Human civilization has lasted for approximately fifty centuries despite being continually under threat because of its inclination towards fear and violence. Today, however, ‘the future of civilization seems bleak’, as Romila Thapar writes in her foreword. Why is this so? Is it because our present time is barbaric? Is the twenty-first century another Dark Age?
In this new book, eminent philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo talks about this new crisis in civilization that has given rise to fundamentalist movements and authoritarian leaders like Donald Trump. He shows us that civilization is all about the relationship of human beings to one another. When that relationship breaks down and we begin to distrust each other, when we are no longer inclusive or accepting of our differences, then society, which today is more plural than it has been at any time in its history, begins to decivilize and break down. Using the insights of Hegel, Kant, Arendt, Rousseau, Ricoeur and many other great philosophers, the author concludes that it is time to go back to the values and beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, two of the greatest humanists the world has ever seen, if we are to reverse the rot that has set in.
The Decline of Civilization shows that a healthy civilization is one that is a ‘shared human horizon’ of empathy that avoids moral anarchy and relativism while acknowledging the plurality of modes of being human. It is a concept and a reality worth fighting for.