Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On the Interaction of the 3 Spheres

This article would be more an exploration of my ideas and less of a concrete, theme oriented writing. The basic problems cropped up in a number of Science/industry/government meetings which were held over the past couple of years, showing the healthy and unhealthy relationships that can exist between the spheres. It is not aiming to be a checklist, or a set of do-this and do-that and all will be fine with the world… but rather trying to tease out, in whatever way possible, where the real focus must be. What it takes as a background is an idea of the Threefold Society put forward via Anthroposophy, where the thinking, feeling and willing spheres are independent, in the form of spiritual, judicial and economic systems. Ok, here goes… tracing out the threads.

First off, the question is of the relationship of these spheres to themselves, as a coherent whole.


When a scientist publishes his results, the main issue is actually the TRUST that scientists have in one another. The second issue is that of impatience… where one hurries to publish half-baked results while the other takes his time to polish his thoughts and conclusions before putting it out in the public. Now, no one can create a law to encourage trustworthy behavior and impatient publishing, but what one CAN do is educate them with the laws already existing in the spiritual world, which, of necessity, will show the futility of all short-cut approaches in science. Establishing the trust and sufficient caution in coming to the conclusions, these are by products of a moral education, and also of a periodic association of the scientists in some form, e.g. in the rituals. If a sufficient number of scientists come together periodically to align themselves with the cosmos via a festival, and re-affirm their dedication, it would go a long way in bringing about the right relationship between them.

Now, as regards to the idea of a peer-reviewed journal. That whole rating system is utterly counter-productive, particularly to creativity. First of all, having peers reviewing your material means that it is a democracy, (shall address this again) and also that an enormous amount of time and effort is spent nitpicking, rather than giving it out to the public for the public to decide. The only meaningful corrective to publications that appears to be feasible is the principle of “By their fruits ye shall know them…” which means the identification of the fruits should be given priority over the decision of whether or not to show those fruits, which is fruitless. It is due to this faulty idea of giving ratings to journals and ratings to scientists based on that, that has contributed to their being a lot of citations and papers and articles and little originality or creativity in the scientific literature of the past century.

No, instead, the field of publication is evened out, where ANYONE can publish their results on a common platform. Today’s age has the internet, and a quick look at the situation shows that a lot of the creative ideas are gaining ground mainly due to its presence, as it serves as a common platform without a peer-review. It can be argued that a lot of trash claims and inaccurate results will be thrown up by this process… but keep in mind that the real deal is always identified, as a matter of course. It is similar to the freedom of religion, yes, naturally you will have a lot more tiny cults forming, but inevitably a true spiritual person will produce effects that benefit humanity, and that is essential. This system is a living system, and it shall re-organize itself in the way we direct it. Liberty in the case of the scientist is simply the liberty of communicating his ideas to the world, and the scientific world acknowledging this liberty.

Additionally, the system of giving Prizes to the scientists is quite thoroughly counterproductive, or about as productive as trying to go backward in an effort to go forward. Prizes provide an incentive to the egoism, and when they are encouraged, hyped up, and promoted, one grows a tremendous amount of egoism in the community, and the results of that are to inevitably bring politicking into science. Nobel Prizes and the like, add nothing of scientific value to the ideas, and simply transpose an economic function, that of seeking profit, into this sphere. So, if recognition is indeed to be assigned, it will be assigned by the results of the research… and the wholehearted appreciation from the public, born of a real use of one’s ideas, is a far more healthy satisfaction to encourage than the one resulting by bagging a prize.

To summarize, science’s relation to itself ought to be one of equal opportunity… to a level that a productive scientist can refer even to a shoddy paper in a different language as a support for his research, as long as the material is fruitful, without inviting ridicule from his fellows.


The way the sphere of rights influences the system is predominantly via the issue of intellectual property rights. Pulling that apart, first of all, products of the intellect are not property… they cannot be stolen. Once given, they cannot be taken back, at all. A lot of furor is created nowadays in social networks over the fact that something posted cannot be deleted… but that is merely a reflection of the true state of affairs, that an idea, once formulated and expressed, is a gift to the world as a whole. All attempts to create an idea-property are a straightforward denial of reality. Now, something of the idea does become a property, if it is an invention, and as such can be stolen… however, that would be similar to the laws against theft. An invention is an idea incorporated, but the ideal part of it is not a property, only the physical part of it is.

