The bi-polar quality of culture means it possesses both innately internal and innately external aspects, just like the bi-polar quality of beauty does. Since conceiving beauty depends on human psychological and mental characteristics (other living beings are incapable of it), comprehending culture also has an innately internal aspect resulted by “The Principle of Protecting Evolutional Essence.”
As beauty has a virtually external aspect, such as the refreshing appearances of a flower, moonlight, a river fall, or beautiful handwriting, so does culture, like observable examples of morals, works of art, and architectural characteristics representing various external acquisitions and ideals.
The most apparent evidence for the bi-polar quality of culture is the same as that of beauty, which is specifically devoting the capability of comprehending beauty to man. In other words, cultural life is exclusive to human beings. If we consider all the given definitions for culture, we find that none are applicable to animals.
Human perception and activities are undoubtedly unlimited from an evolutionary point of view. Man's experiences throughout history obviously prove that although no human being can innately achieve the essence of greatness, moving on a path towards the highest virtues is nevertheless a characteristic of mankind which has caused his immense accomplishments and all well- established encyclopedias around the world approve of.
Hence, those activities and phenomena not rising from mental and psychological processes cannot fit in the definition of culture, no matter how appealingly fantastic they may be. Even if interesting issues play a role in preventing life from becoming monotonous and fading the boundary between physical and spiritual affairs, they should nevertheless be excluded from culture -for the sake of the essence of culture itself -let alone when they are harmful, e.g. obscene pictures which demolish moral chastity, or some types of music and drugs.
Unfortunately, fallacious paralogism has brought about deviations in the highly virtual meaning of culture, degrading it to a level which ranks humans with lowly animals, like gathering many huge snakes intrigued to bite; as ancient Persian culture states: “Scorpions do not sting out of revenge or hate; their nature causes them to do so”
However, some lethally dangerous “human beings” tend to use all their valuable capabilities and talents consciously for their own selfish pleasures and desires, reasoning that ‘pain is terrible and losing one's wealth and possessions, is truly painful’. This is the natural ego observed in man throughout history.
Can brotherhood, equality, reasonable liberty, graciousness, and human dignity be achieved through such natural egos so deeply immersed in conflicting disturbance? By no means, for such a wish would prove only a humiliatingly deceitful hallucination. Therefore, accomplishing high virtues such as unity, logical equality and brotherhood in human societies inevitably requires perfect cultural elements like proper, meritorious morals and the highest qualities, such as justice, dutifulness, sympathy towards peers, accountability towards other fellow citizens and conceiving the exquisite glory of the universe by comprehending its beauty and fine order, all of which guide man along the quickest possible way to the creator of the rules of equality among men. No other path would lead to the pure ideal depicted by Universal Human Rights, man's general culture, morals and human universal nature.
Nowadays, scientists, experts and anyone with the least basic knowledge can merely refer to any well-known encyclopedia to realize the essence of a culture able to save humanity, which can be defined as: “The proper quality or deserved methods used for those of man’s physical or spiritual needs based on human logical thoughts and emotions arisen from reasonable evolutionary lifestyles.”
This is a fundamental part of our discussion on culture. In other words, by presenting the definitions of culture in various well-known encyclopedias all over the world, we prove - at this critical period of time - that the commonalities between them all are properness, perfection, physical and spiritual development, graciousness, dignity, integrity, meritorious life, responsible freedom, and lawful justice.
Now let us analyze the above-mentioned definition1 that we stated as the most comprehensive of all. Doing so, we will come to four main principles vital to achieving the important ends and content of culture.
1) The concept of culture, as presented in civilized nations, include “proper-ness” and “deservingness” based upon the logical thoughts and emotions arisen from people. Thus, although some phenomena in some societies may be regarded as culture, they cannot even be considered as true cultural phenomena, let alone if they conflict with reasonable thinking, emotions, and literature for they do not contain logical thought or perfect human emotions.
This is why no aspect of selfishness (racism, greed for money, power, fame or pleasure) can fit into the concept of culture, for as we quoted from the world's most distinguished encyclopedias: “Culture is the proper quality or deserved method of the phenomena in man's life; in other words, culture contains the highest values.”
Thus, those who call greed for fame, money, power, pleasure, selfishness or mutiny culture, have betrayed the highest of human virtues terribly. Calling a person or a society cultureless is the worst insult possible.
2) Without culture as we defined it, human life does not deserve to go on, for a life without culture means a life empty of meaning, thought, logic or perfect human emotions.
3) The more the culture of a society depends on logical principles and high human receptions, the more meritorious and proper it will be.
4) Culture is a two-dimensional reality, consisting of absolute and relative aspects.
Clearly, by “absolute” we do not mean in the philosophical sense, but that it is much more comprehensive than other relative cultural elements. Such a categorization brings us to general and special cultures.
Special cultures, caused by the relative aspect of culture, pertain to certain nations or peoples of specific thoughts or emotions. A few notable examples are the cultures of bullfighting in Spain, or the exaggerated amount of courtesy and bowing in Japan.2 General culture pertains to meritorious qualities appropriate to man's physical or spiritual lifestyle, phenomena and activities not limited to any specific nation or race, e.g. cultures like aesthetics, mutual respect among people, justice, knowledge, and creating heroes.
We may conclude from the above statements that, since culture means the proper qualities fit for the physical or spiritual phenomena and activities in man's life, accepting and reflecting the totally natural compulsory facts or effects of human life such as eating and drinking cannot be regarded as a part of culture; however, their connection to prayers, which is quite common in Islam and some other religious societies, fits into the domain of culture. Defending one's life, preparing a shelter, or accessing scientific or philosophical facts through the senses can also be considered as a part of culture.
It is quite difficult to make a clear distinction between these two types of cultural elements without encountering a conflict, for accusing man of ignoring the gloriously perfect human ideals for providing the necessities of his life, would be denying the most obvious of fact -all reason and conscience.
