A Glance at Tomorrows History

Developing Just Leadership

Ali Shariati

Sha'ban 11, 1426 2005-09-15

Occasional Paper

by Ali Shariati

Of course, friends should not expect that they will hear a profound and well-prepared lecture because I have had no more than one or two hours of time to think about it, but I have previously spoken about this subject at the university and I hope that I am able to recall here the points I mentioned there and present them to you.

Tibor Mende, a famous Hungarian-French scholar, one of the most outstanding thinkers of today on understanding the countries of the Third World, like those of Africa, Asia and South America, has written a book entitled, A Glance at Tomorrow's History. I am not going to discuss what he said or this book. Rather I wish to introduce this expression which I heard for the first time from this man and what a marvelous expression it is!

Some words have the right to life for a person (as Andre Gide said) and if they do not have the right to life for a person, they have the right to develop a thought because it often happens that there is a word within us which we are not aware of. When we hear an expression like it, this expression and word in itself becomes a source for the appearance of an idea and birth of an inner thought.

The expression, "Tomorrow's History" is a new, revolutionary expression. History, in its content and spirit, has always reflected the past. History means the past. As this expression, "A Glance at Tomorrow's History, is a revolutionary one, it becomes clear that today the world has become aware of the fact that one must write tomorrow's history, as well, or at least think about the history of tomorrow. We must have previously accepted this thought and see history as a real science.

History will have value only if we write tomorrow's history. If history does not help us to know tomorrow or at least the human being of today or the human being who is going to appear, it will be useless, because all sciences must at least be beneficial in helping to understand human beings, the life of human beings of the future and the ideal of human beings of today and tomorrow. Understanding the human being in the past must be a beginning for us to understand ourselves and our future.

I want to take a glance at tomorrow's history, not as Tibor Mende did, but rather as I myself believe. (I beg your pardon if my tone is the tone of a teacher, not that of a lecturer because my profession is to be a teacher. Fortunately, the faces here are basically those of university students who are familiar with my tone and words.)

In order for you to understand what I have to say, I want you to imagine a cone. Keep this cone in mind until the end of the lecture because this is the framework from which I will speak.

This cone is the framework of our thoughts, judgments and perceptions. In every civilization, every society and every age, history relates to the past human being not as an intermittent chain, but it takes the form of links which follow one another. This is what history means. Humanity, from the beginning to the. present, has had 3, 4, 5, 10 or, according to Tibor Mende, 27 periods.

Each period, like a living, existing thing, has a spirit, thoughts and special inclinations. We know today that every new period has special states, particularities, thoughts, inclinations and goals which the previous period did not have.

Thus for the understanding of each period, this cone is necessary and every period can accurately be divided according to this image. With a careful study of it, we can even predict the future.

As an example, we go back three centuries and we will apply this cone to the Middle Ages in Europe. The base of this cone, which has the widest surface, is occupied by the majority of the people of society, the masses of the people. This cone has a lower and upper part and as you see, its lower part is greater than its upper part. The masses of the people in every society, from the point of level and volume, are placed in the lower part.

Intellectuals, scholars and thinkers of every age are located in the upper part of the cone. This group is called that of the intellectuals. This means the group whose work basically revolves around thought rather than an organ or limb of the body or a tool of industry. Thus writers, 'Ulama, scholars, poets, thinkers and philosophers are among the group in the upper part of the cone.

In every society, the common people are located in the base of the cone and the intellectuals in the upper level of the cone. This is true even in primitive societies. When we apply this cone to primitive societies, the masses, tribes and common people form the base of the cone and they have a group of intellectuals who are the witch doctors, white beards, nobles and persons who, at any rate, lead the people.

Various ages have come. This cone applies to all of them. I have realized that whatever era grows closer to today, the base of the cone, which is that of the common people, decreases to the advantage of the level of the intellectuals. That is, the volume of the masses decreases and is added to the volume of the intellectual class. This means that the number of intellectuals of each era are greater than the intellectuals of the previous eras because culture is more general, thoughts are more open and science and thought become more prevalent, causing the common people to rise to the level of the intellectual.

