Mass indiscriminate shootings like that which happened in the Virginia Tech campus in 2007 are lurking nightmares in society. 32 people were killed and scores others were injured as a disgruntled and mentally disturbed student Seung-Hui Cho let loose his two guns in the sociology department building. When the police had rounded up the site of massacre, Seung-Hui turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Starting with the Columbine school shootout of 1999 the Virginia Tech incident is just one among a spate of high school shootouts. In the immediate aftermath, social commentators and public officials expressed utter shock and pain at what has happened. The catch phrases that came into circulation were ‘violence in video games’, ‘violence in films/music videos’, ‘rise of gang culture in urban America’, ‘dysfunctional family set up and upbringing’, ‘mentally deranged youth’, etc. All of these explanations are true to an extent. But they don’t account for . . . Read More
To Kill a Mockingbird is a masterpiece of American fiction. One of the reasons for this success is its handling of a pressing social issue, namely, racial prejudice. Secondly, the work is structurally layered, allowing readers numerous interpretations. For example, the book can be studied for its socio-economic indications under the Marxist critical framework. It could be studied with equal felicity under the feminist, psychoanalytic or formalistic critical frameworks. To this extent, the novel can be said to be ‘polysemic’. Polysemy is the state of having more than one meaning. Though first coined to describe a linguistic phenomenon, the term has now gained a broader meaning so that it is also applied in discussing authorial intent in literary works. Also implied in the term ‘polysemy’ is the notion that perceptions vary depending on the particular identity of the reader, and
“that words are multi-ordinal; these characteristics can lead . . . Read More
Wu Jianren’s 1906 novella ‘Sea of Regret (originally titled Hen Bai) is a masterpiece of modern Chinese literature. The book is rich in themes of morality and the challenges of modernity and patriotism. Adopting a tone of sentimentality that is essential to the Chinese literary aesthetic the novella deals also with concepts such as chivalry in the Chinese milieu of early twentieth century. This essay will argue how the tragedies in the lives of the two central female characters – Dihua and Juanjuan – are shaped largely by their own personal choices as opposed to external compulsions.
It is interesting to begin by trying to understand the choice of metaphor that constitutes the title. Sea of Regret is taken from an ancient Chinese myth that is well known to the Chinese public. The myth concerns the daughter of a feisty Emperor, who, after drowning in the ocean off the East coast, returns as the mythical bird Jingwei. This bird spends the rest of her life flying . . . Read More
Adolescence is a key developmental stage in an individual’s life. It encompasses substantial changes physiologically, cognitively and socio-emotionally. Adolescence begins with the onset of puberty between 11-13 years and continues till the end of teenage years. Recent scientific evidence suggests that while physical growth stops in late teens, the cognitive development goes up to and beyond the age of 24.
Family dynamics undergo changes when children turn adolescents. Parents feel that their children are becoming rebellious and argumentative. While this is true, it is a natural developmental stage through which adolescents individuate from their parents. While some amount of alienation from parents is requisite for healthy psychological development, adolescents still care what their parents think, and they still seek their love and guidance, albeit in an altered interpersonal setting. Psychologist Laurence Steinberg observes that dealing with adolescents is akin to . . . Read More
- For the last several weeks, we have been studying the impact of professional presence. What are you learning about your own professional presence? What aspects of your own professional presence do you consider strengths? What aspects of your professional presence are developing through your course of study? What are your desired outcomes for further development of your professional presence?
Through what I have learned in the course, I am fairly convinced that professional presence is very important. The way a worker carries himself in the work environment can reflect on his utility, efficiency and professionalism. In my case, I would consider my dressing sense as one of the attributing factors to my professional presence. I would always wear formal clothes to work with sober yet pleasant color combinations. The reason I am motivated to dress professionally is to send across an implicit message to my colleagues and clients that I am serious . . . Read More
Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning will continue to be a key text on human psychology due to its concerns with universal themes. The most focused of those themes in the book is that of suffering and human choice. Frankl suggests that even in the most hopeless and helpless of situations, where one is under the total control of an external force, there is scope for independence of thought. He not only proved the possibility of this proposition during his own time in Nazi concentration camps, but has attested it with the exemplary cases of his fellow inmates and ‘decent’ German officers.
One of the fundamental questions asked by Frankl in his book is “Do one’s reactions to the singular world of the concentration camps (or the challenging worlds in which most of us live) prove that a human being cannot escape the influence of his/her surroundings? … Do we humans have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?” (Lowen, 2000, p. 55) . . . Read More
Victor Frankl’s classic work Man’s Search For Meaning is a rich source of psychological insight. Written based on first-hand observations of the lives of fellow inmates in Nazi concentration camps, the work succeeds in capturing key universal truths. The foremost of the book’s concerns is that of ‘meaning’ pertaining to human life. It talks about how humans miraculously manage to find meaning even in the most despairing, demeaning and de-humanizing of circumstances.
One of the insights into human personality traits offered by Frankl is the classification of humans into ‘decent’ and ‘indecent’ types. This dichotomy is not strictly applicable to camp inmates versus Nazi officers divide, for there were ‘decent officers’ and ‘indecent fellow inmates’ as well. Frankl reckons that this classification is at the core of human psychological makeup. He recounts how there were exemplar inmates who managed to keep their integrity intact even in the . . . Read More
Are love, passion and other emotions as dangerous as the play seems to make them and is reason alone enough to achieve happiness? Are human emotions a sign of weakness, disease, lack of control, or absence of Reason in the play? What is the cause of this tragedy?
Phaedra, originally part of the large body of Greek mythological works, has been adapted, modified and presented in new contexts in recent centuries. For example, following the original conception of this tragedy by Euripides, versions of it have appeared in Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, etc through the authorship of such great writers as Frencesco Bozza, Jean Racine, Miguel de Unamuno, etc. Eugene O’Neill’s incorporation of it as a subplot in his ‘Desire Under the Elms’ testify to the everlasting appeal of the story. This enduring appeal makes relevant its study in relation to enlightenment values.
It is especially relevant to read Phaedra’s life and events in the . . . Read More
There are two opposing points of view presented by Robert C. Solomon and Gilbert Harman on the question of ‘Can Individual Virtue Survive Corporate Pressure?’ The two views can be loosely classified as pitting ‘determinism’ against ‘freewill’. Robert Solomon argues that “whatever the structures, the individual’s choice is free, and therefore his character or virtue is of the utmost importance in creating a good moral tone in the life of a business.” Gilbert Harman, on the other hand, “employs determinist arguments to conclude that no individual can of his own free choice make a difference in a group enterprise”. (Newton, et. al., 2011, p.60)
Robert Solomon objects to the deterministic standpoint, by noting how there is an evasion of ‘responsibility’ by both corporations and its managers for their actions. When corporate executives cite ‘market forces’ as ‘compelling external circumstances’ that hinder sovereignty in their decision . . . Read More
Plato’s speculations and assertions on the nature of human psyche have withstood the test of time and are a useful aid to modern managers. Plato defined the abstract and the rational as equivalent to the moral good. He equated self-knowledge with self-restraint, and proclaimed that knowledge is virtue. According to Plato, the psyche is not made of substance and it is immortal. Plato divided human psyche into three components – the rational, affective and appetitive. Plato understood that the human psyche is in constant exchange with the external social, cultural and political environment. The similarities between Plato’s and Freud’s conceptions of the psyche are relevant to modern business management because Freudian psychoanalysis is well entrenched in Human Resources Management practice. The continued utility of Plato’s theory of the psyche to modern managers is illustrated by its perusal in management seminars and . . . Read More