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The Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics: Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop Appendix F Evolutionary Organizing of Science Seyed Mohammad Jafar Marashi-Shoshtari The dynamics of civilization and the development of civil life in human societies are primarily due to the structures and evolution of paradigms, models, software, and technologies that change over time. The historical process of the birth and decline of civilizations attests to the fact that the success of long-lasting civilizations is contingent upon the creation and development of scientific, cultural, and artistic structures that are capable of generating suitable socially sensitive technology. Were we to evaluate civilizations and cultures on the basis of a metaparadigm, it would seem that the secret to the survival and success of civilizations lies in the growth and development of a triumvirate of systems: The ethical system (that gives orientation) The subjective system (that shapes thought) The objective system (that generates power) Against the above backdrop, topics such as ethics, science, and technology will inter-relate as follows: Ethics (primary) Science (secondary) Technology (dependent) Egocentrism, hedonism, and materialism, among others, are manifestations of life in today’s world. We are in need of a “new culture,” not based on scientism and the creed of technology.
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The Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics: Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop Transcendental culture through the implementation of a “consensus strategy” can attain genuine development. This strategy is in direct confrontation with the prevailing global order spearheaded by materialism. The engineering of such a system is a sine qua non for all intellectuals who invest their future in fostering social agreement. Throughout the ages and eras, myriads of civilizations were born in various corners of the world. Today’s world encompasses seven or eight different types of civilizations.1 Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic (in the traditional sense of the word), Hindu, Slavonic Orthodox, Latin American, and African are some of the civilizations. Various ethical, national, regional, and religious (in the traditional connotation) differences separate this variety of civilizations. In the past century, enhanced communication and the exchange of goods and information have blurred ancient dividing lines. The increasing permeability of geographical borders and the emergence of the so-called “global village” are challenging this fairly recent transfiguration anew. Both the maturing of these civilizations and the way this process is tied to the shaping of human existence demand attention. It appears that the key to the perseverance of civilization lies in the evolution and transcendence of three interwoven systems: The ethical system The system of thought The system of material objectivism If we define “civilization” within the context of the aforementioned triadic systems, it will then resemble a living organism evolving in congruence with the evolutionary stages of human society. The tangible and objective outcomes and manifestations of the existing civilizations, notwithstanding their past divergence and differences, reveal their gradual assimilation in the world’s secular mainstream. AN AWAKENED SOCIETY An outstanding characteristic of every society, stretching far beyond time and space, lies in ethical values. “Ethics” constitutes one of the pillars of every society. The dimensions of anomie besetting societies signal the rupturing of this pillar on various levels, an issue that must be immediately addressed. The philosophy undergirding the Divine Prophets’ 1 Huntington, Samuel P. “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993.
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The Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics: Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop (peace be upon them) “prophetic mission” points out that they were chosen to perfect ethical and moral blessings. “Ethics” has been expounded and defined in a variety of religious, educational, sociological, and psychological sources. A comprehensive definition has yet to emerge. “Ethics” can be construed as the “structure of social inclinations” reflecting the moral code governing the society. As such, “individual ethics” intertwines with “social ethics” and in principle, we do not make any distinction between the two. When defining law we place at the fore a set of principles, the violation of which can entail social disorder, punishment, and corrective measures. Since moral concepts rest on ethical considerations, they can be socially processed within a legal framework. In a nutshell, we can divide ethical concepts into two categories: Ethical behavior that can be regulated or governed by law—Hard Ethics Ethical behavior that cannot be regulated (i.e., being on-time, risktaking, patience)—Soft Ethics. EVOLUTION OF ETHICS: FOUNDATIONS The evolutionary foundations of ethics can be delineated as follows: • Show of Interest Having interest in a subject, thought, or object is the beginning of the evolution of ethics. A person first becomes interested in something and develops a certain ethical stance with regard to the phenomenon. The interest displayed by the individual is a function of his/her potential and abilities, and the development of this potential is commensurate with the evolution of the individual’s ethics. • Evasion and Lack of Interest The phenomenon the individual becomes interested in is the focus of his/her ethical evolution; as such the person evades the opposite pole, in which he/she is not interested. This evasion underlies the individual’s ethical growth and evolution. • Sacrifice After the stage of evasion, the individual must be prepared to sacrifice for the object or subject in which he/she has displayed interest. In this stage, the individual is acting on the basis of his/her convictions, and ethics are materialized in terms of actions. Should the individual not be convinced about the subject of his/her interest, then he/she will not be willing to sacrifice. In this stage ethical grounds become solidified.
