Appendix L Science and Technology Without Ethics Can Do Nothing for the Prosperity of Human Beings
Science and technology are the results of the slowly evolving activities of the human mind throughout history. Man is the only creature that can experience life and take advantage of his old and new experiences to make a better life for himself. Man takes lessons from his old experiences through his memory and tries to improve his life constantly. This drive originates from his sense of hope.
Let us not forget that wisdom is the factor that links man’s hope and his memory and gives him the ability to take advantage of this link toward building a better life and making new discoveries. Wisdom works on the basis of old experiences and hope for the future. In this way, it gradually moves toward discovering facts. Nowadays, we observe several discoveries that have been made by experiments combined with wisdom. Such discoveries have been effective in the improvement of man’s life.
Here the question is whether science and technology by themselves guarantee man’s prosperity forever. It is not easy to answer this question, and it seems that we should think about it more deeply.
Undoubtedly, science and technology have empowered man as he has faced problems, and many obstacles and difficulties of human life have been solved. Yet, we cannot ignore that science and technology can be harmful and destructive as much as they can be beneficial. There are many cases that show the destructive aspects of science and technology, but there is not space to mention them here.
One of the features of science and technology is that they do not lead to decisions by themselves. Therefore, science serves man. Human will
determines the direction of science and technology. It is obvious that human will cannot determine faith nor the ethical direction of science and technology using science and technology alone. Therefore, humans need other factors in addition to the experimental sciences.
The important factor is practical wisdom in Islamic education. It means “being aware of what man’s behavior or non-obligatory acts should be.” Practical wisdom is the opposite of theoretical wisdom. Theoretical wisdom talks about “to be and not to be.” In practical wisdom, the center of the study is “must and must not.” There are four main characteristics of practical wisdom:
It describes only human beings.
It works only on non-obligatory acts of man.
It deals only with “must and must not” in the non-obligatory area.
It addresses only absolute subjects.
We should not forget that the “must and must not” that comprise moral values are not considered observational, or things that can be proved through logical comparison. The source of “must and must not” is man’s nature. As this nature is absolute, so are the moral values. There is no difference between the essence and the nature of the original and the modern man, and there is no evidence showing that such a difference could occur in the future. Therefore, science and technology cannot make a prosperous future for man without consideration of ethics.