THE BOUNDARIES OF COGNITION- HOPE & FEAR
THE BOUNDARIES OF COGNITION-‘HOPE’ & ‘FEAR’
This should be a philosopher’s topic. But I am tempted to handle it, prodded by an inquisitive pen. I have nothing as a pre-text and is just letting the drifting thoughts to coalesce. The point of interest, for an Ex Student of Visva Bharati is to ascertain our evolution in the philosophical plane, not exactly related to our professional pursuits, but yes, ever present in our psyche. Just at this juncture of time we are fairly confused whether philosophical interpretation of human existence is at all an important part of life in general. We are now living on the quick sand of time without much idea about where the trajectory of life is heading towards.
‘Hope’, in our society is in huge short supply, right now. We only dare to ‘hope’ for a brighter future for our children, and at the same time remain ‘hopelessly hopeless’ about our society around. Logically both things can not go together, simultaneously. A ‘hopeless’ society can not aspire for a bright and healthy future for its kids. So, skepticism about the state of affairs around, and wishing a bright future for our children, is a huge anomaly in our cognitive plane. So, ‘hope’ is a human statement, which we need to culture seriously. In this myriad of confusion, somewhere within ourselves the idea of ‘hope’ needs to be shaped up, if not for anything but to transmit the thought to our younger generation. As an Ex Student of Visva Bharati, at least a little bit aware about the line of thinking professed by Rabindranath Tagore, the baton of ‘hope’ needs to be transmitted by all generations to the next as a natural humane consequence.
Now where is ‘hope’ positioned in our cognitive plane? Nowhere, should be the exact answer. Now, exactly what has gone haywire? Is the time frame 2015AD too weird? For this absence of ‘hope’ can we legitimately blame our times/these days? A little look back in history would tell us that ‘hope’ was always a rare commodity at any point of time. Religion prospered on this rarity of ‘hope’ only, whatever may be the structure and interpretation. This absence of ‘hope’ made mankind vulnerable to the forces of unknown from almost time immemorial. As far as Tagore’s philosophy is concerned, with due apology as I have not read much but felt a lot-courtesy being a student of Patha Bhavana, Rabindranath probably urges us to probe deep within, in our own ways, and discover the truth of the ‘human spirit’ within us. The spirit of Tagore is always filled with huge amount of ‘hope’, all his actions remains brilliantly positive. He appeared to us, at least to the school children of Visva Bharati, to be an incessant crusader to profess the ‘joy of living’. That is how most of the school children of Visva Bharati would interpret Rabindranath Tagore. But Joy? That also Of Living? Oops, are we really happy to be alive?
Can not be, without defining the coordinates of ‘hope’ within us!
So, where to find this ‘hope’ in our cognitive plane? To tackle this issue, let us look at the ‘Boundaries of Cognition’ – the topic of the article. Mankind has been driven by the attraction of the unknown, or lets say by the attraction of what lies beyond the boundary of our comprehensive power. The unknown gives rise both to fear and hope. If we set boundaries to our cognitive plane, and limit the space with all sorts of pre-conditioning right from our childhood, only a system gets established which wipes out any space for ‘hope’. But alarmingly the intrinsic defects in designing the pre-conditions (or lets say erecting the boundaries) never could eliminate the fear component. So, in a pre-designed system, with boundaries set to our cognitive plane, we are inflicted with fair amount of fear of failure and also without any scope for ‘hope’ to nurture. These defined-boundary systems then appear to be counterproductive to basic human instinct.
With fear, and without hope, is the system we are manipulating now with plenty of permutation and combinations diligently crafted out. The current ‘mantra’ to take life just as it is and make the most of it, applying almost a day to day jugglery of existence. This is the natural outcome of such a system embedded in ‘fear’ and without much realistic ‘hope’. We really do not know what is going to happen next! Uncertainty is the key element of such an existence. This kind of approach to life is somewhat different from the philosophy of ‘Existentialism’- a hugely fashionable concept generated in Europe around 1960s-70s I reckon, maybe a little bit earlier. Existentialism and Uncertainty were not exactly compatible and coexistent reality then. In fact the proponents of Existentialism were pretty certain about the fate of human intellect- that it amounts to nothing. Interestingly ‘Nothing’ is also a boundary-less concept; and hence not pre-conditioned. Existentialism ofcourse did not have any ‘hope’ in it, interestingly neither it had any ‘fear’ component attached.
Tagore’s Santiniketan was supposed to be a boundary-less unconditioned intellectual exercise. ‘Hope’ was unlimited in supply, naturally ‘fear’ could not make much headway at the initial stages. Today, we find kilometers of concrete boundaries literally, and a system fairly well entrenched within the periphery. Amazingly in such a well-fed and well-laid system, ‘hope’ has becomes rather rare, and ‘fear’ of failure looms large! Philosophically speaking, Visva Bharati appears to be a system with boundaries enforced in its cognitive plane, while the scintillating unknown lies beyond these boundaries. We only hope the inquisitive ones within Visva Bharati will tread beyond these boundaries in their cognitive plane and usher in ‘hope’ for us; we shall then be bold enough to tackle the ‘fears’. The baton of ‘hope’ in Tagore’s Santiniketan needs to be passed on to next generations as an essential element of education. Is our intellectual cognitive plane geared up accordingly?
In our personal lives too, with reasonable level of professional success, at least almost all the ex-students of Visva Bharati are fairly well settled now, ‘hope’ remains illusive inspite of rigorous intellectual training guided by Rabindranath Tagore in our formative days. So, in effect to let the story of our formative years to evolve to maturity, we need to locate the sense of ‘hope’ somewhere deep within us. It is really strange that, generally speaking, we have not been able to inherit even the iotas of the indomitable spirit of Tagore to initiate relevant changes in society around us. This inability to usher in ‘hope’ by the ex-students of Visva Bharati naturally makes Tagore irrelevant to the present students as well as days passes by.
Ex-Student, Visva Bharati