Beyond City and Civilization
The acute moral and practical problems of our increasingly globalised human community have rendered the metaphor of the City as ideal social order both obsolescent and perilous. Mankind today is forced to gaze beyond its earlier, tribal and divisive, insights about the idea of civilization towards a trans-urban, trans-national, trans-communal future. All historical traditions thus are under pressure to highlight the universalist in their legacies at the cost of the parochial. For Muslims too, the new situation imposes its own ambivalent logic. If it compels them to assert their political will in a strongly hegemonised world, it also summons them to revise their traditional modes of perceiving themselves and the world around them. The post-civilizational vision of Islam must now be delineated as the pursuit of a universal moral order that truly transcends the jingoism of the city, tribalism of the nation-state and sectarianism of the religious community, pleads S Parvez Manzoor
IF man by nature is a social animal, the civilized man by necessity is a city-dweller. For, indeed, the great divide between civilization and savagery runs through urban settlements. Only with the dawn of the city in human history breathes a new species, the civilized man. Only with the advent of the city do we catch a glimpse of order, morality and culture which is the unique achievement of our race. The birth of the city heralds the might of states and empires, demarks the boundary between history and pre-history and announces the arrival of higher religion. With the city comes the most human of all inventions, the art of writing, and within the city enclosures are born all the beautiful arts and all the exact sciences. The ruler, the soldier, the scribe, the cleric, the artisan are all sons of the city. The most perplexing moral triumvirate of power, justice and order, also follows in the wake of man's encounter with the city. Little wonder, then, that the city has affected human consciousness and thought as no other institution. The city has fashioned man as much as it itself has been fashioned by him.
A cursory look at some of the most fundamental concepts by which man articulates his aspirations, conducts the affairs of this world or dreams about eternity in the hereafter will be sufficient for us to realise that the real cosmos of human activity is indeed the city. Our word `civilization' is dervied from the Latin word for the city: Civilization is what goes on in cities. (The same goes for the Arabic madaniyya and tamaddun, the two kindred terms being derived from the triliteral root of MDN whose main cognitive content is that of dwelling in towns. Of course, Arabic, being exceptionally rich in concepts and synonyms, possesses two additional words for `civilization', namely, Hadara and `Umran. However, even here the semantic associations are either with prompt availability or with habitation, both of which allude to urban conditions.) Conversely, the city is an institution that is the distinctive creation of man in the state of civilization. Or, perhaps it would be fairer to say that `civilization' is a state that man always strives towards but never fully realizes. Whatever be the case, clearly the idea of civilization and that of the city are inextricably interwoven.
The second seminal concept associated with the idea of the city is politics. Politics is the pursuit of the affairs of the polis - that distinctly Greek city that was both parochial and a universe in itself. (By comparison, the Arabic word for politics, siyasa is an old Iranian term, which entered the Semitic languages through Aramaic, and refers to the art of horsemanship, the noble practice of `chivalry' that is to say. It is however quite significant that the classical Islamic discussion on politics, whether Sunni or Shi`i, does not make use of the `secular' term but locates itself squarely within the subject of imama). Given the fact that almost every central human idea is either directly or indirectly derived from, or is in some form associated with, the two pristine and protean concepts of civilization and politics, there can be no contentions as to the centrality, even indispensability, of the idea, or institution, of the city for the development of human society.
True enough, like every seminal human idea or like every universal human institution, the city too has had its antinomies and its detractors. Man has always had an ambivalent attitude towards it: it has at once been perceived as the house of God and the house of iniquity; the city of Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the sacred Mecca on the one hand, and the harlot of Babylon, the sinful Sodom and Gomorah on the other. Moreover, if, for instance, for the Greeks and the Muslims, perfect order and social justice could only be attained within a civic environment, for certain kinds of Christians and Buddhists, the city also appeared as an obstacle towards the perfection of the human personality which required, in their spiritual scheme, a life devoted to contemplation and meditation. Life in the country or wilderness, in isolated monasteries and viharas, thus, was deemed a superior form of living than habitation in towns. The monastic ideal which renounces cities for the sake of nature, however, has had only limited appeal for mankind as a whole, whose faith in the desirability of `civilization' has seldom faltered. More reckless in his opposition to the city than the drop-out monk was, of course, the marauding tribesman, immortalised in the sociology of Ibn Khaldun as a paradigm of barbaric destruction. Between the rare ideological challenge, as it were, of the monastery and the periodic onslaught of the envious nomadic hordes, the city has thrived in human history. As a centre of civilization and a model of perfect social order, the ideal city has also intrigued and fascinated many a creative human mind. Until now, however, there was little reason to question the validity of this most universal of human insitutions or the idea of civilisation that it so enthusiastically sanctified.