The crux of the issue lies in the laws of patents, which has seen a tremendous tug of war in our history. Patents are to the scientist what candy is for the child, an incentive to create something, or do something. While the creations and actions are very much appreciable, must we continue to think that a mature being works only for such incentives? The predominant factor is due to the monetary compensation that it entails, and the second one is the recognition that comes with it, both of which are out of the sphere of rights. There are, after all, no rights to demand money or recognition, except to the level of sustaining the human person. In fact, the right to copy exists, as a fundamental right. It is only when that right is acknowledged that a general appreciation for originals will be cultivated.

The rights sphere is inherently self governed, and works as a balance… with the underlying theme that anything that threatens the individuality of a person has to go. One government servant’s attitude to another is mainly to make sure that the two laws which they are both upholding are mutually consistent, and compatible with the other two spheres.


This most-powerful sphere of today has a role of identifying suitable business ventures, and providing the necessary money for them, and also to keep its nose out of the formulation of laws or scientific research. In dealing with the production and distribution of goods, the main issue is that of mutual competition. This is where a good analogy with the farmer can be made… a certain amount of food has to enter the body, mainly for its sustenance, and yet, a farmer can grow his crops based on quite different considerations than the needs of his own body. If the two coincide, then he offers up to the world what he himself does not consume. This would be right attitude of the economic bodies, or companies… the profit motive for them is similar to growing food for internal consumption, however, a majority of the food/profit is actually for the outer world, in order to direct to the place it is needed to go.

And THAT, is the crucial need for an economic body, to have people in it who know not only what the markets are at a specific point in time, but how the market is showing the results of the spiritual sphere and the life of rights. It is most important for an economist, even when dealing within his own sphere, today to be aware of the other two spheres and their interconnection to his own. Without this, it would be impossible to obtain any bearing on the issue of competition. Competition is a result of the failure of the economic system to sustain the basic needs of a human being, and also a failure of the spiritual stream in identifying the uniqueness of the individuals and their collaborative groups. This lack of recognition leads to competition, where people believe that one’s loss is another’s gain.


And now, to connect these three systems together in thought… the scientific sphere is related to the governmental sphere mainly to protect the right of every scientist to publish or not to publish his/her results, without coercion. Now, the scientist in question, once having decided to share the idea, disavows all ownership, and responsibility of usage of any products that result from his/her idea. In other words, no scientist can be held responsible for the mismanagement of the given idea, but only that any harmful effect of the idea is outlined to the best of one’s ability. 

When the scientist is interacting with the law, he does so solely as any other citizen of the respective governing body. There are no additional rights, save for those that have to do with a waiving of certain hazardous material laws which every individual scientist has to decide for oneself. This component is necessary because of the unknown factor which enters into any fresh investigation, whence the normal laws of safety and restrictions cannot be applied. There can be no licenses on use of inventions until they have undergone use for a certain period of time that is decided by a body of scientists, and this is the only area where democracy can fit into the scientific pursuits. All forms of voting and democracy on any item of scientific merit will lead a clogging of the creativity in the long run, so it is best that they are removed as completely as possible from the whole cycle of creation, publication, and rebuttals.

So, we have on the one hand, the reach of the government into the Spiritual Sphere as far as the maintaining of basic human rights, and making a few special exemptions in the case of unknown research. The unhealthy side of this is where research is tied up with bureaucratic paperwork, requiring numerous permissions from the side of the government to operate a research institute, or it prefers one section of research over the other in this licensing. Any and all forms of peer-review in the case of scientific publications will in the long run grow something poisonous, and provide little of true benefit, just as one cannot create a law of nature by vote. The two systems, in this way, are incompatible.

