Quality Intellect

C.R. Selvakumar selvakum at VALLUVAR.UWATERLOO.CA
Tue Oct 24 20:57:51 UTC 2000

'>'What the famous linguist says can be considered
'>'here. Keeping politics/polemics out and sticking to
'>'Indological matters surely will help.

   Thanks for the quote. There is a famous couplet
   in Tamil (tirukuRaL no. 423):

   epporuL yaaryaar vaayk kETpinum apporuL
   meypporuL kaaNpatu aRivu.

   To discern the truth of whatever is heard, spoken by whosoever,
   is wisdom (aRivu).

   (The point is the truth of the content is what matters and not who
    says it.)


'>'In my own professional work I have touched on a
'>'variety of different fields. I've done work
'>'in mathematical linguistics, for example, without
'>'any professional credentials in mathematics; in
'>'this subject I am completely self-taught, and
'>'not very well taught. But I've often been invited
'>'by universities to speak on mathematical linguistics
'>'at mathematics seminars and colloquia. No one has
'>'ever asked me whether I have the appropriate
'>'credentials to speakon these subjects; the
'>'mathematicians couldn't care less. What they want
'>'to know is what I have to say. No one has ever
'>'objected to my right to speak, asking whether I
'>'have a Doctor's degree in mathematics, or whether
'>'I have taken advanced courses in this subject. That
'>'would never have entered their minds. They want to
'>'know whether I am right or wrong, whether the subject
'>'is interesting or not, whether better approaches
'>'are possible - the discussion dealt with the subject,
'>'not with my right to discuss it.
'>'  But on the other hand, the discussion or debate
'>'concerning social issues or American foreign policy,
'>'Vietnam or the Middle East, for example, the issue
'>'is constantly raised, often with considerable venom.
'>'I've repeatedly been challenged on grounds of
'>'credentials, or asked, what special training do you
'>'have that entitles you to speak of these matters.
'>'The assumption is that people like me, who are
'>'outsiders from a professional viewpoint, are not
'>'entitled to speak on such things.
'>'  Compare mathematics and the political sciences -
'>'it's quite striking. In mathematics, in physics,
'>'people are concerned with what you say, not with
'>'your certification. But in order to speak about
'>'social reality, you must have the proper credentials,
'>'particularly if you depart from the accepted
'>'framework of thinking. Generally speaking, it
'>'seems fair to say that the richer the intellectual
'>'substance of a field, the less there is concern
'>'for credentials, and the greater is the concern
'>'for content.
'>'N. Chomsky, 6-7, Language and Responsibility, 1979.
'>'Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.
'>'Share information about yourself, create your own public profile at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list