Alas, the idea of the `city' and `civilisation' is no longer adequate for sustaining the future vision of the `one-world man'. It smacks of tribalism and enshrines a divisive conception of humanity which has become both patently out of date and dangerously impractical in our times. Man today is fast entering a post-city, post-civilisation age where his earlier insights about the nature of perfect social order, whether embodied in the utopian visions of an hypothetical city or contained in the blue-prints of a idealised urban-planning scheme, offer him little guidance. Conversely, now that the civilisation is passing away, now that we are approaching a state of man which is as different from civilisation as civilisation itself differed from pre-civilisation which preceded it, it is quite likely that the city will pass away with it. However, it is not the disintegration of the civic services in our cities, or of their crumbling physical structures, nor indeed of the demise of the city as an institution which gives us premonitions of the approaching post-civilisation that is our concern here. No, it is the obsolescence of `the idea of civilisation', the converse of the superannuated urban experience as it were, which requires our attention.
Undoubtedly, the post-civilizational experience, the experience of man not as the citizen of a polis but as a member of the global human community, has been with us for quite some time. It has certainly been eliciting subtle, perhaps unconscious and subliminal, responses and adjustments from all of us at the individual level. Though the post-civilizational discourse is far from being a reality, there are ample signs that the post-civilzational experience is forcing all moral traditions to re-examine their historic legacies and re-state their future aspirations in terms of a coming universal order, an order in which, furthermore, none may claim monopoly for one's own tradition or enjoy the option of dropping-out and create a parallel order of one's choice. Isolationist or monopolists conceptions of the truth whether inhering in an exclusive community, institution, ideology or even faith, will all become defunct in the post-civilizational age. Every tradition must search for a `higher' synthesis and submit itself to the logic of the de facto global communalism, if it does not wish to be condemned to the ghetto of its own civilisation.
Islam too, it goes without saying, will be a partner to this new dialogue. Willy-nilly Muslim thinkers will have to come to grips with the moral discontents - and opportunities - of the post-civilizational reality. Needless to say, in likeness with all other religious, moral and historical traditions, the Islamic heritage too will have to suffer the inquisition of the post-civilizational mind and some of its most cherished notions will either have to be discarded or radically redefined. And even if our learned show no signs of apprehending the new situation, the actual Muslim practice, as usual, will outstrip their `Islamic' theory and will force them to provide ex post facto legitmation of the historical changes. Whatever our expectations or reservations about the ability of the traditional custodians of Islam, there can be no doubt that if we wish to avoid the unfortunate pattern of Islamic thought following Muslim practice rather than leading and guiding it, our intellectual will have to indulge in a speculative and anticipatory discourse as well. This is the pattern we intend to follow in the coming pages. Before looking into the specific demands of adjustments and revision which the Islamic tradition will be (is being) called upon to make, however, it would be worthwhile to have a retrospective glimpse of the legacy of the city - or `the ideology of civilisation' if you so prefer - in history and try to discover what elements of the civilizational experience now appear defunct.
Whatever the origins of the city in history, or its affiliations with the sanctuary, market or stronghold, it is with the coming of the Greeks that the idea of the city is born. And Plato undoubtedly is the first ideologue of the city and the father of the philosophico-political discourse on civilization (even if the Latin word was not in existence then). The actual Hellenic city, the Greek polis, which was the focus of Plato's experience and speculation, has been the object of much romantic admiration in Western Hellenophilic thought and it is not easy to dispel that image. However, much of our present-day disenchantment with the idea of the city may quite readily be explained on the basis of the original impulses received from the specific nature of the Greek polis. The polis was a self-contained universe, embodying the idea of order, rationality and autonomy. It was also a warring- state, a city continually in arms against its neighbours. The point is of capital importance: the only drama that Plato allowed in his Republic was the drama of war. More than that, though the ideal city of Plato's system was a self-sustaining unity, an isolated and self-isolating political unit, yet in war it could unite itself with other Greek cities. Only in war could Plato dream of some kind union or federation of Greek cities. In his The Laws, Plato puts is quite candidly: `In reality, every city is in a natural state of war with every other'. The Greek legacy persists to our own days. The international system of territorial states is a continuation of the polis-ethos in the same way as the nation-state is a historical colony of the city-state. The rights of nation-states to wage war, albeit for the ostensible purpose of self-defence and territrorial integrity, are guaranteed under the code of international law. It is one part of the legacy of the city-experience, or the civilization-idea, which the post-civilizational man can easily do without.
