The Poverty of a Post-Humanist World

Source: The Poverty of a Post-Humanist World

“…These days we all like beautiful things. Everybody approves of art. But the culture does not attach as much emotional, intellectual or spiritual weight to beauty. We live, as Leon Wieseltier wrote in an essay for The Times Book Review, in a post-humanist moment. That which can be measured with data is valorized. Economists are experts on happiness. The world is understood primarily as the product of impersonal forces; the nonmaterial dimensions of life explained by the material ones…

…The shift to post-humanism has left the world beauty-poor and meaning-deprived. It’s not so much that we need more artists and bigger audiences, though that would be nice. It’s that we accidentally abandoned a worldview that showed how art can be used to cultivate the fullest inner life. We left behind an ethos that reminded people of the links between the beautiful, the true and the good — the way pleasure and love can lead to nobility…”

-David Brooks “When Beauty Strikes”

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Pakistan: A Country of Beauty

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Pakistan-In the international world, people associate this name with terrorism, poverty, illiteracy, extremism, women oppression and what not. Its the need of time to show the world real picture of this country, which is for its own people another name of beauty.  A country is made by its people, its culture and its society. Pakistan, although infamous of being weak state is a country with strong society. It, being the leading country in the Muslim world, is a hope for entire Muslim Ummah. Its strength lies in its people having a sea of potential.

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. One in every forty human beings in the world is a Pakistani. Most of the population in this country is young. It has a diverse culture with a large variety of languages spoken across the country. Mohsin Hamid in his article “Why Pakistan will survive” states that Punjabi speakers constitute more people than entire population of France. Pushto speakers are more than those living in Saudi Arabia. Sindhi is spoken by more people than the entire Australian population, Seraiki by more than the entire population of  Netherlands, Urdu by more than Cuban, and Balochi by more than Singaporean population. The linguistic diversity exhibited by this densely populated region makes this country distinct and charming.

Along with linguistic beauty, this country offers rich cultural diversity as well. Every province offers different ethnicity ranging from the Punjabis, Kashmiris, Sindhis in east,Muhajirs, Makrani in the south; Baloch, Hazaras and Pashtun in the west; and the ancient Dardic, Wakhi, Baltistani and Burusho communities in the north. Each province exhibits diversity of ways of life, cultural practices such as food, customs, dances, music and much more. Analysts argue that Pakistan is a civilization state going back to the Indus Valley Civilization constituting the origins of Gandhara, Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations. This is the region where three big contemporary religions: Buddhism, Hinduism and later Islam spread with great intensity.  

The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and Western music, such as the synchronisation of Qawwali and Western music by the world-renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Dari music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghani musicians and a distribution center for Afghani music abroad.

One of the many interesting elements in this country is its truck art. Its, being an indigenous form of art in Pakistan, is a source of attraction for tourists and internationals here. Almost every truck is decorated and customized by its owner exhibiting beautiful floral patterns, bright colors, calligraphy, indigenous poetry, adages, ornaments and much more. Sometimes there is funny poetry and sayings at the back of truck which makes the driver of the car driving behind smile, despite the disorderly chaotic traffic 🙂 

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Is Self-interest really Rational?

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In today’s world economic structure defines the patterns of not only a market but also those of our lives. The modern economy considers human beings interacting in the market as “homo economicus” whose actions are motivated by individual self-interest.  This is why the general perception of being rational in all fields of life is en-rooted in the notion of self-interested behaviour. I, however question this assumption and ask “Is self-interest really rational”? If yes, then why does homo economicus donate money?
Adam Smith and his followers argue that pursuit of self-interest of “rational” beings result in the desired collective optimality by the working of invisible hand. On the contrary, Amartya Sen identifies Smith’s economic man, a“rational fool” who lacks the ability to cooperate with others. Moreover, game theorists support cooperation among agents to maximize the social optimality, because the pursuit of narrowly defined individual self-interest does not lead to collective optimality, as illustrated by Prisoner Dilemma and the Tragedy of the Commons.
Contemporary environmental problems created by man’s large scale economic activity have also proved that the behaviour of humans to acquire their own self-interest in not rational in its true sense rather its dangerously irrational.
Its the time to question this very basic assumption of economic model, and our lives in essence, to bring humanity’s optimal towards cooperation instead of competition and redefine the term “rationality”.

