Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverends Wilson
Mapping Knowledge: The Unification Encyclopedia Project
The following essay introducing the encyclopedia will be published in a forthcoming volume of essays by faculty of the Unification Theological Seminary. Copyright © 1993 Unification Theological Seminary.
Anyone who is interested in contributing their Pricipled insights on some specific topic, biography, etc., to the encyclopedia project can contact:
Dr. Andrew Wilson
International Religious Foundation
4 West 43rd Street, New York, NY
Encyclopedias have always served a practical purpose. As handy reference guides for those seeking quick summaries of information, they obviate the need to trudge through numerous books and articles. But historically, encyclopedias have had a much broader significance. They define the scope and content of human knowledge.
The knowledge of any culture has its specific content, boundaries, and organizational principles. As the ideological underpinnings of culture change, so does the shape of its knowledge. Whenever in the course of human history a new philosophy or thought has arisen, thinkers have applied it to the systematization and organization of all knowledge by writing a comprehensive work or encyclopedia. The French Encyclopedists Diderot and d'Allembert, in particular, were successful in redefining the shape of knowledge according to the worldview of the Enlightenment in their pioneering work, the Encyclopédie. Other thinkers, such as Bacon, Coleridge, Hegel and Comte, contemplated doing something similar, and the Communist ideologues in the former USSR even succeeded -- for a time -- in enshrining their ideology in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, but none have surpassed the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Allembert in terms of lasting influence.
Although at first glance conventional encyclopedias appear to be unsystematic collections of unrelated facts, in fact they perpetuate the ideological perspective of the Enlightenment. For example, the present standard of encyclopedias in the English language, The New Encyclopædia Britannica, has an implicit materialistic, social-scientific perspective with a distinctly Western bias. In most respects, the Britannica is a child of the Enlightenment and the Encyclopédie.
Yet we now have come to acknowledge that the Enlightenment has run its course and, irrespective of its many advantages, has been unable to guide the world to the peace and ideal that humanity longs for. Our age is in the throes of a new cultural revolution, one which values wholeness, gives primacy to the spiritual aspect of human life, and respects all cultures in their diversity. Many of these desiderata challenge the materialistic orientation of knowledge as has been shaped by the Enlightenment.
The Unification movement appears at a time when many people are questioning the existing system of education and the values (or lack of values) which it teaches. This means not only to question such lightning-rod issues as sex education, multiculturalism, and the place of religion in the schools, but more essentially to put forth a critique of the foundations of knowledge. Thus, in 1983, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon announced plans to produce a world-class encyclopedia. This desideratum is consistent with Moon's general strategy to reform society through renewing its spiritual roots: first through religion and second through education. The project to publish a new encyclopedia is in line with such educational activities of the movement as operating universities, sponsoring academic conferences, and developing value-centered curricula in the C.I.S.
How could Unificationism give perspective to an encyclopedia? Unificationism is more than just a religious doctrine: it is a new, multidimensional vision. For one thing, Unificationism conceives of the world as the arena of emotional relationships and human life as a course of growth to maturity in matters of love. An education that dwells only on the mastery of facts and technology is inadequate because it lacks the tools to help human beings achieve the purpose of life. These lie in the realm of values. Facts and values are, in this view, inseparably interwoven. Technological education fulfills its purpose when it is used to promote goodness. Effective action in the realm of values requires an accurate understanding of the facts of material existence. What is needed is an education that can honor and harmonize the complementary aspects of fact and value, external and internal.
Furthermore, Unificationism envisions a world in which the great cultural traditions of East and West, North and South, and of all the great religions, are harmonized and unified. A new global culture can arise only on the foundation of broad intercultural and interreligious understanding and harmony. Tomorrow's education has the task of teaching respect and understanding for the world's cultures. This will require us to transcend the assumption that all things in the world can be judged by the standards of Western scientific rationality. But in order to prevent a fall into valueless relativism, education will have to rediscover the highest values of each culture and determine their meeting points. Unificationism asserts that the place where the common ground of values is to be found is in the area of religious and humanistic ideals, specifically the ideals of divine or unselfish love. This supposition has been confirmed time and time again through the interreligious and interdisciplinary conferences dedicated to the search for 'Absolute Values,' when participants would uncover the depth of common values that had been obscured by words and concepts.