The interaction of scientists and industrialists or entrepreneurs, on the other hand, must be one of free exchange both ways. For a start, spiritual institutions are best funded by donations from any economic agent, and correspondingly, the economic body benefits from the free transfer of ideas from the scientific body. It would be up to the scientists to use the money provided to them in a healthy fashion, just as it would be up to the businessmen to manufacture and develop the products suggested by the scientists and obtain the corresponding profits. The same relationship currently exists in its corrupt form, where due to mutual mistrust both the scientific and the economic spheres place demands on one another… with the scientific side competing for grants via claims and proposals, and the industry demanding results with the grants they provide. In this system, both sides are engaged in a deadlock, and this stifling atmosphere kills all free interest-based research and constrains the scientist to follow the money, and the industrialist to follow the tall claims. If instead the arrangement of funds is left up to the enterprise as a whole, where a group of scientists are free to keep or redistribute the money that is attributed to them by donation, and similarly the business people are free to put the products into the hands of those competent to produce and distribute them, both spheres benefit from the arrangement.

The arrangement of funds for scientific and educational activities being given up as a matter of personal liberty, the mutual constraints are gone. The two spheres are interconnected with the question of personal rights, as they have to do with the rights of the individuals in each sphere. The right to donate, and the right to provide the scientific ideas, cannot be subject to coercion in any form.

As the relationship of the economic sphere to the rights sphere is mainly with regard to those functions of the economic body for the good of the whole system, for example, the areas which are currently designated as public sector enterprises and supported by the government. Handing things over to the private companies is a start, however their might be situations where companies cannot utilize the profit motive for the functioning of those systems. Here is where the re-distribution of the profits of certain companies would go, to prop up the transport system, for example, and the logistics for public service. It is solely in these areas that there could be the entrance of NGO’s, which work for the benefit of the community alone, and are supervised by the economic body. The rights of a businessman to borrow money, set up an enterprise, buy land and resources, and to further sell it shall be protected throughout.

An unhealthy relationship between the life of rights and that of economists is that where the laws are made to the fancy of the economists, to support the profit motive of one or more companies via lobbying. If that economic organization itself is having a function of distribution instead of accumulation, then the two can be led independently, with economic decisions playing little role in the life of a citizen. Similarly, the creation of laws, as far as they deal with the human individual, would not suppress formation of new businesses with an endless list of permits and paperwork… the laws do not change unless they are reformed as a whole, and generating laws to provide licenses and permits at a corporation level is destructive. When the two systems are entangled, the economic aims of profiteering infect the lives of public servants, in the form of corruption, and the artificial increase of the market is affected by the lobbying.

So to summarize,

Spiritual <--> Rights
Healthy: Right to publish and pursue research, Reform of laws as spirituality grows
Unhealthy: Restrictions on research and publishing, Science warped to support unjust laws

Spiritual <--> Economic
Healthy: Free donations, free ideas, both ways.
Unhealthy: Money provided for results alone, Results claimed for money alone.

Economic <--> Rights
Healthy: Sustenance of every human being, Right to create and operate businesses.
Unhealthy: Corruption of lawmakers, denial of licenses, support of injurious practices due to 4 year cycles.

The First Inter-Nation

There are some questions in everyday life, which traditionally lie in the “stalemate zone”, where one cannot move ahead too easily, as that would mean abandoning cherished and essential concepts, while at the same time one cannot really stay where one is, as those concepts have been outgrown and surpassed by the real facts of life. In general, these questions touch a raw nerve consistently among the people, which is why it is a difficult area to survey and cross, in the first place. One such concept is that of a nation.

A glance towards the good ol’ days’ (going back from pre-World War times till the age of empires) definitions of a nation, shows a distinct characteristic: that it was the period where, save for some technological exceptions, the boundaries for the culture, race, religion or language of a people more or less overlapped with the administrative boundaries, making it easier to define a nation.  The concept of a nation was hence intimately tied in with those elements, and helped form the identity of the individual. This same glance also highlights something else… identification with a nation provided the individual a bigger network of people, whom he (she) could call his (her) own, than would be the case without that concept.

Starting from Biblical pre-history, up to the end of the nineteenth and 20th century, there had been no occasion for the average human being to be concerned about places beyond the borders of his country, save for trade. It was at this juncture, however, when the entire world got drawn into a collective endeavor, which turned out to be wars.  Kicking and screaming, humanity was brought face-to-face with the fact that events happening at the ends of the world truly have a direct bearing on their life. That contributed to the rise of the United States as a leader.

