Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why I Think

Let me continue with my why-how series from personal experiences. (I must confess that I am extremely uncomfortable doing this series because I feel I am baring too much of my personal self in public - just like taking a shower in a communal room for the first time.)

I have done Why-How I Blog and Why-How I Work. The next logical one is Why-How I Think and Why-How I Live. (I am getting into deeper and deeper waters.)

I think because I want to be. (This is a poor parody of Descartes.)

I think because I want to be myself. Truly myself.

I think so that I know that what I think, say and do is based on my own reasoned conviction, and not as a result of some accidental historical background conditioning - and I have to add unconsciousness conditioning as opposed to some mindful self-inflicted self-inflicted conditioning when I want form good habits for myself - of which thinking and thinking right are crucial ones.

I think because I am extremely dismayed by the untoward consequences of unthinking whereby ostensibly sensible nice people can suddenly turn into scary monsters when some hidden spots are pressed and an entirely strange new being springs out - like the genii from Aladdin's lamp when rubbed the right (or wrong) way.

I think so that I can be a more stable person when dealing with myself and my loved ones and friends and strangers I meet and strangers I do not meet.

This is important so that I do not constantly surprise myself by the things I think, do and say, and I do not frightened others by them. The unpredictability can be predictable but it is better to be predictably predictable even if it removes some of the excitement out of life.

After all, I find human beings constantly searching for certainty in an uncertain world - the permanent shelter we want to to keep the elements away from us, the field and animals we keep for a constant supply of food, the priests we constantly keep by our sides in case we should quite suddenly have to depart, the cash we keep in our pockets (for transactions and speculation, according to guru Keynes), the many houses and cars and watches and cameras we have just in case we need to reach out and touch them in order to find ourselves, the friend we keep in our circles just in case we need them to do things for us, the insurance that we want when we know that there is no one human being who can vouchsafe for any one of us about what and when of the things that happen in life (most of the times to others but sometimes to us).

I think so that I can face my responsibilities squarely in the face. I can live a much more certain and boring life - by focusing on doing the same things over and over again in order to perfect my craft, the un-excitement of which requires internal resolve and determination and will and energy.

Alternatively, I can make my life as exciting as possible by running away from my parents, my spouse, my girl/boyfriends, the police, the taxman, the taximan, the bosses, the subordinates, the fellow workmates, the traffic jams, the work load, and myself.

I think so that I do not have to press down others so that I can look good.

I think so that I can realise that the world is big enough for every human being and every animal and every plant and every bacteria and every parasite.

Finally, I think so that I can face life squarely in the face. I think, therefore I welcome death as I welcome life.

I think so that I welcome whatever comes my way.

I think so that I can face facts.

I think so that I can submit to the inevitably of life and non-life.


Neil said...

I see this empty box and it says 'leave your comment'.

If i happen to be thinking at the very moment of seeing this box, i might ask myself why.

And that question will start a train of thoughts.

So 'why i think' will transpose to 'think of why'.

And the process of thinking is actually about why this, why that, why not this, why not that.

It's about curiosity.

Yesterday, i was curious about The Accidental Zillionaire. That's Paul Allen, cofounder with Gates of Microsoft. Instructive was the sheer wonder of how the company got its break.

Allen was the carefree technical guy and Gates was the hyper marketing guy. Allen happened to be working on some programming language for the 80826 microprocessor. IBM wanted to jump into the burgeoning pc market and asked Gates to supply the operating system for that chip. Which Microsoft didn't have. But Gates said ok first to IBM and then asked Allen to get on with it afterward. So they bought over the rights to the system source code from another company, and then Allen used his programming skills to write the apps on that system they had bought and then they repackaged everything and sold it to IBM. It became the standard and both became very rich and influential in the industry. But Allen fell to the sidelines while Gates got onto the mags' frontpages only to later pledge his billions to charity and to get Buffett to do the same. Meanwhile IBM sold its pc business to Lenovo and Microsoft stock has fallen below Apple whose market cap may be eclipsing that of Exxon.