Defying human glory and man's great ideals, and degrading mankind down to being equivalent to honeybees, means destroying all humanity. Furthermore, isolating cultural concepts from the vital facts of life like knowledge, science and other mental activities that adjust, or life leads to the separation of perfectionist tendencies from normal life, which in turn causes spiritual dilemma between “natural and evolutionarily spiritual” life.
Early in the 21st century, we have seen many pioneer societies on the earth making great effort to implement the most realistic economic, social, legal or moral ideologies in their communities. Not only did they fail to do so, but they have even, as we have already seen in the definitions of culture in such countries as Russia or China, clearly admitted the necessity of a pioneer spiritual culture regardless of any presumptions of an ideology.
Accepting the necessity of culture is not brought about by one or a few conventional factors, but by man's human nature, without which man would totally lose his humanity when “man stepped out of his prehistoric caves and entered the unfeeling wheels of a machine.”
Hence, ever since man came to being, he had culture beside him to provide his life with delicacy and fulfil his highest spiritual ideals. Man's close connection with culture has given profound cultural value to morals and arts (in a general sense), true knowledge, “taboo morals”, customs and even laws. It is quite a simple, unquestionable fact that without spiritual culture3, man would lose his life.
Solzhentisyn4 has thus elaborated on this matter at the International Congress of Philosophy in Liechtenstein: "We can generalize the same moral expectations we consider for man to governments, rulers, parliaments and political parties. If politics does not have a moral basis, there will truly be no future for mankind. Russians have been literally witnessing this since centuries ago. I unfortunately see that my country’s goals have fallen way behind even the West. After seventy years of unbelievable pressure and suffocating dictatorship, there is now abundant freedom among the poor classes, and many people have totally forsaken their conscience; however, we must not let this problem distribute among other countries. As we approach the end of the second millennium, this problem continues to threaten all of mankind.”
He adds: "We do make progress but in what? What kind of advances are the issues here? Progress is limited to technological civilization, more luxury in life and military explorations. We are voraciously swallowing the nature that we take for granted. But among such progress devoid of any moral development our physical needs increase with such extreme rapidity that we are left confused.
We insatiably keep expanding our possessions (in other words, we more and more use up our resources of human identity); however, when it comes to acquiring higher moral virtues and spiritual goals, we prove to be futile tools of greedy exploitations. Transportation and communications now take place at incredible ease; people can travel all around the world with a mere pressing of a television button.
Yet, in the middle of such an ocean of superficial information, the human soul is not only failing to progress, but is actually heading for doom. The more materialistically luxurious man becomes, the more will his spiritual life fade away. Scientific, technological, and economic advances are leading us to slavery. Constantly in seek of new discoveries, we have lost our goals; what indeed, is the end in life? We failed to escape from our endless responsibilities.
Telephones and television demolished the integrity of our time and began to impose the conditions upon us. Communication among humans began to frail. People, particularly the elderly, found themselves living alone. Unable to put technology to use in welfare aims or to unite humans, we have become its plaything.
Progress couldn't keep us away from globalizing responsibilities. Furthermore, we are increasingly unprepared for them. We have lost the rhythm that was always alongside our virtual and physical well-being; good and evil have become illusively obscured. Another outcome of our spiritual degradation is the absence of the relaxed attitude we used to have towards death.
However financially secure one may be, the fear of death starts a cold sweat on any tycoon's skin. Insatiable, scandalous lifestyles have brought about an immense horror of death. As man gradually tries to consider himself the center of the universe, he tends to see the universe as a part of himself, rather than see himself as a part of the universe.
The presumption "Everything leads to death” has begun to dominate us like a threatening weapon. Nuclear threats rule the Twentieth century. Although everything seemed indifferent afterwards, the threat created a uniting concept to impose itself again on Western societies. Towards the end of the century, internal ideological decay caused Communism to self-destruct. The demise of Communism caused the nuclear threat to recede, at an unpredictably rapid rate. The world, however, still does not feel completely secure.
Communism still lives on in some parts of the former Soviet Union, for as brutal capitalism continues to disgustingly ravage its national resources to such an extent that even has the West astonished. Communist slogans on 'equality and justice in poverty’ have appealed to classes unable to withstand the conditions” 5
Progress in several cultural elements, such as science, cultivating talents and potentials, usually responds with a positive answer: Yes, culture has evolved throughout history, of course, evolutional progress in culture is any perfectionist human being's ideal. But does history also confirm such progress?
If development means scientific advances concerning nature and human lifestyles, such culture has definitely made profound progress. The reason is quite obvious: the vital needs of life in nature, and also man's greed and ambition for power, has greatly expanded the necessary phenomena of culture.
We have already noted in our definition of culture that the necessities and worthy aspects of cultures do not always necessarily arise from reality, for man has time and again created artificial demands out of his selfish greed for power and labelled them the necessities of life. For instance, exploitations, weakening people will power and various sexual intrigues have been called art and considered a meritorious culture.
However, the other aspect of culture including man's evolutionary needs for perfection despite an ideal to any clear conscience, has not only failed to progress, but even shrunk due to advances in man's necessities for natural life (i.e., physical culture), to such an extent that it is sometimes considered as a disturbing factor. Let us consider the reasons why physical culture has made so much progress, but evolutionary culture heads for deterioration (of course, we do not intend to deny any exceptional cases):
1. Inability in finding a culture that can moderate selfishness and protect and follow evolutionary virtues.
2. Affections that lead to positive virtues vanish due to the ignorance of cultures receiving reasonable and observable beauty.
3. Neglecting cultures concerning rights, power and how to use power in order to uphold righteousness.
4. Ignoring the culture of benefiting from outstanding figures and genius among the society.
5. Greed for power, fame and wealth has demolished man's culture of scientific conscience, except for a painfully meagre minority in which it has been confined inside their pure souls.
6. What on earth happened to the constructive culture that could elevate human relationships from a hide-and-seek charade to an ocean of pure souls where waves constantly meet? Human spirit is a unified soul, whereas in animals it is but a rigid lump of clay. Their number is as great as the wind, and flow strongly as waves. His light will never suffer division for God supports it.
