The Difference between a Natural Experiment and a Social Experience
This is accurate to a certain degree: the social experience allows man to provide the answer to this question: "What is the fittest (social) system?" just as natural experiments enabled him to answer several other questions which encompassed his life ever since it had begun ... !
But we have to differentiate - if we want to study this issue deeper - between the social experi- ences that formulate man's perception of the fittest system and the natural experiments from which man acquires his knowledge of nature's secrets and laws and the methods to benefit from these, to find out, for example, the best medicine, the fastest means of travelling, the best method for weaving, the easiest method for oil-drilling, or even the best way to divide the atom ... !
For the social experiences - social man's trials of different social systems - do not really reach, in their intellectual output, the same degree like that of natural experiments, i.e., man's experiments of the natural phenomena, for these indeed differ from the first in many points. Such a difference leads to man's variable capacity in benefitting from both natural and social experiments. So; while man is capable of comprehending the secrets of natural phenomena, ascending to the peak of perfection as ti me passes by, due to his natural and scientific experiments, well, he really cannot help taking a slow pace in his attempt to comprehend the fittest social system, without ever being able to achieve absolute perfection in his social thinking, no matter how much diversified and numerous his social experi- ences may be ...
It is mandatory on us, in order to know all this, to study these significant differences between the nature of a social experience and a natural one, so that we may be able to reach the fact we have already decided, that is, the natural experiment may be able to grant mankind, across ages, a complete i mage of nature to be used to utilize the natural phenomena and laws. As for the social experience, this cannot guarantee mankind the discovery of such a complete ideology concerning the social issue.
The most significant of these differences may be summarized thus:
FIRST: The natural experiment can be initiated and practised by one individual, comprehending it through noticing and observing, directly studying all what may be disclosed of its facts and short- comings, and coming to a specific idea hinging on that experiment.
As for the social experience, it is but the em- bodiment of an already practised and implemented system. The experience of the feudal or capitalist system, for example, means the society's implemen- tation of this system during a period of its history; hence, such an experience cannot be done or ab- sorbed by just one person. Rather, the entire com- munity implements the social experience, consuming a life-span of the community's age far wider than does this individual or that. When one wants to bene- fit from a certain social experience, he cannot be contemporary to all of its events, just like being a contemporary to an actual natural experiment while- i mplementing it; rather, he can be contemporary to one side of its events, necessarily depending on his assumption, derivation and (knowledge of) history while scrutinizing all the aspects and consequences of the experience.
SECOND: The thinking crystalized by a natural experiment is much more subjective and accurate than that derived by man from a social experience.
This is a most essentially significant point which forbids the social experience from reaching upto the level of a natural and scientific point; therefore, it has to be thoroughly clarified.
In the natural experiment, the interest of the person performing it is tied to his discovery of the truth, the complete frank truth, without covering anything up, and he most often does not have the least interest in falsifying the truth or discomposing its features which will eventually be found out through experiment. If he, for example, wants to examine the effects of a certain chemical on tuber- culosis germs, while putting it in those germs' en- vironment, he will not be then concerned except about knowing its degree of effect, albeit if it is high or low, and he will not benefit in treating tuberculosis from falsifying the truth, over-estimating or under-estimating such an effect. Accordingly, the trend of the mind of the person experimenting the method will naturally be directed towards subjec- tivity and accuracy.
As for the social experience, the interest of the person performing an experiment does not always stop at his finding the truth out, discovering the fittest social system for all mankind; but it may be his own personal benefit to even conceal the truth from the eyes of the beholders! The person whose interest hinges on the capitalist system and on monopoly or on the banking interest system, for example, will find out that his benefit lies in the truth which assures that the system of capitalism, monopoly and bank interest is the fittest system, so that the profits such system brings him will con- tinue ... ! He, therefore, is not being naturally sub- jective, as long as his personal impulse urges him to discover the truth in the colour which agrees with his own personal interests.
