Sunday, 27 September 2015

Vyasa's Vighnaharta

Much has been written about the Gita but few mention the elephant in the room.
For Hindus- it is Ganesh.
The main obstacle Vyasa faced in composing the Mahabharata was finding a faultless scribe to take down his inspired verses. As 'destroyer of obstacles' our friendly elephant headed God volunteered to be Vyasa's amanuensis.

But Ganesha is also the 'creator of obstacles' and His presence lets us focus on the biggest obstacle that would arise in the composition of a work which shows that the Just King must learn Statistical Game Theory to overcome 'vishaada'- debilitating angst or Moral Uncertainty.

What is that obstacle? Well, in any didactic exercise or gedanken there is always the danger that either the speaker or the auditor, or both, will forget the wholly metaphorical nature of the underlying discourse and begin indulging in 'meta-metaphoricity'- i.e. taking a metaphor for a fact and constructing another metaphor, itself taken as fact, upon this illusory basis. In other words, there is a slippery slope from the rigors of Alice in Wonderland to twee Sylvie & Bruno type nonsense.

To underline this obstacle, it is interesting that Ganesha warns Vyasa that he must not stop the flow of his dictation- in other words, Vyasa has to have a heuristic against facile nonsense- and Vyasa adds the stipulation that Ganesha should pause if he does not understand a couplet- thus always being able to buy time for himself by employing Vedic 'Slehsa' or metonymy.
Thus Vyasa, internalizing a Noether type symmetry conservation heuristic, remains on his guard against facile prolixity while Ganesha, who only pauses for what is deep- i.e. Vedic- is able to remove the obstacle he himself, as Vighnakarta, created so that as a matter of fact, not conjecture, the Mahabharata becomes a truly divine book dispelling all delusion, though only for stupid debased drunkards like me. Savants and people of good character can always study the Vedas which I am too stupid and evil to propound, while my aleatory exposure to the 'fifth Veda' enables me to have a good laugh at the silly things scholars say about it.

In particular, in Game Theory- the dramatic scenarios it invokes- the word 'rational' is used in a wholly metaphorical sense. The elephant in the room is Muth rationality- human beings are social animals and only that is rational which we would all agree - this is called Rawlisan 'overlapping consensus'- is the correct theory all can act upon for the best empirical outcome.

Game theoretic exercises show how 'rational' following a rule leads to irrational catastrophes and this has instrumental value provided we don't forget the motivation of the elephant in the room- viz. the fact that we only created an artificial obstacle so as to improve our insight into how to get rid of a real stumbling block.

In other words, Game theory studies rationality artificially constrained to be irrational so that the actual constraints on Muth Rationality- re. Information aggregation and decisional heuristics- are better understood and circumvented.

The Mahabharata, though showing that Policy Principals need to apply Statistics and Game Theory, also reveals that Moral Agents need something else entirely to escape Vishaada- i.e. existential angst.
The Bhagvad Gita- in which both the incarnation of the Divine and the representation of the human-too-human are merely Agents, not Principals- comes to the conclusion that human life is ontologically dyshoric- even Presentism must turn into Theistic Occassionalism such that this world is devalued- it is rejected as heimat- and ontlological dysphoria is itself celebrated as 'Vishaada Yoga' and becomes foundational to Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga- i.e. all the good stuff.

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