There is no boundary between the class of the masses and fiat of the intellectual. As we go up the cone, the common people reach closer to the intellectuals and at the higher level of the cone, there is the level of the intellectual. As we go down, the intellectuals grow closer to the masses of the people and as we go up the cone, the intellectuals grow distant from the common people until it reaches the point where the educated and intellectuals take the form of idols for the intellectuals of each era who form the source of intellectual thought in every period.

For instance, in the present age, types like Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertrand Russel and Schwartz are in the upper part of the cone, at the intellectual class of the cone, and a high school educated person is in the lower part of this group, near the masses. This is the introduction to what I have to say. I will continue from here.

We will apply this cone to the Middle Ages. Who were the common people in the Middle Ages? People who in France Italy and England went to church. They implemented the orders of the priests and the orders which the official scholars gave in the name of the Bible, the Pentateuch, of Jesus and God. They accepted and practiced this. They ate the common people of the Middle Ages.

This same type of common people live in the new era with the same feelings and particularities. At Christmas time, when the Pope appears from the window of St. Peter's, hundreds of thousands of Christians can be seen there who cry so hard when they see his clean clothes and ornamentation that they are drowned in religious feelings and strong religious emotions which then recalls the Middle Ages. The exact feelings and thoughts are the thoughts of the people who lived three or four centuries ago in the Middle Ages in Italy and France.

Thus when we say that now is the new age, we mean a change has taken place in the class of the intellectuals of Europe, not in the common people. Thus, all of our thoughts must be to find the particularities of each period at the level of the intellectual.

But there is something else and that is that in every era, in addition to the common people in the base of the cone and the intellectuals in the upper part of the cone, a very few and rare individuals exist whose thoughts or beliefs differ and oppose those of the intellectuals and the ideas of the educated. They cannot be counted among the common people. They are great writers and geniuses of humanity. They cannot be put in the class of the intellectual either. Why? Because the substance of what they have to say is not that which the intellectuals believe in and essentially, they have brought about new thoughts which intellectuals still do not believe in. Rather, they have expressed new words which have exploded like a bomb.

What group are they? They cannot be given a class because their number can be counted on the fingers. It can be said they are geniuses. It can be said they are people who speak new words opposed to the prevailing spirit of society. Opposed to the traditions of intellectualism and opposed to the method of science and the intellect of that age.

This is extremely important. The subject appears at the end of the Middle Ages. The common people are the same as those who now live in Europe. They obey the Church. They obey the former Middle Ages' religious scholars.

The educated who live in Europe appeared from three centuries ago, that is, from the 17th century, a century where the intellectual class was established in its present form. Those who we now recognize as being an intellectual and educated, those who are educated with a new culture, are copies of intellectuals who appeared from the 17th century in Europe. To this very day, spirits are nourished from them, they think like them and they imitate their scientific ideas, beliefs and thoughts. Thus they are an extra appendix of followers of the educated who were formed in the 17th century in Europe and who continue to run the universities, science and modern life until the present time.

Who were these educated and intellectuals of the Middle Ages? They were Christian priests, people who studied in schools affiliated with the Church and their goal was to discover religious truths. Their goal was to enlighten people, lead people or, at any rate, to capture people in the bonds, chains, moulds and goals of religion.

Thus when this cone is applied to the Middle Ages, the intellectual consists of priests and religious scholars.

You also know who the religious scholars in the Middle Ages were but in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, people and geniuses were born who arose against the educated of the Middle Ages, who had been Christian priests, and they brought something new, but still no class was formed.

The religion and school of thought of all of these people was that instead of the Christian religion or worship of God, they replaced this with another thought which consisted of the principle of the methods of these people who, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, appeared at the peak of the cone. They replaced the worship of God, which had been the religion of the intellectuals in the Middle Ages, with the worship of science. Whereas religion said one must accept that which is in the approved religious texts and anything not mentioned in them must be rejected, they said that they only believe in that which they think and attain by science and experience and that they do not accept that which does not exist even if religious and sacred books mention them, unless they attain them through experience and research.

