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A Glance at Tomorrows History
Part 1

Dr. Ali Shariati


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سايت فارسى

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.

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