7. After all these years of endeavor to create civilizations and humanities, and all the toil and sacrifice put into making fundamentals, like a) meritorious life, b) human grace and dignity c) reasonable responsible freedom and d) total equality towards laws - a reality, not only puppet rulers today still unconsciously do obey powerful tyrants totally ignorant of humanity, but philosophical cultures such as Machiavellian’s doctrines on survival and the theories of authoritarians like Hobbes or Nietzsche are even taught at universities without the least criticism. There are dozens of other examples verifying evolutionary meritorious cultures that are being ignored by the majority of today's human society.
Among the worst effects of the decline in meritorious evolutionary cultures on man's life was his deprivation of acquiring higher virtual truth, which led to committing any kind of injustice. As a result, their perception of reality has become extremely limited. Let us consider an example of such intense limitation: People have lost their ability to comprehend mental reasonable beauties. Mechanized life culture prevented man from understanding the beauty lying in the universe and in the essence of life. In other words, man is now only capable of sensing the beauty of a flower (an observable beauty) -that is how painfully degraded mechanized life has made him.
Thus, the beauty of realities such as justice, righteousness, freedom of conscience, human dignity and chastity and the essence of life remain buried in books of sermons. Various greed-driven crimes defying all morals and conscience, especially in political cultures, have caused irreversible damage to evolutionary culture.
The changes occurring in the logics behind human socioeconomic trends -shifting towards increasingly consumerist societies requiring more and more manufacture -has demolished the culture of “earn to live”, which leads us to “live to provide the desires of the greedy” culture: “In today's technological circumstances, the motto has become: More Production, Better Economy!”
Do they really not know -or do they consciously ignore -who is actually responsible for more production? Are they unaware of those trampled under the pressure of manufacture increases? They do not seem to realize at all that however plentiful the mines and resources on earth may be, they will eventually run out.
Racism and regionalism are other “meritorious evolutionary anti-cultures” that are rapidly strengthening along with the “development of today's civilizations”. In fact, unlike many short-living socioeconomic theories and schools of thought, racism and regionalism are rooting stronger day by day, putting all laws, cultures, knowledge, economics and universal human power up to ridicule.
We have already mentioned that since man is directly involved in the formation of culture -it is man who builds up a culture out of his environment, historical phenomena, relative and/or absolute ideals and his concept of ideology, and also it is man who attempts to harmonize permanent laws with temporary events in a period of time in order to create a culture he could live by, and finally because man has too many aspects to harmonize -cultural elements usually suffer from disharmony, and ruling authorities prefer accountable “things” rather than “people”.
The primary reason for such disharmony is the authoritarian and power-greedy tendencies that prefer cultural elements directly or indirectly effective in enhancing domination and power. Thus, there would be no need for any organized system of social culture. In other words, it is possible to have a moral culture based on emotions and still base scientific culture on purely mental anthropology.
Like-wise, having abstract tendencies in ethical artistic cultures, and yet seeing observable tendencies in its historical culture, is also possible. Or maybe a purely supernatural religious culture beside a totally realistic scientific culture, e.g. European Christianity during the last two centuries compared to their scientific realism.
The reason behind the destructive effect of disharmony of cultural elements upon the entire Islamic culture lies in the unity of human life, primarily based on “man's evolutionary virtues.” When basic cultural elements fail, unity vanishes and all of human culture faces certain doom. The most harmful form of disharmony in cultural elements is the isolation of spiritual basics and mental human virtues from physical aspects of culture, which is a result of greed for wealth, power and purely animal-like desires.
Here is an excerpt from a paper by Paul G. Bahanan, anthropology professor at the University of California: “All cultures undergo change, some slowly and some rapidly. Since culture consists of various factors. Changes in one of them would also affect the others. Some sociologists believe that many social problems are due to disharmonious changes in cultural elements.
Cultural retardation occurs when some parts of a culture tend to follow others. Many cultural retardations in the history of the United States have occurred in its non-physical traditions, thoughts and issues. Science and technology advance so rapidly that they have put spiritual issues way behind.6
The main reasons citable for disharmony in the cultural elements of a society are:
1. Selfish rulers: No meritorious reality in the world has survived destructive influences by the selfish. When people believe that “law” is a spider web aimed to entrap the meek, culture will indeed be regarded as devoid of any worthy qualities of life or compulsory guidelines.
2. Hedonism: which arises with “the natural self” and strengthens with nihilism, and defies all laws and principles.
3. Authoritarianism: in any form or caused by anyone it may be, demolishes all cultural merits, and so cleverly decorates their remains that it seems to claim, “I have granted you the most desirable culture you could imagine!" Poor simpletons who never cease to be deceived time and again by jargon like cultural or civilizational transfer. The road is smooth, but riddled with hidden traps; an abyss of meanings in an ocean of names. Words and names are like traps, as pebbles beneath water (our life) passing us by.
“Pursuant culture refers to physical or non-physical qualities and ways of life based on no pre-established principle, but seeking approval only through people's desires.”
In other words, such cultures arise from any need, behavior or desire people have, regardless of their compliance with man's non-physical realities. Thus, any of people's desires opposing religion, morals, dignity or logic can be considered as culture! Such fraudulence in the name of culture7 has greatly spread during our times, and will undoubtedly lead to the annihilation of humanity.
Although pursuant culture obviously means obeying human desires, we must keep in mind that it also provides selfish authoritarians with the chance they need.
In fact, this kind of culture both satisfies people's purely natural desires, and those of their rulers, who find the opportunity to not only fulfil their people's wishes, but also disguise any factors opposing religion, morals or human dignity in the name of culture.
Pursuant laws could prove to be much more suitable for people's needs rather than pursuant culture, for “laws” pertain directly to the context of people's lifelines, which thus can be constantly modified and adjusted according to people's actual needs; culture, on the other hand, being based on non-physical beauties and delicacies, cannot be manipulated -by people's physical needs. However, any lowly, morality-defying activity or quality is nowadays publicized in the name of culture.