This much is observable to any historian, (or to a Wikipedian today) but consider another process occurring side by side with it… consider the innovations brought about from the region of UK and the US. The telephone, the telegraph, the radio, the television, which provided the connection with the whole world, for the first time ever, have been born there… and the next double whammy of the 21st century: the mobile phone and the internet. On the social level, the most widespread language for global transactions, English, was also taken up and spread out from this region. You have the unique characteristic that this New World was predominantly consisting of people who moved there in search of a better life, down from the early Europeans and Africans to the relatively recent Latin Americans and Asians. This has brought together every single element that earlier went into the definition of a nation: every religion, language, culture, and most importantly, race, has mingled. Even the name of the vastly popular magazine that arose in the past century, the National Geographic, hence highlights the strangest paradox: this is a nation that negates every definition of a nation that we knew so far!
This occurrence is unprecedented, as most of the nations of the world at the least share the same race, but the implications of this have not truly penetrated the thought processes of people today. For the first time in history, as far as we know, an entire planet has been interconnected on various levels, and one region of the world highlights those interconnections far more than the others, making it an inter-nation, a fertile ground for new ideas to arise in. What designation do we have to choose for this place? Of course, one can just go on with the old definition of a nation, but consider what that implies… while in the earlier era, the concept of a nation served to unite people, today the very same concept in this particular region can no longer unite people to a higher network, but acts in the reverse: It divides people. Different regions of the earth feel this in varying degrees, but in the United States, it is felt most keenly, and must as a consequence be considered with even more clarity. If an interplanetary alliance existed as in Star Wars, being aligned with that is the only possibility for identification, as any other identification belongs to a subset of the world.

What does this really mean? More so than any other place on the Earth, when an American attempts to grasp at a national character, he can only grasp at a shadow, a relic of an earlier time. The only characteristics remaining, as those of liberty, and innovation, are features which cut across every national divide; in fact, they are the very result of people cutting across national divisions. In other words, if one does insist on grasping at that concept, one is straightaway led to international concepts.

But let us take a look at the consequences, if one still insists on using the idea of a nation to the United States. Every technological and cultural feature which functions on the international level, when forced to fit into the mould of a nation, would serve to make the people think that the nation itself is the world. And instead of a strengthened identification with every nation of the world, all attention would be directed inward towards this particular geographical area as having the priority, which can very easily slip into an idea of being the elite. Instead of improving the interconnections with the world, the emphasis would be the improvement of this mini-world with the very same interconnections.

Another major consequence would be that the outreach to other nations is predominantly done on a national basis, and no other institution has as strong a national identity as the military. So naturally, the military outreach of the US is observed to be far above the average, and this would be looked upon as unnecessary meddling by almost every other nation. It is inevitable, however, with the importance given to the idea of nationality.

In the context of this date, a slew of articles can be written on the touchy issues of Islamic terrorism, immigration, outsourcing, citizenship, and the oft-quoted theme of national security, but they are merely the leaves and branches of the tree born of the idea of the US as a nation, an idea which has lost most of its sap and is doing so with every passing day. The Age of Nations is over. I pray that we do not continue the attempt to put new wine into old wineskins, as a wise man once mentioned.

Apathy and Offsets

Thanks to the large number of students that create a vibrant ‘population explosion’ of the University campus, there is a chance to see not only the sheer variety of people who bustle about the place, but also the level to which technology is truly incorporated into the daily life of the average student. Common experiences range from staring at powerpoint presentations at class, to texting while walking to and fro from class (and in class, of course), talking while driving, or simply sitting in the campus shuttle nodding one’s head to the iTunes of an iPod, while social networks take up the rest of the time. And occasionally, as exams approach, one punches up the calculator to its limit, or scours the web for some quick data.

