Eric Schmidt’s Nightmare

The night of the happy day when Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google had declared to the world that privacy was not that important and that if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place, he had a dream that he had died and had ascended to heaven. At heaven’s door, he clicked on the button marked “Enter”. Continue reading Eric Schmidt’s Nightmare

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Hippocratic oath or Hypocritic oath

I remember around 10 years back, a friend who is a doctor, went to an impoverished locality in Karachi with a team to vaccinate children against some disease(s). Their team was harassed by some ignorant and mostly illiterate people who felt that such vaccination campaigns are part of a “western conspiracy” to harm them. “Why are you sticking needles in our children?” and so forth. This reaction was (is) quite common in Pakistan. However, over the years, some progress had been made in raising peoples awareness about diseases and prevention. These are our local problems. But these problems are exacerbated and whatever little progress that has been made on the local front recedes very quickly, when the imperial machine dives into the thick of things with its cold brutal logic. Here’s one story: Continue reading Hippocratic oath or Hypocritic oath

Abdus Salam and Galileo: The separation of science from religion (and philosophy)

Dr Abdus Salam, the late Pakistani particle physicist is the only Muslim physicist till date to have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Dr Salam was rare among modern day scientists in that he was a devout Muslim. While most modern scientists are not concerned with religious matters, Dr Salam found his inspiration for science in religion. Continue reading Abdus Salam and Galileo: The separation of science from religion (and philosophy)

The Ghost of Bob Dylan: On the two models of poetry

I remember I first listened to Bob Dylan’s songs back in 2004 when I was studying in the small town of Colchester (the oldest town, and the first capital of Britain). I found myself relating to his songs in a way that I had never related to music before. The combination of his powerful lyrics and wildly raw singing style left me enthralled. For instance, I still can’t get over how someone can write the following lines:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind Continue reading The Ghost of Bob Dylan: On the two models of poetry

Re-Modeling Iqbal: Why Iqbal is too important to be given up!

Dr Muhammad Iqbal wrote the national song of India, has been declared the national poet of Pakistan, and served as the intellectual influence for Iran’s  revolutionaries. However, over the last few years, there has been an ever-growing allergy towards Iqbal among the liberal sections of Pakistan

Iqbal is presently claimed by the right; in the past he was also strongly claimed by the left. Now, since there is no Continue reading Re-Modeling Iqbal: Why Iqbal is too important to be given up!

Wittgenstein contra Wahhab

The basic tenet of Salafi/Wahhabi Muslims is that the word of God, i.e., the Quran, is not open to interpretation; the meaning is apparent from what is stated and woe unto those who indulge in the needless and dangerous talk of interpretation.

On the other hand, those who hold views similar to those held in the Mutazilite tradition, for example Shias and some  Sunni sects, believe that the literal meaning needs to be interpreted and we can interpret the Quran to obtain its true meaning.

Interestingly, two groundbreaking, and opposed works by the same man, the unrivaled genius Ludwig Wittgenstein, shed valuable light on these issues.  Continue reading Wittgenstein contra Wahhab

William James and Free Will Peril

The problem of free will, as classically defined, is that since each event is caused by a chain of antecedent events, nothing we do is of our own free will; if we do have free will, its hard to see how it could come about.

Humankind has been at this problem for millennia. Instead of Continue reading William James and Free Will Peril