Thus worship of science consisted of the first cries, the first signs which great geniuses like Kepler and Galileo, and even others before them, announced at this peak, cries against the class of religious intellectuals of the Middle Ages. This class arose against the new ideas. They condemned them; they called them infidels; imprisoned them; burned them; tried them (the trial of Galileo is famous).

Why? Because they are individuals who are speaking of new ideas which oppose the intellectual and the educated of society.

Thus at the end of the Middle Ages, there were the common people and the educated (religiously educated, affiliated to the Church), and above them, several individuals 10 or 20 people geniuses who arose in spite of the ideas and school of thought of this group (the educated affiliated to the Church). But they are not enough to create a class in society. They are rare individuals. We apply this cone to the next era, that is, the present age ( 17th to 20th centuries, the length of the new era). We see that the class of the common people has not changed, only their volume has decreased and a few have been educated and joined the upper group.

We study this upper group, the educated and intellectuals of the new era after the Middle Ages. They say exactly the same things those geniuses, those rare individuals said in the 16th century, which the intellectuals of that era did not listen to. Thus, there are always geniuses at the peak of the cone in society who are above the educated class, who express new ideas which oppose the current ideas of the intellectual class and then, in a deterministic way, in the next era, the words of these geniuses, who are rare, strangers and alone in society, take the form of a school of thought of the educated of the future. That is, the school of thought of the next period consists of beliefs and a way of thinking which rare individuals of the previous era expressed.

Thus in every period, we see that at the peak of this cone, geniuses exist who oppose the current educated class and do not listen to them. The struggle begins. These geniuses remain rare and strangers. Little by little their thoughts grow, their ideas, ways of thinking and they themselves are even transformed into the future educated class and then this new group turns away the class of the educated of the former era from society.

When we look at Europe today, we see there are still priests. They still have power but the spirit of the new era belongs to the educated who worship science, not God. Thus, if we apply these words in the new era and if we look at the new era from the point of view of religion, we see that according to the sociological cone of culture, religion binds and is the basis of the thoughts of the common people.

We see there is a group who worships science. The religion of the class of the educated and intellectual of today is to worship science, not to have religious feelings and beliefs. Thus, according to this law, in general, the educated must not be religious in this era! Why? Because religion binds the belief and base of the common people in the new era, but, as opposed to the Middle Ages where intellectuals were all religious, they now worship science, that is, they are followers of the idea of the worship of science. The ideology of all of the new educated is the worship of sciences as opposed to religious commands and belief in dogma, resolutions and principles of religious devotion which must be fulfilled without questioning.

One thing appears and it is this that religion belongs to the common people as it was in the Middle Ages. The base of the worship of this new educated class is the worship of science and when we look, we see that, really from the 1 7th century to the present time, as the educated class grows closer to the basis and principle of the worship of science, the further they move away from religion, and to the same extent, the educated of the new era move away from the masses.

Whereas in the Middle Ages, common people and educated classes had a commonality of belief, they spoke with one tongue and for one goal, today the educated are worshippers of science and the common people are religious.

This is a reality which in no way is able to be justified, interpreted or commented upon even if it oppose our temperament and our beliefs. It is because of this that in Europe, America, Africa, South America and in Iran and Asian countries, the more the new science and new educated class is extended like in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the more religion is put aside from the top of the cone and only remains in the base of the cone.

Here religion is weakened to the point where it is destroyed and science, the worship of science and belief in the authenticity of science replace it.

If this cone is applied to the new and present era, just as I said, the common people are still of the Middle Ages.

They are religious all over the world. They have their former religion. To the extent which the new educated grow closer to the worship of science, which is the religion of this class, they become alienated from their traditional and their own national religion and they move away from it.

