#TUUC (The Ultimate Ultimate Causes, May 26, 2018):

Do we die ‘because’ we stop breathing? Is it possible to say how ‘a’ cancer is caused? Do causes exist? Are they (always) universal, uniform, & a priori? Are all phenomena eventually multi-causal and probabilistic? Might cause be a feature of the mind? Is the ‘concept’ of cause essential? What explains changes in the world? What role do (say) our senses, culture, technology, institutions, & chance play? Why do grasshoppers jump randomly once in a while? Can randomness also have causes? Is the effect invalid without the (correct) cause? Does technology (the ‘how’) often precede science (the ‘why’)? Is understanding of causality, however, both beneficial and satisfying? Can certain pockets of genome or organisms be more mutation prone? Do hotspots of innovation emerge in a similar fashion? What is the ultimate cause of risk taking? Might heightened resilience lead to lesser disruption? Why do certain honey bees go to certain flowers? Are ultimate causes eventually evolutionary? Was the world always as it is today? Can we live without ultimate causes? Must we keep looking for causality even in a playful world? &, what is it that ultimately survives everything else…? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from innovation studies (Prof. Anil K. Gupta, IIM Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad), philosophy (Prof. T. S. Rukmani, Concordia University, Montreal), & biology (Prof. L. S. Shashidhara, IISER, Pune).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TUUC show.

Prof. Anil K. Gupta (innovation studies) retired recently from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM-A, from 1981), Ahmedabad, and is now a Visiting Faculty at the Centre for Management in Agriculture (IIM-A) and also the Distinguished Visiting Professor at IIT Bombay (2017-2018). He is the founder of Honey Bee Network (a network of innovators that disseminates local and traditional knowledge) and of SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions), which is a developmental voluntary organization to strengthen creativity of grassroots communities. Prof. Gupta completed his M.Sc. in Biochemical Genetics from Haryana Agricultural University, before completing his Ph.D. in Management from Kurukshetra University. His interests include ensuring recognition, respect and reward for grassroots inventors and innovators at a local, national and global level, and protection of their Intellectual Property rights. His related research interests include amalgamation of formal and informal science, ethical issues in conservation, and prosperity of biodiversity. Prof. Gupta has also conducted and led Shodhyatra (learning walks in some Indian state every year since 1998 to learn from grassroots teachers) and walked over 5000 kms over the years. He holds the Executive Vice Chair of the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) and is also the Secretary of  Gian.org (Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network, 1997-present). Prof. Gupta has lectured and published widely and received multiple national and international honours such as the Hermes Award for Innovation (2012), and Best Researcher Award at IIM-A (2015). His book, ‘Grassroots Innovation: Minds On The Margin Are Not Marginal Minds’ received the Best Business Book Award at Tata Lit Live Festival (2016). He is also a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science (2001). In 2004, he was awarded ‘Padma Shri’ by the President of India for his distinguished achievements in the field of management education.

Prof. T. S.  Rukmani (philosophy) is currently the Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Religion, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. She has also held positions of Professor and Chair in Hindu Studies (1996-2012), & of Adjunct professor at the Faculty of Theology (2006-2011), at Concordia University. Prof. Rukmani completed her B.A. (Sanskrit, 1952) from Miranda House (University of Delhi, DU), and then went to complete her M.A. (1954) & Ph.D. (1958) in Sanskrit from Department of Sanskrit (DU). In 1991, she was awarded the D.Litt. by Department of Sanskrit (DU), for her published work, ‘Yogavarttika of Vijnanabhiksu’. Her research interests are in Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta and Sankhya-Yoga. She has also held other teaching & administrative positions at multiple institutes including Oxford University Hindu Studies Centre (UK), Hindu University of America (Orlando, USA, 2002, 2005 & 2006), Department of Hindu Studies and Indian Philosophy, University of Durban Westville (South Africa, 1993-1995), Indraprastha College (DU, 1964-1981), & Miranda House (DU, 1982-1993). She has published ten books, contributed dozens of chapters in multiple books, and published numerous papers in journals, such as, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (Pune), & Journal of Indian Philosophy (Holland). Some of her published works include, ‘Samnyasin in the Hindu Tradition: Changing Perspectives’ (2011), ‘Yogasutrabhasyavivarana’ (Volumes I and II, 2001), & ‘Sankara:  The Man and his Philosophy’ (1991). She has received multiple awards, including, ‘Honoris Causa of Vidya Vacaspati’ (D.Litt., Silpakorn University, Thailand, 2015), & ‘DANAM/Taksha Institute Abhinavagupta Award for Sustained Achievement in Indic Philosophy’ (2009). She is a Life Member of Indian Philosophical Quarterly, & also one of the four executive editors of the ‘Essential Encyclopedia of Hinduism’ (South Carolina University). Having now retired Prof. Rukmani now lives in Bangalore.

Prof. L. S. Shashidhara (biology) is a Professor at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune. He also has affiliations with Ashoka University (Haryana) as Distinguished Visiting Professor, & at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR, Bangalore) as an Honorary Faculty Member. He completed his B.Sc. & M.Sc. In Genetics & Plant Breeding, from University of Agricultural Sciences (Dharwad), and then went to University of Cambridge (UK) for his Ph.D.. His key interests are developmental biology, genetics, & evolution. Using the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system, he is addressing two fundamental questions in biology: ‘What is the mechanism by which the various cells/tissues/organs are positioned in their respective places in our body?’, & ‘How are the shapes and sizes of different organs determined?’. Prof. Shashidhara and his research group have identified key mechanisms that specify organ development and regulate growth control in Drosophila. While addressing this question, his group has been able to identify key mechanisms by which signaling pathways are fine-tuned to achieve precise growth control. As these pathways are all highly conserved from flies to humans and some of them are implicated in human cancer, the team now has genetic and biochemical leads that may prove useful as markers for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. Prof. Shashidhara held the Chair (Biology) position at IISER (2007-2017). He also held the positions of a Scientist at CCMB, Hyderabad (1995-2007), of a Visiting Fellow at NCBS, Bangalore (1993-1995), and a postdoctoral fellow at University of Cambridge (1991-1993). He has received multiple awards including JC Bose Fellowship (2011), Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (2008), & the CSIR Technology Award in Biological Sciences (2003).  He is also an elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS, 2007), National Academy of Sciences (NASI, 2008), & Indian National Science Academy (INSA, 2007).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TUUC mentionsAristotle, Archimedes , Rene Descartes , David Hume, Jared Diamond, & Autumn Stanley, among others.