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July 17, 2017

Essay : Are Scientific Inventions Making us Happier ?

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Are Scientific Inventions Making us Happier ? 

Synopsis : As Dr.M.Swaminathan, the father of green Revolution in India put in his words, "Technology is neutral to people. It depends whether the technology is relevant': Any contribution in this field can have its own pros and cons depending upon the applicability of the same. There is no denying the fact that scientific innovations are in themselves manifestations ofthe seamless evolution of humans, be it social, economic, political or psychological. They may, prima facie seem to pave a road for progression. However, physical science divides the world into two halves. One halfis that which aids the swinging motion of the delivery mechanism in their favor or the so-called "haves" while the other halfis composed of those who resist it, the "have-nots': The higher orders ofscientific advancements in medicine, defense, space, etc. have an extremely low level of direct infiltration within the lower echelons of society. 

Since the dawn of human civilization, homo sapiens, the wisest of all apes, have tried to exploit the resources of nature and put them to their own use. There are two key words which together constitute this question are — science and happiness. The topic concerned is ideological thus thoughts not facts would form a better armor against it. 

Happiness, though an abstract and incomprehensively defined human emotion has always remained the goal of humanity. Happiness is sometimes achieved, sometimes earned. It is sometimes brought by bearing pain also. Happiness is measured and its measurement has no universal standards. However standards develop, as a part of zeitgeist, much like fashion, but still as fashion doesn't engulf all the spirits of the society. What is happiness is one's own quest. A religious person would point to God as its only source while Buddhists say there isn't anything like that in reality. What is Happiness, finds itself answered, but that answer however is subject to changes in either space or time or both.

Scientific pursuance by man to understand the universe and an effort to utilize its resources in the best possible way is to continue its unabated survival on the face of this planet. An early man of Stone Age had a limited science. His only reason to exploit his faculty of cognition was merely his family's survival. Later on as generations passed, communities grew. This change insisted early humans to migrate to tough terrains and cold regions made them learn wearing animal skins. As years passed the wheel followed, so did the weaving, harnessing sun's energy is the form of agriculture came as the next step. All scientific inventions till then had a sole aim of healthy survival. 

Scientific inventions till industrial revolution were either innovations in traditional methods of continuing sustenance or were for fulfillment of luxurious demands of kings and nobles. Next step in the timeline of human civilization was industrial revolution which started as a result of two initiatory forces one of them was increasing population while the other was desire of attaining power. Though monarchy died, the rule of the people came, the role of scientific inventions still was the same — survival and that too a luxurious one, but as enlisted these two initiatory forces, the second one grew gradually in dominance. The world wars were a result of both these initiatory forces. One was fear of not having resources and other was ideological differences. As deeper investigations in the reasons is made, the anarchy and unrest which still prevails in many parts of the world is basically a result of these two forces. 

The resources on the surface of this planet are still enough for continued survival of human race, but time still witnesses unrest and war on resources, moral deterioration and selfish nature is a fitting explanation to continued acts of violence in the post-world war era. Thus endangered status of survival of mankind cannot be attributed to scientific menace, moral crisis form a greater part of it. Increasing stress levels, urban lives are not creations of science, they are a product of evolving human consciousness assisted by science. This is a general observation that morally weak persons don't enjoy true pleasure of life and hence happiness cannot be attained by murder of those moral values which human institutions have developed through these ages of evolution. 

Use of polythene bags degrade environment, but it reduces use of leather, cotton or paper bags. None of the latter is assumed to be safe,  though they are harmless to environment. If whole population on earth submits to these methods, deforestation will reach a newer high, a step too far. Another fact is that these are non-recyclable as well because they are degradable, they grow old fast, and polybags promises us longevity. Then there comes man and his ignorance. Mother earth is left to her own and most of such non-biodegradable products of science are rendered without recycling. What could be a wonder of science emerged as an evil. These lines are a Hindi translation to a Sanskrit verse. It means that the prerequisite of happiness is a healthy body, and then follows the wealth in house. No doubt, medical sciences enabled humanity to combat viruses which in dark ages caused fatalities in millions. Products of medical sciences, from magical potions of ancient world to ultra-modern MRI scan, the achievements in this field have been tremendous and in fact gradually improving. However, developments made in second half of 20th and 21st century is actually against the diseases which came as a result of human disturbances in nature and not nature's devils. 

This fact incites a very intriguing question. Are scientific inventions really helping us in our endeavor of providing a healthy survival of humankind? Science in such a case acts as both, the angel and the demon. Even if we accept science's heroic role of savior in form of medicine, its practical as well as ideological contribution to happiness is still under doubt. The happiness is not a function of wealth. It comes from within. As Buddha said, it is really difficult to understand what makes individuals happy. Science is a boon for prolonged survival, but its advent doesn't really guarantee happiness. 

Thus science acts as a tool for better living, for happiness. But scientific inventions alone don't make us happy. But science when put to use in destructive manner is rendered worthy of that position as well. But still scientific inventions are never meant to destroy, they are nothing but medium of expression in such cases. Thus their destructive action is a result of morally degraded human society only. Saint Kabir, the pioneer of bhakti movement said, 'I wandered in search of evil, but couldn't find it; once I searched within, I found it.

shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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