being-in-balanceBaraa spoke about a book called Being in Balance: 9 Principles for Creating Habits to Match Your Desires by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. The book is an inspirational one that offers nine principles to realign your thoughts so that you can achieve your goals. Baraa liked the way the author stressed on not even ‘being’. Just be, he says. The idea sounds very Buddhist, Jaya said.

Baraa emphasized how a language like English is far too dry to express the myriad emotions that languages like Arabic could express. This conversation on languages led to the understanding that language can influence the way people think.

the-price-of-altruismPratyush got a book called The Price of Altruism by Oren Harman. The book is steeped in the idea of Hamilton’s law of Kin selection. Is altruism or kindness part of evolution? Harman examines the lives of insect societies to understand altruism as it exists in other species. He then talks about the eccentric genius George Price who solves the mystery of altruism.  If you think that altruism is reserved for living things, you may want to read about Altruism and Robots here.

There was a counter-view that altruism does not exist at all. Adi spoke of the strange case of the Murder of Kitty Genovese and what is now known as Genovese syndrome or the bystander effect, where each witness of a crime assumes that someone else will take responsibility, thereby resulting in no one helping at all. Baraa found the idea of behavioral altruism dry but as Jaya pointed out science and morality rarely meet and though Genovese could have been helped, the fact remains that she was not and this was why such studies of behavioral altruism or the lack of it are so important. Studies prove that pointing to a specific person while asking for help is a better alternative to calling for help.

On a lighter note, the idea of diminished responsibility exists in corporate offices where each one thinks the other will do a task and also in politics when in a democracy shared responsibility leads more to negligence than shared action.

More books in Part 5.