Considering this theory proposed by several sociologists, we may come to the conclusion that a constructive, pioneer culture as the leader of human civilization should be a doctor, not a waiter: "Doctors are highly different from waiters, Waiters in a restaurant provide you with whatever you desire, whereas a doctor follows his own academic principles; he prescribes what he believes necessary, regardless of what you think, A pioneer politician should be like a doctor, not a waiter.”
Let us present a few examples to elaborate on this critical point:
a. Is it possible for an ordinary person to interfere in the most advanced of academic issues merely by having freedom and pursuant culture?
b. Can the medical practice allow an uneducated person to examine and cure sick people only on premises of freedom and pursuant culture?
c. Can we possibly let anyone enter an operation room and, relying simply on freedom and culture, begin to cut up people's bodies?
d. Is it possible to conceive someone stepping into a gun factory and start to comment on everything, and meddle with any tool he wishes, on the basis that, “I am making use of freedom and pursuant culture, of course? The times when people were deprived of freedom and their desired culture are over. Decadence is forbidden all over the world!”
e. Will there ever be a day when anyone would comment on any scientific or technological matter he wished, and if told, “you are not educated in such issues, so you should not meddle or interfere”, he would retort, “Yes, I am entitled to use my own culture and freedom, for the age of decadent deceptions and forcing people to imprison their thoughts are over!”
f. Culture and freedom are indeed amazing. Consider someone whimsically wearing a decorated military uniform. If he faces protest, can he claim, “Down with the anti-Liberty! Down with the anti-culture!”
Obviously, all of the above-mentioned, who carry the book entitled Freedom8 should be taken to mental asylums.
Now we can move on to the main point: whenever man has considered an issue essential to his survival, he has applied pioneer principles -sciences concerning human relationships, managing laborers to one's own advantage, social leadership, political activities and employing cultures for specific purposes, medicine, surgery, lethal arms and armor and military propaganda -quite successfully, though man's intrinsic progress calls for the truths about his perfectionist growth.
Hence, all the cries for freedom, free pursuant culture and free art! And humanity was degraded back to even before prehistoric ages. The reason why is that cavemen had not confined their potential for progress to their own selfish desires, and had -consciously or unconsciously - begun to activate their talents.
Here are a few examples of the culture of facts demolished in many societies -not because they failed to resist and satisfy man's evolution, but due to selfish rulers making illusive brainwashing using terms like freedom, free culture, free arts and other deceiving magic tricks:
1. Culture as authentic sympathy for our fellow human beings, not a business tool;
2. Authentically moral consciences guiding our souls towards the highest goals of life, like a precise compass;
3. Culture, the highest aim in life;
4. Culture depicting honesty and keeping promise only for its moral desirability, not for making a profit;
5. Culture in the form of responsible freedom and just deeds and thoughts;
6. Culture as the sacred identity for knowledge;
7. Culture in the form of cooperation in making use of various forces, which are blessings;
8. Culture as the generalization of constructive, pioneer arts;
9. Culture as referring to the media, documented propaganda, avoiding lies and misinterpreting the truth;
10. Culture as the highest of cultures, providing all people with their deserving earnings.
Out statement, “Whenever man has followed pioneer systems, he has successfully achieved progress” does not imply that man can evolve progressively by abstracting and adjusting a group of key issues called laws; we mean to state that throughout history, whenever man has made and obeyed laws based on well-prepared information -without the influence of public desires -he has made successful evolution. Thus, in issues concerning science, technology and any matters benefiting man's physical needs or selfish desires, we see man successfully using pioneer culture, whereas in evolving the essence of man -which involves religion and morals -he has totally ignored pioneer culture, and followed cultural phenomena in the name of “following free culture.”
1. Sedimentary culture: In this form of culture, fixed laws based on ethic, mental, geographical and historical factors form totally unchangeable lifestyles and guidelines which can destroy or adapt other changes to their own advantage. If non-human and non-natural factors cause a sedimentary culture, compulsory environmental factors or the people's psychological incapability to adjust to positive changes may lead to useless insisting on ‘self’-orientated activities.
2. “Colorless liquid” culture: refers to deceptions and explanations based on no fundamental, psychological roots, which are hence constantly variable. Societies possessing a history, of course, seldom seem “colorlessly liquid”, for as we have already seen, culturalism originates from a basically active psychological source.
Any society throughout history tends naturally to pass its concepts and guidelines in life on to its next generations, and while this phenomenon -or better said, psychological factor -remains, the culture will also keep its stability in a number of activities and effects. Thus, we now come to two points:
a. As we have already mentioned in our discussion on Cultural Disharmony and Its Reasons,9 there is no logical need for the cultural elements of a society to be harmoniously related; therefore, some elements may be “liquid,” rootless and highly change-prone, while others are stable and well-established. In some Arab societies, for instance, stable moral cultures accompany fervid changes in political cultures.
b. Despite being a relatively stable phenomenon, and however constructive a culture may usually be, when based on Machiavellian rules of social life management, they will fade away. We also know that despite all of the immense advances man has made, he is becoming increasingly powerless in distinguishing “means and ends”, particularly in societies incapable of managing human power; in such societies, power dominates people, and their essential culture destroys any principle or culture aiding them to achieve their goals.
3. Self-orientated culture (pursuant self-orientated): In this kind of culture, activities and effects that interpret cultural facts are essentially the desired ones, and completely quench cultural ideals. Such “self –orientation” specifically pertains to 19th and 20th century scientific, technological and economic cultures.
“The self-orientated” inhibits the main identity of culture, which is creativity and developing the ideals of the “human self” in various aspects of life. The other effect of “self-orientated” culture -which is by no means less dangerous than the first - is changing man from the creator of science and technology to a helpless part of them.