These perspectives are not unique to Unificationists. They are shared by thoughtful scholars in many fields, who wish to go beyond the conventional educational wisdom. The proposed encyclopedia will require the collaboration of many people to formulate articles within such a post-Enlightenment intellectual framework. Just as Diderot and his group of Encyclopedists defined the modern shape of education along Enlightenment lines through the Encyclopédie, the Unificationist encyclopedia will endeavor to define a shape for knowledge that can foster a new age of spiritual and global unity.
Background of the Conventional Encyclopedia
The term (en)cyclo-pedia means circle of education. The history of encyclopedias extends back to Roman times, notably the works of Pliny and Cassiodorus. The attitude of encyclopedists toward spiritual matters has varied according to their purpose and inclination. The 17th-century American Puritans used an encyclopedia by Alstead which understood all knowledge to be interconnected and united under the order of God. God, the Creator, made the universe to embody a plan in the divine mind. As all art, science, and knowledge was viewed as originating in the mind of God, they would necessarily be interrelated. Man is responsible to investigate the principles of the arts and sciences according to his reason, but always remain humble to the fact that he is only rediscovering knowledge that is already perfect in the mind of God.
In the 18th century, Diderot and d'Allembert created the Encyclopédie to be a showpiece for the new worldview of the Enlightenment. Articles were written from a rationalistic and humanistic perspective; many of them were explicitly antireligious. Indeed, one factor in its commercial success was the scandal by which each volume was greeted by both the Catholic and Protestant religious establishments. The unity of knowledge in this work came from the consistent rationalistic approach and a belief in the self-consistency of reason and nature itself, which operated according to Newtonian laws as a giant machine independent of any supposed God. Tangible, sensible objects were all that mattered, while ideas and universals that had been justified by Christian philosophy as grounded in the divine mind were ignored. The Encyclopedists were motivated primarily by a faith in reason, believing that if human beings could only act with reason unfettered by the superstitions of religion, and on the basis of complete knowledge, they could build a far better society.
Modern encyclopedias have eschewed the blatant anticlericalism of the Encyclopédie, yet the fundamental standpoint of the Enlightenment remains. The contemporary encyclopedia, as represented in the Encyclopædia Britannica, has an implicit materialistic, social-scientific perspective. Scientific findings are treated as "facts"; so are human phenomena such as art, history and religion. But the subjects of art and religion, God, truth, beauty, goodness, do not even rate articles. There is only God insofar as it is a belief of a particular religion, beauty insofar as it is defined in one or another school of criticism, etc. Tangible things are treated from a scientific standpoint, reduced to matter, with rarely any regard for values.
Even the human being, surely the subject of values, is treated primarily as a biological entity. There is no article "Human Being" and only a 300-word entry "Man," yet there are extensive articles such as "Innate Factors in Human Behavior" and "Human Evolution." It is instructive to compare the amount of space devoted to biological-medical descriptions of the human body with discussions of psychology and mind: the proportion is roughly five-to-one. On wading through the index to find any discussion of the essence of the human being or human nature, one finds it relegated to the realm of philosophy in a brief entry "Philosophical Anthropology."
This attitude is also evident in biographies, where dry factual accounts abound but insights into personalities and convictions are sorely lacking. Even the biographies of major figures lack the depth that would give a reader some understanding of how that person could rise to greatness. Likewise, an article about a nation will go to great lengths to describe its geography, economy and history, but say next to nothing about its culture or spirit that gives identity and pride to its citizens. The Britannica is evidently uncomfortable about investigating the inner man and the subjective side of life. The values and motivations that lie beneath the surface world of artifacts and events are largely ignored.
