• Management,  Psychology,  Sociology

    Mob Psychology—Does a Group Have a Mind?

    It is common to think that a person has a body and a mind. But when groups of people act in concerted ways, it seems that they are a singular body controlled by a mind. How is a random collection of people (who act in individual ways) different from one in which they act as if they were a single body controlled by a single mind? This post discusses the emergence of organization in a random collection of individuals, and the main idea is that two invisible constructs—structure and purpose—rather than the physical bodies create organization.

  • Law,  Politics,  Sociology

    Competition and Cooperation

    The debate between individualism and collectivism lies at the heart of all modern political debates, but it is obvious that we could not live without both. If everyone acted individualistically, society—which hinges on cooperation—could not exist; there could be no common agreement on social laws that aim for the greater collective good over (sometimes) individual good. If on the other hand we prioritized the collective good over individual good, there would be no incentive in the individuals to act out of their own agency, resulting in the relinquishment of individual responsibilities. What is the right balance between individualism and collectivism? This question hinges on the problem that these two ideas…

  • Religion,  Sociology

    Men Are From Sun, Women Are From Moon

    “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” says that bestseller book from John Gray. This book has become a classic, although it stereotypes both men and women, disregarding the fact that each person has both masculine and feminine tendencies in them to varying degrees. We can clearly speak about the masculine and feminine as ideas, concepts, or archetypes, but we cannot speak of ordinary people as purely feminine or masculine. This post extends the previous one (where I described masculine and feminine as archetypes of consciousness in Vaishnavism) into yoga philosophy where the masculine and feminine are combined to produce a human body—the masculine being the upward flow called…

  • Religion,  Sociology

    The Philosophy of Masculine and Feminine

    As we have seen earlier, a soul has three tendencies called sat (consciousness), chit (meaning), and ananda (pleasure), such that the essence of choice is that between meaning and pleasure. We have also discussed previously, how the original sat-chit-ananda Absolute Truth creates five forms—Kṛṣṇa, Rāma, Hara, Ramā, and Jīvā, which are called the pañca-tattva or five categories. Two of these forms are masculine (Kṛṣṇa and Rāma) while two of them are feminine (Hara and Ramā). Each masculine form is paired with a feminine form. The form of Kṛṣṇa and Hara are the subject and object of pleasure, while the forms of Rāma and Ramā are the subject and object of…

  • Religion,  Sociology

    What is Daivī Varna System?

    The previous post identified two impersonalist tendencies—i.e. “we are one” and “we are equal”—and discussed their respective impacts on Indian and Western societies. The post also discussed how a personalist system based in hierarchical thinking (rather than equality or oneness) is necessary for social organization. This post carries forward that topic, and identifies two kinds of personalist social systems—one material and the other spiritual. These are respectively called Varṇa and daivī Varṇa systems. When talking about the Varṇa system, people often think that we are talking about the material system, which previously led to the modern “caste system”. There is, however, another Varṇa system—the daivī Varṇa system—which is different from…

  • Religion,  Sociology

    Personalist and Impersonalist Societies

    There is one fundamental cultural difference between the West and India—the West is a flat, egalitarian society, while India is still, to an extent, a hierarchical society. In the stereotyped view of the West, children do not respect parents, students do not respect teachers, and citizens do not respect politicians. In the stereotyped view of India, children respect their parents, students respect their teachers, and citizens respect their politicians.  Note that these are stereotypes, not true in every case. But the stereotypes exist due to a cultural class divide between “higher” and “lower”. Unlike the West which is culturally (although not economically and politically) flat, India is culturally hierarchical (and…

  • Philosophy,  Politics,  Sociology

    Dialectical Materialism and Sāńkhya

    The world around us is filled with dualities or oppositions. There are two main resolutions of this duality as we have seen earlier—(1) finding the relation between the opposing ideas and the next “higher level” idea from which these oppositions were created, and (2) finding a quantitative balance between the opposing ideas at the “same level” such that the opposing ideas become mirror images of each other. And yet, for the most part in modern society, we don’t see either of these approaches being applied. We rather see one of the following two attempts: (1) destroy one side of the opposition to have the other side win, or (2) destroy…

  • Cosmology,  Philosophy,  Sociology

    Space as a Model of Society and Ecosystems

    In Vedic cosmology space is meant for living beings, because the material universe exists for the purposes of such beings. When space is the canvas on which we describe living phenomena, then macroscopic phenomena in the space constitute the evolution of society, while the microscopic phenomena indicate the evolution of the individual living entity. Sāńkhya is a detailed theory of the individual phenomena—i.e. a person’s perception, actions, and its consequences. Vedic cosmology, on the other hand, is a detailed description of the macroscopic phenomena—e.g. the tiers of society, the periodic creation and destruction of life forms, and the rise and fall of civilizations and cultures. This post discusses how space…