Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Learning And Understanding; A Brief Historical Purview

To know and to know more is a basic human instinct and is engraved in the human mind. The fact that even a child puts a lot of questions to his parents testifies to this fact. Learning being the oldest medium of getting to know, has played an important role in  developing  human mind. Before going to the inception of learning process, it is worthwhile to first go through the definition of learning.

Learning: the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught:

Knowledge acquired through experience, study, or being taught:

As discussed earlier man’s quest for knowing  is enshrined in his mind, and with the passage of time this was converted into a need as he started coming across different situations that his mind was unable to decipher or was confronted with problems that required solutions. That gave rise to the first human learning and that was from nature and the environment. The earliest mode of learning was observation, experimentation and discovery. This learning took in to account the relationship/ interaction between different facts and events, and the resulting outcome. Man learned that sometime when one thing will happen it will result in the happening of another thing.

He observed that when sun rises it brings light and heat and when it sets darkness and cold prevail. He learned many things from animals through sheer observation. He came to know that flicker is created through friction among dry leaves as well as stones. The next step in this area was experimentation to verify different observations for meeting his needs. Thus he created flame for light to counter darkness and cold, invented crude weapons for defending himself and discovered that different plant contents can be used to cure certain types of sickness. In short it can be said that the more he learned the more he was benefited. In this way man took the first step towards formation of what we now call knowledge.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Words and Deeds

"A variation between what one says and what one does is the cause of many evils in the society at large and in politics especially". 
The above accusation is one of the most widely believed statement going around. On the face of it, there is no doubt it looks 100% correct as it indicates divergence between words and conduct or deeds. But, to understand it in the right context it is important to have a thorough analysis of the process comprising the elements of saying and doing and for that first we have to see what the words say and do mean.
Say: Utter words so as to convey information, an opinion, a feeling or intention, or an instruction.
Do: Perform (an action, the precise nature of which is often unspecified)
Now let us concentrate on the word Say.
Keeping in view the meaning of the word "say" as an example "Saying" may take place in the following situations:
1   An elderly person announces that he will celebrate the coming X-mas on Everest.
     A politician announces his decision to make a certain law, on coming to power.
     A person reiterates the statement or point of view of some other person that one should not work after retirement.
    A person condemns the act of some other person allowing his daughter to marry of his own choice and declares that if she was her daughter he would have killed her. 
Let us assume that the following actually happened:
1. The elderly person could not celebrate X-mas on Everest due to poor health.
2. The politician who declared the enactment of a law did not do that because of lack of majority.
3. The person who reiterated the statement of another person and supported him in his decision not to work after retirement got re-employed.
4. The person who condemned the conduct of another allowing his daughter to marry against father's choice, himself agreed to allow his daughter to do so, having failed to persuade her even after threatening never to see her again if she married of her own choice.

Let us see what would have happened if the person saying something had gone for implementing the same.
 In number one he would have either died in the attempt or forcibly prevented from doing.
In number two the politician would have been defeated if he had tried to pass the law.
In number three the person and his family could have suffered due to weak financial condition.
In number 4 the father would have killed the daughter and got arrested.
If we compare the two scenarios of doing and not doing what had been declared  we see that not doing appears to be less harmful to the society than implementing the words spoken.
This might look illogical because in principle  one should do  what one says. So, why it is so, for knowing that let us take a module comprising  saying and doing and make an analyses.
The most simple and commonly understood module comprising saying and doing is:
Thinking—Saying--- Doing
But, it is not necessarily the sequence that is followed. Following actions can take place:
1.   1. A person may have a certain belief or thinks about any matter in a particular way, but that may stay with him without reaching the stage of saying or doing, due to following reasons:
a.   He thinks it will make no difference or it is of no significance.
b.   He lacks proper communication channel.
c.    He is afraid.
d.   He thinks he cannot carry out the same.

2. There may be many things people might say casually without thinking or any intention of doing it.
3. Similarly, the act of doing may be devoid of the element of thinking , saying or both.
As in number one, nothing happened and it is of no use going in to its details. However, number two and three needs more probing.
 A person’s belief remains enshrined in his mind all the time, and affects his conduct in many ways.  He might say or do something according to those beliefs without a deliberate process of thinking or might say or do something on the spur of a moment. If the acts are not covered by the above hypothesis then the only explanation could be that either he acted due to sudden provocation and said or did things that he did not believe in or he is a lunatic or out of his mind.
The above discussion makes it clear that the acts of saying  and doing  need  to be qualified for attaining the status of “Saying” and “Doing” in the context of the principle that one should follow what one says.
Going through each one of the above four situations individually  it is quite clear that number one and two completely fit  the module earlier narrated as far as saying is concerned. There appears to be a deliberate expression of intention of doing something after due process of thinking. But, due to events beyond control whatever was declared to be done was not done. In number three the person did not do what he declared to do may be because he said it on the spur of moment or due to the exigency of the situation at the time of doing. In the number four situation, the father did not kill the daughter, may be prevailed upon or due to love or compassion or he too made the statement on the spur of moment and without going through the process of deliberate thinking.
As an offshoot, it is necessary that whatever has been said and intended to be done must comply with the following conditions:
    What has been said or planned to be done has passed through a deliberate thought process and is not merely based on a person’s general beliefs or occurred on the spur of a moment.
 I It is factually doable at the time of being said or at the time of doing.
 I It is within the capacity and ability of the person saying.
 I It is physically, legally, morally and ethically permissible.

Thus, rationally and objectively it can be said that only those statements / words that fulfill the above conditions should be scrutinized for deciding whether there had been any divergence between words and deeds.

Tasneem Hameed