Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dreaming on a Toilet Seat

Opinions : Why do we hold them at all?

Just why do we have an opinion on anything at all? What good of is our opinion? What is going to change because we hold an opinion? Are we going to change ourselves? Is anyone hearing us? We read so many blogs which has opinions of so many people on so many subjects. How does it affect us? Do we change our opinions ever on what already we have? In what way this opinion of mine on opinions influencing you? And how much easier is to make someone accept your opinion if you are renowned person, than to make people accept your opinions, even if better and more logical, if you are just another guy from town? And why? What changes if I hold an opinion that Americans are attacking Iraq to promote democracy or if I think that they are fighting there for economic motives? What changes on ground? I feel nothing, not atleast in my sphere of influence.<br>

But a little soul searching reveals to me that something does matter somewhere. For example, I held an opinion that we Indians are rushing and honking too much while driving on roads. I tried driving for a week without using horns. And, I could actually do it, contrary to all those misconceptions I had that if I honked, I could make way and reach faster or I could just avoid that motorcyclist from banging in my car. I actually reached wherever I wanted to reach in almost the same timeframe and less tensions, even when I didn’t honk on the roads. So, holding an opinion and thinking about it, did make a small change in me for good. Not only was I able to change my opinion, but also I was able to demonstrate to three others in my car that it is possible to drive safely, peacefully and almost as fast, without honking in Indian roads. Now, that influenced them to try it out. So, not only did I change myself by choosing to act upon my opinion, but also influenced to change some other’s opinion by demonstration and example. What does all this mean?

Holding opinions is essential.Somewhere down the line, when we wish to stand up and be counted, we have to have an opinion. Opinions about issues falling closer to you, matters in the real sense more that those far away. And I feel that changing things as per our opinion is possible only within our sphere of action, where we as an individual can act. As the sphere of action enlarges as one grows in life to a position of power and political influence, one’s opinion on macro issues may start to get counted. Finally, I am very near to concluding that if there is atleast one person who can be changed or influenced by my opinions, then it is me, myself, karthik. What is your opinion on this?


Vidhya Krishnan said...

I liked what you said in this article, only the self can be influenced by one's own opinion. I would rather choose the word views or perception. opinion is quite a strong word. No harm in having views or perception. But one needs to learn as things are and be flexible.The opinions you have mentioned in this article are 'borrowed opinions', I would call as. We get influenced by the opinions of others around us. Better to think about issues before holding on to the views or perception of others or the self.
Hope it makes sense!

- Vidhya Krishnan

Prophet of Doom said...

Karthik, another masterpeice ... Opinions fuel the thought process and the actions that follow the thought, without which life itself would be meaningless ...

One on paradigm, opinions tend to spawn further opinions from themselves ... and ultimately, this tends to drive a large portion of human action and interaction ...

Keep blogging away ... I love reading this ....

PS: I've updated mine recently ... u might want to take a look ...

The Soul Doctor said...

@ vidhya

Better to think about issues before holding on to the views or perception of others or the self.

Holding opinions or views or perception is a result of thinking. without thinking you cant hold views or perceptions or opinions.

The opinions you have mentioned in this article are 'borrowed opinions'

One can process the same amount of data available independently and arrive at the same opinion. The fact someone else arrived at that opinion earlier than you does not make yours a borrowed one. And in anycase, there need not be a zilion different views on the same subject just for the sake of it.

you may call it opinions or views or perceptions.....they are all one and same at some level. its all semantics.isnt it?

The Soul Doctor said...

@ wacko ram

Welcome Back after a loooooong time.

You rightly said that opinions spawn further opinions. Also, opinions are functions of time. They change.They are dynamic.

Thanks for dropping by.

L>T said...

Hi! I couldn't stay away. & I come back to another thought-provoking post.
Personally I like to think we humans have a capacity for higher conscienceness, & opinions are part of that. That is why it is important for me to hear your opinion & weight it against my own. I try not to let my own religious or cultural beliefs influence my human opinions that i hope are based on logic & fairness to all. I think you are the same. that is why i value your opinion. There is nothing wrong w/having your own opinion. Just be able to hold it up against your own critical judgement.

It's good to be back in the blogging world. :)

Barath said...