We should keep in mind that when one or several aspects of human life -for example, the art of make-up -turns “self-orientated”, it would become unable to satisfy other culture-seeking aspects -e.g., the desire for truth. Therefore, duality in character arises; the ego partly mixed with the effect (in this case make-up techniques) dissolves in it, for it has turned “self-orientated”, and the other, seeing the rest of the human culture-seeking aspects fade away, gradually disappears, and the whole character is engulfed by the original effect.
Fortunately, observations show that not many people are obsessed by “self-orientated” influences, so there are always people conscious enough to condemn other's infatuation by some qualities in life or the weakening of other human culture-seeking aspects. Alexis Carrel in 20th century France, Thomas Eliot in England and William James in America - and also many other scholars from all over the world have openly denounced such Internal captivities.
4. Dynamic, objective and pioneer culture: The following verses depict the pure source this kind of culture originates from:
“Centuries passed; and a new one began; the moon is the same, but the water flowing by is not. Justice and greatness have not changed, only the centuries and the rulers have. Many centuries have one by, O valued one! Yet, these concepts have remained firm and strong. Though the water in the stream has changed repeatedly, “the moon and the stars seen in it are still the same” (Mowlavi)
Thus, the moon and the stars are based not in flowing waters, but in the highest of heavens.10
This kind of culture is not affected by activities susceptible to the variables and unstable aspects of life, for it is caused by permanent natural facts and originally human aspects, and aims for the relative ideals guiding man towards the highest goal in life. In fact, this is definitely the human culture that is essential to any human civilization throughout history. This is the culture that can free itself from greedy, selfish rulers and continue serving the society.
Its other quality is its ability to neutralize morals and traditions based on imperfect thoughts, efforts to fill the realistic gaps of life, and in general, all unstably regional factors devoid of authentic ideals.
By further studying creative, objective and pioneer cultures, we understand why many other human cultures have diminished. The main reason is the sedimentary activities caused by the deterioration of their creators, or “self-orientated” cultures in which man imprisons himself instead of analyzing and explaining his activities. Therefore, even if the cultural results they cause are able to survive, they will gradually turn taboo, and disappear from the horizon of the society.
We must first bring back to mind the culture-seeking factor cited in the four definitions before addressing the roots of objective culture. The general history of mankind, scientific evidence and philosophical experiences all prove that man cannot remain satisfied with his compulsory natural and biological qualities (as bees or ants do), and when his basic physical needs have been provided, he will strive to know the “hows and whys” of nature, turning his whole environment upside down to find his answers; and since his sensory, logical and mental viewpoints are unlimited, after achieving each goal he asks himself, “Now what?”
Taking such adventurous, insatiable behavior towards various situations into close consideration brings us to a basic reason (or reasons), without which we would never be able to comprehend the motives behind objective -or even other -cultures. It would be impossible to find out the factors causing the rise, climax, demise, fall, or even transfer of cultures between societies without taking the roots of culture-seeking into consideration. Likewise, we would not be able to achieve a pioneer, objective culture.
Human culture-seeking appears to be based on primary and secondary factors:
The First Root is the active psychological factor arousing man to build and arrange his natural, physical surroundings and adjust the unchangeable phenomena around him in a way appropriate to his creative self.
The Second Root refers to internal and external factors belonging to specific countries or peoples which determines the former root, and explains their modes of life.
Considering the first and primary root of culture-seeking, we may conclude that cultural diversity is as numerous as those of human aspects aiding man to adjust and change the world according to his ideals. However, we have already seen that man is not capable of building a perfect culture that would satisfy all of his various aspects; he cannot accumulate and organize all different cultural components. Unfortunately, every civilization throughout history has had to suffer such failures.
The reason for the above-mentioned inability is not due to negligence or uncontrollable inhibitions blocking the culture-makers way, but lack of attention to the active psychological factor aiming to both build a suitable home out of natural, unchangeable processes, and cause positive changes. On the other hand, we should remember that confining a society to, for instance, its ancient monuments does not suit today's dynamic trends. Also, how can a bundle of taboo behaviors established ages ago, with or without good reason, be able to satisfy today's highly developed man? Indeed, such arts, morals, beliefs and lifestyles can play an active role in today's culture in two ways:
First: Their general social and/or psychological impact, if they have caused any.
Second: Historical application and understanding how lifestyles of the past were colored by those cultural affects, and also how the society found its definite path, the perfect “home” its people had made.
In order to have an authentically original culture; we must relate all of our ideal activities and/or outcomes to the active psychological factor, which although stably creative can provide them all. It would prove totally infertile, however, without being saturated with the crystal-clear viewpoint arising from man's internal, perfect culture for life.
We had better now elaborate briefly on the clear aspect of culture.
The observable aspect of culture refers to those ideas, ideals and accounts of life materialized by visible effects in our world, e.g. works of art, moral ethics or technology supplying our requirements.
The clear aspect of culture depicts the ideals, emotions, morals and goals chosen for man's life, which consciously or unconsciously account for his individual or social lifestyle. They are “clear”, which means they have no visibly observable aspect. For instance, when a French historian writes about Napoleon Bonaparte from a clearly racist point of view, he would definitely call him the greatest hero of all time, as an Iranian racist historian would do so with Xerxes in a clearly racist approach.
Assessing the History of Gibbon on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, Whitehead also believes that: “Gibbon has produced a successful account of history, albeit from a totally 19th century point of view.”
Ever since the eighteenth century, the scientific aspect of culture has in two ways brought about the current situation in the West through intensive brainwashing:
First: an incredible, human reality the eagerness for discovering facts that has been a human ideal ever since the earliest times: science. As it provides men contact with facts, science is considered a critical virtue of life, thus engulfing all mental endeavors around the world.
Second: science gave birth to technology, which caused great luxury in people's lives. Societies where technology was developing became so fascinated with its economical and prestigious advantages that, not only did they totally forget humanity and a deserved human life, they even made science a slave of its own creation, technology “scientific bankruptcy” 11 arose, and logical human virtues were totally ignored. A clear aspect of “We are the highest race” and “We are Pioneers of Human Development” was engraved in their minds! It is now still spreading at full strength. The unbelievable result is, the motto “I have technology, so I am the greatest on earth; I own everything all over the world, which I may use at will!”
