The Scientific Point Of View. J B S Haldane Essay. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran

061. The Scientific Point Of View. J B S Haldane Essay. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 14th Sep 2014. Short URL http://nut.bz/1ds8_4tt/ Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

Adopting a scientific point of view is useful in many ways, whether for solving the Negro problem or for solving the problem of diseases. J.B.S.Haldane was a famous British scientist and author who later took Indian citizenship. His writings on biological subjects made scientific ideas clear and popular among people. The author argues that adopting a scientific point of view is essential and beneficial for man, rather than adopting an emotional point of view.

Scientific point of view is God’s eye-view. A good scientist, like God, will view and examine things impartially and truthfully, and will not have emotional considerations and pass judgments.

Science influences the average man in two ways- its practical applications are useful to man and it affects his opinions also. One of science’s main contributions to common man was its presenting man with a scientific point of view. Science continuously tells us we should give up smoking and consumption of liquor, and adopt walking and swimming daily activities to remain healthy. Once we viewed these warnings skeptically, but we now have begun to understand that there is sense and logic in these warnings. That is science’s contribution, creating this awareness and consciousness of health. The average man is attracted by the emotional and ethical aspects of a problem, not by the facts, whereas a scientist considers only the facts. A scientific point of view places everything and everyone on the same emotional level which is impartial and truthful. Because of this equalization in emotional levels, scientific point of view can be called the God’s eye-view. A good scientist will, like God, view and examine things impartially and truthfully, and will not have emotional considerations and pass judgments. Even though the enemies of science wish science to do both, and abuse scientists for being deaf to moral considerations, a scientist will remain such impartial that Mr. John, Mr. Chang, Mr. Smith, the Tape Worm and the Solar System will be equal to him. A scientific point of view enables people also to adopt the same view of an impartial scientist, in analyzing things of importance to him.

When Negros enjoyed friendship of whites during the American Civil War, the new Democratic Negro became a heavy drinker and died in thousands, more in numbers than were killed in the actual war.

Haldane is of the opinion that the Negro problem, i.e., the problem of Negros becoming a problem for the whites, and the problem of diseases can be solved by adopting scientific point of view. He uses these two examples to illustrate that adopting scientific point of view in solving social, human problems is feasible and useful. Though there have of course been strong oppositions to his this point of view, let us examine his observations on the living conditions of Negros in America, most of which are things of past in America now. Negros was considered inferior to white men. In the Southern states of America where slavery existed, the Negros were pulled out of cars and driven to cotton plantations to work hard in harsh sun light. Openness to nature favoured them and there they prospered and multiplied, creating thus the so-called Negro problem for whites. But had they been extended consideration and fellowship, they would have become softened and died of American diseases. This is the question J B S Haldane rises- whether emotional or scientific attitude is to be adopted in solving social, human problems, which is beneficial and useful? During the American Civil War, the Negros enjoyed friendship of the whites, as a result of which the new democratic Negro became a heavy drinker and died in thousands. The number of Negros killed that way was far greater than the number of Negros killed in the actual war. Once we shed the emotional point of view, adopt scientific point of view, we allow Negros to return to nature and live in their natural habitats, and there is and will be no problem from the Negros.

Scientific point of view is the moral equivalent of war; they are equally fast in teaching peoples lessons.

Adopting the scientific point of view helps solve the problem of diseases also. For ages, and even now, common people think that diseases are caused by the Sin of man. But now, thanks to science, more people know that diseases are caused by the attack of foreign organisms known as microbes. By studying microbes with a scientific point of view, preventive medicines can be developed against diseases. The moral use of war is its teaching people lessons fast. Scientific point of view also teaches people lessons equally fast. That is why J.B.S.Haldane theorizes that scientific point of view is the moral equivalent of war. It teaches people lessons as fast as war. Knowledge of biological facts helps people prevent diseases. Diseases are manifestations of nature’s laws. By knowing about these laws, people can cure or prevent these diseases. The only problem remains is, people not being punctual and regular in administration of their prescribed medicines. Attitudes like this are such common that discovery of insulin has not helped reduce the death rate of diabetic patients in England and elsewhere, for medicines and their usage do not still have a scientific basis among people. It is a paradox that ‘the study of medicine, apart from its scientific basis, has created more neurotics than scientists,’ Haldane observes.

In spite of scientists and science reigning in this world for so many long years and teaching, many people still think that diseases are products of our sin.

