Monthly Archives: June 2016


Agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible to know if the supernatural, including God, exists.

Agnosticism holds that the nature of God, gods, or supernatural phenomena is such that humanity can never know if they exist or not. It is a statement about what kind of knowledge a person can possess and about what kind of belief is proper or moral to hold. According to the term’s originator, British biologist Thomas Huxley (1825-95), the term describes a method of how people can use their intellect to come to hold, or refuse to hold, any particular belief.

Even though the term “agnosticism” did not come into popular use until Huxley coined it in 1869, the idea has existed for approaching 3,000 years. The earliest known expression of the idea comes from the Hindu Vedas, produced between c. 1500 and 500 BCE, which expressed skepticism at the ability to answer fundamental questions about existence. The Rigveda states, “Who knows for certain? … None knoweth whence creation has arisen …”

Ancient Greek philosophers voiced similar opinions about the nature of certainty and knowledge. When Huxley introduced the term, he created it from the Greek roots: a, for “without,” and gnosis, for “knowledge.” His belief was that the knowledge of God is unattainable, and a rational person can hold no belief about it.

In modern times, people often use “agnostic” to denote those who describe themselves as being unsure about whether a God exists. Yet the existence of the divine is not something agnosticism purports to answer. It expresses skepticism, especially regarding the extent of human comprehension. It is also a statement about the morality of hubris, holding that it is immoral to believe in something that has no basis or to assert an answer to an unanswerable question.

Posted in Faith and Religion

The Death of Confucius

The Death of Confucius

From age 56 to 68, the Chinese philosopher Confucius wandered from state to state hoping that somewhere he could put his political doctrine into practice. During these years he never lost confidence in his cailling as political mentor of the Empire.

At age 57, when he returned to his native state finally, he lamented in a poem that, “men are without insight, quickly the years pass.” He said, despite all his wanderings through nine provinces there was still no goal in sight for him.

Confucius spent his last years peacefully in Lu. He accepted no government position. He seems to have undergone a profound change. A hermit once said of Confucius: “Is that not the man who knows that striving is without hope and yet goes on?” He studied the I Ching, or Book of Changes, so rich in secrets and completed his systematic groundwork for a new mode of education by committing traditions to writing and by instructing a group of young men.

One morning Confucius felt the approach of death. He walked about the courtyard, humming the words: “The great mountain must collapse, the mighty beam must break, and the wise man wither like a plant.”

When an alarmed pupil spoke to him, he said: “No wise ruler arises, and no one in the Empire wishes to make me his teacher. The hour of my death has come.” He lay down and died eight days later at age 73.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

About Job Stress and Burnout

Job stress and burnout are career crisis of professionals

Job burnout was first identified in the 1970s as a career crisis of professionals working with people in some capacity. Subsequent research has established that burnout was neither a passing phase of baby boomers’ entry into the workforce nor a minor problem easily resolved. Instead, burnout has persisted.

Job stress and burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who do “people work” of some kind. A debilitating psychological condition resulting from work-related frustrations, which results in lower employee productivity and morale. Whiton Stewart Paine writes the following poem about job stress and burnout.

I’ve got the burnout blues
Everything is tense,
Feel too many stressors
Beating on my sense.
Watch my mind, it’s racing
Back and forth it goes,
Damn it’s hard to tapdance
Minus half your toes.
This endless flow of clients
Drowns me in their needs,
Hope, compassion, love are gone
As ire wounds my deeds.
Nights are just not restful
Days are nightmare bent,
Everything is dragging here
As energy is pent.
Success has been relentless
Pushing me past kin,
All those expectations
Have just done me in.
Policies, procedures
Weight my desk and life,
As bosses sit there screeching
Through me Ilke a knife.
The people I do work with
Friends once in the past,
Now ambush me in corners
How long can this last?
Heart it keeps on pounding
Empty gut’s aflame,
Cigarettes, coffee, booze and pills
Must keep me in the game.
Once I knew my passage
Running with the light,
Today I creep in darkness
Pausing, trapped in fright.
Most of life’s a shambles
Work is but a joke,
Constantly I’m pushing
Time goes up in smoke.
At home, a spouse is waiting
Amazing they’re still here,
One more crisis with this job
And they’ll be gone, I fear.
Influenza stalks me
Despair I seek and find,
Sick days spare my body
Mental health days heal my mind.
Everything’s a jumble
Values are askew,
No one’s got my answer
This empty soul is new.
Got the burnout blues
So I just sit and stare,
Feel too many stressors
And no one seems to care.