The Western bias of the Britannica is evident: note the lack of regard for the non-scientific worldviews of other cultures, even when these worldviews have much to offer. There is no serious discussion of Chinese medicine as a legitimate way of health care (not to mention chiropractic or homeopathy). The entries on the human body and its diseases rest on the consensus that only the viewpoint of Western science is worth discussing. Nor are the insights of Buddhist psychology regarded as significant for the field of psychology; they are only relevant to Buddhism. The world of the Britannica is entirely disenchanted. Articles on animals, plants, and places discuss them as material objects, but omit any regard for the folk beliefs or myths in which they have psychic significance. Rather than integrating all knowledge, East and West, the Britannica takes the Western scientific viewpoint as the standard of "fact" and annexes other viewpoints to the curious practices of foreign cultures. This implicit bias endures despite laudable efforts to include a large number of non-Western biographical entries.
Today, encyclopedias have become more and more collections of facts without any satisfactory unity. A widening gulf between the sciences and the humanities and the breakdown of commonly shared values has led to the fragmentation of knowledge. Yet the quantity of knowledge is far more vast and diverse than anything encountered before. The editors of the Britannica, aware of this problem, sought to remedy it by commissioning long articles which could cover the many connections and ramifications of a given field. This attempt has been widely criticized as inadequate. Although each long article could address a vast amount of information, it does not venture beyond the narrow perspective of a single academic discipline. The result has been more specialization and fragmentation of knowledge, not less. A fresh approach is sorely needed that will address topics from a truly interdisciplinary perspective. It would require a considerable act of will on the part of the editors to overcome the inertia of academic specialization that plagues Western education generally.
The Unificationist Perspective for the Encyclopedia
At the close of the 20th century there is a widespread sense that the ideologies and worldviews which have undergirded the modern age have failed. A new worldview is needed, one that is sufficient to the task of building world peace and global community. It should embrace all cultures and lift up the best of human values, with the aim of providing an intellectual foundation for peace and harmony in the emerging global civilization. It should instruct individuals and families to practice unselfish love and have a universal concept of the human family, that they may become global citizens and peacemakers. It should synthesize the spiritual knowledge of religion with the humanistic and scientific knowledge of the Enlightenment, in order to overcome the fragmentation of knowledge and the fragmentation of the human spirit.
We should investigate how the scope and content of that amorphous and ever-expanding body called 'knowledge' can be redefined in the light of this vision. Planning an encyclopedia, which is a kind of map to knowledge, gives an opportunity to engage the issues and problems of such a redefinition. If the work is done well, this encylopedia may become a major influence on education for generations to come.
The encyclopedia should value all constructive human activities and lift up those outstanding individuals, from every culture, who have contributed to human well-being. At the same time, it should knit the diverse strands of human thought and action into one whole cloth. One model for this is to be found in World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, edited by this author. World Scripture was prepared with reverence for all religious faiths; scholars from each religion contributed texts to the anthology and reviewed it to assure that their religion was treated fairly on its own terms. It has demonstrated that an attitude of respect for all cultures and beliefs, cultivated through honest dialogue, can ultimately lead to a vision of unity. The unity of World Scripture is not a conceptual unity that would force all religions into a Christian mold; it is rather a unity based upon shared values which allows for a diversity of conceptual systems.
Yet this is not to be a religious encyclopedia. All areas of science, philosophy, art, literature, history, law, politics, economics, culture, and religion are to have extensive coverage. We will strive to apply the same unifying perspective, which was successful in dealing with the disparate religions of the world, to the whole of reality. The following are some of the principles and guidelines which will inform the contents of each encyclopedia entry.
a) Universal Value amidst Diversity
The central value in human life, which we may term "true love," means that which seeks the best for others and the betterment of human life in all its dimensions. True love means living for others, giving without thought of a return. Its source is transcendental, beyond the self; the person who practices true love taps into an inexhaustible reservoir of life. The various philosophies and religions of the world speak of this value with a variety of emphases, aspects, and concepts, such as: compassion, grace, justice, charity, liberation, righteousness, and agape love. While recognizing that certain of these aspects may sometimes be in tension (e.g., the well-known Jewish discussion of the dichotomy between divine justice and divine mercy), we may regard the positive tendency of all of them as aspects of a single divine and universal value. This value, true love, is the aspiration and hope of all human beings and the manifestation of the best in human nature.