Scientists and science have reigned in this world for so many long years but in spite of their teaching that diseases are manifestation of natural laws caused by microbial attacks, a considerable number of people still think that they are products of our sin. When Jesus Christ was asked why a man became blind, he answered: ‘Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents; but the works of God should be made manifest in him.” He considered it an opportunity to prove God’s manifestations and cured the blind by his simple touch. The scientists cure people with diseases, instead of accusing not only them but their ancestors through generations also of sinning. In this respect, a scientist’s view of diseases is not unlike the view held by Jesus Christ. Many of his followers but still hold to views which Jesus Christ opposed. They are not scientific but emotional in viewing many social and human issues such as remarriage and abortion. When diseases affect, some of them do not treat it scientifically but pray. Many more people hold to the view that diseases can be cured by returning to nature which is just another fallacy- we will die before we begin to get rectifying restoratives from nature. To live according to nature to escape from diseases also is quite meaningless because civilization, savagery, health and sickness are all part of nature.

[Prepared In 1990]

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Author profileEditor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Unmarried and single. Also edits Bloom Books Channel.

 

In Praise Of Mistakes. Robert Lynd. Essay Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

39.

In Praise Of Mistakes. Robert Lynd. Essay Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 25th Nov 2011 Short URL http://nut.bz/25tqv807/
Posted in Wikinut Essays

 

Robert Lynd is famous for his essays of wit, wisdom and humour. Here he is writing ‘in praise of mistakes’, how they are useful and how they are enjoyable to the world. It is his opinion that it is difficult to write something without slipping somewhere. Mistakes do not interfere with our enjoyment of a writer and the only unpardonable sin in an author is writing uninterestingly. This Irish genius who made us laugh shared the world with us during 1879-1949.

What I wonder is why I did not snatch away as much wealth as I could from the Indian Coffers.

People often write to newspapers about the frequent mistakes writers make in their articles and books. Geographical, historical or religious errors may occur in their works but those mistakes seldom make their works unreadable or unenjoyable. Instead, most often, they make the world merry for they give enough material for the world to laugh. One will wonder why writers do not make as many mistakes as they can so that the world can at least laugh heartily. In this aspect, the case framed by fault-finders against writers is a weak one. If it is presented in any court the writer, Lord Clive, may tell the jury that he wondered why he did not make as many mistakes as he could. Lord Clive was tried in the British Parliament for corruption during his India Service when he told senators, what he wondered was why he did not dare to snatch away more wealth from the vast treasure houses of the Indian Kings!

It is difficult to write about something without slipping somewhere.

Personally Lynd is a lover of accuracy but he finds it difficult to write about something without slipping somewhere. He consults an encyclopedia to avoid errors in writing. He has on many occasions risen and sweated in the very early mornings in fear of mistakes he may have made in articles which have already gone to press. A modern day writer who is born in the time of spell checker, auto correct and Internet would be totally unfamiliar with such dreadful experiences.

Mistakes do not interfere with our enjoyment of an author’s work.

Mistakes do not interfere with our enjoying an author’s work. It is not the word and its meaning that count; it is the sound of the word that is important and is appealing to human senses. It is the sound of the words that makes a poem pleasing to our senses and ears and imparts beauty to the poem. Poets, Lynd permits them, may use the names of any precious stones or anything else for that matter in their poems even without knowing their meaning, if those sounds are pleasing to ears. A jeweller’s assistant needn’t immediately go to him and correct him. According to Lynd the unpardonable sin in a writer is to write uninterestingly. If a work is interesting, it would be read and enjoyed by all. Mistakes do not matter there. Shakespeare made his multitude of mistakes in chronology and Walter Scott made the Sun rise on the wrong side of the world in the wrong time. Even then Shakespeare’s dramas and Walter Scott’s novels and poems are read by millions of people with interest.

A writer’s mistakes deserve praise, and fantastic errors are great stimulants.

Mistakes made in literature are useful to man in many ways. For example, they make the reader temporarily feel that he is an inch taller than the writer. Mistakes made by the writer are a source of delight to many readers. There is more joy over a single error discovered in a good writer than over a hundred pages of perfect writing. Error-hunters search for errors as meticulously and systematically as gold-hunters search for gold. His Eurekas are uttered not over immortal phrases but over some tiny mistake in geography, history or grammar. The famous English weekly ‘Punch’ once used to print the names of authors along with the mistakes they made. The writers protested. Lynd is of the opinion that writers needn’t protest over such dissections by print media and they needn’t consider it as an attempt to rob them of the credit for making the world happy and laughing. Since they are such useful to mankind, the writers’ mistakes deserve praise; even their fantastic mistakes, which are in many, are also thus pardonable. Lynd’s closing observation is that ‘we shall never have a novelist or writer of the magnitude of Shakespeare till one can make as many mistakes as Shakespeare made’.