This, indeed, is the culture that is gradually destroying original, worthy cultures of different people, and has clearly turned into an anti-culture.
The great cultural aspects that have been sacrificed by the clear “We are the greatest” aspect is: the highest of human emotions, a broad scope of life, the high aim of life, sympathy, and balancing powers and privileges to man's benefit. It has revived the fight for survival, which thousands of prophets, wise men, philosophers and any other human-loving person all around the world tried so hard to uproot!12
The clear, unobservable aspects of culture which account for its observable ones differ widely in nature, range and activity:
1. The nature of some clear aspects of culture which can also explain its visible aspects arise from natural human qualities, like selfishness, greed for power, etc. each of which vary greatly in form and approach. Since they are human-originated their range is much stronger and greater, or as Thomas Hobbes claims, “Man can attack man like a wolf.” We must keep in mind, however, that all conscious individuals or communities aware of humanitarian sacrifices made in benefit of human justice and emotion throughout history, not only do not admit being affected by and accepting selfish and power-greedy aspects, they even pretend to be against them.”
2. Racism and inadvertent patriotism, (in any way, not illogical patriotism) is another clear aspect of culture that is consciously or unconsciously influencing other aspects.
3. General ideals all well-balanced humans have agreed on throughout history, such as science, arts, civilization, health care, etc. These clear aspects, if activated without being contaminated by selfishness or ambitiousness, can be in their true nature extremely useful. But unfortunately, as we have already mentioned, they have caused sidekicks which have totally demolished their creators' good name.
Saving ourselves from such clear aspects which first entice us with their attractive appearances, and then turn into oceans of selfishness and greed to drown us is only possible through determining the greatest of goals in life and adhering to them.
Although the simplest and most straightforward way to improve the clear aspects of culture is also in the most exclusive and essential one proposed by wise intellectuals. It is, however, the longest and most complicated, too.
The most direct, simplest, and still the longest and most complex way is for man to return to himself; today's man has fallen greatly astray from his own self.
Clear aspects, of culture interpreting and explaining all cultural effects and activities are like glasses with colored lenses, changing man's viewpoint of his life. These aspects of life can undoubtedly give no pure reflection of man's observable world, for reflected observable phenomena cannot be more effective than their real image; purely imagining beauty is never as influential as seeing real, visible beauty. The imagination is only intrigued when the viewer wants to possess the beauty, or paint a picture of a beautiful phenomenon.
Likewise, a mental image of freedom cannot be as intriguing as real freedom; it can only be effective when it proves its desirability to the imaginer.
Therefore, we must distinguish clear aspects of culture from pure imagination; in order to do so, we have to consider the fact that clear aspects have the activating effect reflections and imaginations are devoid of. Besides, reflections and imaginations identically reflect what exists in the visible world like a mirror but they ignore their relationships with each other or basic goals fundamental factors; the clear aspect, however, accounts for all observable facts along with their connections with logical ends.
Hence, all dimensions of life pleasure, pain, knowledge, need, logic, imagination, morality, religious and ideological tendencies, artistic creativity, etc. are explained by the clear aspects of culture. If they are confined to facts formed by compulsory, thoughtless activities, they would in fact only be reflections acting on naturally-originated factors.
We may conclude that, in order to provide satisfactory answers to the “hows and whys” of life, the clear aspects of life should provide man's highest ideals in life. Thus, we can state that any culture unable to determine the highest aim of life, will also definitely fail to provide its ideals.
Without activating the constructive aspects of life, the highest aim of life would not be capable of being creative or dynamic. Any individual or society requires evolutionary goal-setting, whatever its cultural effects may be in order to achieve an objective freedom which can ensure the survival of an original culture.
In such cases, any cultural effect or activity would prove devoid of any saturation by idealism or providing a basis, like a heap of compulsory activities. Aimless works of art, despite being highly attractive and exquisite, can only motivate us momentarily, but they do not guide us after we are aroused. If we accept the necessity of objectivity in original cultures, the rigid traditionalism in some cultures would definitely turn into original, constructive ones.
Cultures move towards their goals just like souls do. In fact, the culture of a society depicts its soul, and all of its cultural activities and affects represent the attitude of its spirit.
Thus, the only way to create an original, objective culture is to enhance the emotions and thoughts of the members of the society, and make them so harmonious that each human being would freely be able to create his/her own desired culture.
As we have already mentioned, without elevated goals, it is impossible to achieve true freedom of character, otherwise the society would fall into “free” slovenly cultureless ness, which would shatter away when compared with other cultures. Now that we have realized the need for explaining and interpreting the highest reasons and goals of life, we should find an ideology capable of such interpretations vital for creating an original, objective culture.
Ever since earliest times, many ideologies have proposed various ideas on the highest aim of life; however, by studying them, we come to a universally agreed conclusion: “Any target is located higher than the one that is aiming at it.” Thus, the aim of life must be much higher than the mortal phenomena and activities of everyday life in order to provide a satisfactory explanation for the whole fundamentals of life.
Tendencies to move towards higher goals will certainly prove incompatible with the rise or fall of some cultural effects and/or activities; furthermore, the cause-and-effect rule puts culture -the “effect”- into the right evolutionary course. Of course, there is great debate over what the great aim should be, and we do not tend to go into its complicated details.
With the exception of hedonists and nihilists, all schools of thought as we have already mentioned agree that “the target is always higher than one aiming at it.” Thus, no school of thought can present phenomenon or activities as the highest goal to make an original culture or as Mowlana Jalaluddin calls them, the “shadows of life”: “The pleasure of eating honey and milk arises from the soul, all pleasures arise from the identity of human soul.”
Thus, the heart is the true essence, and the world but an effect, how can the shadow of one's soul become its cause?
The most valuable and greatest quality of objective culture seeking an objective life is its logical organization of cultural elements, the highest human ideal. Objectiveness leads to cultural organization, as having an aim for one's soul causes mental order and discipline.
