depends on the ability to solve problems therefore education is that which cultivates problem solving skills and methods.

Problem solving method is very useful in developing social qualities in the learner. Problem solving means that education like life is a practice that involves the continuous reconstruction of experience. The experience meant that human purpose and plans could only be validated by acting on them and judging them by their consequences.

Most other philosophies of education emphasize bodies of substantive knowledge us subject matter discipliner. Dewey stresses the methodology or process of problem solving. Education for Dewey is the continual. Reconstruction of experience and knowledge.
Goal of Education:
1) To look after the psychological needs of the child by catering to individual difference.
2) To consider the social conditions in which the child lives.
Dewey’s conception of education:
1) life itself is education
2) Education is growth.
3) Education is the process of the reconstruction of experience.
4) Education is a means to transmit and transform culture.

Steps in the problem solving method:
1) The students must sense a difficulty.
2) Students explore and define it.
3) Once the situation is thoroughly problem surveyed and analyzed, suggestions will arise of how to solve the problem.
4) The student must reason out the implications of these suggestions.
5) He puts he suggestions that most likely to solve the problem.

According to Khalid (1990) Problem solving construction is the concept of experience, or the idea that the totality of events and activities that students carry out under the school direction as part of the planned learning process will produce certain desirable traits or behaviors. The problem method as Dewey presented it seems to have a very logical order of development. But when he gives his views about interest he is talking of psychology also.

In Dewey thinking the logical and psychological are not opposed but mutually dependent. Dewey’s concept of activity and social process brought a change in the old practice of classroom discipline. In the school he had in mind he expected that there would be more noise and disorder than in the conventional one. He believed that when the children would be busy in finding ways and means to solve a common problem there would be much more noise as compared to the class where children sit silently listening to the teacher. He was against the traditional concept of discipline.

He said that the behavior and conduct of the student should not be regulated by artificial means. Instead the teacher should provide them with the right kind of environment so that the activities of the students may go in a co-operative manner. He added that the purpose of discipline should be to develop social attitudes, social interests and social habits. Moreover, this method introduced children to the methods of experimental problem-solving in which mistakes were an important part of learning.

Providing children with ‘first-hand experience, ‘the problematic situations largely of their own making, was the key to Dewey’s pedagogy. He believed that ‘until the emphasis changes to the conditions which make it necessary for the child to take an active share in the personal building up of his own problems and to participate in methods of solving them (even at the expense of experimentation and error) the mind is not really freed’. Dewey gave a new concept of education too. To him education is a necessity of life and a lifelong process and education is not for the future life but it is life itself.

Singh (2007) claimed that the child and the curriculum are simply two limits which define a single process. Just as two points define a straight line, so the present standpoint of the child and the facts and truths of studies define instruction. It is continuous reconstruction, moving from the child's present experience out into that represented by the organized bodies of truth that we call studies.
The old education was largely fixed in subject matter, authoritarian in methods, and mainly passive and receptive from the side of the young. The imagination of educators did not go beyond provision of a fixed and rigid environment of subject matter, one drawn moreover from sources altogether too remote from the experience of the pupil.

On the positive side Dewey was convinced that the ordinary contacts of day to day community life, be they social, economic, cultural or political, provided real and significant learning situations. For Dewey politics was not just a matter of national importance removed from the concern of the ordinary citizen but a matter of vital and immediate interest to the community. He believed that the school should prepare the child for active participation in the life of the community: he believed that education must break down, rather than reinforce, the gap between the experience of schooling and the needs of a truly participatory democracy. The school is primarily a social institution.

Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.
Dewey's curriculum in the school was not intended to implement a structured pedagogical plan. It was intended as a curriculum in two senses: firstly it was intended to facilitate research and experimentation into new principles and methods and secondly, it was designed to allow the children to take an experimental approach to their own learning.
The curriculum of the school was to be the testing ground for Dewey's philosophical ideas and their implementation: education is the laboratory in which philosophical distinctions become concrete and are tested. If we are willing to conceive of education as the process of forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual and emotional, toward nature and fellow men, philosophy may even be defined as the general theory of education.
According to Khalid (1990) the furniture of the traditional school tells the story of traditional education; it is a story of Submission, immobility, passivity and dependency. In the old system it was the function of teachers to motivate the child - against his/her immediate interests - to learn the established subjects. He said that I know of no more demoralizing doctrine than the assertion that after subject matter has been selected, and then the teacher should make it interesting.
The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but ids there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these influence.
The old, subject centered system subdivides each topic into studies; each study into lessons; each lesson into specific facts and formulae, emphasis is put on the upon the logical subdivisions and consecutions of the subject matter, subject matter furnishes the end and it determines method. The child is simply the immature being who is to be matured; he is the superficial being who is to be deepened; his is narrow experience which is to be widened. It is his to receive, to accept. His part is fulfilled when he is ductile and docile. By contrast to the traditional approach Dewey put the pupil at the centre of education as a willful, purposive and active agent in the learning process.
The child is the starting point, the centre, and the end. His development, his growth, is the ideal. ... To the growth of the child all studies are subservient; they are instruments valued as they serve the needs of growth. Personality, character, is more than subject matter. Not knowledge or information, but self-realization, is the goal. To posses all the world of knowledge and lose one's own self is as awful a fate in education as in religion.
The curriculum of the school operated on three simple principles which informed Dewey's educational philosophy.
The first principle was that the business of the school is to train children in co-operative and mutually helpful living - to help them to grow into community: the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child's powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself.
The second principle was that the foundation of all educative activity must be in the instinctive, impulsive activities of the child, and not in the presentation and application of structured, external material.