True love is the proper standard for judging good from evil. In biography and history, there are people who have achieved greatness because they have given something of value to their nation or to humanity, and there have been people whose influence has been negative to those around them or to the world at large. It matters not whether the person is a Christian or an atheist, a politician or a writer; his person and his work can be evaluated based upon the standard of true love. All human beings, regardless of race, religion, gender, culture, class, or level of formal schooling, can potentially realize mature and selfless character, form loving families, and contribute to human betterment. Or they can be selfish, form families divided by resentment, and oppress others. The encyclopedia should make special effort to present personages from every race, religion, and culture, women as well as men, who have been outstanding in their societies.
Likewise, true love is a standard around which one can evaluate diverse intellectual concepts and doctrines and lift up their positive points. Throughout history, there have been ideas, technologies, and movements which have contributed to human betterment, or which have turned in destructive directions. By understanding them and the values by which they either progress or decline, one can recognize their potential for good or ill. Are the ideas which are foundational to the Christian West superior? Let us investigate how well they have elevated the human spirit and enabled people to better realize their potential for true love. But they cannot make any a priori claim to superiority. There are certainly Islamic, Buddhist, Confucian, and humanistic teachings that can also promote true love. And let us not leave out the folklore of traditional societies, which contains much wisdom which sophisticated moderns could do well to heed.
In this light, a values-oriented encyclopedia will necessarily lift up those great ideas and values which, throughout history, have inspired and motivated humankind. In this regard, we find much to learn from the Great Books Program and its texts as published by the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Strangely, even though Mortimer Adler, who championed the Great Books, was Editor-in-Chief, the editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica produced under his watch never came to resemble the Great Books. But we can learn about his views, which were visionary in their day, by examining the Syntopicon. It is structured about such topics which have been the focus of thinkers through all ages, such as God, Man, Life, Love, Honor, and Beauty. They are treated thematically rather than historically, thereby giving the reader a coherent picture of what is at stake among the diversity of positions on the issue. There is high regard for the classical traditions, avoiding the flat modern view that would deny importance to any so-called "prescientific" thought. By giving a diversity of approaches, rather than pontificating a single authoritative position, it encourages readers to think matters through for themselves.
The Great Books dealt only with the Western tradition. We must also include the insights of the greatest thinkers of the Islamic, South Asian, and Far Eastern civilizations. To do this, we probably will have to commission several articles representing different perspectives and place them side by side. Then it will be the editors' task to integrate these perspectives. Can we find a common ground in which to place, compare, and evaluate the thought of various religions, philosophies, and cultures? We can, in the context of a dialogue which permits a diversity of positions.
b) Interdisciplinary and Intercultural
Dialogue and harmonious give and take, centered on the common good, will foster the mutual appreciation of our common values, and hence the realization of world peace. All diverse cultures of the world, the idealist and materialist approaches to reality, and the values of both science and the humanities have insights to contribute in the context of a global dialogue that respects all standpoints. Without negating any of them, we can find correlations and opportunities for dialogue between divergent conceptual viewpoints. In order to encourage such dialogue, an interdisciplinary approach will be used. Longer topics will be treated from multiple points of view, covering various relevant disciplines and cultural viewpoints. It may be appropriate to use the multiple essay format used by editors of The World & I.
