Book Review: The Decline of Civilization by Ramin Jahanbegloo

  • ISBN: 978-93-84067-26-7
  • Genre: Non-Fiction/Politics
  • Publishers: Aleph Book Company
  • Price: Rs.399/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)

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.

Behind the Book

About the Author

Ramin Jahanbegloo is a political philosopher and the author of twenty-seven books. He is presently the Executive Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Nonviolence and Peace Studies and the Vice-Dean of the School of Law at Jindal Global University, Delhi.

He is the winner of the Peace Prize from the United Nations Association in Spain (2009) for his extensive academic works in promoting dialogue between cultures and his advocacy for non-violence and more recently the Josep Palau i Fabre International Essay Prize (2012).

Me thinks

I think there could not have been any more perfect timing of reading this book than this one. Given the current scenario around the world, the chaos and the way we are almost on the brink of World War-III as per a lot of news channels the decline of civilization is a perfect explanation to the question "How did we end up reaching here!"

Divided into 5 portions spanning across what is civilization, the others, the Gandhian reconstruction of civilization and the zeal of civilization before concluding what is means to live with humanity the author has written a gripping narrative explaining all of these. What I like the most about the book is the way he hasn't sounded preachy or like a Mr. Know-it-All. His language doesn't look like one use to lecture students into mending their ways. It sounds more like a concerned friend who is equally worried and responsible for the circumstances and is encouraging us to mend ways.

The byline of the title says Why do we need to return to Gandhi and Tagore. Though before I read the book had someone told me this I would have strongly disagreed and laughed at the whole preposition. But after having read the book where the author talks at length about certain philosophies and how important it is to have healthy relationships with each other to survive in this mad, chaotic world I agree with it.

I have always believed that there is a lot more to it than what meets the eye. The chaos most of the times is more hyped to ensure we are glued to every bit of information, like I had read somewhere we are conditioned into believing somethings to an extent where we never doubt their existence and rather fight with anyone who thinks otherwise. This book talks about the importance of humanity and a shared human horizon which will help us all lead peaceful lives. Not very long ago I had won a GD in my college where I kept on saying despite all the privatization and globalization our country is unable to progress because we have roots which are rotten. A tree cannot stand tall on such roots.Either it will fall and cause more harm or it will never give desired fruits, just continue to exist in vegetative state. I was amazed how my this argument took a more firmer shape in this book with the author talking about the "rot" in our system.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will go back to it time and again to remind myself as to what is the need of the hour! His clarity of thoughts reflect his immense research and expertise on this matter which makes this book a very interesting read.

Strongly recommended to people who like me are curious about a lot of things pertaining to our country's growth and want answers. This book is more than just an answer.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Vegetarian Penne Arrabiata- flavourful, colourful with delectable and lingering taste.
Source: NDTV Food

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