Theory Design Lab/Karma Lab

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The Karma Lab is intended as a collection of learning resources that analyse interpretations of karma, not necessarily in a religious sense of the word but also in a wider sense and also in the sense of an intentional or emergent reputation system. The entirety of different interpretations of karma and related concepts can be interpreted as a framework and motivation to devise one's own more specific and consistent theory of karma. The motivation is further backed by the view that karma or a reputation system represent a desirable motivation for morality in a society, which, from the perspective of the categorical imperative, is an obvious and self-evident goal. For karma in a religious sense one could add that consequently no single theory of karma had necessarily to be seen as exclusively valid or universally valid at all because karma in the religious sense would possibly represent an intended subset of the collection of (components of) possible theories.

From the perspective of the categorical imperative one could also conclude that everybody should be an ethicist and mentor. Obviously, if everybody acted as an ethicist and mentor towards at least one pupil, then — in theory — everybody would have the chance to have an ethical mentor, which would constitute universal mentoring (similar to universal primary education). The conclusion seems reasonable that this would best happen during secondary schooling and in formally assigned and monitored mentoring relationships.

See: Cross-Age Peer Mentoring. Research in Action. Issue 7

Another reasonable conclusion about karma and mentoring should be that being an ethicist and mentor could even under different interpretations of karma be seen to constitute positive karma and on the other hand a failure to be an ethicist and mentor could be seen as a failure, although on a high level.

Different views of karma

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  • A reputation system can be seen as formalized but possibly partial representation of social status. A strictly capitalistic interpretation might consequently use financial resources as a one dimensional reputation score, which is trivially defective.
  • Karma could be envisioned
    • to be an individual measure for a set of locally relevant social norms.
    • to be a representation of views and prejudices of third parties about a group or person.
    • to be dependent on predestination.
    • to apply to larger social networks, social circles or other reference groups. In combination with predestination this might easily contradict expectations about individual karma.
    • to be dependent on public expectations about what it should be. Not having any expectations at all would consequently be like not participating in a mandatory reputation system.
    • to be dependent on individual preferences. (What kind of karma do you aim for?) This interpretation could easily be seen to turn karma into something like a currency, something you can claim ownership of resources with. (One might want to avoid to phrase such expectations in order not to imply a strictly "capitalistic" idioculture towards karma, which could be seen as repeating a frequent mistake with financial resources in a different context.)
    • to be relative to the social norms of a far more advanced culture. (which should for instance be unsurprising from a religious perspective)
    • to include moral priorities and problem prevention precedents.
    • to describe an assessment of idiocultural elements of a single person or a (small) group of persons.
    • to describe a code of conduct or a set of expectations about conduct.
    • to entail theory formation about karma and reputation systems.
    • to try to confirm the just-world fallacy (possibly in an attempt to state that it is a fallacy, which is what fallacies do anyway).
  • Karma could also be seen as a metaphor for the lack of a reputation system ("If you rely on a reputation system that doesn't exist that most probably means that you do not have one.")

Prejudice could also be seen as a contrary of karma. One could, for instance, speculate that a social environment basing karma on prejudices instead of testing[1] might thus contribute to arbitrary or prejudice-based karma. This is, of course, only a hypothesis. The hypothesis, however, motivates the much more relevant view that to counter this hypothetical effect one would have to make proper measurements of whatever one considered relevant for karma. To make these measurements could be seen to lead to the development of a personal or public reputation system and thus the view of karma as a metaphor for or motivation towards a planned reputation system could be seen as valid.


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  1. See: The Parents, Teachers, Friends Testing Guide for Dummies (Wikibooks)

Learning resources

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This resource has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. This applies worldwide. You are advised to consider the possibility of extraterrestrial intellectual property rights claims that do require mentoring duties in compensation ("either mentoring or trouble with extraterrestrials").

Content released into the public domain may be used for any purpose without attribution, including commercial activities and creation of derivative works.

The content is provided without any warranties of fitness for a particular purpose or suitability for pupils in a specific grade.