One may reasonably argue that organized war as an institution of conflict-resolution is as old as the human society itself, that it is not peculiar to the city-state, or that it neither originates nor ends there. Moreover, every societal system of morality, Islam including, sanctions the use of violence under circumstances of its own choosing. Before making our case against the legitimacy of war under the `civilizational' ethics, a few words about the Islamic notion of ]jihad would not be inappropriate. Though as a concept of morality, it may appear analogous to the `legitimate-war' rationale of the city-state, it is indeed essentially incompatible with it. The Jihad, or the just struggle, is not conceived as a conflict of any material interests, nor even as a conflict between material parties: it has nothing to do with territorial integrity, national honour, economic gains or state-sovereignty. No, its rationale is essentially and uncomprmisingly moral and its purpose solely the upholding of the ultimate truth, which for the Muslim is the reality of God. On more concrete level; inasumch as the Muslim is bound to con-fuse `the truth of God' with `the Community of Islam', Jihad may be justifed as a war of defence preventing the genocide of the Muslims, and nothing else.
As for the legitimacy of the war according to the `civilizational' scheme of things, it rests on the notion of sovereignty which is political and practical through and through. It is inimmical to the moral argument and accepts the state of belligernce between parochial states as `natural'. Any system of morality and ethics that accepts the reality of the city as the natural state of man, therefore, is psychologically predisposed to accepting war as a natural state of affairs as well. And, as the polis-consciousness rests on the assumption of the plurality of `civilizations', warfare as a means of resolving conflicts appears legitimate from its perspective. The post-civilizational consciousness, on the contrary, nourished as it is by the experience of the unity of the globe rather than of the plurality of the polis, cannot accept war `legitimate' in the same fashion. In short, there is a world of difference between the civilizational and post-civilizational approaches to warfare and the city-dweller's solution to the problem of peace appears highly dangerous - and impractical - in the age of nuclear weapons. The Greek city, the Hellenic polis, thus, cannot supply the future vision of our global community.
For the next civilisational ideal, we might look at the Heavenly City of Christianity, or the City of God of St Augustine's parlance, to be exact. The City of God is the opposite of the City of Man, the heavenly Jerusalem in comparison with the earthly Babylon. The fall of the imperial city of Rome had convinced many sensitive souls, the Tunisian born St Augustine among them, that political institutions on earth were unstable and perishable and that no hope for human salvation must be invested in these transient human creations. Hence his Christian's utopia, if indeed it may be called an utopia, was not to be of this world. The City of God only tries to establish the fact that for the Christian there is no salvation in any temporal order. St Augustine uses the metaphor of the city merely for the sake of negating it. With St Augustine, thus, the entire idea of civilization gets devalourised and the order and justice of the temporal society gets bartered for the peace of the Heavens. True enough, the Augustinian vision of the City is far more universal than that of the parochial polis held by the Greek philosophers; yet the fact is that the Greek civilizational conception was concrete and `down-to-earth' whereas the Augustinian universalism is situated in the metahistoric mansions of the heavens above. For the post-civilizational man, whose pre-occupation with the problem of universal community is rooted in the experience of the already existent universal personality, whose globalism is the product of history and human effort, thus, the meta-historical and trans-terrestrial vision of Civitas Dei cannot serve as the model of his concrete future. The City, whether the philosopher's `Utopia' or the theologian's `City of God' is too theoretical and utopian a conception to be of assistance to us in our history-making enterprise.
