In order to start a true search for the ways to ensure peace in the world one needs to have a quick glance over the etymology of knowledge, the “Epistemology”, the origin, nature, limits and validity of knowledge. In the Western secular tradition if we trace from Kant, a German philosopher (1724-1804) he turns to an examination of inquiring mind and its essential limitation, he is of the view “as for knowledge, it arises through experience only, except for a priory insight concerning our own rational equipment itself”, and this is the subject in nutshell of the Critique of Pure Reason. Later we note an over ridding influence of Comte, a French professor (1798-1857) the founder of Positivism, altogether rejecting all a priori knowledge where sense experience is taken to be the only source of all valid knowledge. It believes that sense experience alone yields knowledge of all the reality that there is. The real is observable and thus observable alone is the real, giving birth to secularism and skepticism, widely visible in writings of Bertrand Russell; his Skeptical Essays.
Winding up really a vast discussion due to paucity of space, one can conclude that there seems to be no place for spiritual, invisible world behind or beyond the visible one. Unfortunately Western tradition not only separates reason from revelation and intuition, but altogether rejects them as valid sources of knowledge. Secular culture is thus a culture born, as it were, exclusively of the eye, devoid of the vale of an inner perception. It claims to be based on purely objective, value-free knowledge. It recognizes science as the only valid source of the knowledge of things material, and the senses as the gateway of all this knowledge. Science, as we know is concerned with the sensate. But to reduce all reality to the sensate is not truly scientific. Such an attitude should be called scientism; for it makes science the standard of all knowledge and that is a narrow-minded and highly arbitrary view of knowledge. The sooner one can get rid of it better it is for arriving at a true knowledge of the world as an a priori creation of a transcendent power. Aim of generating this discussion is to reach a more realistic view of knowledge which can re-introduce us to the true knowledge with its actual Creator.
Science, doubtlessly, is one of the greatest achievements of the human mind. But it should not be allowed to degenerate into scientism which, by rejecting revelation and intuition as valid sources of knowledge, has rendered man spiritually homeless. A reason east, the Orient was associated with a kind of magical and intuitive culture, coupled with wisdom completely opposite to the west, the Occident. However, rightly so one will find a little different meaning in the modern day dictionaries as is the case with the ground realities having reversed, a phenomenon which plays a major role in the process of development of languages.
The kind of problems we seek to discuss might appear a little remote and getting theoretical due to our getting into analysis of how the very concept of knowledge kept taking different genre with the passage of time. However it is necessary to register a clear decay in every culture which is vitally linked to a certain epistemology which provides it a body of knowledge regarding the universe and man. It is this knowledge that determines man’s attitude towards his own self and the universe as well as his place in the universe in addition to laying down the norms to which his thought and behavior must conform. All beliefs, ideals and values – sacral or secular – are based on the world-view that emanates from the fund of knowledge at the disposal of a community. This amounts to saying that knowledge is the root of culture while culture is the fruit of knowledge. As the knowledge to a society is, so is the culture based on it. The value of a culture is judged by the type of individuals it produces and the type of society it establishes. It is not enough for man to be born and to exist merely in physical sense. He ought to become a human being in the true sense of the term through a cultural birth, by the inculcation of knowledge along with the beliefs, ideals and values that knowledge carries with it. The primary fact about man is that he is not only a social but also a cultural being.
For whatever purposes other creatures might have been brought into being, man has been created primarily to know what is true and good and to order his life accordingly. One cannot choose and attain goodness unless one knows what it is. Knowledge is also power – it is a great cultural force. It controls human ides and actions, paves the way for moral struggle leads to the growth of a strong moral conscience which is the source of all good action. The most important point to be noted here is that the knowledge which makes man a truly good man can not be left to be determined by one’s reason or to depend on his personal likes and dislikes or on his opinions regarding what is beneficial to the society as a whole.
Let’s not forget knowledge, though necessary, is not the sufficient condition of virtue. What ensures the choice of good is not mere knowledge, but knowledge coupled with sound feeling. It is this feeling which provides the motive power needed for voluntary righteous action. In his zeal to provide morality with a purely rational basis, Socrates replaced feeling by intellect. He completely eliminated the role of feeling or heart in volition. He thus demolished the edifice of conventional morality alright, but failed to reconstruct it on an exclusively rational basis to fill in the resultant void. No wonder that he was accused of corrupting the Athenian youth and a cup of poison sealed his fate.
Just as knowledge is a means to attain virtue and to gain power over one’s own self; it is also a tool for gaining power over Nature (afaq) and for harnessing its stupendous forces to the service of man. But the knowledge that leads to self-conquest and that which leads to the conquest of Nature are not the same. There are two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of what is morally good for man and the knowledge of what is materially useful for him. The former is the prerogative of religion and is obtained through revelation; the latter is the privilege of science, the product of inductive intellect which, in Dr. Iqbal’s view, was made self-conscious by the recurrent appeal of the Qur’an to reason and experience. (Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam-page 101) Since the knowledge of what is materially useful is essential for man as is the knowledge of what is morally good, he needs both science and religion for steering him through life in this world. What he needs is not science unconcerned with religion, but science guided by religious values. Conversely, what he requires is not religion without science and philosophy, but religion given intellectual content, wherever possible, by science as well as philosophy, without doing violence to its spiritual content. Western science tends to be positivistic and atheistic. It is also claimed to be value-free. All this poses a threat to the continuance of life on earth unless it is tempered with the high ideals and values propounded by religion. Culture does not merely comprise virtue or self-conquest, nor merely power or conquest of Nature; it is rather an organic integration of the two; a happy blending of science and religion. Man is neither mere body nor mere spirit; rather he is an embodied spirit. The knowledge which can adequately answer the needs of this complex of body and spirit has to be the knowledge in which science and religion are completely harmonized.
Today we have just started a search, the first step, might become a giant leap! With the help of God and valued contribution of my august readers we will be able to discern the truth which alone can lead us into a real placid world full of peace and tranquility. Please do enrich this humble endeavor with your precious comments. Must click “Leave a comment” at the bottom right corner, please do send comments on last two posts as well if you could spare some more time for a noble cause which might save us and our coming generations from some catastrophe, with so many already over heads