Childhood Wishes

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When I was a child of maybe six or seven years old I had a great desire to have a kitchen set. I can still feel the heat of that desire which I felt at that tender age. But even then, I never asked my parents to get me one. Because I used to think that kitchen sets are expensive and my father might not be able to get that for me. Now while thinking about that I am really amazed about the level of empathy I had at such an immature age. I remember one day my father actually brought me a kitchen set of pink and off white color. When I carried it in my hands I felt immense pleasure at first, but immediately that happiness turned into a deep concern. The questions which arose in my mind- in the mind of a six year old child- were how did my father gather money to buy me this kitchen set? How difficult it might be for him? Why did I cause him this much difficulty? The memory of what I did next brings tears in my eyes even today. I asked him to return that kitchen set back to the shopkeeper. When he asked me the reason, I could not share with him what I actually thought so I made up one. I told him that I don’t like pink and off white color. In return he gave me a dozen of reasons to like pink and off white color. But I could never tell him back that pink and off white were actually my favorite colors. Anyways he convinced me to keep it, but I never played with that my-so-favorite-colored-kitchen-set ever afterwards.

Childhood conditions become part of one’s personality forever. In my childhood I saw my parents struggling really hard to fulfill the desires and needs of their children. This raised my level of empathy, concern, sensitivity and maybe much more which I do not even know about. It has impacted my personality to such an extent that I cannot see any child wishing for something and not getting it. I deeply connect with those children who are shy and quiet and do not say out their wishes loudly.

Every one of us has got such memories of their childhood and makes connections of our personality traits with those experiences which we had in the early years of life. The important factor is to realize how much impact does these little events and experiences have on the child’s personality, and how does it stick with him or her for whole life.

Beauty of Vulnerability

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Our world is standing upon the fundamental and most ignored element called “connection”. Life exists due to connection. Its the connection between people which makes societies and ultimately countries. Its the connection between souls which gives birth to emotions. Its the connection between life and death between which humans dance. Connection is what which gives meaning to our lives. Connection is the reason why we are here. Human connection results in empathy. The greater the empathy the more the love. Where there is love, there exists fear, as a necessary part. And where there is fear there exists vulnerability. The ability to feel vulnerable is one of the most hated and looked upon feelings. However, I see vulnerability as the beauty of life.

Yes you heard it right! Vulnerability is beautiful. Have you ever seen a new born child with little cute eyes and lips, fragile bodies, low voices, and most importantly vulnerable, which essentially makes the child lovable. The child grows and becomes a man but vulnerability stays with him. The only difference between a child and a fully grown up man is that unlike child, man is afraid to accept his vulnerability. Instead of accepting it, he is actually ashamed of it. Research shows that those people who accept their vulnerabilities are much happier than those who deny that. Those who accept their bads as openly as they do their goods are more social, have better sense of belonging, are more successful (emotionally) and happier.

Humans are the best creatures, yet not perfect. And essentially they are best because they are imperfect. Their weaknesses, their failures and their ability to be vulnerable makes them beautiful. Therefore instead of denying our vulnerability, lets accept it with open arms. Make connections with others. Accept our own very self. Carry our vulnerability. And lets humanize a little!

“Ctrl+Z” in life

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Have you ever pleaded for another chance? Yes, you are not alone in doing that. We all want to get second chances at some point in time.
We make mistakes. We grow. We live and we surely do regret. Life is cruel because it never gives us second chances. Whats done is always done and there is no way of coming back. This is the first lesson of life which we learn when we grow up. Imagine how would have things occurred, if we had an option of “Ctrl+Z” in our real lives! Imagine if we could undo our deeds, actions and most importantly spoken words!

But, there exists a bright side of the picture as well. Although life does not give us an opportunity of complete do-overs but it teaches us strong lessons, through our mistakes. Although it never gives us second chances,but it teaches how to play better second time. As they say, every breath is definitely a second chance!