Taken together, it was shown that when employees manage to create boundaries between the work and non-work domains, it helps them detach from work and avoid the diminishment of energy and thus restrict the negative impact of the job. Additionally, it was shown that confrontation with high job and home demands might lead to burnout because it increases the experience of work-family and family-work conflict, respectively.

Posted in Health and Fitness

New Challenges in Leadership

Leadership today is more challenging than ever. Leaders face globalization; increased competition for customers, markets, and talent; rapid change; speed and complexity; change in types of workers and related contracts; loss of purpose among workers; increased process management and decreased mobility-among other things.

Leaders today must create a pathway along a liminal landscape that is constantly shifting between chaos and order. In this state, people live outside their comfort zones; they experience a loss of meaning and direction. They are faced with doing things they have little experience with or have ne.ver done before. They realize that the future is not just unknown; it is unknowable.

A special type of leader is needed for this unknowable condition-one who can help provide direction, meaning, and contain anxiety for others, on one hand, and facilitate openness, ongoing learning, and reflection on the other. These leaders must not only embrace both order and chaos but also provide a way for people to reflect transformaupon what they are doing and enable needthem to make more useful sense of it. Leaders also need to be both effective mentors for others and effective learn-ers themselves.

Leaders can successfully navigate this territory by embracing both sides of the order I chaos paradox-transformation and emergence.

  • Transformational leaders-those who bring order to guiding changemust not only convey a compelling vision and be sensitive and responsive to the needs of their constituents but also behave as role models who walk the talk. These leaders typically are officially designated and have the formal position, authority, and backing. They drive change, establish the vision, and mobilize the troops.
  • Emergent leaders, on the other hand, may not be officially sanctioned and are more on the chaos side. They may, in fact, be part of what Ralph Stacy terms the shadow organization interactions among members of a legitimate system that fall outside that legitimate system. As people operate in the shadow system, leadership roles emerge. The roles then shift based on contributions people make and how they make that contribution known.

Another way leadership emerges is when an individual articulates and initiates potentially creative thought, discoveries, and behavior either on their own behalf or that of others. Often these leaders emerge from the ranks. Conversely, they may be officially sanctioned as leaders but have relationships and ways of working that go beyond what appears on charts, in position descriptions, or in job objectives.

They make the vision come alive by creating space for it to unfold through their own actions; they build commitment and confidence, create opportnities, and help others lead them selves. These leaders translate the guiding visions, values and beliefs into action by using them to shape their own behavior.

The attributes of both transformational and emergent leaders are needed. These attributes, more likely to be manifest in a team of individuals, are essential for navigating the liminal space between chaos and order. The manner in which they are combined and applied will depend on the leaders and their organizations.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Leaders Connect Their Voice to Their Touch

Max De Pree, Leadership Jazz In Leadership Jazz, Max De Pree, former chair and chief executive officer of the Michigan furniture maker Herman Miller, illustrates this point with a moving story about tending his prematurely born granddaughter, Zoe, during the first days of her fragile life. On his initial visit to the neonatal intensive care unit, De Pree encountered a compassionate nurse named Ruth, who gave him this advice: “I want you to come to the hospital every day to visit Zoe, and when you come, I would like you to rub her body and her legs and her arms with the tip of your finger. While you’re caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her, because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch.”

In that instant, De Pree realized that Nurse Ruth was giving him not only the best advice for care of Zoe but also “the best possible description of the work of a leader. At the core of becoming a leader is the need always to connect one’s voice to one’s touch.”

Leadership credibility is about connecting voice and touch, about doing what you say you will do. But De Pree insists that there’s a prior task to connecting voice and touch. It’s “finding one’s voice in the first place.”

Posted in Management and Leadership



Perfection is the concept of something that is completely flawless or complete.