Cross-cultural understanding requires honest communication that bridges two worlds. It is rarely easy for an editor to strike a proper balance between those who are existentially immersed in another culture and those who can properly interpret that culture for Western readers. The limitations of language further limit our ability to find writers who can authentically represent certain cultural viewpoints. We will prefer to find writers who can stand within their culture; it is difficult for a scholar who stands outside a foreign culture to expect to understand it fully; one must immerse oneself completely and share its folkways, lifestyles, pain and wisdom. However, the writer must also be able to interpret these unfamiliar cultural values and ideas into familiar terms, in order to open up understanding to a wide readership. We should also avoid postures of cultural superiority or false claims of cultural uniqueness, whether by writers from dominant or minority cultures. To find a balance, either by employing one or several writers, will be one of the most difficult editorial tasks.
The encylopedia's comparisons will not be value neutral. There should be judgments according to how well the various ideas and traditions live up to their own stated ideals and contribute to the emerging universal standard of value -- true love and action that seeks human betterment. Already, as the world grows smaller and cultures collide, long-honored traditions are clashing with universal ideals. For example, the Hindu caste system is being judged by Hindus themselves as they lift up the ideal of human equality. In Islamic nations, polygamy is facing criticism for denying the value of women. This may be uncomfortable, but it is inevitable that this clash of values be addressed in an encyclopedia that seeks to encourage the emergence of global community.
In politics, for example, we would want to value positive contributions from all political standpoints, both right and left. Avoiding partisanship, we might ask contributors from both the right and the left how their policies can best serve the public interest. At issue is not only abstract philosophy, but how democracy or other forms of government work in practice to bring justice, provide for public safety, establish a prosperous economy, care for the poor, and express the will of the people. Politics, law and economy should function as the stage where people can manifest love and create healthy individuals, families and communities. Their ability to do so depends both on the nature of the system and the integrity and character of the human beings who make it function.
c) Character and Family: The Inner Dimensions of Life
The values and motivations of the inner life lie at the cause of a person's external accomplishments in the world. Likewise, the spirit and character of a people lie at the core of a nation's greatness. In discussing individuals, institutions, and nations, we should pay much attention to the inner spiritual content as we do to describing external facts. In biography we want to know the individual's personality, family background, religious faith, and personal values. In describing a nation or an institution, we want to know its cultural values, its sense of historical identity as shaped by its past, and the factors which are likely to affect its behavior in the future.
Biographical entries in conventional encyclopedias are often little more than recitations of the high points in people's careers. We need to restore the human being to biography. In education, biographies have a critical role to provide role models for youth. A biography should convey a sense of the living person: family and religious influences on his (or her) character; his dreams and life goals; his path to greatness with its hard training, setbacks and triumphs; his strengths and foibles.
The biographer must be sensitive in order to avoid the errors of excessive suspicion or laudation. Many modern biographies show a leftist tendency to be suspicious of the powerful and always ascribe motives of self-interest. That is not always correct. Many powerful and respected rulers had a nobility of purpose that transcended themselves, and sought to wield power for the sake of larger religious or national goals. We can assume that their contemporaries were wise enough to see through self-interest or recognize genuine nobility. On the other hand, older, 19th century biographies often whitewashed the faults of their subjects, particularly if they were famous artists, composers or scientists. Every person, no matter how famous, will meet with temptations to compromise his or her integrity. We admire those righteous people who could keep their integrity; and often we can find in those who succumbed to some temptation in their personal life a source of decline in their public life.
The most basic context for the development of character is the family. The family is the school of love: between husband and wife, grandparents and parents and children, among siblings. It is the starting point for ethics and morality and good citizenship. Family traditions are passed on; problems in the family often determine one's attitude in later professional life. When the family life of a famous person is examined by biographers, it is not always a pretty sight. Nevertheless, our measure of a persons' creative work is often informed by how he or she lives out those ideas in the crucible of the family. In articles on psychology, sociology, ethics, and culture, the contribution of the family should be given a central role.
d) God and Spirit
The reality of God and the phenomena of spirit is testified to in the multiplicity of religions and the manifold experiences of people in all ages and throughout the world. While we recognize that spiritual phenomena have different names and conceptualizations in the various religions, we yet affirm their ultimate unity. The fact of life after death, and of spiritual influences on human behavior, is testified to in all religions. Human beings are linked together through influences beyond time and space. There should be a corrective to the reductionist claims of Western psychology. The materialistic Enlightenment worldview shown never shown more arrogance than in its utter devaluation and dismissal of these issues.
