Blog: Achilles and Tortoise

Also see my non-technical blog Randomish.

What it is like to be a bat?

  By Krishna Dubba         computing, philosophy        23 comments

Every now and then I get into conversations (even arguments) with someone and sometimes it gets very hot. For example recently it was on Kashmir and this guy was from US. His arguments were entirely opposed to the views I had and I didn't understand how he can have such views while it looks pretty obvious that my views seem more logical. He told he felt the same. Well somehow we ended our conversation in a very peaceful manner, but the whole thing haunted me for a while. How can people have such diametrically opposite views and still think they are right and their views are logical? After that I came across this seminal paper in an entirely different field: "What is it like to be a bat?" by American philosopher, Thomas Nagel. This paper is a master piece and it says why it is difficult (or rather impossible) to feel or see others perspective because every individual's consciousness is non-intrusive. In fact it raises some profound yet simple questions by asking similar questions like what is it like to hate coffee, what is it like to like chocolate etc. These are impossible to answer unless you experience it. How can you answer the question what is it like to hate coffee when you actually love coffee?

This applies to my conversations with others. It is impossible to see the opposite person's views because "I am not him". Each person is very very unique, they are product of their experiences, memories, emotions etc etc and they all have profound effect on his views on different topics which I may never understand. I think this also applies to religious beliefs, tastes, personal preferences etc.

In fact its fun to ask these questions and some new questions which might be unique to you. Can you answer this: What is it like to be Krishna Dubba?

Why this title?

  By Krishna Dubba         general, philosophy, blog        23 comments

Though the title appears a bit odd to some people, it is not at all surprising to those who know Lewis Carroll (who do you think wrote 'Alice in Wonderland'?). He used the two characters to discuss very subtle philosophical issues in a very humourous way. These characters also got more popular as they appeared in Hofstadter's 'Godel, Esher and Bach' book. Most of the postings in this blog will be broadly in Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Machine Learning, Philosophy etc etc.