Perfection, in the sense of being flawless, is derived from discussions by Aristotle (384-322 BCE) of privation, or deficiency. Aristotle stated that “a doctor and a musician are ‘perfect’ when they have no deficiency in respect of the form of their peculiar excellence.” In other words, a “perfect” specimen is flawless in every way with respect to its performance of its profession or its embodiment of its species. This, however, is just one sense of a concept that is key to Aristotle’s philosophy. Being good is not the same thing as being perfect. More exactly, attaining virtue involves practice; but practice never truly makes perfect because we always can do better.

The word “perfect” is a translation of the Greek teleion, a derivative of the polysemous word telos. In this context, the relevant meaning of telos is “end,” or “goal.” With this in mind, the English translation “perfect” can be understood to encapsulate the idea of being complete, of having fulfilled a goal. This was important for Aristotle because, as a matter of principle, he believed that all things exist for a reason-that is, they have some telos-and that all things naturally strive toward the fulfillment of their telos. Therefore, perfection, for Aristotle, is something all things strive for, be they a blade of grass or a human being. For Aristotle, happiness itself is the most perfect of all things. So it made sense to strive for both siblings—happiness and perfection.

In biology, Aristotle employs this notion to explain (in part) the various stages of an organism’s development-each is a step toward the fulfillment of its telos. In cosmology, however, Aristotle employs the idea very generally, suggesting that the telos of all heavy bodies invariably drives them toward a state of rest around a cosmic center point. That all heavy bodies fall to Earth is evidence that this center point is, in fact, Earth. In this way, perfection is a concept wholly entangled with geocentrism.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Modern Feminism Should Stop Selling Out

Modern Feminism Should Stop Selling Out

Recent feminist writers have claimed or implied a special affinity between women and irony, and between feminism and irony on account of their “double” relation to the prevailing order of things: both speak from within this order – indeed, to a greater or lesser extent, are determined by this order – and yet both remain “other” to this order in some way.

In his essay, “Equality” (1943), C. S. Lewis deplores the way that the concept of equality has come to characterize all aspects of the male-female relationship in modern times. In what he calls “a little plain speaking,”

This is the tragi-comedy of the modern woman; taught by Freud to consider the act of love the most important thing in life, and then inhibited by feminism from that internal surrender which alone can make it a complete emotional success. Merely for the sake of her own erotic pleasure, to go no further, some degree of obedience and humility seems to be (normally) necessary on the woman’s part.

Truth to tell, “equal pay for equal work” sometimes seemed the entire content of the moderate agenda, but it managed to gain support for a veritable revolution that in short order reconstituted women as a separate social and political class. It’s possible to imagine that without feminism, things might have turned out better for women and more harmoniously for everyone. There is a great deal we can retrieve and learn from this body of writing. They provide more detailed accounts of the reception of specific playwrights and tendencies from critical voices conscious of their positions on the margins of mainstream culture. The changes in law, policy, habits, customs, and expectations that may have been needed to help women advance into the public sphere would have developed gradually, as a normal part of societal progress, without recourse to a poisonous ideology that separated women’s interests from those of society as a whole, and without rewriting the past as one long history of injustice toward the female sex.

Andi Zeisler, co-founder and creative director of Bitch Media According to Andi Zeisler, co-founder and creative director of Bitch Media, feminism has become a revolution that has become privatized: In her view, feminists today are all about the right to make individual choices—any choices, choices that may be wholly estranged from the original objectives of feminism, which once meant collective action to change whole systems. She recommends the subject matter to which modern dramatists might devote themselves, such as “hundreds of the professions occupied by women” and “women’s friendships with women” which she claims have been “unaccountably neglected” even though “there are before us so many examples of women spending the best years of their lives together, and cooperating sincerely and cordially in so many different activities.”

Zeisler writes in Time Magazine,

This kind of marketplace feminism … pulls focus from systemic issues and places it on individuals and personalities. It’s easy to see Sandberg, for instance, urging women to lean in, and forget that leaning in puts the onus on women themselves—rather than on the corporate systems and values that shortchange all workers regardless of gender.

But to make the world itself more feminist-safer, saner, more equitable, more sustainable-requires asking more of one another and ourselves than the market can answer. It involves asking difficult, complex and uncomfortable questions about what and whom we value. It requires confronting the reality that the world has not evolved nearly as much as we’ve been led to believe it has. And it needs us to admit that making us feel good about what we buy is not the same as making us feel purposeful about what we do.