It should not be so surprising to us that cultural elements suffer from so great disorder in most human societies today, for philosophers and intellectuals have also for some time claimed to be unable to determine the true aim of life. After all, when the human spirit is mutilated by economists, lawyers, psychologists, expert sociologists and greedy technologists, how can we expect a culture with logically organized elements?! All in all, we are left with no choice but to first solve the puzzle of the aim of life, and then move on to organizing the fundamentals and rules of a culture. Culture-maker today are apparently obliged to consider the highest aim of life; otherwise, the way today's mechanical lifestyles and uncalculated civilizations are going on, they will undoubtedly face nihilism.
No aim can suitably explain a certain period of human life, his lifetime, including all regional and social, factors depending on historical knowledge and human capabilities without addressing these four questions: Who am I? Who am I with? Where am I going to? Why am I here? By such questions, man undoubtedly intents to find out how he depends on his world. No matter how his ideology may be, it is enough for man to have a world to be born in, get familiar with, develop a passion for, and finally die.
Without love to explain our relationships with the world we live in, there would never be any of the vast, fascinating cultures that have formed throughout history, nor any of the arts originating from man's far-reaching ambitions. Perfectionist, ambitious man, always reaching for higher positions however highly accomplished his activities may be can only be saturated by divine attractions to which the only way of entrance is the human soul unless, however, a cultural activity or effect is exaggerated and disguised so greatly that it would satisfy man's insatiable spirit. Such cultures would prove alive, colorless, sedimentary and self-orientated.
Considering our above discussions, we come to the conclusion that it is impossible to achieve a dynamic culture without religious and ideological factors caused by objective life.
By “ideological factors” we do not mean a heap of illogical, unverifiable beliefs, but man's spiritual awareness moving on the path of evolution towards divine attraction. As Iqbal Lahouri says: What is religion? Rising from the earth, to achieve self-awareness of the soul Along such a path, the world has been resembled to man's precious body, full of both cultural results and activities to “decorate” the home. In fact, the precious “home” is the world inside the “self”, which will stay with us forever; it is not a place to stay for some time and then leave.
The culture established by Islam 13
The culture established by Islam is an aimed life that strongly activates human aspects of aesthetes, desire for knowledge, logic, and idealism, and organizes all cultural elements. It does not isolate scientific culture from high human morals, does not separate artistic culture from the culture of economic guidance, and finally, considers the unity of culture as dependent upon unity in human souls, thus preventing its destruction. The elements of Islamic culture referred to as “culture of the mind”, “qualities”, “science”, “morals” (literally) and “the best form of all affairs” in major references all belong to a high concept: wisdom and philosophy.
This wisdom includes any kind of activity able to enhance objective lifestyles for each individual or society. The first founder and promoter of this culture is God, who granted man the means to write, talent, power to express himself, taste, and the constant desire for seeking perfection and stable basics in the ever-flowing stream of events.
As a result of this culture: “Three centuries after the Holy Prophet (s) died the city of Qartaba with a population of one million, had eighty academic schools and a library including 600,000 books: Arabic had become the main language of science. During this era, knowledge resumed spreading around the world. Zachariah Razi (251-313 AH) did a thorough study on smallpox, and his colleague Abul-Qassem Khalaf bin-Abbas Zahravi (d 404 AH) did the same for brain and spinal bone diseases. Avicenna (370-428 AH), named "the prince of science”, had upgraded medicine in the Islamic society to such an extent that when one of the kings of Castill caught smallpox, he asked his enemies in Qartaba for help.
Mohammad ibn-Jaber-ibn Senan Battani (d 317 AH} has brought much honor to his country through his famous works. A noble aristocrat, Battani had great respect for Ptolemy, although he himself exceeded Ptolemy in accurately studying the equinox calendar, and was the first to use the sinus instead of the hypotenuse, which led to today’s trigonometry.14
Literary culture as a whole the voice of any cultural ideal became such a mighty creative factor in Islamic societies that by presenting Jalaluddin Mowlavi and his like, it influenced all other constructive cultures around the world, and any literary school of thought today recognizes Mowlavi as one of its constituents.
However, other ordinary cultures do not enjoy such systematic establishment.
Let us take the statement “Literary and artistic modernity inhibits scientific advances”15 into more careful consideration. By comparing it with the article “Scientific Bankruptcy Announced”16, what may we conclude...?!
On the other hand, had the need for organizing and saturating all of man's psychic aspects been taken into consideration while constructing and continuing cultural changes, certainly no advance in one cultural affect would inhibit the others; in other words, literary and artistic modernism would not prevent science from developing and inappropriate expectations of observation, experience, or ignorance towards ideological culture and scientific bankruptcy would never happen.
As we have already stated: “The culture established by Islam is an aimed life that strongly activates human aspects of aestheticism, desire for knowledge, logic and idealism, and organizes all cultural elements” Artistic constructions in Spain , India , Iran and Syria - about the highly exquisite qualities of which all scholars on art agree depict how strongly Islam enhances aesthetic aspects.
The Koran has pointed out God-made beauty on seven occasions, for instance:
"We have adorned the lower heaven with the adornment of the stars.” (37:6)
"We have set in heaven constellations, adorned them out to beholders.” (15:16)
"Say: Who has forbidden the ornament of God which he brought forth for His servants, and the good things of his providing?” (7:32)
In the above verses, “ornament” and “adorning” refer to beauty, both in its general and special meanings. The first two verses show its special meaning, and the third refers generally to any attractive, useful phenomenon.
The plentiful Koranic verses encouraging thought had such a profound mental effect on Muslims that very soon Islam became the focal point of science and knowledge. During the dark Medieval era, when all countries were deprived of any knowledge, Muslims successfully kept the flame of science burning. Other cultural elements, such as moral ethics and idealism, also highly flourished. All of these organized advances were due to their being based on the original principle of the objectiveness of life. If the basis is destroyed, all effects arising in the name of culture will also be of compulsory origin, showing fake liveliness like a water-sprinkled flower cut from its stem.