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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’.

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Comments

Rathnashikamani
30th Nov 2011 (#)

“A writer’s mistakes deserve praise, and fantastic errors are great stimulants”
I appreciate that.
You’ve given a differently positive perspective to the art of reading a writers mind.

PSRemeshChandra
30th Nov 2011 (#)

Writers’ mistakes have always given the world interesting material to laugh about. They do not disparage the writer but do prove to the world that they indeed are human beings, after us going through the unearthly materials they have written. Writers’ mistakes are indeed a solace to readers who are taken off with the momentum of the flow of ideas and emotions in the writing and cannot land. Seeing the mistake and reading the mistake lands them safely on the terra firma.

Shaw’s Views On Freedom. Re-introduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

22.

Shaw’s Views On Freedom. Re-introduced by P S Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st May 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/1vq_e18x/
Posted in Wikinut  Essays

 

Bernard Shaw set human minds on fire everywhere. We would be thrilled to even think about the judges, parliament members, writers, academicians and newspaper editors in England, India, America, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland, China and Russia who very much wished for the head and blood of this acerbic philosopher of wit and wisdom. Shaw’s thoughts on Ultimate Freedom Of Man that infuriated these so called intelligentsia but pleased common people everywhere are reintroduced here.

The fearless intellectual who attacked the Victorian vanity and ostentation.

A colour poster for Shaw’s play.

George Bernard Shaw was a British dramatist, critic and philosopher. He was a Fabian Socialist who led British socialism away from Marx. This fearless intellectual of Irish origin attacked the vanity and ostentation of the English society. Like Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy, he was a staunch vegetarian, bold in his opinions. Arms And The Man, Man And Superman and The Apple Cart are three of his major plays. This article is based on one of his B.B.C. Radio Broadcasts in which he is defining the characteristics of freedom. He is of the opinion that ruling classes talk of freedom for the people but they reserve it only for themselves.

There can never be a perfectly free person theoretically.

A portrait of George Bernard Shaw.

Half the day we are slaves to necessities such as eating, drinking, washing, dressing and undressing. For another one-third of our life time we are slaves to sleep too. So theoretically there can never be a perfectly free person. Chattel slavery is said to have been abolished legally but it continues to be in other forms. Even voting in elections does not liberate a person. Two rich friends ask us for our vote and we have to choose one of the two, which is not real freedom.

Slavery of man to nature is natural but slavery of man to man is unnatural.

The rotating writing hut of Shaw.

Slavery of man to nature is natural whereas slavery of man to man is unnatural. Both are different. Natural wants are slavery indeed but nature is kind to her slaves. Eating, drinking and sleeping are made pleasant experiences. Building families and societies also is made pleasant. ‘We write sentimental songs in praise of them and in England a tramp can earn his supper by singing Home Sweet Home.’ But slavery of man to man is hateful to body and to spirit. In course of time slaves and their masters form their own organizations and enter a civil war known as class war. Karl Marx spent his life proving that slavery of man to man will never stop by itself unless stopped by law. Speaking and oration will not do but everyone has to do his share of the world’s work by his own hands and brain.

That notorious phrase of Shaw, ‘this prodigious mass of humbug.’

A scene from Candida acted on stage.