This level of penetration of technology is something that has been commented upon and discussed to shreds by people at all levels of expertise, and for the most part; the changes have been accepted as contributing positively to life. There are, however, some situations that would probably not have been all that common a decade ago: a bus full of college going students, not one of them speaking to the person next to them but incessantly texting or talking to someone elsewhere… or else simply staring off into nothingness while avoiding eye contact. Or students staying glued to their computers for hours on end, or children whose eyes only light up when seriously involved in their latest virtual game, while masking over when spoken to directly. In other words, it has been noticed that the indulgence in technology has created a corresponding apathy, to everyday experience.

One of the best examples of this is seen in a study done by the Washington Post in 2007 named “Pearls before Breakfast”, where the well-renowned violinist, acclaimed as a prodigy in his younger days, Joshua Bell, performed the world’s best pieces of music on a 3.5 million dollar violin in a busy metro subway at Washington DC. His day’s collection was all of $32, with just a handful actually stopping to listen for any good length of time. The rest were busy passing through, many with their own iPods plugged in, in spite of the fact that a single seat for his concert would cost upwards of $100. The combination of technology and a hurried lifestyle appears to be deadening us, and seriously begs the question of how one is to deal with it.

One of the most common techniques suggested, for people who well and truly get addicted to technology, is to keep the exposure “within limits”. This mode of thinking suggests that keeping an upper limit to our usage of technology, such as the age-old method of parents sending their kids off to bed after a certain time in front of the TV, keeps the problem in control.  Although this method of limiting the amount of time works in the short term, it does not address the issue of imbalance. When one uses a tool, such as a calculator, it provides an ease of performing certain tasks, provided one has the necessary knowledge, in this case, a reasonable capacity to calculate mentally. If one has not developed that capacity, a calculator transforms from a tool into a crutch, as time progresses, up to a limit that even to divide a number by 10, one reaches for the calculator. The mental capacity gets deadened.

As it is simple enough to see that “limiting” the use of the calculator means little, attempts at limiting the use of any piece of technology does not help anyone. What one needs is the analogue of the mental capacity to calculate… a capacity that provides a balancing agent for the tool. Limiting usage just reduces the amount, while a balancing agent offsets that amount, like adding weight on the other side of a weighing balance.

This provides us with a way to deal with the presence of technology in our lives: we have to look for the offset for the tools, as suggested by the use of the tools themselves. When one looks at the cell phone, it provides instant access to talk to known people who are elsewhere. The offset would be to develop the habit of talking to UN-known people who are right next to you, in the elevator, or the bus, or while in a queue. TV and movies provide a tool to see stories via images… and the offset would be when one visualizes a story, either while reading a book, or when actually writing or dramatizing a story using one’s own imagination. iPods and music players enable one to listen to music of an artiste, and the corresponding offset would be to sing, howsoever horribly, or hum a tune when one is engaged in any task during the day. (On a side note, when was the last time you heard someone humming while walking about?) Social networks enable one to carry out even the most trivial conversations with people all over the world… the required offset for which would be to set aside a small period of the day in silence, speaking to none, or at most to oneself.

It is a simple matter of observing what a particular tool provides, and developing the offset of that function in one’s life. That shows us that every tool can be used well, and that every tool also challenges us to build up the corresponding ability. So the next time you text someone, make sure that you are a person who “gets the message” pretty quickly!

6. Leaping off the Edge

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

-- Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

In the previous article, we observed that when the foundation for what we scientifically treat as “reality” was examined, in essence it boiled down to the treatment of magnitudes. Hence, in order to ascertain whether there are other ways of viewing the world, we need to ascertain how we cross the threshold from perceptions, which have a magnitude attributable to them, and those which do not. Before that, however, there is something that is to be clarified: how successful are we, really, in our dealings with magnitudes?

The treatments of magnitude, which can be connected with reality, have a good standing in our eyes as far as the treatment of velocities and geometry is concerned. In order to develop a good standing in all the rest of the areas of the natural sciences, certain assumptions have been made, following which, the whole treatment is again carried out. Hence, any relations between magnitudes that science discovers are unaltered in this description. And surprisingly, we observe that ALL the quantities that are measured ultimately have to do with velocities and geometry.