So is the case with the other person whose per- sonal benefit conflicts with interest or monopoly; nothing concerns him more than truth convicting the interest and monopoly systems. When such person seeks the answer to the social question of "What is the fittest (social) system?", out of his own social research, he always is pushed by an internal power favouring a specific viewpoint. In other words, by no means is he a neutral person per se.
And so do we come to know that man's think- ing of the social problem cannot usually guarantee subjectivity and selflessness to the degree that ensures the accuracy of man's thinking while treating a natural experiment or dealing with a cosmic question.
THIRD: Suppose that a person has been able to free himself intellectually from his self impulses, reasoning with subjectivity, finding out the fact that this system or that is the fittest one for all humanity, well, who can guarantee this person's concern about all humanity's interest if such interest does not agree with his own?! Who is going to guar- antee this person's effort to put the fittest social system for humanity to practise if it does conflict with this person's own interest?!
Is it sufficient reason, for example, for the capitalists who believe that Socialism is the more fitting social system (than Capitalism) to go ahead and implement it even though it does conflict with their own interests? Is it sufficient that the belief of contemporary man (the man of western civilization)
- in the light of the experiences he has lived - in- decency and permissiveness ..., is his belief in what all these relationships include of moral dangers, decay and disintergration, on man's tomorrow and future, causes him to rush to develop such relationships in the method which guarantees humanity's future, protecting it from sexual and instinctive disinter- gration, as long as he does not feel any contemporary danger to the present that he lives, and as long as such relationships do, indeed, provide him with a plentitude of pleasure and fun?!!!
We, then, in the light of all this, do feel in need not only for finding out the fittest system for all humanity, but also in need for an impulse that makes us concerned about the interest of mankind as a whole, trying to bring such system to reality, even when it conflicts with that portion (of society) we represent out of the whole.
FOURTH: The system that social man estab- lishes, believing in its practicality and effiency, can- not be qualified to bring this man up, i.e., uplifting him in the human sphere to wider horizons, because the sytstem which social man makes always reflects its maker's present circumstance, his spiritual and psychological degree. So; if the society enjoys a low degree of strength and solidarity of self-will, it indeed has never been capable of growing this will up - by establishing a firm social system which nurtures self- will and increases its solidarity.
For so long as it does not possess a solid will, it then is incapable of discovering such system and implementing it; rather, it establishes the system that reflects its disintegration and melting self-will. Otherwise, can we expect a society which does not possess its self-will to oppose the temptation of wine, for example, without enjoy- ing a will up-lifting it above such a cheap desire like this?! Can we expect such society to execute a firm system that bans similar cheap desires, nurturing man's self-will, restoring to him his freedom, eman- cipating him from the slavery of desire and temp- tation?! Of course not! We do not expect firmness from a disintegrating society, even when such society realizes the danger of such disintegration and of its consequences. Nor do we expect the society which is enslaved by the desire of wine to free itself from such desire by its own free will, no matter how conscious of wine's effects such society may be. For consciousness is deepened and focussed by the so- ciety if it continues disintegrating itself and satisfying its desires; and the more it continues doing so, the more it becomes incapable of treating the situation and uplifting its humanity to higher degrees.
This is the reason that caused man-made civili- zations to be incapable of establishing a system which makes man oppose his slavery to his own desires, up lifting him to a higher human level. Even the United States, which best expresses the greatest of man- made civilizations, has failed to enforce the law that forbids drinking, for it is self-contradictory to expect a society, which gave itself up to its own desires and to their enslavement, to constitute laws uplifting it from the pitch it has willingly chosen for itself. But we do find the Islamic system - brought by Divine Revelation (contrary to man-made) - capable of nurturing humanity, in the system's own way, up- lifting it to high pinnacles, banning wines and other evil desires, creating in man a conscious and firm self-will.
