Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Illusion of free will

I am going to give a very simple inductive argument and claim that 'free will' is an illusion.

The crux of the argument is as follows. Any decision a person takes is a function of the body of knowledge and experience the person posesses (and some random factors). The body of knowledge and the experiences that a person pocesses is the sum total of past decisions the person has already taken. Thus using inductive methods, we can show that a person does not have direct control of any decision he/she takes and thus 'free-will' is really an illusion.

A person's actions can be viewed as a sum total of several decisions he/she takes in his life. (This is somewhat analogous to how in computation theory, one can reframe anygiven problem as a 'yes'/'no' problem).

So what I need to show is that the person 'does not have control' over any of his decisions.

Let P(i) : Man does not have direct control over his ith decision.

Base Case: P(0) is true.
'Proof': First of all, what is P(0), the first decsion that man takes. It is the decsion to manifest as himself/herself ( as such and such a person). Although I can not prove this, I think most of us will agree that the person does not have control over this step.

By the inductive hypothesis, let us assume P(i) is true for 0But his current decision is a function of his previous decisions and random factors.
Thus P(m) which is P(i+1) is true.

Note : I know I have not presented this as well as it could have been, but you get the idea.

Wednesday Jun 20, 6.45 PM

Please refer Free will for a comprehensive account on this topic. Thanks to balaji for indirectly pointing out this. As one can see, there has been a lot of work on this; let me assimilate whatever that has been already done and get back later.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007



Yesterday, I saw a remarkable Iranian movie, Ten by the well known director Abbas Kiarostami. In one of my earlier posts, I had wondered about acting:
Can any given person "act" well...Afterall acting is something that everybody does all the time. For example, if we had an imaginary camera filming the daily lives of people, certainly the "acting" will be realistic!

The movie ten, which came in 2002, has a similar idea. Basically, the whole film shows close-up shots of the driver and the passenger of a car. While the driver of the car, a middle aged iranian lady ( breathtakingly beautiful ) who is also a divorcee, is constant in the movie, there are 4 different passengers (one at a time) including her (real) 10 year old son who argues with her on why she is not a good mother! All the "actors" play their real life roles!! Ofcourse, the 'actors' were aware of the camera. Apparently, the director would set the camera in the car and the 'actors' would just drive across the streets of tehran and play out their real life parts. 23 hours of footage, across 5 days, was collected and edited into a 90 minute movie.

A week or two ago, I saw the french movie Cet obscur objet du d├ęsir, by Luis Bunuel. I greatly enjoyed this as well. The interesting thing about this movie is that the director had used two actresses to portray one character.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Hell and Heaven

While the former is eternal suffering, the latter is eternal boredom - a tough choice indeed.



This is a pentatonic raga : S G2 M1 P N3

A very attractive raga, has a very unique emotion. Was used by Ilayaraja in two songs: Oh Vasantha raja and Sindhiya Venmani.

Random notes:

0. I am not aware of any old carnatic krithis is this raga; there are one or two krithis composed by contemporary musicians. This leads to the question: Did Ilayaraja discover this raga with his 1984 song?

1. In both of the songs, ilayaraja mixes another raga -- was this because of lack of posibilities in srotaswini?

2. I first encountered this raga when I was playing Shanmugapriya and tried graha bedham with the notes G2 M2 D1 N2 R2 G2, with G2 as S.


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