To elaborate… what, indeed, is mass? To perception, when we touch a “mass”, we cannot push through it completely with our fingers, in other words: movement is stopped. That, in reality is the perception. This degree of incompressibility is given a name, “mass”, which offers us no further information regarding its nature. When we then COMPARE these masses, we again use velocities and geometry, where a weighing scale has to remain unmoving, in a certain configuration. The measurement of a “charge” is the same; it depends on the movement of bodies when they are rubbed. The measurement of temperature is the same; it is the LENGTH expanded by a volume of mercury. The color of light is measured with respect to the wave-LENGTH, or counts per second. Hence, we can reduce all magnitudes essentially to their motive and geometric properties, but no further. That, indeed, is real measurement throughout science, that of lengths, time periods, and geometries.

So we identify that a threshold has been crossed, again and again, each time whenever new phenomena have been encountered: they have been reconfigured in terms of measurements of those kinds, and given rise to an “offspring”, a personal perspective, which lies beyond understanding. When certain phenomena were encountered, the concept mass was added, whose essential nature we do not know, and when certain other phenomena were encountered, some other property had to be postulated, in order to make measurements! Follow that up with charge, temperature, magnetism, electricity, color, luminance, reaction rates, radiation, sound and so on with all the “fundamental quantities”, and you have the entire structure of the sciences following the same pattern:

Perception => Assumption + geometrical measurement.

We gain a new fundamental quantity, at the cost of knowing its real nature. So, we have to be clear on this, we do not necessarily KNOW anything about the different quantities which we see around us except for the part where they can be converted, in some way due to their nature, into geometrical quantities. That development was masked from us due to the different “fundamental quantities” which have been postulated, in order for us to deal with them as we could. What we know, hence, is how to connect perceptions to geometry and movements. There starts, and ends, measurement as we know it, as the only fundamental quantity.

In fact, it is seen that the understanding of the natural sciences among students proceeds similarly. With kinematics (geometrical and speed measurements), due to experience, there is very little trouble for anyone who understands mathematics. With Newton’s Laws, and mechanics with the concept of mass, life is a little trickier but is still reasonably “intuitive”, as after introducing mass, it is again kinematics all the way. Enter charge, and current, and things get complicated, and by the time one reaches virtual photons, one cannot recourse to experience at all, and it is not rare to see a student give up in despair at this point (if not before). This is a natural consequence of introducing a new assumption, at every step of the way, to convert a physical quantity into kinematic status. Now, if this is the foundation for perceptions which are observed and accepted by all, naturally the foundation for perceptions which lie beyond our senses but have to be “thought out”, is even shakier!

Hence, we do not need to look far in order to decide where we are dealing with something more than quantities: it is already widespread right at the root of the sciences, but was masked. That fact was important to establish our knowledge right at the outset.

For the next part, we merely have to look for a perception that is different from a velocity or geometry.

Let us examine a particular situation. A person is walking to his office, and decides to think about the previous day while he is at it. He hence recalls a particularly humorous situation from the previous day, and laughs quietly to himself. What indeed was the stimulus, the sensation, which brings about the laughter? A memory, naturally. Which goes to show that the person has perceived the event but not in terms of magnitude, as there is no way for it to be measured, at the moment. Of course, one could have recorded the event previously, but at the moment our friend laughs, there is nothing with which one could measure the occurrence. In taking the facts as they exist, we must take the following stance:


This is the direct experience. Now, if we bring in the assumption that only perception of magnitudes is primary, then we would alter the chain as follows:

Memory (=unknown chemical process) -> Perception -> Laughter

However, as mentioned in the reasoning before, that would imply:
(unknown chemical process) -> Perception

But if an unknown chemical process gives rise to a perception, then the perception of chemical processes themselves is due to unknown chemical processes. Reductio ad absurdum. So instead of this route which dead-ends, we would do well to stick with our original train of thought:

Memory -> Perception -> Laughter

Nothing within the perception itself tells us that a memory is more or less objective than the perception of the length of a ruler. The criteria for objectivity in this realm may exist, which need not at all be geometrical. So this is where one must stand firm with the logic developed so far and explore, without allowing any assumptions to force our perceptions into any mould. Indeed, we are now at the exact same position as a blind man touching an unknown being, and even though it might appear that we are leaping off the cliff of certainty, we must resist the temptation of reducing an elephant to a snake.