What remains to us - after having explained a portion of the essential differences between the social experience performed by the entire society and the natural experiment performed by the individual him- self, is to raise the last question in treating the prob- lem under discussion (the problem of the extent of mankind's capacity in the field of social organization and in selecting the fittest social system), and the question is: "What is the scientific value of organizing the group's life, laying the grounds of social living and the social system on scientific bases derived from natural experiment which are as exact as experiments performed in the spheres of physics and chemistry, getting rid of all the weak points we studied while dealing with the nature of the social experience?"
In other words: Is it possible - while organizing social life and getting acquainted with the fittest social system - to leave aside humanity's history, by passing the experiences human societies performed across ages, those experiences towards which we have nothing to do but glance from a distance, hiding be- hind curtains of time that separate us from them ..., can we lay aside all this by building our social life in the light of scientific experiments we ourselves live and practise on this individual or that, so that we may reach to know the fittest social system?!
Some optimists may tend to answer this ques- tion with their affirmative, considering what the western man enjoys today of tremendous potentials; for is it not that the social system is the one that guarantees satisfying man's needs in the best possible way? Is it not that man's needs are realistic matter- of-fact things that can be scientifically measured and tested like all other natural phenomena?! Is it not that the methods of satisfying these needs mean limited measures scientific logic is capable of mea- suring and subjecting to tests, studying their effects to satisfy the needs and the results they cause? ! So; why cannot the social system be laid on bases of such experiments?! Why cannot we find out, through experiment on one person or many persons, the sum of natural, physiological and psychological effects which play a role in activating intellectual gifts, broadening intelligence, so that if we want to or- ganize our social life in a way that guarantees broad- ening the mental and intellectual gifts of individuals, we make sure that all such effects will be present in plentitude in the system for all individuals?!
Some amateurs may imagine more than this, reasoning thus: "This is not only possible, but it also is what modern Europe actually did in its west- ern civilization, after discarding religion, ethics and all intellectual and social axioms, directing itself in building its life towards science, hence, jumping in its modern historical procedure, opening the gates of heavens and possessing the treasures of earth ..." But before we answer the question we have raised above (i.e., inquiring about the extent of the possibility of laying the grounds of social life on a scientific experimental basis), we have to discuss this latest image of western civilization and this superficial trend of believing that the social system, which represents the essential facet of this civilization under discussion, is the product of its scientific ele- ment. The fact is this: The social system in which Europe believed, the social principles it called for and believed in, did not really result from an experi- mental scientific study; rather, it was more theor- etical than experimental, more of philosophical principles than experimented scientific ideas, the result of a mental understanding and the belief in limited intellectual principles more than a result of a derivative reasoning or an experimental research in man's needs, his psychological, physiological and natural characteristics. That who studies modern European Renaissance - so-called by the European history - with understanding, he will certainly be able to comprehend that the general trend of the Renaissance in the spheres of the substance did in- deed differ from its general trend in both social and organizational spheres. In the sphere of substance it was scientific, for its ideas about the world of substance were indeed based on observation and experiment. Its ideas about the constituency of water and air, about the law of gravitation or atom-dividing, were all scientific ideas derived from observation and experiment.
As in the social field, the modern western mind was based on theoretical, rather than scientific, ideas. For example, he calls for human rights declared in his social revolution, and it is quite obvious that the idea of right is not scientific, for man's right of freedom, for example, is not a substance capable of measurement and experiment, so, it is out of the reach of scientific research; rather, need itself is the substantial phenomenon which can be scientifically studied.
If we observe the principle of equality among all members of the society - this principle is regarded theoretically as one of the basic requirements of a modern social life - we will find out that this prin- ciple was not derived scientifically from closer observation, for people are not equal in the scientific criteria except in their general human quality. After that, they all differ in their natural, physiological, psychological and intellectual qualities. The principle of (social) equity expresses an ethical value which is a mental, rather than experimental, conclusion!
So do we clearly distinguish between the stamp of the social system in modern western civilization and the scientific one. And so do we realize that the scientific trend of thinking in which modern Europe excelled did not include the field of social principle in the spheres of politics, econmy and sociology.
