Urdu Talk by Dr Asad Zaman at IBA on 26th Jan 2018 – shortlink: bit.do/iba01 — English summary of talk (+ urdu video) is posted below. For an urdu summary, see: Insaniyat Ka Madar: Tabiati Uloom Ya Islami Uloom? (shortlink: bit.do/iba002)
My paper on “Origins of Western Social Sciences” explains that the amazing technological progress of the West has dazzled the eyes of the Muslims. Physical Sciences are based on knowledge of the external world, while social sciences are based on knowledge of the internal world of the human beings. Knowing Chemistry, Biology and Physics does not lead to insights into the human heart. Economics is based on a hopelessly bad theory that human beings act like homo economicus. Nonetheless, the prestige of the West has led Muslims into accepting completely absurd theories about human behavior and welfare. Economics teaches us that all of us have maximization of the pleasure obtained from consumption as the sole purpose of life Furthermore, it teaches us that this is “rational”; that is our happiness and welfare depends solely on how much we consume (see “The Coca-Cola Theory of Happiness”. A 30m talk in URDU by Dr. Asad Zaman at IBA on these issues is linked below.
A brief outline of the talk is as follows.
Knowledge is of two types: about external affairs and internal affairs. External knowledge is of the world around us; the physical sciences. Internal knowledge refers to the world inside us; the knowledge of the psyche, heart and soul, of human beings. Western Economic theory, like all their social sciences, is based on a fundamentally misguided conception about the nature of human beings. Because we are all exceedingly impressed with Western achievements in the physical sciences, we find it difficult to believe that they could make serious and fundamental errors in their formulation of the social sciences. However, this is in fact the case. The West has created many myths that are now widely believed throughout the world:
|1||Progress is through external knowledge without taking account of internal affairs.
|Physics or Chemistry cannot teach us how to become better human beings.|
|2||Making profits at the cost of lives is a legitimate business strategy.||Human life is infinitely precious and cost benefit analysis is not viable.
|3||Everyone aims to maximize happiness that comes from utility of consumption.||Happiness actually comes with developing social relationships.|
|4||Social relationships are hurdles to make progress through money.||Social relationships create love, cooperation, sympathy which we all need as human beings|
|5||Welfare is gained by material goods.||Material goods and facilities for better living can bring no happiness if you are deprived of family, friends, social relationships
|6||Human resource is an input to the production function. Y = f (K, L).||Human beings are the purpose of creation. Wealth is an input to production of human welfare|
|7||The purpose of life is to earn money, and everything else is subordinate to this goal.||All humans are born with amazing and unique potential capabilities. The purpose of life is to develop these capabilities to the fullest.|
|8||Humans are like robots and behaviors can be predicted by mathematical formulae||Human beings have free will, choice, ability to change, and hence unpredictable behavior.|
The failures of modern European Social Science are demonstrated by the continuous wars, increasing inequality, environmental catastrophes which threaten the planet. For example, “Killing children for profit”: almost no human can favor this but today modern corporatioonsd do it roputinely. For instance, companies sell baby milk powder for profits, knowing that this will lead to deaths of large numbers of children. The arms lobby in the USA has blocked all efforts to restrict sales of firearms, even though incidents of people shooting crowds of innocents occur routinely. Madeleine Albright declared on public TV that it was fair to kill half a million children in the Iraq for political benefits. The economic theories currently being taught say that profits is the primary business of business, and they should not be concerned about socially responsible behavior. The misconception that money leads to happiness has made people obsessed with making money, having successful careers, and increasing standards of life and having high levels of consumption. However, this increasing wealth has come at the cost of neglect of family, friends and social relationships, leading to breakdown of families. In a society where more than 50% of the children are growing up without fathers, how can they learn about love, cooperation and sacrifice, and how these lead to happiness?
Consequences of western mis-education in social science:
- Death of the spirituality.
- No knowledge of human development.
- Collapse of society.
How did the West go Astray?: Given that the West has made so much progress in so many areas, it comes as a great surprise to know that they can make such huge blunders in their development of the social sciences. This requires some explanation, since the dominant versions of history are highly Eurocentric – that is, they portray history in a way which puts Europe at the center of the stage.
The truth is the the dark ages of Europe ended when they conquered Islamic Spain, This happened because an increasing taste for luxuries led to decay and degeneration in the advanced Civilization of Islamic Spain – AL-Andalus. It took two centuries for Europeans to absorb and assimilate the treasure of knowledge found in the millions of books in libraries of Andalus. This is what led to the Enlightenment of Europe. This process led to a crisis of thought when primitive philosophies adopted from Greeks and Romans by the Catholic Church were overturned by the influx of new knowledge. This was called the battle of Science and Religion, in which the “science” defeated Catholic religion in Europe. This victory of science led to the emergence of several mistaken lines of thought in Europe, which lie at the root of their current mistaken ideas about social science. Three of these major mistakes are listed as follows.
- Europeans came to believe that religion is a superstition which requires belief in the unseen. They invented the philosophy of logical positivism which rejects the possibility of knowledge about the unseen and requires us to confine knowledge only that which we can observe.
- Europeans decided to apply methods of science to the study of human beings and societies. The types of mistakes that this led to is discussed in greater detail in my earlier post of “Method or Madness?”.
- Completely mistaken ideas about the nature of human beings and societies emerged from their mistaken idea that the mind is the only reliable source of knowledge, and we must reject the heart and soul of human beings. See “The Coca-Cola Theory of Happiness”.
Because of these major mistakes at the heart of European thought, they were never able to construct good theories in their social sciences – see “Economics for the 21st Century” for more details. As a result, the modern theories of economics are found on entirely wrong assumptions about human beings and can be rejected completely. Unfortunately, today the Muslims have lost all confidence in their heritage, and accept any kind of false and misleading idea if it comes from the West (see the Modern Mu’tazila).
We Muslims are in Compound ignorance – that is, we think we know Islam, when we actually don’t. Allah T’aala has giftged us with extremely precious knowledge, which changed the destiny of the ignorant and backwards Arabs, and made them leaders of the world 1400 years ago. This knowledge has the same power today, but Muslims are neglecting it. Correcting the foundations for economics as a social science requires a deep understanding of the nature of humans. Islam provides us with the knowledge required to transform human beings from the lowest of the low to the best among the creation. Today, what we need is to utilize this knowledge to create an inner transformation within ourselves, and to show the world the path out the current darkness which envelops humanity.,