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The Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics: Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop THE EVOLUTIONARY STAGES OF ETHICS The main factors of change are set forth below. The principal, secondary, and dependent factors of change in society are placed at the forefront: • The Decision-Making Stage This is the first and most important stage in the structure of ethics. Here the individual or the society decides how to proceed. In a social context, the leaders decide on which actions to take or what characteristics ought to be developed in the populace. Therefore, it can be asserted that “decision making” is the main ingredient of ethical evolution and decisions must encompass the foundations of evolution, that is, the show of interest, evasion, and sacrifice. • Regulation After initial decisions on the direction of ethical concepts are taken, ethics will be institutionalized through regulatory measures. At this stage, ethical concepts are protected by sanctions, and violators will be penalized. Punishment can emerge in two ways: (1) cultural punishment involves the rejection, confrontation, opposition, or anger by other members of society, and (2) legal punishment regulates the behavior of the populace on the basis of moral codes and ethics, and violators will be penalized in accordance with the severity of their crimes. • Stage of Action In this stage of the structure of ethical concepts, individuals start acting on the basis of ethical convictions. Ethics have taken the form of concrete decisions and laws, and they emerge in the form of actions. Acting on the basis of ethical principles strengthens ethical concepts and facilitates the administration of society. • Effects The effects reflecting how the status of ethics are looked upon: Resort to the Immaculate Immas: According to Islamic values, resort to the Immaculate Immas inevitably entails the evolution of social ethics. The transcendental evolution of ethics in society first rests on resort to the immaculate men of God. Behaving as such continuously purges a society that draws on Divine and Islamic values, and the society is given a chance to solidify itself. • Interest in Organization Organized and transcendental motivations feed interest in national institutions (government, municipal, or workplace); thus, social ethics start flowing into organizations leading to the regulation of society. • Exertion of Will and Family Orientation Here, social ethics find a context for materialization and will be implemented in the basic core of the society, that is, the family. The family will
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The Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics: Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop be the primordial absorber of social norms and ethics. Family members will be acquainted with the society’s values and norms, basing their actions thereupon. CLASSIFICATION OF SCIENCE Human science and knowledge, applied or otherwise, can be divided into two groups: (1) reductionist, or (2) holistic. In the first category scientific disciplines are defined separately without being systematically linked. In the second category they are viewed as “orderly” subsystems that are integrated and coordinated within the framework of an umbrella system. In this latter case, each subsystem acts in concert with other subsystems, and their inter-relationship has an exponential and cumulative character. The various disciplines and spheres of any school of thought are inter-related in one way or another. Some might be classified within theoretical and/or applied groupings. Information might be gathered in “mathematical” or “economic” classifications. What is fairly obvious is that all schools of thought that embody information classifications can submit themselves to “orderly arrangement.” A viewpoint that is widely accepted considers human knowledge from three broad perspectives; Knowledge/information based on revelation. Knowledge/information based on logical analysis. Knowledge/information based on sense experience. Various fields of knowledge and scientific disciplines distinguish themselves in three aspects: (1) topic, (2) objective, and (3) methodology. In philosophy, for instance, in the section dealing with “topic and subject,” the question might be raised as to what is the subject to be studied. In the section relating to the objective one might ask about the ultimate objective of theoretical logos or philosophy. The objective is to ensure that we are convinced of the fact that “truths” and “realities” surround us, but we are also convinced that in identifying these “truths” and “realities” we make mistakes, taking “perceptions” for “reality.” The proper distinction between “perceptions” and “realities” is what drives philosophy. In this methodology section, when discussing “a being whose existence is necessary,” we do not resort to the empirical method for deduction or logical reasoning. Philosophy seeks to separate truths from illusions. It creates the necessary context for man’s beliefs. Science, on the other hand, seeks to analyze the various aspects of the social arenas so as to best direct the society.
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The Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics: Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop Hence, science and philosophy focus on different areas. For instance, a person might have both philosophical and scientific insight; nonetheless, the unity of his person will not functionally unify or integrate these two distinct spheres. The person will adopt a scientific approach when dealing with scientific issues; and when tackling philosophical problems, he will be bound to adopt a philosophical perspective. The practical consequence of this thinking is the separation of the faculties of experience and function. It is widely known that the science of management uses various methods to administer organizations (notwithstanding philosophical issues and without considering philosophical principles). It is contended that these methods ought to be separated from philosophical principles and are in no way related to philosophical questions. Philosophers, on the other hand, contend that the role of philosophy is to eliminate illusions. They do not interfere in such arenas as man’s sphere of action and performance in the society. The net result of this is that our beliefs and action would be delinked: we act in one way and believe in something else. It so seems that the secular system of thought has reached its saturation point, for it lacks that innovative spark of guidance toward “sensible life.” But it is still engaged in paradigm building so as to encourage consumption. The denial of “soul and spirit” is a link to the other world and a transcendental life, bringing about the acceptance of objectivism as the source of cognition and life. In reality, material objectivism is elative and subject to change in time. The new effort toward defining ethics2 will also go astray since the root of ethics cannot be traced back to the material world. If one does not believe in the afterworld, he or she will certainly not put faith in constant and eternal values as shown in today’s situation. Therefore, it can be maintained that the definition of a new civilization lies in the transformation of all elements of society’s value and thought system and the emergence of constructive inter-relationships between these elements. Secular civilization that bases itself on profit maximization is dying, whereas the spiritual civilization that is nurturing due to its proximity to the Lord, is coming to the forefront. We are on the verge of creating a new phenomenon in this world. Having learned from the past, man has become mature enough to reappraise his condition, institutionalize justice, and reflect divine guardianship and values in his social interactions. Material evolution fails to coa 2 Piper, Thomas R., Mary C. Genlile, and Sharon D. Parks. Can Ethics Be Taught? Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge, MA: 1993.
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The Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics: Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop lesce divergent social aspirations. Social evolution can be attained on the basis of divine guardianship around the axis of worship. The realization of social evolution is in need of a new “culture” not based on scientism and the creed of technology. In the new “culture,” ethics, science, and technology will interrelate as follows: Ethics (primary) Science (secondary) Technology (dependent) The transcendental culture through the implementation of a “consensus strategy” can attain genuine development. The realization of this aim is contingent upon the creation of a network of all intellectuals who invest their future in fostering social agreement. The “network” has the following objectives, (1) idea generation, (2) idea selection, and (3) harmonization and linkage of ideas. The network will be based on a new conceptual system. Even science will assume a novel meaning in the context of this system. From this viewpoint, the historical and social systems shape the ethical grounds of sciences. Weltanshauug (world view) and the “why” of things will be based on “proaction” that sets the rational ground for the development of observation in the “applied” realm. In this sphere, a “relational” philosophy will emerge as a new basis for mathematics and will be in total harmony with the proposed intellectual system. In the categories of knowledge, social science will assume a higher standing. In other words, social sciences will be a catalyst to the development of human and applied sciences.