How is traditional culture threatened in age dominated by science and machinery?
In the article Reflections on the Re-awakening East, Bertrand Russell pinpoints the differences between the older and newer cultures in the world. He emphasizes that in the present era mechanization and industrialization go hand in hand with progress and prosperity. Though machinery, in essence, is ruthless and destroys beauty but those countries that do not adopt these lag behind.
Traditional cultures have beauty, poetry, arts and human values. He warned the Asians, heir to glorious cultures and civilizations, that if they adopt the culture of science and machinery blindly, they will destroy their beautiful culture as age dominated by science and machinery doesn’t need traditional and conventional values. It has a tendency of devouring everything, good or bad. Therefore to avoid the danger of the sweeping away of the rich traditional cultures, the Asians must preserve what is good in their cultures and not let it be destroyed or replaced by something bad.
What should Asian countries accept from the west and what should they reject?
According to Bertrand Russell, the Asian countries should acquire science and technology from the west because these two elements have helped the west in their progress in past centuries. But in acquiring these they should keep their glorious culture intact; furthermore, they should not harm or attack other nations, like the west did. Russell hopes that the Asian countries would not follow the west and would not try to have control over other nations. The Asian countries would respect other nations and make this world a happy place.
Why does Bertrand Russell consider it useless to resist industrialism?
According to Bertrand Russell, modern civilization is based upon science and machinery. He gives the example from the past as well as present to emphasize the importance of industrialization and mechanization. England in the early nineteenth century gained supremacy over many nations due to its monopoly of machine production. In the present days, the United States of America and Russia have the same supremacy; so it is useless to resist industrialism. The countries that resist it lag behind in the march of civilization, and sometimes have difficulty in keeping themselves free.
What are Bertrand Russell's desires and hopes for Asian countries?
Bertrand Russell's desires the Asian countries to make use of science and technology because it is the need of the present age; however, these countries should not become wholly mechanized. They should not let their culture and traditions be destroyed by the western influence, because the cultures of the East are very ancient and glorious. Furthermore, he desires the Asian countries not to follow the mistakes of the west by putting all their energies to making weapons of destruction. He hopes that the Asian countries would remember that to make human life tolerable softer elements that is poetry, music, art and simple joys of life will be given due place in life. He further hopes that Asian countries would live in peace with other countries and respect each other.
Why is it insular for European historians to term the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire as 'The Dark Ages'?
In the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the East predominated over the West both in culture and science. Many parts of the Roman Empire were conquered by Islam. The countries of the east, which were Muslim, as well as Spain, which was Muslim too, became powerful. Science, philosophy, poetry and the arts also flourished in China and the Muhammadan world. During all these centuries, the West was backwards (sunk in barbarism). Since the West was not making any progress so, with great selfishness, the European historians named this period as 'The Dark Ages'. However, it was only dark in the west; the east was flourishing.
What, in the author's view, has been the most serious flaw in the character of the West over the last few centuries?
The most serious flaw in the character of the West over the last few centuries has been the desire to have power over other human beings. The west has violated the right of freedom of many African and Asian countries. Though it has put its extra-ordinary energy in the exploration of the world from pole to pole and has made life of man extremely comfortable, but along with it, it has made use of scientific technique in the preparation of weapons of war and used these weapons to impose its regime upon other countries of the world. Thus, it has made the lives of others miserable.
“If human life is to be tolerable, it cannot be wholly mechanized. It must continue to contain poetry and music and art and love and the simple joys of life. These are the things that tend to be forgotten in a Machine Age.” Explain the lines.
In these lines Bertrand Russell pinpoints the aesthetic part of human life. He believes that although technology and machinery keep dominant position in man’s life but one’s whole life pattern can’t be governed by machinery. No doubt this element has a large place in the modern world, it has become a ‘decisive factor’ for survival and stability in today’s living, there are some other elements necessary for life. The delicacy of human sentiments needs music, poetry, love and simple joys of life. Science and machinery can’t satisfy the unquenchable thirst of human passions. On the contrary, technology disagrees with man’s delicate and sentimental needs. Russell refers to the Victorian material prosperity which totally neglected the spiritual side of human personality.
Modern cosmopolitanism is based upon science and machinery. These two new elements in civilization have been superimposed upon older cultures and have shown themselves such powerful solvents that they tend to put an end not only to what was bad but also to what was good in the culture of the past. Explain the lines.
In the lines, Russell pinpoints one of the important facts of the globe that it is based on science and machinery. He believes that they have become essential parts of today’s civilization. These two new elements are so vital and assertive that they have diminished everything in the culture is emerging based upon science and machinery. As the writer has a soft corner for the Eastern nations, he advises them to make their hard efforts in order to stand perfect on their own legs. Taking into account the significance of science and technology for their survival in today’s world, they should achieve accomplishment in their sector. Russell states that the driving force behind Western supremacy was their search for knowledge and better know how in science. It is appropriate for the developing states to devote their energies for the achievement of required talent and skill in the sphere of science. This will enable them to enjoy complete freedom, independence and decorum in their countries.
“If the world is to be happy, energy and ingenuity must no longer be expended in the exploitation of those who have less of these qualities.” Explain the line.
Russell, in these lines emphasizes upon the need of mutual respect among the nations. He states that every country has a right of free and autonomous living. Russell realizes the great potential of science. He is deeply impressed by the rapidity of its working. But at the same time, he has a fear of its alarming and harmful after effects. Keeping in view such a point, he expects all the nations of the world to use nuclear technology for constructive purposes only. He heralds a note of warning to all the countries that they must not exploit their scientific know how and energy. If this energy is put on the wrong direction, the humanity will have calamity and destruction in store for itself.