Good one!

Pardon my language...but I remember one of my friend saying this to me once..

Opinion is like an A-hole eone has one!

We must make sure that we dont impose our opinions on nyone... as well as we dont get influenced by nyone' the same time if someone else's opinon/perception makes more sense compared to ours ...should certainly consider it ....opinions should be there ...thats what makes us different form others...!

anand said...

There is an often used phrase "Perception is reality". Let me pose this in the form of a question. Is there a reality independent of the perceptions of people involved in it. Let us take for example a geopolitical event such as a war or invasion. The perception of this event from the point of view of the aggressor is diametrically opposite to that of the victim. Even the so called "neutral observation" will ultimately be interpreted, under a lens coloured by the observer’s opinions. Can one then say that accepted reality is simply the common perception/opinion of the majority?
I am using perception and opinion interchangeably here; although there is a semantic difference. If the above argument were true, then ultimately “opinions are everything!!”

L>T said...

I think we are all capable of seeing past our own noses. Opinions are just a part of the bigger picture.
To see what the bigger picture is takes dialoge.
it takes seeing past other peoples perception of religious truths. others peoples prejudices.
& Our own perceptions & prejudices above all.
Mankind is capable of that.

anand said...

I guess my question pertains more to the nature of that big picture that supposedly exists independent of any or all opinion. Is there really such a big picture, untainted by perceptions of some kind or the other? Even if we manage to look past our religious/social/moral prejudices, aren't we then looking at it through an ideological lens of Aristotelian logic, or a notion of libertarian freedom? Both of which are no means universal to all human societies.

It seems to me, that the big picture is often simply the synergy of the opinions of individuals with similar perceptions. The blogosphere is in itself a great example of that. For example, I like to read stuff from bloggers who have a very rational view of the world and are accepting of various cultural and moral points of view (like Karthik :-)). But isn’t this simply because I think the same way? So am I not just seeking out opinions that match my preconditioned world view? I don’t know if mankind can really move past the realm of opinion and perception to any form of universality.

pushkala said...

opinions are here to change...
if opinions never change they would have been called facts rather than opinions!!

The Soul Doctor said...

Sorry for the delayed response guys. I am a little busy off late!:(


WELCOME BACK. What a pleasant surprise!!

I try not to let my own religious or cultural beliefs influence my human opinions that i hope are based on logic & fairness to all. I think you are the same.

Its good to hear that. But I cant vouch the same for me. I realise that certain amount of influence drawn from one's own culture and social setup is always there while I form my opinion. May be its not correct but it is a fact.


Very rightly said. If opinions are like assholes, then I would like to narrate a story I read somewherer.

Once all body parts starts fighting among each other as to whose is better than the other and who is indispensible and who is the boss of them all. The hand said without it one cannot work. The leg said one cant move without it. The stomach said one needs to digest food. And they all were stunned when the asshole claimed that it is the MOST important thing amongst all and hence the boss.

No one would agree to that. To prove its point the asshole just stopped working and went on a strike for many days. With no excretion, the liver malfunctioned, the mouth wouldnt eat and the toungue would taste good. The hands and legs couldnt move. Until they all agreed that asshole is the most important organ in the body!!

the funny moral of the story is that to be a boss, you need to be an asshole.

But, if opinions are assholes and everyone has got one, then i presume it is the most important ingredient which gives individuality to each of us. Thats why I am what I am and you are what you are

The Soul Doctor said...


For example, I like to read stuff from bloggers who have a very rational view of the world and are accepting of various cultural and moral points of view (like Karthik :-)).

Waww. Such a generous praise. Thanks. It is grass itching. (pul arikuthu in tamil)

It seems to me, that the big picture is often simply the synergy of the opinions of individuals with similar perceptions.

Very rightly said. This is the basic hypothesis behind which all propaganda is based. Influence the mind of one man and you have influenced an opinion. Ifluence the mind of a nation and you have a "reality, or as you call accepted reality"!!

accepted reality

does reality exist independent of the observer and the observed? I feel one can extend hiesenberg's uncertainity principle to even world events in a different form!!

The world accepted a "reality" that the earth was the center of the universe and a whole christianity flowed from this concept, until something else changed that opinion or perception or as you say accepted reality.