The statistics of people who studied the sociology of religions in any country in Europe and America, in the East and in the West reflects this.

But there is one other issue and that is that in addition to these two classes, we must seek out one more group. As we have seen, there are geniuses in each era and there are rare people in every age, people who we are obliged to place in the highest peak of this cone. From the point of view of education and type of thinking, words prevail in opposition to the current method of thought of the educated class. The number of this small group increases at the end of each era. Clearly recognized, they gain power and strength and they formulate the kind of thought of the intellectuals of the future like Kepler, Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon and Roger Bacon who formed the thoughts of the people of their era.

These individuals who are now at the peak will form the educated of the future according to that law of determinism which I mentioned.

Thus, according to this method, we can glance at tomorrow's history. How? If we recognize who these present geniuses who are at the peak of the cone, and how they think and if I can introduce those who exist at the peak of the cone in the present era to you, and show how the thoughts of these geniuses oppose the methods of thought of the worship of science of the last three centuries of the educated, then we can solve the problem which I mentioned. We can clearly foresee and predict how the educated class of the future will think in the era after the present and what inclinations, beliefs and feelings they will have.

We are obliged to place geniuses of humanity today above the educated because, on the one hand, the educated consider them to be supra-educated and, on the other hand, we are obliged not to place them among the educated of today because they think and speak differently from this group. One is Guenon. His book, Crises of the Modern World and his journal of religious studies have been published in Europe. He is a great, educated, French genius who suddenly revolted against science and the worship of science, went to the East and retreated to Egypt, not a retreatment in today's sense of the word but rather he withdrew from society and the way of thinking of today so that he could answer the great need and thirst of the people of Europe.

Another was Alexis Carrel. One of his most famous work is L'homme c'est inconnu, which has been translated into Persian along with some of his other works. He has written another book called My Meditation upon the Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Another is Le Count de Louis. He wrote The Fate of Mankind. It has been printed in Persian twice. The translation is bad but the text is worthy of study. Then there is Einstein, William James or Basalard, who is the greatest French scientific-philosopher-thinker and he is much greater than what the people of the world recognize in Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russel. There is also Max Plank, Georges Gurvitch, Patrick Donitz and Paster-nak, who wrote Dr. Zhivago. These people can never be put in the class of the new educated but only at the peak because generally they oppose the worship of science. They speak against it and the religion of the educated class of the last three centuries.

Of course it cannot be said that Guenon speaks exactly like Max Plank and Max Plank repeats the words of Alexis Carrel. Each has a new opinion. But something exists in common. That is, if we find a common principle, we can recognize, with the method I mentioned, that this common principle is a new tendency to be found in the world, the commonality to oppose the general tendency of the worship of science, which is the religion of the intellectual of today.

This tendency in the future era will be transformed into the religion of the intellectual of the type of the future and will replace the worship of science which is the religion of the educated of the world today. In all of these people, one idea prevails and that is the religious feelings and belief in spirituality which they hold in common without exception (unfortunately there is no time to quote from each of them).

We can say Einstein had great religious feelings. But we said that religion is the basis of belief of the common people! Can we say Einstein is among the common people and is among those who have a high school diploma or a college degree or is an engineer or Ph. D like myself and is in the new educated class!! Never. Yet he is religious. Thus it becomes clear that other than the worship of science, there is a new thought appearing in the world which is the greatest wave of thought in the world today. We can never say that the religion of Einstein or Carrel is of the same substance as that of the common people. It is a religion which is above the beliefs of intellectuals, above science.

Thus two religions exist. One is that of those who lack education and science and it is their religion which exists at the bottom of the cone. As we move up the level of religion, we reach a scientific atheism in our own era and if we move up higher, we attain a meta-religion. This can clearly be seen in today's world.

Look at the educated. One is educated and religious but his religion is taken from below and he pulls it along with him like a spare part. He has become an engineer, a doctor and he has retained his religion. He took it from the masses and pulled it up with him. This is abnormal and must be thrown away. If he lacks religion, in my opinion, he is closer to a religion of meta-science which is above and beyond science.

