The novel chosen for this research exercise is The Submission by Amy Waldman. Waldman has had a successful career with the New York Times before embarking on this debut novel. Given her background, the subject of her work of fiction reflects her work as a journalist, centered on one of the most pressing topical issues of our times. Set in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 terror attacks on America, the story begins with the event of choosing the winning design for the World Trade Center memorial, for which a distinguished jury was assembled in New York. The jury members are awed and surprised when they open the envelope to know the winner’s identity – he is a Muslim, Mohammad Khan. In other words,
“The handpicked jury, featuring artists, historians and the personally bereaved, finally – although not unanimously – arrive at a decision. It’s for a walled garden featuring steel trees made of material from the Twin Towers. The . . . Read More
In the early years of the twenty first century, with so much evolution in sociological thought having already taken place, no scholar can dismiss theories concerning health inequalities in society. All societies of past and present exhibited fissures in terms of class, gender, age groups, etc. Sociologists have discovered valid correlations between these social parameters and indicators of wellbeing. In this respect, all four prominent sociological approaches to studying health and wellbeing offer their own insights and inputs about the correlations. In other words, the Social Constructionist/Artefact approach, the Social/Natural Selection approach, Cultural/Behavioural approach and the Materialist/Structuralist approach offer different perspectives on health inequalities in past and present societies.
The Biomedical model of health preceded modern sociological health paradigm, where freedom from disease, pain or defect is the core focus. The physician typically . . . Read More
There appears to be some fundamental differences between Western and Buddhist approaches to education. The Western philosophy of education, as is prevalent today, is more systematic and scientifically grounded in terms of its objectives and outcomes. But the Buddhist view of education is a lot more open-ended and fluid. Also, while there are fundamental tenets upon which Buddhist education system rests, they only serve as an aid to the student in discovering truths for himself. In other words, while the Western educational model has at its core the principle of ascertaining truth through rational inquiry and systematic experimentation, the Buddhist model espouses the principle that introspection through meditation will lead to the ultimate truth. (Haskett, 2005, p.192) Moreover, it is integral to Buddhist culture to put the ‘collective’ good ahead of ‘individual’ excellence. Notwithstanding these basic differences, one could still incorporate certain norms, . . . Read More
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), English mathematician and natural philosopher (physicist) is arguably one of the most influential scientists of the last millennium. His discoveries on a range of subjects have ushered in a new era for scientific inquiry. Indeed, Newton’s discoveries in optics, general physics and mathematics would place him alongside such luminaries as Thomas Aquinas, Johann Gutenberg, Christopher Columbus and the Founding Fathers of the United States in terms of the impact he’s had on Western intellectual culture. It is thus no exaggeration to say that Newton paved the way for Modern Physics. The rest of this essay will flesh out this claim.
Although retrospectively, Isaac Newton’s genius and legacy are now accepted facts, there was no inkling during his early years that this was destined him. Born in Woolsthorpe, England on a Christmas Day in 1642, there were odds stacked against Newton’s survival. He was born premature and his survival was . . . Read More
The Biomedical model of health is perhaps the oldest of health paradigms, where freedom from disease, pain or defect is the core focus. The physician typically inspects the patient ‘after’ the onset of an ailment and studies the pathology of disease, physiological mechanisms at play, as well as the biochemical processes. Under the biomedical model, the emphasis is on ‘cure’ and ‘healing’ through scientific application of medical principles as and when a medical condition presents itself. While this goal is perfectly legitimate, the critics of the Biomedical model point out its narrow focus, which largely leaves aside the social, economic and psychological factors that often precede and determine the health of an individual. (Wyman, 2000, p.77) It is due to this lack of wholeness in the conventional biomedical model of health, that scholars and thinkers have devised other wholesome perspectives of health. They have added newer dimensions to the study of human . . . Read More
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a popular science book published in 2005. The subject is the ‘human adaptive unconscious’, which is the cognitive phenomenon behind quick, frequent and automatic processes in the mind. Gladwell’s central thesis is that our minds can make fairly accurate judgments, without consuming much time and information. Gladwell goes on to present several supporting evidence to back up his thesis. These include verifiable cases from the domains of gambling, speed dating, strategy video games and malpractice suits. And I have to admit that most of them are quite convincing.
Gladwell describes the phenomena as ‘thin-slicing’, which humans employ most of the time as a way of de-cluttering the mind from the abundance of information available to it. According to Gladwell’s thesis, ‘thin-slicing’ is as good a strategy (if not better) than comprehensive analysis of an occurrence/situation. Hence, spontaneous . . . Read More
In Chapter 2 of Converging Media: A New Introduction to Mass Communication, “Media Literacy and Ethics,” we are introduced to the concept of media literacy and how to develop it in ourselves. Explain what media literacy is and discuss how media literate you yourself are. How many sources of news and information do you consult a day? Do you concern yourself with which companies own which television networks, film production companies, newspapers, recording labels, etc.? Do you think about the messages conveyed in advertising?
Media Literacy is a subject that is gaining relevance in the Information Age that we inhabit today. This is because a passive digestion of news content that is offered on a platter is unlikely to lead to a healthy understanding of that content. This is especially true in the highly privatized and commercialized environment of today, where much corporate and political propaganda gets passed on as objective news. Hence, there . . . Read More
The Scopes Monkey Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes trial, is a watershed event in the history of American justice system. A Tennessee high school science teacher John Scopes was brought to court for violating the state’s Butler Act which prohibited teaching about the theory of evolution. Although Scopes was found guilty and later let free on technical grounds, the case was still seen by liberal Americans as the first of many battles against fundamental Christianity in the country. (Marcus & Burner, 2010, p.149)
The prominent Democratic politician William Jennings Bryan represented the prosecution whereas the reputed defense attorney Clarence Darrow represented Thomas Scopes. A key passage in the trial was when William Jennings Bryant was brought to examination as a witness by Clarence Darrow. This unconventional move happened on the seventh day of the trial. Historians have presented different rationale for why Bryan agreed . . . Read More
It is a well known fact that the United States healthcare system is one of the most inefficient among the advanced economies. Despite being the leading economic power, its ranks below Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden and Western European countries such as France, Britain and Germany in terms of costs incurred, health outcomes, etc. This is a clear indication that the predominant role played by private business corporations (in the form of hospitals and insurance companies) has hampered our healthcare system from meeting its full potential. In a well-functioning system, the private involvement will be limited to the extent that it brings efficiency and innovation to the system. The lack of such checks on private ownership here in the United States has significantly reduced access to quality healthcare to many disadvantaged groups in the population. For example, it is believed that close to 50 million Americans do not have any health insurance to fall back . . . Read More
Core Buddhist texts, written as they were more than two millennia ago, tend to carry patriarchal social overtones. Indeed, in many passages in the Tripitaka (especially in the Jatakas) the Buddha admonishes his disciples for their interactions with women. But as Satha-Anand takes pains to explain, the real issue countered by the Buddha is sexuality and sexual expression, and not women per se. That his pupils were largely male (as were the conservative norms of the social milieu) his discourses tended to address their concerns and challenges in their spiritual pursuits. The fact that the Buddha eventually instituted the Bhikkhuni Sangha (a community of female monks) on par with the Bhikkhu monastic order is a reflection of his equal treatment of the genders.
There are passages in the Jatakas where women are treated in disparaging tones. In one of the tales, “women are compared with lions who eat flesh and blood, animals . . . Read More