Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Where have the thinkers gone ?


Back in school, I was very fond of collecting, or to be precise, noting down quotes from famous people as & when I read or heard them. Last night while going through my old desk, I found this yellowish & damp handwritten notebook. I was surprised that it had survived the 8 year lapse & the pages were still intact & having a uniform shade of yellow with a distinctive old-bookish smell.

When I flipped through the pages, I was indeed surprised that I had maintained a very good collection of quotes. I even remembered the references to most of them, as when & why it was written in that book. It had a few quotes from my school teachers as well. Well, there were a few good ones, who had sound intellectual ability to dispense that sort of wisdom. School was a very influential time for me. I had begun reading & had come across wild & amazing thought processes which were spectacularly different from that of my own. I used to feel privileged about spending time with my books rather than being outside to play.

Going through the notebook & gathering references of the quotes in it, I glanced through the titles or the designations of some of the people who had said those lines. There was quite a wide range, from my VIII grade teacher to Presidents & so on. But a few hit me like a baseball club on the back of my head. “Thinker”, “Philosopher”, “Logician”. I had written these words with tremendous ease back in my school days, but now I felt something different about them. They were so prominent & so strikingly out there that I couldn’t help but spend a few minutes thinking. In my 21 years of existence, I have never come across a single mortal human who earns a decent income using designations like, Thinker, Philosopher & Logician. Who were these people? They seemed like phantoms which had fade away into the past.

It seems very strange that people like them don’t exist anymore. It would be logical to assume that these societal positions might have been blended with the existing breed of thinkers or innovative entrepreneurs, so to speak. It’s highly counterintuitive to believe that “thinking” can be a voluntary profession. I always believed that it was a perception of reality that the mind creates & then induces chemical reactions & electric impulses in order to generate the miracle of thought. The Webster’s Dictionary defines “thought” as:

“The power of reasoning or of conceiving ideas”. Imagine this to be an actual profession. Thinking for a cause, the cause would be to indulge in innovation & at the same time publish, discuss, ponder over, your own ideas.

The same applies to the concept of being a logician. A logician is defined as an expert in Logic. Even though all these professions may sound too 17th centurish, but this was indeed a trade for a few people in the past. The most famous one we might know is the dude from the 14th Century, William of Ockham, who propounded the Ockham’s razor.

What exactly did these people do? What is the job profile for a Thinker? A casual glance into the Google definitions section showed that “Thinkers are categorically great minds of the 17th century”. On further reading I found out that Thinkers were actually part scientists part visionaries part artists & almost always Professors. Most of these 17th Century cream used to indulge in intelligent drafting of things that can make life for humans easier. Finding answers to all the worldly things was the ultimate goal. Thinkers indeed indulged into anti-logical debates sometimes, visualizing things beyond the then modern science to come up with ideas that would help humans 150 years hence. Such great thinkers would include noteworthy 19th Century sci-fi authors like H.G. Wells & Jules Verne. They were well ahead of their times in formulating modern day inventions which we came to see several years after their death.

So is it safe to say that scientific thought or visionary thought has become saturated nowadays or is it safe to deduce that we are at the peak of excellence in these fields? One can also argue that these sorts of people have blended into the modern day upper management of some of the most successful corporations across the globe. The C-Level execs of most these successful corporations have to be called the self proclaimed Thinkers or Logicians who have taken their companies’ businesses to new heights.

Although it’s a little less pleasing to see these people being taken out of their previous mold of professors or preachers. So the young & learning generation has to work way too harder to reach that position than their earlier counterparts, wherein they could realistically visualize the future unlike in the 17th Century where the professors used to assist them in nurturing that technique. Now it boils down to smartest or the most effective corporate strategy which becomes a bastion for that corporation. Thus it becomes self centered development in the wake of earning more & more profits. Is this a loss of intelligent brainstorming in colleges or is it a gain for better innovation in corporations? Who can draw the line?

So honestly, where have the thinkers gone?


Song for the moment: Oasis - Champagne Supernova

1 comment:

yashada said...

Nice post!
i have borrowed this book from BCL -Science A History by John Gribbin (love that man!) which chronicles the great scientists from the renaissance to the present.Yes i think you are quite right, the Thinkers of yesteryears have now become the enterpreneurs of today and the whole profit question i think is an imp one. your scrapbook of collected quotes reminded me of this 'thought for the day' thing i started on my online bookclub, but sadly the whole thing somehow did not work out the way i wanted it to. nyways, keep posting!