Although it is impossible to predict the outcome of any negotiation with irony, I hope that what emerges from my attempt is a narrative of vigilance. The feminist insistence that women behave like men and make as much money as men do may not be the sole reason for women’s rising levels of dissatisfaction with life; a greater incidence of divorce and single motherhood may also contribute to it. Gender equality requires co-operation on all sides. As a humanist, I’d like to see today’s feminists give men a bit more credit – they might just be surprised.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Creativity: Difference between Innovation and Invention

Creativity: Difference between Innovation and Invention

Creativity involves the creation of a goal-directed novelty. Creativity results in the purposeful production of new things, either ideas or physical objects; the creative process or creative thinking is the psychological means whereby such novelty is brought about. Assuming that the individual’s purpose and meaning is critical in creative production necessitates that one cannot be called “creative” if one creates something new by accident. The consequent utilization of that accidental novelty might comprise processes that we could label as creative. The initial “discovery” did not, according to the delineation assumed here, come about through the creative process. It is normally not useful to contain value in this definition. Defining creativity as the production of novel products that are of value (no matter how one defines value) causes in complexities that represent the definition unusable. The invention process covers all efforts aimed at creating new ideas and getting them to work. Most important, the value of some product can change over time, which means that, if we take account of value in our definition of creative, the products or persons that one generation classifies as creative might not be so classified by the next. That prospect means that our database would be constantly shifting as we tried to mature our interpretation of creativity and associated concepts—an unacceptable set of circumstances.

Innovation involves a product that meets some benchmarks beyond those of intention and novelty; an innovation is a new product that serves some objective. It is here that questions of value become important. Building on the definition of creativity just given, an innovation is a new product that was intentionally produced to achieve some purpose and that succeeds, to a scale that is adequate, in doing so. Design is the process whereby innovation is brought about. So the design process encompasses creativity (the generation of novelty) as well as something more (the correction of that novelty so that it serves some specific purpose).

Innovation, design, and invention are directly related concepts; an invention is also a novel product that has been intentionally developed to achieve some purpose (that is, an invention is also an innovation as defined above). As opposed to innovation the term invention was regarded in the early 19th century as a positive attribute of an endeavor or product. Law protected inventions and patents were issues on the name of the inventor.

But an invention is the first innovation within some class of objects. In other words, a new member of an already existing category of objects is an innovation, but the first of the objects within that category is an invention. The invention process covers all efforts aimed at creating new ideas and getting them to work. The cognitive, conative, and affective processes of the mind are the bases for our perceptions and for our sorting, synthesizing, categorizing, ignoring, discarding and recombining all our sensory input into new configurations.

So, for example, it seems sensible to say the following of the Wright brothers:

  • they invented the airplane
  • they designed the first airplane, and
  • they designed an airplane.

Wright Brothers First Flight: Difference between Innovation and Invention

The individuals who successfully followed the Wrights only succeeded in designing airplanes. Those individuals may have invented things in their work-components of their successful airplanes but they did not invent the airplane. The airplane—or any artifact—can only be invented once.

Thus, the processes of invention and innovation might be the same, excepting the fact that the former results in production of the first of some class of objects (i.e., the first airplane) while the latter results in additional members of the previously populated category (i.e., other airplanes). It is an empirical question as to whether the process of invention is the same as the process of innovation. Experience provides the qualities of the prototypes we employ for interpreting the present. That is, is the same process (or processes) involved in producing the first member and subsequent members of some class of objects?

Invention is not a random process but is the result of research, study or repeated attempts. Invention must be distinguished from discovery. The latter involves finding or highlighting conditions or facts still unknown. The model of the invention system and the downstream commercialization system make it possible to provide some clear answers to important questions. An invention has to be unique worldwide where as an innovation has to be unique locally, in a certain region or area.

Invention represents a worldwide novelty while innovation is a local novelty. Innovation is an improvement or a refinement while invention is a completely new entity. Society is interested in both innovation and invention as innovation is an economically viable invention that can be exploited in order to generate benefit or to obtain profit.

Innovation is a generic term, whose meaning includes both having a new idea and putting it into action. The definition of innovation used here is appropriate when discussing research in science and engineering. It includes both process and product innovations, in both the goods and services sectors. Finer shadings of these innovations into incremental vs. revolutionary, disruptive vs. sustaining is not pursued in the present discussion.

Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

How to Cross-Fertilize Ideas?

How to Cross-Fertilize Ideas?

Managers can kindle creativity by helping employees to cross-fertilize in their thinking, to think across subjects and disciplines. The traditional office environment often has separate classrooms and classmates for different subjects and seems to influence employees into thinking that learning occurs in discrete boxes—the math box, the social studies box, and the science box. Creative ideas and insights often result, however, from integrating material across subject areas, not from memorizing and reciting material.

Teaching employees to cross-fertilize draws on their skills, interests, and abilities, regardless of the subject. If employees are having trouble understanding math, managers might ask them to draft test questions related to their special interests. For instance, they might ask the baseball fan to devise geometry problems based on a game. The context may spur creative ideas because the student finds the topic (baseball) enjoyable and it may counteract some of the anxiety caused by geometry. Cross-fertilization motivates employees who aren’t interested in subjects taught in the abstract.

One way managers can promote cross-fertilization in the office is to ask employees to identify their best and worst professional areas. Employees can then be asked to come up with project ideas in their weak area based on ideas borrowed from one of their strongest areas. For example, managers can describe to employees that they can apply their interest in science to social studies by analyzing the scientific aspects of trends in national politics.

Allow time for Creative Thinking

Managers also need to allow employees the time to think creatively. Often, creativity requires time for incubation. Many societies today are societies in a hurry. People eat fast food, rush from one place to another, and value quickness. One way to say someone is smart is to say that the person is quick, a clear indication of an emphasis on time. This is also indicated by the format of many of the standardized tests used – lots of multiple-choice problems squeezed into a brief time slot.

Most creative insights do not happen in a rush. People need time to understand a problem and to toss it around. If employees are asked to think creatively, they need time to do it well. If managers stuff questions into their tests or give their employees more homework than they can complete, they are not allowing them time to think creatively.

Instruct and Assess for Creativity

Managers also should instruct and assess for creativity. If managers give only multiple-choice tests, employees quickly learn the type of thinking that managers value, no matter what they say. If managers want to encourage creativity, they need to include at least some opportunities for creative thought in assignments and tests.

Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

Kadamba Temple, Gudnapura in Karnataka

Kadamba Temple, Gudnapura in Karnataka

Gudnapura in North Kanara district is just five kms from the famous ancient city of Banavasi which was the capital of the early Kadambas. Gudnapura suddenly became famous because of the discovery of an inscription of Kadamba Ravivarman. The inscription has been inscribed in box-headed characters of Brahmi of the sixth century AD. This inscription furnishes some very important evidences regarding Gudnapura which perhaps was the area where a large number of royal buildings existed. The inscription states that king Ravivarma built a temple for Manmatha and set up this pillar with this inscription. While mentioning the boundaries of the temple it states that to the right of the temple was a palace of the king while to the left there were two dancing halls (nrityashala) and in front was harem (antahpura). Taking the clue from these details, the Archaeological Survey of India conducted excavations at the site and this resulted in bringing to light two brick structures, with various antiquities.

Kadamba Temple of Gudnapura in Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka

One of the brick structures has been identified as a temple. It consisted of a garbhagriha and a longish mandapa and both are enclosed within a prakara. This provides inner circumbulatory passage. The mandapa had wooden pillars. The mandapa had two entrances. A large number of flat but apsidal small tiles have been discovered in the excavation and perhaps they were used for the ground and roof. Some of these tiles have small holes. Large number of iron nails have been found in the excavation and hence it is suggested that these roof tiles which had holes were fixed to wooden beam with the help of these nails. The bricks used here are of high quality and some of them measure 38 by 19 by 17 cms.

In front of the temple is another structure made of laterite bricks and it may belong to a slightly later period. Unfortunately there is no clue to know the god which had been consecrated in the garbhagriha of this temple.

It is of interest to note that the Gudnapur inscription mentions a temple for Manmatha and some scholars equate Manmatha with Bahubali. Perhaps this temple can be identified as the one mentioned in the Gudnapur record. A copper casket with a lid in the form of a tortoise was found in the excavation. Thus the excavation has yielded very interesting data regarding the temple architecture of the early period at Gudnapura, close to ancient Banavasi of the early Kadamba period.

Posted in Faith and Religion Travels and Journeys