Reflections from the Re-Awakening EastReference
These lines have been extracted from a thought – provoking lesson of our prose text Reflections from the Re-Awakening East, written by Bertrand Russelll.
About the Author
Bertrand Russelll was an outstanding mathematician, writer and thinker of our time. He is best known for introducing scientific attitude in politics and sociology. He was a sincere advocate of technical aid to Asia.
About the Essay
In this lesson Russelll has tried to present a historical study and analysis of the reemergence of the East as a powerful influence in the World after centuries of subjugation and exploitation by the Western Imperialism. He praises the people of the East and criticizes the people of West. He admires the Muslims of Spain, who had a brilliant culture, at that time when the Christian Europe was sunk in barbarism. He has expressed his hopes and apprehensions as regards to what Asia should and what it will do after it has achieved both its political and economic independence. He also desires that the East will use its power to promote peace, justice and happiness in the World.
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
- Abraham Lincoln
“The supermacy of the East ————– a brilliant culture.”
Here in these lines, Russelll is presenting the invariable process of history in which power has been changing hands between the East and West. After the down fall of the Roman Empire and the destruction of the German Empire, leadership in power and the culture passed into the hands of the East which came to be ruled by the Muslims and Chinese between 7 and 10 century A.D.
“Progress depends on memory. Those who can not learn from their past (history) are condemned to repeat it.”
- George Santayana
The author states that the Muslims established their superiority to the Europeans not in warfare but also in the field of science, philosophy, poetry and the arts. Both the Muslims and the Chinese were enjoying a glorious period of culture and civilization during this period. This was the time when the Europeans were living a totally barbarous life. Russelll deplores that Europeans out of heir sheer narrow mindedness call this period “The Dark Age.” But actually it was only Christian Europe that was sunk in darkness because the “Mohammadan World” including Spain flourished with a glorious culture.
“Study the past, if you want to devine the future.”
“There are somethings ———- growth of industrialism.” or
“It is useless ———————independence.”
The above lines have been taken from that part of the chapter where the author has discussed the part played by science and technology in the rapid progress of the nations of the world. At the same time he extremely opposes the unfair use of science and adulation and monopoly of mechanization in human society.
While he disapproves of science and machinery as bad and undesirable on account of being cruel to man and hostile to beauty, he at the same time belie4ves that they are vital for progress and survival in the modern world. This is evident from the fact that those who lag behind in industrial progress are left poor and backward and thus have difficulty in preserving their independence at home and fail to enjoy and honorable position in the world. He refers to the amazing advancement of Great Britain in the early 19th century and that of the U.S.A. and Russia in the present century. These states enjoyed supremacy by virtue of their complete and virtual control over industrial production.
“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils: for time is the greatest innovator.”
- Francis Bacon
“The most sinister ————— on the side of peace?”
Here, in these lines, Russell is giving his opinion about the potential and probable use of scientific technique by the newly independent state of Asia. He warns the people of Asia that the worst and the most evil use of scientific knowledge has been in inventing horrible and destructive weapons of war. But he hopes that Asians will learn from the mistakes of the West and will use their new power of science and technology for peaceful purposes.
“The most persistent sound that reverberates through men’s history is the heating of the war drums.”
- Arthur Koestler
He realizes that it is difficult to predict what Asia will do when it rises as a powerful influence in the world but he is definite as to what Asia should do to fulfil its responsibilities in the community of nations torn with wars and conflicts. This is in tune with the author’s belief that:
“Wars should belong to the past, it should find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.”
- John Paul II
“Modern cosmopolitanism ————— Culture of the past.”
Here in these lines, Russell is commenting on the evil aspect of science and machinery. Being an enlightened thinker, her appreciates science and machinery because they have given rise to a new culture, which is universal in quality as the life-style of the whole world, is conditioned by the modern inventions of science and technology.
But the author laments that these two new elements of modern culture are being forced upon older cultures. By nature they prove cruelly more powerful since they have a tendency to destroy not only what is bad but also what is good and valuable in the culture of the past.
“The greatest tragedy of science and technology is the slaying of the beauteous nature by an ugly machine.”
- T.H. Huxley
The result is that due to the decay of the older values of life, man has become selfish, materialistic and parochial. So Russelll admonishes the nations of the East against the harms and perils of misuse of science. He says that mechanization itself is not limit and its sole purpose should be nothing except provoking and enhancing human happiness, minimizing their suffering and creating a sound atmosphere for living. Lord Russelll devices a strongly condemns the undue importance and usage of scientific inventions that are likely to make life dull and colourless. Russelll also believes:
“Science without conscience is the death of the soul and leads to greed and pride.”
- Francois Rabelais
“If human life —————— the simple joys of life.”
“Ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates, and men decay.”
- Oliver Goldsmith
Here, in these lines, Russell criticizing science and technology as cruelly powerful elements of modern scientific culture is suggesting ways and means to make modern life more pleasant and enjoyble.
He advises that if we want our life to remain tolerable, we should not allow science and technology to dominate over all the departments of our life. According to him poetry, music, arts, love and simple joys of life were the important elements of our older culture. We must preserve them in our modern life at every cost because with them, our life is dull, dark and intolerable. The author believes that:
“The purpose of human existence is not ease but to kindle a light of joy.”
- Albert Einstein
“Your independence ————— Mistakes of the West.”
“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”
- William Hazlitt
Here, in these lines, Russell is directly addressing the newly independent people of Asia and is giving them a valuable piece of advice also their future course of life. He points out that now when the world is divided into two rival blocks filled with bitter enmity, it is certain that the big powers are not going to interfere in the political stability and economic progress of the Asian countries. Thus the Asians would find it easy to safeguard their freedom. But it is also feared that once they rise as a great power they can develop a desire to exploit the backward people and threaten the independence of Europe. The Author believes that:
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
- Abraham Lincoln
Here, in these lines, Russell like a broad-minded pedagogue and a moral preacher is giving to the new democracies of Asia a valuable piece of advice also how they should use their power of science and technology.
He desires that after becoming free, Asians have to play a positive role. They have to use their power to contribute to he happiness and promote the cause of justice in the world. The author hopes that the East will learn from the mistakes of the West and will help the poor and the backward in their freedom and progress rather than exploit them for their selfish purposes.
Russell also hopes that Asia will prove this through their own examples that unless nations, rich and poor, learn to respect each other, there can be no peace and happiness in the world. The author believes that:
“To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.”
- Mother Teresa