I feel Opinions are functions of time. They invariably change. They have to. Nothing, not science, not philosophy would stand the test of time.

If that be so, then is time the only reality and rest everything else is perceptions/opinions?

I must appreciate you for having thown light in a new direction in this discussion. Very enlightening :)

The Soul Doctor said...

@ pushkala

Is there anything called a fact? I beg to disagree. As I said before, even facts are functions of time. Tell me one scientific discovery which has withstood the test of time.

Even newtonian gravity has been found that it is not universally applicable.:)

pushkala said...

everything that has been challenged has turned into a fact!!

anand said...

I think I should start by offering my apologies for steering this discussion in a slightly different direction than it was probably originally intended.

Having said that, Karthik (all the grass itching aside :-)!!) seems to have hit the nail on the head. A social uncertainty principle indeed seems to exist! Every observer, simply through the act of observation, does indeed alter the state of the event in itself. Like a reporter reporting on a war, who by his mere presence will necessarily alter the dynamics of the original conflict, even if it is in a minor way.

The point about Time is also an interesting one. It seems to me that Time and Change are inexorably linked. Time is always measured through a change in state, be it the vibration of a quartz crystal or the rotation/revolution of the earth. Conversely, if one imagined an isolated system which in the presence of no external forces never changed state, it would have no sense of time! But of course such a system can never exist, since there are always external forces however small. So all systems, including opinions and perceptions of a single individual or a collection of individuals would always be subject to change (since they are always subject to external forces). Seems like there are social equivalents of other laws of physics as well!!

It also seems to me that today, human society for the large part still holds on to this Newtonian deterministic view of reality. Most people still believe that science offers concrete answers to basic questions like electron motion and gravity. This translates into a social belief that things must be deterministic and factual. That there are “facts”! But we often forget that science itself has moved past this understanding of the universe. Modern science postulates that although at the macro scale things may seem strictly deterministic, they are hardly so in the quantum domain. Here there are even situations where strict cause and effect as we know it seems to break down!! So why then has this new quantum notion of reality not percolated into common social thought?

So where am I going with all this? I guess through the process of thinking out aloud, I have been trying to get at one possible answer to Karthik’s original question. “Why do we hold opinions at all?”. One of the answers may be that these individual opinions form the raw material for society’s larger perception of reality. A perception that is itself changing constantly under the influence of a multitude of voices.

Of course, all of the above is just my opinion :-)!

L>T said...

i think as long as we 'thinkers' take all the variables that we are aware of in consideration when we voice our opinions, we are doing our best to be right.
If we are people who are at least trying to think w/out prejudice we are on the path to a higher consciencness.

Speaking of...right now I'm trying to work out a line of thot & need as many different opinions as possible on my blog. The subject has to do w/ religion, I myself am very open minded about it. (as I'm not religious) So, come over & put your two cents in.

Anand, I'll even enable my anon. comments, just for you. :)

The Soul Doctor said...


So why then has this new quantum notion of reality not percolated into common social thought?

Possibly because at macro levels and for a comman man's understanding, the uncertainity of things are imperciptible and too small to be realised. If you see in Hinduism, they say nothing is real. Tat Tvam Asi flows from the concept that all that is there is what is percieved by you. Nothing is deterministic. Nothing is real. But to really realise this, one must need a higher level of conscience I guess.

Time is always measured through a change in state

Measurement implies that there is an observer. Change of state means that there is an observed object. So does mean that even time as percieved by us by our "observations" is unreal in absolute terms?

In "Zen and the art of motorcylce maint", pirsig presents a brilliant example of a child with no senses at all, no touch, no smell, sight, hearing, no nothing. Absolutely no contact with external world. Yet he argues that child would have a sense of time. How is that possible?

WHen you get yourself suspended and locked up in a dark spherical room, you may not have anything to observe, measure or even see/hear/touch. You may not have a sense of direction. yet you will have a sense of time. Why?

The Soul Doctor said...

@ LT

Sure. I would be there to give my three cents of thoughts.:)

Anonymous said...

'WHen you get yourself suspended and locked up in a dark spherical room....' such a is as good as an inanimate object..a sense of time is meaningless..