Was responding to a blog on a pet cat. One thing led to another and finally I ended up talking of superstitions.
There is a belief in kerala (elsewhere also? I don’t know) that a domestic cat disappearing from a house portends death. The cat, it seems, can smell death. Of course, the present generation educated rational keralites just shrug off such beliefs as superstitions, and therefore nonsense.
Sometimes I wonder. All those beliefs handed down for generations – are they all nonsense? After all they represent the accumulated wisdom of a people who handed down the zero and yoga and natyasastra and ayurveda. Surely, to repeat the cliché, our ancestors were no fools.
Take this cat business. Can cats smell death? I don’t know. But I also don’t know that cats cannot smell death. How much do we know about the dumb creatures? Not much. guess they are not rational but their instincts are very sharp, not toned down like man’s by the intellect . maybe an oncoming death creates a certain ambience or sends out signals which man cannot sense but an animal like a cat can. How do we know? How can we say that whatever we don’t know for sure – what cant be tested in the lab – does not exist? Surely there are things which lie beyond human comprehension, beyond the rational and intellectual faculties of man. It’s arrogant and foolish to deny this. And that’s what we do when we label everything that is not ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’ as superstition.
It was with great amusement that I watched zachs (of headlines today) interviewing an astrologer after the disqualification of Pluto. He kept on asking “now that the universe has changed, what happens to astrology?” . zach doesn’t seem to understand that universe has not changed with the disqualification of Pluto. What has changed is man’s perception or rather the perception of modern astronomy, of the universe. Secondly, and more importantly, astrology is based on a particular mode of knowing the universe which is different from the mode of knowing it in modern astronomy. The mode of knowing of these two disciplines is determined by the disciplinary agenda of each. The major concern of Indian astrology is the position of heavenly bodies coupled with them coming in conjunction with each other. The size of Pluto is immaterial to astrological calculations.(unfortunately, the astrologer that zach was bulldozing was not articulate enough to get this point across). the fact that the Indian astrologer’s approach to the cosmos does not figure significantly in the modern astronomical science does not mean astrology is mere superstition. I would call this attitude downright stupidity, proceeding from the arrogance of modern scientific confidence (false?) based on the faith (superstitious. Ha! ) that it has in its possession the world ordering knowledge.
I have an earlier blog titled extra sensory perception. How would a scientist explain my experience? He would either say that I am bluffing( I am not), or that I am schizophrenic (I am not). my experience was real. Since no science can explain it, it would be dismissed as, to quote russel, ‘intellectual rubbish’!
How dull life would be if it is made up of only those things that can stand the test of the dissection table!