Again we have an educated person who is religious and we see how he follows a religion which is above science. It is clear in his writings. This religion can be seen in people, in universities, in thoughts.

The religion which is less than science is lower than the educated and the religion which is above science, which the heights of science have not yet reached, is a religion which today the great thinkers of the world, ones I mentioned, have and the world recognizes. They are above the educated. They are the new geniuses.

Many of the words which we have in the Quran or we have attained by closely following the Quran, we suddenly hear in a translation or a text from Max Plank or Einstein or Carrel.

Most of those people I mentioned passed through a time of crises, a time of atheism and then a time of re-finding, rediscovering a religion above and beyond science. All of them are among the most outstanding, well-educated people who opposed and revolted against the worship of science. Their commonlity is the return to spirituality, the return to religious feelings and sensitivities. In the last three centuries, they have been abused and condemned by the idea that religion is the belief of the common people and must be put aside.

Thus that which we must believe is that today, as in the 16th century, when geniuses came into being who brought the worship of science, geniuses have come who are not familiar to the present educated class. Their words have still not become official. They have not filtered into the university yet they speak above the level of the university. Surely the words and speeches of these people form the basis of the belief of the educated of the future who they will form in tomorrow's historical period.

Thus, without doubt, today's religion is a return to a religion which is above science or approaching a religion which is above science, that is, the truth of religion. Thus, with this study, it can be said that we believe that today the era of the worship of science of the educated class formed in the 17th century which led to the alienation from religion, is ending. Why? Because today geniuses have come into being who are above the science of today and who announce a belief in a great Spirit and Intellect in the universe and the need for mankind to worship or to have religious belief.

If he is a physicist like Max Plank, he speaks like this, "Kepler was a scholar who believed in a total intelligent system, carefully aware and conscious of all of creation." He also gives an example of another scholar and says, "He did not have such a belief in a total system of the universe as well as an all encompassing intellect which exists and because of this, he remained at the level of a small, experimental scholar. He remained at this level because he did not believe in a universal intellect but Kepler believed in this and because of this he became the creator of a new physics." He speaks like this.

Einstein, in the same field, says, "Religious feeling and belief in a great secret in Creation, is a key concept in great scientific research." A psychologist speaks in another way. He says, "In the fate of mankind, prayer is necessary, worship is necessary like the need for food and for air; it is a genuine need. If we blind the need for worship in ourselves, we will be destroyed."

A person like Carrel, who was never religious and is a man who received two Nobel Peace Prizes for research on the heart of sparrows and their transplantation, says, "Worship is like breathing, like eating and is a part of the most genuine physical, neurological, psychological and intellectual needs of ours." He says, "Because of a lack of strong belief in religion, Rome was destroyed."

These are words of Alexis Carrel, not a priest, not a religious person at the base of the cone. Alexis Carrel is the first human being who received two Nobel Peace Prizes and according to the Larouse dictionary, he is a great person whose thought has had a deep effect upon the 20th century. He says, "If worship, the prayer to the Beloved Creator, is taken away from society, we have signed the death certificate of that society."

Did the educated of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries speak like this? The educated of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries said, "If I cannot see God under the scalpel knife, I will not believe in Him." The worshippers of science spoke like this. But today, as Gurvitch says, "In the 19th century, sociology developed 198 laws which it believed in but sociology in the 20th century believes in no laws."

Schwartz, the greatest French mathematician says, Physics in the 19th century believed that it could justify all issues of life, even poetry and today physics believes that even it cannot come to know what material is."

Why has science in the 20th century become so humble according to Gurvitch and why has the pride of the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries been broken? Because a new era is beginning in the world. The school of thought of the educated of the future, as opposed to the educated of today, will be a religious school of thought a religion not lower than science, rather one higher than it.

Courtesy: www.shariati.com

Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use
Copyrights © 1436 AH
Sign In
Forgot Password?
Not a Member? Signup