Among the Muslim thinkers who, for the delineation of their visions of a perfect socio-political order, followed in the footsteps of the Greek philosophers, the name of Al-Farabi commands the most respect. Known reverentially as the Second Master (after Aristotle), Al-Farabi, without doubt, is `the Philosopher of the City' par excellence of Islam. Al-Farabi's vision of the Good City, delineated chiefly in his Fi mabadi' ara' ahl al-madinat al-fadila (`On the principles of the opinions of the inhabitants of the Good City') is the first serious attempt to harmonize Greek political and civilisational philosophy with the Islamic ideal of the shari`a-state. Starting from the assumption that `the idea of the Philosopher, Supreme Ruler, Prince, Legislator and Imam is but a single idea', Al-Farabi sought a civilizational model whose supreme goal was the maintenance of `Virtuous Regime' and `the Attainment of Happiness ' (Tahsil al-Sa`ada).
The Good City, according to Al-Farabi, is the one where `men come together and co-operate with the aim of becoming virtuous, performing noble activities, and attaining happiness. It is distinguished by the presence in it of knowledge of man's ultimate perfection, the distinction between the noble and the base and between the virtues and the vices, and the concerted efforts of the rulers and the citizens to teach and learn these things, and to develop the virtuous forms and states of character from which emerge the noble activities useful for achieving happiness..' (Muhsin Mahdi's translation). The social structure of the Good City, however, is hierarchical and is stratified according to the principle of knoweldge possession : `All the citizens ... can be divided broadly into the following three classes"
(i) The wise or the philosophers who know the nature of things by means of demonstrative proofs and by their own insights.
(ii) The followers of those who know the nature of things by the means of the demonstrations presented by the philosophers, and who trust the insight and accept the judgement of the philosophers.
(iii) The rest of the citizens, the many, who know things by means of similitude, some more and some less, depending upon their rank as citizens. These classes and ranks must be ordered by the ruler who should also organize the education oof the citizens, assign to them their specialized duties, give them laws, and command them in war. He is to seek, by persuasion and compulsion, to develop in everyone he virtues of which he is capable and to order the citizens hierarchically so that each class can attain the perfection of which it is capable and yet serve the class above it. It is in this manner that the city becomes a whole similar to the cosmos, and its members co-operate towards attaining happiness' (ibid).
Al-Farabi's theosophical model of the ideal city extolled urban society. Following Plato, he asserted that town communities are the best of the perfect societies where knowledge may be attained and justice and order may prevail. Surely, in claiming this, Al-Farabi was not merely echoing the sentiments of the earlier philosophers but was influenced by the fact that Islamic civilization was pre-eminently an urban civilization and that for the faithful execution of the injunctions and duties of the Shar`ia an urban environment was (is) necessary. Be that as it may, Al-Farabi's Good City relates to the ideal Shari`a order only tangentially. And although, Al-Farabi's theory of the philospher-king was later stripped of its theosophical elements and was incorporated into orthodox theory, the two systems have existed, by and large, in separate spheres throughout Islamic history. The philospher's contemplative and theoretical model of an ideal civilization, if not totally incompatible with the jurists' model of righteous community, however, could not be fully synsthesised with the essentially moral worldview of the Shari`a which was more interested in the implementation of Divine Law rather than the contemplation of a just order.
Al-Farabi's civilizational model of perfect order, notwithstanding its Islamic moorings, is too much tied to its Greek predecessors to be meaningful to the Islamic consciousness. If Plato may be criticized for being `an enemy of the open society', Al-Farabi cannot be immunized against the same charge either. Even from within the Islamic tradition, Al-Farabi's political vision appears too `totalitarian' and denies the citizens of its Virtuous City that dignity and self-respect which is the starting-point of the Shari`a's moral egalitarianism. More than that, the Farabian model of governance is essentially static and located in the feudal and agrarian ethos of the pre-Industrial society. Alas, one is bound to admit that, even in its Islamic garb, the City does not provide a very comely image of perfect order. Little wonder, then, that the Shari`a's blue-prints for the creation of a just society are based on the existence of a Righteous Community and show little concern for niceties of the metaphor of the Good City.
