Modernity and its Illusions: In Search of the Natural Human Being

IRFAN ALI NAJAR

In the current epoch science has made inroads everywhere. The promotion and advancement of science and technology admittedly set ways for great construction and robust development. It also opened the ways for accessing the new phenomenon in the world. Human beings developed dominance over the scientific knowledge which has carried them to higher level of concretization in the modern world. However, it alsi made them oblivious towards their own nature (fitrat). The machinization and digitalization drive shunted off the divine spiritual romance and essence from the orbit of human beings and reduced this higher level creation to mere an object or a commodity.
What Herbert Marcuse termed as “one-dimensional man”, which signifies the material aspect of human beings in which the prism of looking world is through material profits and losses. Modern science elevated people from stagnation to progress and development in physical world. People vehemently stitched to this predicament and overwhelmed the self (fitrat) which, as a result, made human beings slaves to machines. In the process, modernity ruined morality to a great extent. The value of human beings hollowed out and machines determined the priorities of human beings and remain prior to them. The universal and divine station for man or woman has forgotten and, in its place, modernity pushed people and made them own the “concept of consumerism”. Now it seems quite difficult in this advanced world to find a natural human being in general with exceptions.
The commoditization of people ceases the principles of individuality and originality where natural persons step down and artificial persons replaced them. In this “paradigm shift”, the human being is now counted or considered as a part or product which has been utilized as nuts and bolts for smoothing the work of machines. In the flood of modernity, the naturalness of human beings has been lost .This may be termed as the phrase that the “natural human being is lost”.
In the work of Thomas Hobbes, we can see the signs of disappearance of the natural person. In his book “The Leviathan”, the philosopher distinguished between the natural person and artificial person. In the contracting position, Hobbes argued that there comes artificial person who represents people who had authored him. But in doing this, natural person is lost. His work and thoughts were a starting point of modernity. Both in modern science and Hobbes the natural person is lost.
Rousseau had also dealt with this and blamed science and art for corruption of morality. In his prize-winning essay in 1749 on the question, “Has the progress of science and arts contributed to corrupt or purify morality?” , he argued that science was not saving us but bringing ruin upon us. His famous remark about progress and science is illusion and regression. If we delve deep and deconstruct his skepticism about science and art, we will come to know that he does not despise science for the sake of only criticism but it was because he critiquing it that it had not made humans realize o their nature and had a corrupting influence.
So, once morality or nature gets corrupted and forgotten then transcendental ways would have also get blurred where human beings then move without any direction and goal. Eastern and Western ideologies talk about bringing the natural person back but all suffer from flaws and ambiguities, because these ideologies are not nature-oriented.
Let’s now take recourse to the Holy Quran and see what position the Quran has bestowed for human beings. The human is the nucleus in the Quran and the teachings revolve around his nature which then guides him to reach the ultimate Reality. God ,in the Quran, has mentioned that the human being is my “representative on Earth”(khalifatullah).This signifies the individuality, originality, liberty, spirituality and Truth attached to him/her. The solution lies only in Quran which helps or guides to retain and reach to such position as God has decreed: Where he is called the natural human being.
It can be understood by the statement of the great commentator of Quran “Allama Tabatabai” who has said, “The natural human being is he who has retained the divine primordial nature whose mind and will are pure and unsullied by falsehood and superstition”. So in the shifting time of the post-modern world, the teachings of Quran which are nature-oriented, make us balanced and relevant to the contemporary times. When a human being understands the divine position, then science and art also contribute towards mankind’s progress without any disastrous implications and consequences.
—The author can be reached at: najarirfan7@gmail.com

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