The American essayist, former priest and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, complains about Paul Leroux offering his article Dieu (God) to a leading journal's editor, who returns it with the remark "La question de Dieu manque d'actualite. (The question of God is not relevant today.) Emerson adds that the next question would be a distrust in human virtue. Well, not necessarily. Emerson's life spanned almost the whole of the nineteenth century - the century of the industrial revolution. It has, up to now, been the only revolution in history, when the mankind left its pre-history behind, to take its destiny in its own hands, well, at least a part of mankind. The man increasingly understood the laws of nature to use them for his own good. Thus what is called "the conquest of nature" was really the man's increasing cooperation with nature, his conscious adherence to its laws. He could now dispense with sorcery and mysticism, marks of his impotence, to give himself to rationalism, which is really the dictate of the nature's reason. Capaneus is unjustly identified with insolent pride because, having saved himself from a storm by getting hold of a rock jutting out of a high cliff above the raging waters, he taunted Zeus. Immediately the rock broke and he drowned. What the story really proves is not hubris but the man's rudimentary grasp of the natural laws at the time. The man of the industrial revolution, contrary to what Emerson says, does not deny human virtue but carries it to a higher plane. In South Asia, the local population in the coastal towns had the opportunity to learn from the experience of new life in Europe as its impact was first felt there. But the intelligentsia in the Indus and Gangetic valleys was irritated by this foreign intrusion, which did not so much oppose the local learning as hold it in contempt, regarding it as primitive. Ghalib seems to have been among a handful of the writers who saw that the Western culture of reason and technology should be welcomed. Addressing the British governor-general, he writes: "Aie rozegaar bastae bund-e-kamand-e-tau/ Vai kohsaar khastai gurz-e-garaan-e- tau." He also told Sir Syed to see what the British scientists were achieving instead of continuing to admire Shaikh Abul Fazl's prose. It is, however, true that Ghalib was unable to connect the West's scientific and industrial achievements with the advent of capitalism, with the revolutionary change in the relations of production. For example, he probably never asked himself why a handful of European soldiers could, in every engagement, disperse the much more numerous local armies. He did not know, and probably did not care to know, that the British soldiers' conduct on the battle-field was not un-connected with the factory production, which was the main feature of the British industry, and in which a large number of workers worked under one roof under strict discipline and obliged to keep to a certain rhythm of labour. The disciplined mode of labour of the new system of production permeated the whole British society, including the army. Thus Ghalib continued to regard the jagirdari as the "natural" way of organising the economy. He also accepted the sufistic philosophy as the basis of poetry, although it was entirely pre-industrial. It drew conclusions about the working of the world which had no material basis. As: "Ne mi bineem dar aalam nishati k'aasman ma ra/Chu noor az chashm-na bina, ze saghar ruft sehba ra." Anyway that is as far as one can go. The coming of the modern age has left sufism in the personal sphere. It cannot now be the commanding ideology of the society. So the story narrated by Jalaluddin Rumi of a man who dreamt of a buried treasure and travelled from Baghdad to Cairo to find it, only to be told that it was actually in his house in Baghdad, really defines intuition as the main source of knowledge. The thesis is not accepted now. Rumi lived in the thirteenth century, when the great age of science and discoveries of the Muslim civilisation had closed and its material sub-structure had collapsed. In fact Ghazzali's closure of intellectual speculation two centuries earlier had only been an acknowledgement of this change. Now the poet from Balkh could only tell his contemporaries to base their lives on the best of the moral and spiritual lessons drawn from the experience of the past half-a-millennium. The reason was that the collapse of the Muslim civilisation had not been followed by a renaissance. In Europe too, there had been a hiatus of two centuries between the collapse of feudalism and the rise of capitalism. But there had been a renaissance in this period. So the best achievements of the previous age could still become the basis of the new. Therefore Emerson's "distrust in human virtue" was only a distrust of the outdated virtue of the feudal man, not of the bourgeois virtue which was to revolutionise the human condition. The writer is a former ambassador