If Al-Farabi is `the philosopher of the city' in Islam, Ibn-Khaldun indisputably is its foremot sociologist. Unlike Al-Farabi, however, the genius of Ibn-Khaldun is very original and his sociological science of civilization owes nothing to the earlier models of the Ancients. In fact, it would be fair to say that Ibn-Khaldun is the first philosophical thinker who accomplishes a break with the Socratic tradition in order to arrive at an essentially modern concept of society. The City, in Ibn Khaldun's thought, is no longer an image of perfect order, a heavenly mansion or the philosopher's kingdom: it is quite simply an urban settlement, distinguished only by its size and the peculiarity of its civic institutions. No doubt, it still is the seat of government, administration, military, even of art and industry, but in the Khaldunian scheme these represent social institutions and human activities and not mytho-philosophic entities. It is noteworthy that instead of making use of the allegorical notions of the City, Ibn Khaldun develops his sociological system around the abstract conceptual category of `civilization' - and then fills it with socio-empirical content. The City is a product of civilizational processes, a cycle of birth and death, determined largely by the sociological patterns and rivalry of the sedantary and nomadic peoples. The real drama of civilization, however, is located neither in history nor in sociology but in the psychology of tribal social structures, in the bonds of social solidarity, the will-to-power if you please, the `Asabiyya of the nomads. The birth and death of the cities (Significantly, there is no generic `the City' with him) is the rise and fall of the tribal `asabiyya.
Ibn-Khaldun, it becomes apparent even by these introductory remarks, is not a normative thinker and though his civilizational system is theoretical and para-historical, it is solidly positivistic and empirical. Alas, it is also cyclical and deterministic. The civilization he speaks of is nothing but a bore, a tale told and retold umpteen times, a karma of history which redeems itself only by repeting its life cycles. Clearly, a cyclical, sociological and positivistic image of the City and civilization must end in despair. Not surprisingly, then, towards the end of his life, Ibn-Khaldun, the pious Muslim recanted his philosophy of civilization and sought refuge in mysticism! Though the European tradition has continued the sociological discourse of Ibn-Khaldun, independently and on its own terms, one may also hasten to add, and though the idea of the City is certainly noticable in the thought of prominent Western philosophers such as Voltaire, Adam Smith, Fichte, Engel, Marx and Spengler, there is little doubt that we are entering a post-city, post-civilizational phase of human history. It is not too inconceivable that one day, quite like Ibn-Khaldun, mankind as a whole may renounce the idea of the City on moral grounds; for, indeed it is the birth of the global moral consciousness that renders the earlier images of the City, such as `the central civilizing agency' (Spengler and almost everyone), or, `an original creation of the volk' (Fichte) or `the perfector of rational civilization' (Voltaire), highly anachronistic.
Just as civilization was the `product' of agriculture and the food surplus which followed in its wake, post-civilization is a product of science. However, it is not only the growth of knowledge, or the technization of the world that has led to `the postcivilizational condition', it is also the experience of the unity of our globe, the unity of its human community, the unity of its ecology and perhaps the aspired unity of its future as well. The perceived unity, let it be stated as candidly as possible, is being experienced most strongly at the level of individual conscience. At the structural level, perhaps the reverse is true. There is the unmistakable awareness that the human community has been split into two, North and South, haves and have-nots, mututally repellent anti-podes just by the process of globalization. True though this may be, paradoxically, it does not nullify the post-civilizational experience of unity; on the contrary, it reinforces it. More than that, it produces a moral response which, if nothing else, initiates its own post-civilizational discourse. The world experienced as a unity produces a new kind of perception which then envisions the future in terms of an agenda of global ethics (Cf. our The Future of Ethics: An Agenda, in Afkar, vol 1, no 1). The longing of the post-civilizational vision, of course, is for a Universal Moral Order and it is in this connection that the image of the City and civilisation is found wanting.
Significantly enough, though the City has been conceived in terms of perfect order, it has never been identified with moral order pure and simple. (Cf Machiavelli, where thePerfect order of the city is not the moral order of Christianity!) Perfect order is by defintion static, whereas moral order is subjective and dependent upon a sustained conflict within man, the choice of right and wrong in the langauge of the religion if your prefer. (I owe this point to Eric Voegelin who has expounded it in his: Order and History, Louisiana, 1956.) Transferring this insight to the Islamic milieu: one notices that the Shar`ia, which is a moral worldview through and through, shuns the image of the City altogether. Inasmuch as one may speak of its `images', it knows only of the Community (Umma). (Community, we shall soon show, is also much more of moral concept than Society). Cf Tönnies, cf also Arendt. The city may be conceptualised as a moral community (madina muslima) but not as a harmonious, i.e. static, society. For Hegel, morality is essentially the morality, custom, of a historical community (sittlichkeit). Furthermore, besides avoiding the metaphor of the City, the Shari`a discards all static images and symbols. In fact, the perennial tension between the Community and the State in Islam also becomes understandable now: the concept of the State, unless construed historically and organically, always conveys a notion of stability and static order which cannot be easily reconciled with the moral dynamism of a value-community that is the essence of the Umma.
