Unseen Passage: Defect of Our Civilization

The great defect of our civilization is that it does not know what to do with its knowledge. Science has given us power fit for the God, yet we use it like small children. For example, we do not know how to manage our machines. Machines were made to be man’s servants; yet he had grown so dependent upon them that they in a fair way have become his master. Already, most men spend most of their lives looking after and waiting upon machines. And the machines are very stern master. They must be fed with coal and petrol to drink, and oil to wash waste, and they must be kept at the right temperature. And if they do not get their meals when they expect them, they grow sulky and refuse to work, or burst with rage, and blow up, and spread ruin and destruction all around them. So we have to wait upon them very attentively and do all that we can, to keep them in good temper. Already we find it difficult either to work or play without the machines, and a time may come when they will rule us altogether just as we rule animals.

And this brings me to the point at which I asked, “What do we do with all the time which the machines have saved for us, and the new energy they have given us? On the whole it must be admitted, we do very little. For the most part we use our time and energy to make more and better machines; but more and better machines will only give us still more time and still more energy, and what we are to do with them ?‘‘ The answer, I think, is that we should try to become more civilized. For the machines themselves, and the power which the machines have given us, are no civilization but aids to civilization. (C.M. Joad)

Complete the following sentences on the basis of your reading of the passage:

  1. Our civilization is defective because _____________________.
  2. If the machines are not properly looked after and kept fully satisfied, ___________________.
  3. A time is soon expected to come when _______________________.
  4. The best way to use the additional time and energy, that machines have given to us is __________________.
  5. Write the meaning of this sentence in simple words: ‘Science has given us power, fit for the God, yet we use them like small children.’


  1. it does not know what to do with its knowledge.
  2. they grow sulky and refuse to work.
  3. machines will rule us altogether just as we rule animals.
  4. trying to become more civilized.
  5. Science has given us a lot of power but we don’t use it properly.

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