By: Kalim Ahmad
If F.R Leavis would have studied Thales, he would not have criticized modern technology.
Thales was a towering personality of Greece who for the first time divided a year to 365 days. He predicted the first solar eclipse in 28th May 585 B.C. His work on right angle triangle is of vital importance in today’s mathematics. He for the first time measured the heights of Egyptian Pyramids from its shadow through the use of geomatrical knowledge. Also he was the first person known to have studied electricity. He was also included in the 7 Sages of Greece. In one of his proverb Thales says, “Know Thyself”.
According to F.R Leavis, modern man is in crisis due to technology.
This technology has snatched direction from him and consequently he is directionless. Leavis has suggested a university as panacea for the lethal effects of science & technology.
A question rises here that is modern man the first one to have access to the science & technology? Certainly not.
When Robert Oppenheimer (the father of the modern atomic bomb) witnessed the detonation of the first atomic bomb test at New Mexico July 16, 1945. A student asked Oppenheimer about how he felt having witnessed the explosion of the first nuclear bomb on earth, Oppenheimer is said to have replied something on the lines of, “First yes, in recent history” were our ancestors so intelligent that they developed nuclear weapons?
There have been numerous references across the web about passages in Vedas etc mentioning weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s). Does “ancient” means “dumb”? Almost all the major scientific & technological advances of modern society were invenred/ discovered in the last two centuries. If in just such a short span of time we modern humans could create such a level of advance technology, one can only imagine about the advanced technology of human civilization which spanned for thousand of years in continum would have created.
Modern humans having been on this planet for the past 200,000 years.
To say that this modern man only discovered science & technology in the past 200 or 300 years is like saying, babies learn to walk & talk in the age of 80’s or 90’s.
There was a great war fought in ancient India (references can be read from the book “Mausala Parva”). This book states that:
“36 years after the great Mahabharata war- strong and dry winds carrying gravels still blew from every side. The horizon was always covered with some kind of fog in all directions. The disk of the sun was always covered with the dust”.
Now the reason for the occurences of such drastic changes in nature could be only one of the three mentioned below; 1, an asteroid impact. 2, a massive volcano.
3, The aftermath of a massive nuclear war.
Volcanoes are ruled out in this part of the world. And we have no literary evidences of any asteroid impact during that period. However what we have is the literary evidence of a massive war that took place during that period of time. In chapter 22 of another book “Vana Parva”
Krishna describes the war he fought earlier with the Salwa King. It is said that the Salwa King had an aircraft called “Saubha Vimana” which the king used both for travel and aerial warfare.
Krishna says that “the sound of this Salwa’s spacecraft was inaudible and this flying car was made up of costly metals”. Clearly an aerial vehicle being “inaudible” shows the level of technology it had, and on the top of that it used to disappear quite often. The term used for such aerial vehicles in modern military terminology is Stealth Fighters.
Pharaoh (Rameses) of ancient Egypt also made considerable advances in science & technology, citizens of ancient Egypt could enjoy artificial raining, they mummified their dead bodies, they were the first to defeat angry waves of the sea and could harness the crazy winds. There were groups of astronomers and astrologists in the court of Pharaoh who usually made correct predictions including the birth of Prophet Moses. It is said that eminent philosophers of Greece (including Thales) visited the court of Pharaoh to seek knowledge.
In the later history of mankind, Leonardo de Vinci is believed to have done much scientific work. Maps of the first submarine, first aeroplane have been credited to Leonardo. Telescopes, spectacles, microscopes, pendulam were invented in this era. Here Copernicus claimed that the earth revolves around the sun. Such was the technological advancement of man in the Renaissance.
Slowly and gradually modern man emerged, modern man outwitted the whole range of past technology. He is preparing medicine to avoid oldage and to achieve an “Evergreen youth”. He has reached to touch-screen level of technology which is an enough proof of his hold over science & technology. On the other hand this man has prepared so much atomic bombs that can destroy this entire planet five times and so on.
This was the chronological advancement of man through different ages of past and present but what about future?
On 22 Feb 2003, the Daily Telegraph (London) published a front-page story announcing Issac Newton’s prediction that the world would end in 2060. Although the 2060 date was not news to the small community of scholars who study Newton’s theology. Over the next few days, the news spread around the globe and was covered in the newspapers on the radio, on Tv and on many internet sites. This prophetic thought of Newton was based on his theological and religious study. Public became aware that Newton was not only a scientist but also a philosopher. How did Newton arrive at the date 2060 is a long and debatable question, however one thing is clear that Newton believed that Shakespeare’s “seven stages” will come to an end in 2060. Scientists are of the opinion that the world will not end in 2060 A.D because 2060 would be more like a new beginning. It would be the end of an oldage and the beginning of a new era- and man will step up to a new millenia of science & technology. Furthermore, scientists believe that long before the universe dies out, sun will be dead, sun will run out of fuel in another 5 billion years. So what after that? We would be an advanced civilization by then and would relocate to some other star or we can try to refuel our sun by bringing fuel from some other nearby nebulae. Michio Kaku in his book “Parallel Worlds” suggests escaping to other universes in neighbourhood of our universe. Also evidences show that life once existed on planet Mercury.
This was the entire technological ups & downs right from the beginning of life on earth to its end in the unknown future. From the very beginning of this universe man tried to peep into the universe and unveil its mysteries. His effort is still outpacing his courage and the smooth course of his action reveals that this bloody yahoo will continue its pace to cope with that inner instinct called “curiosity”.
Man will enter a new generation of prosperity and development. Man needs not a university for the production of “educated public”, everyman in himself is a university, trying to know other men (know thyself, by Thales) can end the crisis man is suffering from. As far as humanity is concerned, man has never bothered to unveil the mystery of “humanity”. This is a lame excuse to blame technology for this because we are not the first to have access to the technology. Ages before, many civilizations have done it in a “human friendly” environment. AS far as crisis, these can not be encouraged. Wars happen because of some bad people. The good dont have much choice but to fight with them. In such times it is important that the good have better weapons the the bad ones. Only then the good can triumph. If you claim you are good and dont keep weapons then the bad ones will end up with better weapons. Therefore, if modern man is in crisis, the credit goes to human beings themselves. Modern man is a wonderful creature orbiting the whole world in a jet but could not realize the importance of a man.
“Thales is wailing on the dead ashes of Greece for this modern man because modern man climbed the ladder of nature but did not climb the ladder of humanity”.