The combined body of parliaments, legislation, judiciary, literature, education and journalism look to Bernard Shaw as a prodigious mass if humbug which in layman’s terms means Victorian vanity and ostentation. These great institutions of society just promote and help slavery exist and reign in its all forms. They always and everywhere in this world wish to establish and make people think that they are superior to everything and unquestionable. The foolery that is concealed in them is that everywhere in this world people hate these institutions to the depths of their chore. Only the parasites who live by these things would love them. We would be thrilled to even think about the judges, parliament members, writers, academicians and newspaper editors in England, India, America, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland, China and Russia who very much wished for the head and blood of this philosopher and playwright. But he pleased people everywhere and reflected well their inner feelings. So long as these vain institutions exist in society no absolute and unconditional freedom is possible. These institutions, with the help of a falsified history, snobbery and dishonest politics, through preparatory schools, public schools and universities make citizens think that they are supreme inevitable and of paramount importance. When we read about these lines of Shaw that set human minds on fire everywhere, we should also note that individual freedom of opinion in England at that time was such acute sharp and great that he was not touched. The only other magnificent individual experience of such liberty of not only opinion but action also comes from post- Second World War France of De Gaul where the traffic rules-disobeying Sartre was ordered not to be touched by Surete. When viewed from a distance, those vain institutions Bernard Shaw mention here look really like epithelial corpuscles shed from our body when compared with the ultimate human freedom they imprison and impersonate.

Intellectual slaves of the modern day wish to have an owner and be possessed.

Inside Shaw’s movable writing hut.

Because these great social institutions do not respect real individual freedom and behave always superior to all common citizens at the cost of their internal fury, the inferiors sometimes become bold enough to rise in revolts and upset everything. Some courageous leader who has brain and energy like Napoleon will jump at the chance and become an emperor utilizing the heat of the situation. It has happened inFranceand will happen everywhere else at one time or another. It happened in France not because the people there were autocrat-minded; it was their only way out of intellectual slavery. People everywhere are basically liberty-lovers but the brainwashing by modern social institutions has been such strong and continuous that they have nowadays forgot to revolt. Intellectual slaves in America and Britain will also be willing to vote on ballot papers showing that they are not only revolutionaries but liberty-lovers and democrats also. Occasionally voting becomes a short respite in the long reign of intellectual dependence and submission. Ancient teachers since the time of Aristotle have taught rulers to behave proudly and impress people. In the history of physical comfort we see that people in power won’t sleep in the presence of the public lest their real nature of bestial helplessness and vulnerability would be revealed to the people and all their pride lost. The effect of impressive pride is such strong that modern day slaves find masters indispensable. They wish to have an owner for them. Slaves will not vote for women and women will not vote for women. When voting for women was first introduced in England they utilized it for defeating all women candidates including many who were dedicated to the problems of women. They elected only one woman, no doubt a titled lady of wealth, authority and personality. The slaves have practically no escape from slavishness.

Where there is poverty, we shall not sing about patriotism.

Malvern Theatres where Shaw’s plays were acted.

Human nature is the easiest thing that can be changed. People of England should change their politics through propaganda and education before they get real freedom. Those already schooled in slavery should be de-schooled. Large scale scientific farming and industry will increase national wealth which can also be distributed equally, but too much exploitation of nature through science will backfire. Nature will take her own counter measures in the form of anything, including reverting people’s minds to laziness. Though we can cultivate sky and earth by drawing nitrogen from it to improve the quality of our cattle, grass, milk and eggs, nature may have many tricks up her sleeve to check when we are exploiting her too greedily. This anti-scientific thinker’s comments in this regard are justified. Too much exploitation of nature means too much exploitation of workers which when reach a climax will cause general strikes, thereby dwindling production in their turn. According to Shaw, general strikes are trade unionism gone mad for they halt all production activities. Extravaganza in spending is what deprives production of its usefulness. Shakespeare’s character Eago asked people to put money in their purses and not to take out of it. But people earn the least and spend the most which habit causes poverty. Until poverty is wiped out clean, we shall cease to sing about patriotism because where poverty exists we are not patriots but drones.

What to do with this leisure and riches generated through real freedom?

Shaw’s home at St. Lawrence Herts.

By changing the head and tail of British politics and by freeing it from aristocracy slavery and exploitation, people will begin to get more of leisure and riches. There is a general belief that freedom means more of leisure and more of money to enjoy that leisure which is not true. We have seen the rich and leisurely lose their health and happiness and die gradually. Riches and leisure became poison to them. An idle man’s brain is the Devil’s workshop and Satan will still find mischief for idle hands to do. Thus what to do with the leisure and riches generated through real freedom becomes a riddle which still remains unanswered. Even Bernard Shaw does not dare answer it directly.

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

________________________________

Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

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Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

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Appreciations, British Essayists And Journalists, British Literature, British Writers, English Essays, English Literature, Essays, Freedom, Freedom Of Opinion, Freedom Of Speech, George Bernard Shaw, Liberty Of Speech, P S Remesh Chandran, Political Philosophy, Politics, Re Introductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Studies

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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