The post-civilizational consciousness is indeed a moral conscience whose most inalienable commitment is to universalism. It is in the light of this conscience that we must now examine those strands of historical Islamic thought that appear to be in need of revision. Foremost among these is the Muslim community's traditional mode of perceiving himself and the world around him. Basically, Muslims, like any other historic group, entity or collectivity, perceive the world as being comprised of `themselves' and the `others'. Though the line of demarkation between the two is the confession- and possession - of faith, historically the faith has come to be reified into the Community, into the Umma. When the reified conceptions of the faith become infected as it were, one speaks of the world as split into Dar al-Slam (the House, even City, of Peace) and Dar al-harb (the City of Strife). This essentially moral and metaphoric dichotomy between the City of Peace and the City of Strife has even in extreme juristic theory - propunded at the height of Muslim political power, let it be remembered - been schematised as Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Kufr, ie the Realm of Islam and the Realm of Unbelief, and its division even identifed with the actual boundaries of the Caliphate. Clearly, not only has the march of history made this scheme pathetically obsolete and redundant, such a concrete and political - rather than moral and allegorical - bifurcation of the world does gross injustice to the concept of the Umma as well. For, at its heart, the Umma is not a ghetto of the Muslims to which outsiders have no access. No, the Umma is, in the borrowed terminology of a sister faith, the spiritual community whereas humanity as a whole is the temporal community of Islam. There is a definite affinity rather than absolute antagonism between the two. The problem here, again, seems to be the use of the static - and spatial - symbolism of the Dar (house, abode, city, state, realm etc). May we expect that the post-civilizational Muslim consciousness, now that the world-moralism is aligning itself with the the original ethos of Islam, will either avoid the use of such static and parochial images or interpret them dynamically in terms of moral values?
The most valuable concept of Islam, even for to the post-civilizational, one-world conscience, will, undoubtedly, be the Umma, the value-community of Islam which is only temporally and historically parochial, but which is also simultaneously with it, spiritually, ideationally and ideologically, truly universal. Perhaps one could invoke here the dichotomy of Gemeinschaft (Community) and Gesellschaft (Association) that is the basic scheme of Toennis' sociology: Gemeinschaft is `the home of morality, seat of virtue' whereas Gesellschaft is `rationality and calculation'. If the industrial civilization gave premium to the social structure of Gesellschaft, the post-civilizational trend is towards the conception of the world as Gemeinschaft. Only by perceiving the world as a Community and not as a society may we arrive at the one-world moral consciousness of the post-civilizational man. Hence, the warm, human - and feminine - image of the Umma is likely to acquire more cogency and appeal in the post-civilization era - provided it is not interpretted parochially but is construed as our gift to the human community.
Conceptually, Islam has been apprehended as a faith, community and civilization. One of the most systematic expositions of the civilizational model of Islam has been accomplished by Louis Gardet in his well-known La Cite Musulmane (Paris, 1954ff). Gardet's Islamic City, however, is an ideal and hypothetical construct, situated on the academic map of Orientalism. Islam is an autonomus, self-sufficient, non-historical system that does not interact with the world around it; in fact, it does not need it - little different, that is to say, from the `Ghetto models' of Islam that some of the contemporary Muslims are so fond of promoting in the name `civilizational' self-sufficiency and autonomy! Though it is a `sympathetic' presentation of the essential ethos of Muslim social and political life, it would appear, in the light of the above argument, that it completely misses the mark. Of all the conceptual strait-jackes applied to Islam, the one cut in the shape of the City is the least fitting.
What is true of Islam is true of the world as well. When we conceive our abode in terms of the city-image, the global order we aspire for appears static and civilizational. Should we, on the other hand, wish to create a dynamic moral world-order, we'll have to invent metaphors and images that go beyond the mankind's parochial experience of the City and the Civilization. In the post-civilizational age, the City as a metaphor of perfect order has run its course.