Another reason why conventional encyclopedias bracket any talk of God is to avoid the appearance of sectarianism. From the experience of World Scripture, we have learned that it is possible to talk about God, life after death, prayer, faith, grace, and other spiritual subjects if they are treated in a comparative and interreligious context. Wherever possible, these topics will be addressed in a comprehensive and non-sectarian manner.
Furthermore, there is little doubt that God or spirituality has been a factor in the lives of many great people throughout history. Biographies of well-known religious leaders, prophets, and saints will take a phenomenological standpoint that gives credence to their belief in God's gracious guidance, inspiration, and support. Countless artists, poets, scientists, and mathematicians have credited a spiritual impulse or muse as the source of their most creative inspirations and important breakthroughs. Again, a phenomenological approach would give credence to these reports. There is an intercourse of spiritual communication between heaven and earth. Some of it may be beneficial, other influences can be harmful. By not shirking away from treating this material in a thoroughgoing manner, we can educate people as to the proper way to approach various topics in the area of spirituality, and even the occult.
e) Holistic Science and Medicine
The encyclopedia should be on the cutting edge of science. In addition, it will comment on the philosophical implications of science for understanding reality in general. As truth is one, the truths of science and religion are converging. There should be openness to new paradigms in science that can bridge between conventional materialism and spiritual truths heretofore known only through religion.
The synthetic approach of the encyclopedia assumes that the dimensions of matter and spirit can only be partially understood when regarded separately under the mode of reductive analysis. While reductionistic analysis has its place in the method of individual sciences for the elucidation of specific facts, the results of that reduction should be viewed as only one of the several dimensions of reality. These dimensions are in fact inseparable, interacting, and must ultimately be regarded as parts of a whole. We require a holistic perspective, particularly in fields such as medicine and the life sciences which still flounder under reductionist misconceptions.
For example, there is a great divide today between conventional Western medicine and the myriad varieties of holistic and Oriental medicine. This is firstly a conceptual divide, with different interpretations of the nature of disease, the healing process, and the psycho-physical nature of the human organism. There is also political and dogmatic hostility between doctors and holistic practitioners. But it is our conviction that humanity is best served if the various schools of medicine can cooperate.
Examples of such cooperation are to be found in China and Japan, and these should be highlighted. In a recent report from Isshin Hospital in Tokyo, a cancer therapy was described which combined surgery and chemotherapy with Chinese herbal medicine, psychotherapy, and counseling about death. The report cautioned against over-reliance on holistic approaches to cancer treatment, describing cases where potentially life-saving surgical intervention was postponed while the patient pursued naturopathic cures, until the situation became terminal. On the other hand, treatments with Chinese herbs and psychotherapy significantly speeded recovery from surgery, reduced the need for pain-killing drugs, and may reduce the likelihood of remission. Frequent staff meetings including Western doctors, Chinese herbalists and psychotherapists developed a cooperative spirit on the wards, contributing to the successful development of multi-disciplinary treatment regimens.
Ideally, articles on disease should include holistic as well as conventional approaches. Whenever possible, both sides should be backed up with clinical scientific data as to the efficacy of various treatment modalities. Furthermore, I envision an integrated article on anatomy, in which the meridians of acupuncture on a transparent overlay can be placed on top of the transparencies illustrating the physical circulatory and nervous systems. The functional interactions of these different systems should be explored. Can such an article be written today? In the absence of consensus, an interdisciplinary approach, as outlined above, can be employed.
