Economic Freedom

Freedom is a potent word that evokes strong emotions and motivates major upheavals in human society. The degree of freedom around the world that humans enjoy has been steadily on the rise, although with the occasional temporary declines.

It’s worth noting that not all societies have the same attachment to freedom. Some societies systematically value freedom a lot more than others. That presents us with an empirical fact: the positive correlation between freedom and human flourishing. If one assumes that all humans value flourishing, then the question arises why some societies appear to not value freedom, even though they suffer as a consequence of a lack of freedom. Continue reading “Economic Freedom”

Chola Temples

Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram (Click to embiggen)

As far back as I can recall, I’ve had a deep interest in philosophy and cosmology. Those disciples raise and seek answers to some of our most insistent questions: what is the nature of the universe and what does it all mean?

The night sky holds particular fascination for us: what are those points of lights, and why do some of them move across the sky and the others stay absolutely motionless? Who or what created them? “Who knows, who can here declare whence it all came, and how creation happened?” as the Rig Veda asks in the Creation Hymn.[1]

Some people believe that religion is what humans developed in an attempt to make sense of the world. It could be true because I get the religious impulse when contemplating the universe as I perceive it.

Since I’m brought up in the religious traditions of India, I have a singular fascination for ancient Indian temples. I’ve been to dozens of them. Thanks to the generosity and kindness of my friend K, I got to visit three amazing temples in Tamil Nadu on a 4-day road trip last month that I had never been to before. They were amazing, astonishing, magnificent, beautiful and awe-inspiring. Continue reading “Chola Temples”

Adam Smith

Adam Smith was a giant figure of the Scottish Enlightenment and his two major works — The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and In Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) — have advanced our understanding of what motivates us and how human society works.

Isaac Newton postulated the existence of a force called gravity to explain part of the emergent order we observe in the world of matter. Charles Darwin explained the observed evolution and diversity of life by postulating a mechanism that leads to speciation, namely, natural selection. Alike to them, Smith explained how our human-created social world works. Continue reading “Adam Smith”

Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson in 2005

A man of extraordinary genius, the late great Freeman Dyson is one of my favorite people. I have listened to recording of his talks, presentations and interviews for hours on end. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, practically everyone has the opportunity to learn from his wisdom and enjoy his delightful sense of humor. I realize of course that he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, especially those who are wedded to conventional idiotic ideas (global warming, for example) and long divorced from free inquiry.

Here’s one that I watched this morning. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to watch this conversation with Dyson at the University of Oregon (which I assume was recorded in 2016) and share with us in the comments section what you found to be the most interesting, or insightful, or surprising, or amusing. To avoid spoilers, I will reserve my answer(s) until Monday. Continue reading “Freeman Dyson”

Self-Made Men

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in February 1817 or 1818 in Cordova, Maryland, United States.

“Douglass lived twenty years as a slave and nearly nine years as a fugitive slave subject to recapture. From the 1840s to his death in 1895 he attained international fame as an abolitionist, editor, orator of almost unparalleled stature, and the author of three autobiographies that are classics of the genre. As a public man he began his abolitionist career two decades before America would divide and fight a civil war over slavery that he openly welcomed. Douglass was born in a backwater of the slave society of the South just as steamboats appeared in bays and on American rivers, and before the telegraph, the railroad, and the rotary press changed human mobility and consciousness. He died after the emergence of electric lights, the telephone, and the invention of the phonograph. The renowned orator and traveler loved and used most of these elements of modernity and technology.” Continue reading “Self-Made Men”

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