Before we answer this question, we must determine what is meant by “various” cultures. Let us consider some different kinds of culture: First: cultures able to coexist in harmony due to their original commonalities, e.g. the cultures of holy religions (Islam, the Jews, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and any other religion able to verify its holy origin).
The best reason for the potential for harmony among the above-mentioned cultures is the vast amount of various vital qualities that have made all divine religions ever since Abraham (a), uniting people from many religious bases.
We clearly see how Islam, by providing freedom of belief and culture for the religiously intellectual, made harmony possible between them and Muslims, and all were able to endeavor in fields of science, ideology, industry, and culture throughout various eras of history; it seems the Islamic civilization has belonged to them all.
Can history ever deny the intimate, sincere co-operations various religions have made in medicine, in hospitals and research centers around the world since many years ago?17 The real commonalities between various religions causing their harmony are original realities such as:
1. The source of the universe (God);
2. God's wisdom and will in order to emancipate and perfect man (by giving them logical thought, conscience, and great prophets);
3. The realness of eternity;
4. The fact that God Almighty is truly the greatest and wisest;
5. All divine religions agree on the fact that man deserves a meritorious life, and is definitely entitled to dignity, graciousness, chastity, responsible freedom, education in all spiritual and/or physical matters.
Of course, all religions agree on the basic rights in Abraham's religion; therefore, they should also be in agreement on any cultural element based on these rights Second: cultures harmoniously common in fundamental ideologies and basics of natural life, and also cultures having the same ideas about the optimum, logical life though their common points may not be religious. Examples are celebrations after victory over a common enemy threatening all people's lives; also, commonalities in creating arts that depict man-made advances towards a better life in this world Third: cultures that conflict in their ideas and concepts of the universe, particularly in their interpretation of life and its primary end. Even if such cultures do not neutralize each other, obviously their differences would in time make them all ‘colorless’ cultures in coexistence; however, since their ‘colorlessness’ is due to disturbing conflicts, they would never be capable of harmony.
There are numerous examples of these cultures, like the contrast between Iran's national culture and its religious culture - Islam of course, their ‘contrast’ does not imply that they cannot harmoniously coexist; contrarily, as we see, the elements of national culture based on the real issues of physical and spiritual life that can play a useful role to mentally prepare people to accept factors leading to prosperity, are also accepted in the religious culture, like artistic poetry which is a highly popular art in Iran.
Provided being applied in accordance with facts serving man's prosperity, this cultural element is not only undoubtedly accepted by Islam, but even strongly encouraged by some religious references to be used to develop descriptions of realities about the world and man as they should be.
The criterion for cultural harmony lies in those affairs useful for man's physical and spiritual life. Such high cooperation and harmony between national and religious cultures caused Iranians to begin the greatest of scientific, philosophical, artistic, industrial, legal and moral services in the framework of Islamic culture, thus raising Iran to its pinnacle of flourish. Let us now briefly address national, religious and western cultures and their compatibility with Iranian culture.
Those who claim Iran is capable of having three different cultures, should first consider the fact that, when added to a land, ‘nation’ is not just a word anymore; Iran's history goes way back in time, and our country has seen various cultures in different eras. These scholars should be asked, therefore, which one of Iran 's culture they mean.
Iranian culture has gone through various periods; the Arian invasion; the Medes era; the Achmanid era; the Arsacides; the Parthians; the Keyan dynasty; the Sasanids; and many other eras after the rise of Islam. Are the commonalities among all of these eras meant here? 18
- 1. That makes it 164 + 1 definitions of culture altogether.
- 2. Such inordinate cultures, like other special cultural elements and phenomena, are heading for demise, except for principle-based cultural aspects.
- 3. Spiritual culture includes a) high moral virtues, b) art, as an indication of man's deepest emotions concerning “what should be done” c) freedom in the sense of having the power of choice, which arises in actively powerful qualities during evolution, and d) religion, addressing questions such as: “Who am I? Where have I come from? Why am I here? Where will I end up?”
- 4. Russian writer, who greatly criticized the Soviet Union from a mystical religious point of view.
- 5. The Kayhan. Wednesday Mehr 14, 1372. (1994)
- 6. The World Book Encyclopedia.
- 7. At times, these selfish impostors even have their intellectual-looking directors add the term “free” to culture in order to optimize its deceiving affects: ‘free culture!’
- 8. A book by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, concerning freedom of speech, thought, deed and writing -though without adequate logical care. Although it includes interesting points, sensible freedom and addressing immoral behaviors which allow people to do whatever they desire in the name of freedom have been ignored.
- 9. See p. 112. (p. 43 of the document)
- 10. Mowlavi is implying by “the highest of heavens” in fact the fundamentals of the creation of the universe which is linked to the human soul: Indeed it was you who bonded the circle of the universe.
- 11. Jean-Pierre Rosseau, The History of Science.
- 12. You may have heard Ernest Renan's idea, “The West is the employer race, and the East the employee. That is why nature produces a larger amount of labor force!” See how this so-called “intellectual” ruthlessly insults nature. Mr. Renan apparently knows nothing about Eastern civilizations, the true creators of science and technology. He adds, “The Western mind is industrial, official and civilizational, whereas that of the Eastern is emotional mediocre, and 1acking for today's high thoughts!” It is quite surprising how such a “scholar” can be so ignorant of Eastern civilization history, and that the human brain has not changed in any race for at least 40,000 years. Most astonishing of all, he didn't even try to reason inductively that most inventions have also been achieved by accident, not accurate calculations.
- 13. See Appendix
- 14. Jean-Pierre Rosseau, The History of Science.
- 15. Ibid.
- 16. Ibid.
- 17. Especially during late 2nd to late 5th centuries Hijra.
- 18. For further study on the differences among various cultural eras in the history of Iran, see Hassan Pirnia, The Ancient History of Iran. Vol 1; and also, Will Durant, The History of Civilization, Vol. 1 (The East, the Cradle of Civilization)