Which may be all quite understandable since Microsoft's windows was patterned after Apple's wysiwyg. And i forget whether that itself had come out of a Stanford think-tank or was it Rank Xerox.

The walks of life, events which twist and turn, are almost alcoholic. There's a whole field of science on random walks.

Yet that can't be entirely true. There is microscopic causality. For instance, if i click the x on the top right hand corner, 'i' and this loony post will disappear. Forever.

But it seems there is no macroscopic effect precisely traceable to its root cause. Things get meshed together along the way. People believe if we can tease things out into strands, then we can trace everything back to its roots. But the integration and coupling have been so complete that doing so uproots and changes the characteristics of the original entities.

So even i am now curious about curiosity, especially since i started by mentioning it but then the next moment i am talking about the pc software industry instead.

That's all because of the second one i read, this morning. That's by another Paul, Arden. It's titled, behold, Whatever You Think, Think Of The Opposite. I read it in a bookshop before coming here to see there's this new post called Why I Think.

So let's look up to the sky and see if there's a planetary causation for (a) the twists and turns of life, and (b) happenstances/coincidences.

Neil said...


Actually on the evening of Wesak day, the halo around the moon is strongest and widest. But that's if the sky is clear. And on the evening of the last Hari Raya, there was a very bright star 'next' to a well-defined crescent moon. Only a few more months separate us from the evening of Christmas Day whereupon we will have a third datum to draw the curve.

Why we think - could it be because of the structure of our nurture? How we are educated? Maybe if we are taught from day one not to think but to feel instinctively, we will today be feeling our way around instead of using our grey matter (or pretending to do so as the cheapest thing to do when one has nothing else to do).

Could the training be to do the most with the least in the most systematic order? To follow the axioms of optimal control theory? To be consistent and traceable from beginning to end? To finish whatever is started? Like mathematical economics?

So why do we think in life? Because our nurture to be logico-structural is to counterbalance our otherwise instinctive nature? And this tension between two poles of centrifugal and centripetal forces create a vacuum in between that in turn creates the need for (a) control, failing which (b) adaptation?

As the world becomes more varied and thus complex, our lives are impinged with peer pressures and personal choices. Why we think is a process to try and overcome the perplexities of life which grow as we lose more and more our means to control things and events. Which in turn makes it harder for us to construct our own storyline everyday which will explain why things happen to, around, even above, us. A storyline with some poignant drama in it, like the cricket which had reappeared in the end as if delivering a chiding lesson after the entire tumult had run its course in Bertolucci's The Last Emperor.

Otherwise, the very thought we are but some puny molecules on some puny planet in some puny system in one of the minor galaxies across the universe will make us think we are too insignificant to even bother to think or be thought of anymore. Thereby executing the last thought by way of self-deletion.

But then again, reality, consciousness and other ideas are only couched in words which obey the man-made rules of language, the subject of debate by such as Wittgenstein, an Austrian soldier who ended up establishing an entire generation of British philosophers delving into logical positivism.

Amidst all this question marks before sentences, we take the longest journey each of us can take - that inwards. And in the process of commuting to the core, something happens as we reach closer and closer to our respective nucleus, dot if you mathematically will. Our self vanishes. Like the green dot on the screen fed by a cathode ray tube as it goes into sleep mode.

Perhaps why we think is to find a definitive reason to lose our self into the general mass of humanity and the universe, but in the process hopefully not to find some dramatic cynicism at the end for the effort made when it may dawn that 'why' is an invalid property invariant across all realities and geographies.

We live to think to hope to answer why, perhaps with a signal from the sky.

Meanwhile, Tehran agrees:

etheorist said...

I hear a familiar tone.

Anonymous said...

Hi etheorist & Neil,

Check this out;

There might be some answers to some of yr thoughts.


Neil said...

Thank you, anomie.

Neil said...

And this sounds ominous...

"Congratulations on parting with your hard earned cash..."



"Using the unit in the following locations can result in a malfunction:

- Excessively dusty or dirty locations
- Homes of post-Keynesian economists
- ...."




road to high-income economy:

The End.