Someone once quipped that the Encyclopedia Britannica is a book which goes practically unread. A major reason why people do not read it is the abysmal quality of its science writing. Full of complex equations and the densest of prose, the articles are incomprehensible to anyone without an advanced degree. Writing science for the layman takes a special art.
Putting science at the layman's level has a salutary effect of bringing out problems of interpretation. For example, in quantum physics I have come upon at least four interpretations of the so-called "collapse of the wavefunction." And choosing among them brings up philosophical and even theological issues. One of the central points of unification of knowledge, in this case between science and philosophy, occurs at the cutting edge of the new physics. As theories have been pushed to their limits, the "old" questions of mind and God have made their reappearance. The standard evolutionary model of biology is likewise under assault; its assumptions are being challenged by new paradigms drawn from younger sciences such as ecology.
An encyclopedia's presentations of science should give perspective. For one thing, the public needs to be made aware of the limitations of science. Rather than treat scientific theories as true descriptions of reality, the encyclopedia should make some estimate about the tentativeness or relative certainty with which we can rely upon a theory. For instance, Roger Penrose has suggested a scale of theories, from "tentative" to "useful" to "superb." The reader needs such a perspective if she is to make sense out of the profusion of contemporary speculations about "theories of everything," "dark matter," "superstrings" and the like. Recognizing that the reductionistic paradigms of science fit within the larger horizon of a holistic reality is also helpful, because it tells us what problems science has yet to comprehend. Scientists themselves are the first to recognize that science raises more questions then it answers, and that it does little good to mystify science as though it were an omnipotent priesthood. By putting science in perspective, the vitality and balance of scientific research can even be improved.
f) Appreciation for all Creatures
We humans share the planet earth with many existences, living and non-living. We must learn to respect our interdependence in the ecological web of life. Harnessing the power of technology in the pursuit of wealth and material abundance, humans have dominated and altered the environment, often with ill effects. Yet the desire to beautify and enhance the comfort of our living environment is basic to human nature. We recommend an ethic of responsible dominion, which means that human activity should enrich both our living standard and the environment for other creatures.
Therefore, it is necessary to have a proper understanding of the many creatures with which we share the planet. In discussing the plants and animals of the natural world, we should be mindful that they exist in multiple dimensions: in themselves as biological entities, in relation to the larger web of the ecosystem, in relation to human beings as objects of external mastery (cultivation, pest control, land use, etc.), and in relation to human beings as stimulating our spiritual nature, evoking beauty and mystery. In this last and highest dimension we acknowledge the teachings of traditional societies that plants, animals, mountains and rivers embody living spiritual forces. Through expounding upon folklore and traditional wisdom, it can be seen that they truly manifest aspects of ourselves.
g) Creativity in Art and Enterprise
Creativity is a process that begins with an idea in the imagination and ends with its skilful realization in a physical form. Such diverse activities as engineering and invention, painting and sculpture, handicrafts, poetry, and dance cannot be adequately understood only from appreciating the finished work. To explore the creative process, we should examine the creator at work. Case studies and practical examples may help to bring an esoteric topic within the reach of a layperson and give empowerment. Thus the encyclopedia can serve to promote creativity in its readers.
In appreciating art, we should attend to those enduring qualities and subtle essences that distinguish a masterpiece from mediocre art. The proper sense of beauty in art is connected to its representing eternal values, truth and love, in human life, and to their attributes which flow from the being of God: harmony, joy, pain and sympathy, courage, self-sacrifice, tenderness, majesty, etc. The subjectivity and personal circumstances of the artist, as well as changing styles of interpretation, also have a place in understanding art, yet the greatest art transcends these limits.
Even ordinary business and labor should be valued for their contributions to society. Those values which make for success in business and pride in the workplace deserve discussion. We note that in cultures with the most prosperous industry, labor is given transcendent value -- as a way to glorify God or to add one's own essence to the eternal work of creation. Stories of capitalists, entrepreneurs, and corporations contain valuable lessons, as they put their values and creativity into practice in the rough-and-tumble world of the marketplace.