If we eliminate the social factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction; if we eliminate the individual factor from society, we are left only with an inert mass. Finally the laboratory school promoted the child's individual tendencies and activities. These were to be organized and directed to promote the idea of co-operative living

The child's relation to the curriculum is not the subordination of the child to the existing established knowledge, nor is it the abandonment of established existing knowledge for an anarchic child centered approach.
The young child is not conscious of subject barriers; he views knowledge as a key to life and his questions concerning the world around him range over the whole field of knowledge. The curriculum should reflect this attitude of the child and be seen more as an integral whole rather than as a logical structure containing conveniently differentiated parts. But later the child must come to learn the ways in which human knowledge has been structured into subjects or disciplines. But this is not the starting point. It is a development on the journey.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Meaning of Truth and Allegory of Cave in Plato's Republic

Plato was the most famous Greek philosopher. He was born in Athens, in a noble family. He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. From Socrates, Plato learned the Socratic or dialectic method, which used logic (the use of reason in thought processes) to achieve clear thinking. Plato says that senses are not enough to have the exact knowledge, only through education one can have the exact knowledge.

Plato, in his book the ‘Republic’, has mentioned the Cave allegory. Allegory means something that uses symbols to explain something which is hidden . Cave allegory is basically the search for the ultimate truth. In cave allegory he has used the Sun as the symbol of the ultimate truth; for it is the Sun that gives existence to all physical reality, and likewise it is the God the ultimate truth who illumines the spiritual world.  The true source is sun, which enables everything to exist. However, in a lower realm of understanding, fire is regarded as the source of existence instead of the sun. Similarly in the allegory vision is the symbol of understanding.

In this allegory people were away from truth and reality, they were living with understanding of shadows. For them actual source of living was fire. One person came out from the cave and passed through the whole journey to discover the truth and he discovered that the sun is the actual source of living. This person after becoming enlightened or educated with the knowledge of the ultimate truth, comes back to the cave to liberate the fellow human beings from darkness.

The purpose of the whole journey from the darkness to light was to enlighten the souls of the people, to come out from dark and to become aware of the truth and reality. Human beings learn through imaginations and shadows but Plato says that, through imaginations one cannot have the exact knowledge. If they learn by looking at the real things, senses are involved in it but  senses are not reliable.

Plato says through ‘definitions’ (Mathematics, physics, science etc), one can have the true knowledge. People are able to reason and judge things. Then there is dialectics, it is the science which overthrows all the previous hypotheis. Dialecticians bring revolutions in mind in a positive way. Contemplation and Vision of God is above dialectics. Prophets are the real dialecticians, because they do not give any reasons for their sayings or laws.

According to Plato, the aim of education is for the growth and development of the individual and welfare of the society. The purpose of education is to train the human being, to know his physical, mental and emotional needs. As human being is a social animal, to fulfill physical needs, they need food, clothing and shelter as these are the basic necessities of life.

Plato talks about cardinal virtues of temperance, courage and wisdom. One should also have the self control over excessive desires to become a perfect human being. Emotional needs are related to feelings and expressions. Moreover, if something is good or bad, one must have the courage to speak the truth. Mental needs are related to knowledge. Education develops these virtues in those who naturally possess such tendencies.

One should have enough knowledge to be able to survive as an effective member of the society. However, education prepares individuals to accept the challenges and to perform their duties well; and education is the only source which brings justice in the society.

According to western people Plato was the first one who introduced curriculum. Plato assigned a Greek education for both military and governing classes, which included two divisions of Greek education, music and gymnastics. Music is for the training of soul and gymnastics for the training of body. Plato says that education should become mandatory for all the children and to develop skills and abilities in them. For example, the future carpenter should learn to measure, the future warrior should learn riding etc.

The curriculum designed for the early training, that occupied first seventeen years of life, was compromised of music and gymnastics. Music included poetry, history, drama and oratory. For gymnastics he included dances, hunting and field exercises. Plato did not mention arts in curriculum because he did not feel the importance of manual arts.

He emphasizes on the study of numbers that is arithmetic, it sharpens the mind. Warriors should have the knowledge of arithmetic to be aware of military tactics. He considered geometry as the second branch of education. Geometry elevates the soul and creates the mind of philosophy. Plato recommended another subject for higher education, that is, astronomy.

It is necessary for military purpose and navigation. For Plato the highest study would reveal the absolute truth. He says that children till the age of six should stay at home with their parents and they should teach values to their children. They should tell them good moral tales to have good and positive impression on their minds and should enrich their souls with these moral values.

The second stage is from seven to seventeen. In this stage, individual’s physical and mental development takes place because youth is the time to study. Third stage is from seventeen to twenty years of age, new era of education will begin and the youth are brought to the ground of battle.

The fourth stage is from twenty to thirty years of age. In this age, individual undergoes through various experiences and then at the age of thirty selection was made was the study of dialect. Individual is mature enough for dialectic studies and is also ready to become a ruler.

When the person reaches to fifty years of age, he is invited to mould the lives of youth as he did for himself in his time. He is invited to resolve the state affairs and then let him return to the end of all things and he shall be honoured with sacrifices.
About the method of teaching, Plato says that when education which becomes burden for child is of no use, it does not have long lasting effect on child’s mind. Education should be a fun for child rather than teaching traditionally. In his Republic, Plato has emphasized that; individual should be given choices to select the field for himself according to his own skills and abilities. In this way education will have a long last effect in individual’s mind and could be traced for centuries.

Therefore, Whiteland criticized that Plato neglected the technical education but on the other hand he also realizes that Plato has maintained the harmony in different subjects. Plato was a great philosopher and educator. His works are the corner-stones in their respective fields.