By this we declare but the truth, and we do not want to blame western civilization for its negligence of the value of scientific knowledge, in the field of social organization, or for not building such system on the bases of natural scientific experiments, for indeed such scientific experiments can never be suit- able as bases for social organization ... !
It is true, though, that man's needs can be subjected to experiment on many occasions, and also the methods of satisfying these needs. But the basic problem in social organization is not to satisfy the needs of this individual or that; rather, it is to find out a fair equilibrium between the needs of all individuals, and to define their relations within the framework which allows them to satisfy these needs. Obviously, the scientific experiment on this individual and that does not allow discovering such a framework, the nature of such relationships and the method of finding such equilibrium out. Instead, all this can be found out during the whole society's i mplementation of a (particular) social system, for all the points of weakness and strength in the system will eventually be found out. Accordingly, what must be followed in order to find the needed fair equilibrium, which guarantees the happiness of all, will also be discovered.
Add to this the fact that the same needs, or their consequences, cannot be discovered in one scientific experiment. Take this example: The person who gets used to committing adultery, as a happy person, you may not be able to discover what he really lacks or what grieves him, but you will possibly find out that the society that lived, as did this same person, a large span of its lifetime, allowing itself to go after its sexual desires, you may find it after a period of its social experience falling down, its spiritual entity cracked, its moral courage, free-will and intellectual spark all gone ...
So, not all the results which have to be known, while establishing the fittest social system, can be discovered in a scientific experiment we perform inside natural and physiological laboratories, or even inside psychological laboratories on this person or that; rather, their discovery depends on long-termed social experiences.
After this, using a natural scientific experiment in the field of social organization is sure to be moti- vated by the same personal inclination which threat ens our use of social experiences. For as long as the individual has his own personal interests - that may or may not agree with the fact decided by the experi- ence -, the possibility will always be there that this individual's mind is self-motivated, losing the sub- jectivity which characterizes scientific ideas, in all other areas as well.
Now, having known man's capacity to solve the social problem and answer its essential ques- tion, we exhibit the social doctrines which occupy humanity's mind today, among which an intellec- tual or political combat is going on, according to the extent of their social existence in man's life. These doctrines are four
1. The Democratic System
2. The Social System
3. The Communist System
4. The Islamic System
The first three of these doctrines represent three human viewpoints attempting to answer the essential question: "What is the fittest (social) system?" They are answers mankind put for this question, according to his potentials and limited capacity, the extent of which we have explained a short while ago.
As for the Islamic System, it offers itself on the social level as a religion based on Divine Revelation and Endowment, not an experimental ideology springing out of mankind's capacity and potentials.
The world today is sharing two of these four systems: the democratic capitalist system is the basis of government in a large portion of the earth, while the socialist system is prevalent in another large portion. Each of these systems possesses a great political structure, protecting it in its struggle with the other, arming it in its gigantic battle waged by its heroes for leading the world and uniting the social system in it. As for the communist and Islamic systems,
their actual existence is purely intellectual. The Islamic system, however, went through one of the most glorious and successful experiences of all social systems; then tempests blew on it when the field was - or was almost - empty of principled leaders. Hence, the experience remained at the mercy of peo- ple in whose hearts Islam had not yet matured, nor were their souls filled by its spirit and essence. Con- sequently; these souls were incapable of resisting and withstanding. So; the Islamic structure crumbled, and the Islamic system lingered as an idea in the mind of the Muslim nation, a creed in the hearts of Muslims, and a hope its striving sons try to bring to reality ...
As for the communist system, it still is an ex- perience which has not been fully tried; yet, the leadership of the social camp is directing its mind today towards preparing a social environment for it, having failed to put it to practise when it took the reins of government and declared the implementation of the social system, practising it as a step towards "true communism"! Therefore, what is our position (as Muslims) from these systems?!
And what is our case for which we have to dedi- cate our lives and towards whose shore we have to lead our ship?!
Adopted from the book: "Contemporary Man and The Social Problem" by: "Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr"
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