Tamil words in English/AIT

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Sat Feb 21 11:10:25 UTC 1998

Dear Prof. Sharma,

here is another belated answer:

> As for the question about competent to speak on matters Indological
>because I am a physicist... you know... the matter of establishing
>credibility ... Firstly, in a debate, it is better to respond to the
>words/ideas presented and evaluate their merit as opposed to the
>degrees and other material tattoos we cart around with us. Secondly,
>questioning competence not only sidetracks the debate it ends it, and
>I promise never to do that to you or anyone once I choose to
>speak/debate with you. In matters of nonsense, silence is more civil.
> On matters of 'scenting' the territory of physics being off limits
>to non-physicists; Au contraire. The health of any field is dependent
>on the independent and concerned scholar. There are alive in academia
>and society many minds who have interest in subjects out of their
>professions and this helps sustain and grow this area of study.

This is perfectly true: There is no reason why a scholar should not take an
interest in matters outside his own field of scholarship. However: If you
do, you must learn the basics. Otherwise, the debate becomes a colossal
waste of time.

> This applies to both physics and Indology. If you are capable of
>understanding the language of the field, your opinion will be welcome
>in professional circles; Nonsense will merit no response.

Again, perfectly true.

> If you can read the arcane language of math you to can discuss hard-
>core physics with professionals.

This is pretty much what I was trying to say. You don't necessarily need a
degree in math, but you need to know the relevant math.

Since history is written in this
>case is English and the facts accesible to those who can read, and
>more so to those trained as scholars in the liberal arts tradition.
>Forgive me if this is absurd, but do you think that it is
>incomprehsible for a Norweigen physicist to be able to speak
>reasonably knowledgeably about Norweigen history ?

Not at all. Provided he had read the relevant literature, he may of course
participate in the discussion. The problem with some persons who participate
in debates outside their (academic) ken, is that their qualifications do not
match the stringency of their voices. They talk nonsense, and not answering
nonsense, as you suggest, can be a dangerous policy too. Today's world is
full of nonsense: commercial nonsense, religious nonsense, political
nonsense. Much of it fairly harmless, but when e.g. a religious leader
manages to convince his flock to commit suicide collectively, the nonsense
is not harmless any more. Sometimes, it is the moral duty of knowledgable
people to speak up, even if it feels like a waste of time.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at online.no
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

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