Sports and other areas of human achievement should be presented for their value at teaching self-mastery, discipline and teamwork. The most notable sportsmen are noble not merely for their strength or skill, but for their sacrifice and often selfless motivation to strive for the honor of team or nation, the perfection of art, and the glory of God.
h) From the Past to the Future
Why study history? Not just to collect a trove of trivia and unrelated facts. History has lessons for us today as we strive to make a better future. We should learn from the mistakes and successes of history what will be a wise policy for the present. We can find in a nation's history certain patterns of behavior, certain recurrent problems and attempts to overcome them, which become themes which define that nation's political life. These themes mold the character of a nation and set forth the continuing agenda for its future.
Furthermore, in the history of every civilization we can take the measure of its highest ideals. We can look to the great men of history in any culture for a definition of these ideals. We can see in them the examples of people who have taken public responsibility as they attempt to rise to the challenge of history. Likewise, to the extent that God is active in history, He has a providence to guide history towards a purpose and goal. Events and people stand in their actuality against the horizon of what God desires for them, or what could have been. Therefore, the encyclopedia will present history according to a thematic treatment, rather than a simple chronological and descriptive account; and it should include an evaluation of that history in relation to its telos.
The encyclopedia looks forward to the emergence of a unified civilization, which will embrace the diversity of the world's cultural traditions into one world family of humanity. Hence the encyclopedia will value the contributions of all cultures, not only for what they have achieved in themselves, but for what they can offer the global community. A non-exhaustive list of cultures, ideas, and values which will contribute together to a unified civilization might include:
Aristotle . . . . . . virtues, e.g. generosity
Plato . . . . . . . . ideals of truth, beauty, goodness
Judaism . . . . . . . ethical monotheism, providence, prophets
Christianity. . . . . faith, sacrificial love
Rome. . . . . . . . . rule of law
England . . . . . . . empiricism, constitutional rights
America . . . . . . . freedom, human rights, individualism, diversity
Capitalism. . . . . . individual initiative, free market
Socialism . . . . . . internationalism, economic justice
Democracy . . . . . . freedom, self-government, participation
Islam . . . . . . . . obedience to God, racial harmony
Buddhism. . . . . . . self-discipline, compassion
Confucianism. . . . . family, personal integrity, ethical order
Taoism. . . . . . . . harmony
Hinduism. . . . . . . science of the inner self
Jainism . . . . . . . nonviolence
Africa. . . . . . . . communal solidarity
Native Americans. . . ecological awareness
Shamanism . . . . . . spiritual world
i) Accuracy, Extensive Coverage, Readability, and Comprehensiveness
In addition to these internal principles, the encyclopedia will strive for the highest standards of accuracy, extensive coverage, and comprehensiveness that befit a major general encyclopedia. To compete with such encyclopedias as the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Encyclopedia Americana, the product must be of similar size and achieve a comparable standard of excellence.
Articles will be accurate, academically sound, and procedures for multiple review will be set up to assure accuracy. Larger entries will be accompanied by bibliographic information. There will be extensive coverage of all fields of knowledge. More than 20,000 entries will be needed to cover the diversity of plants and animals, biographies of notable people, and topics of every field in the sciences, arts, and culture.
Readability is essential for a good encyclopedia. Articles will be edited for readability according to the standards of the industry. The Encyclopædia Britannica suffers on this score, as entries in their Macropædia are often written in dense, scientific prose that is unintelligible to all but a few specialists. Encyclopedias are not written for specialists, who have many specialized reference sources at their disposal. The audience for this encyclopedia should be laypeople and college students. They should find the articles interesting and enticing, making plain even the most esoteric subjects. To aid in the presentation of material, we will make use of copious illustrations, photographs, charts, and maps. We may also use sidebars and boxes to separate out essential technical or mathematical information which might otherwise obstruct the flow of the exposition. Entries should be easy to locate, through intelligent cross-references.
The ideal of comprehensiveness has always been one of the most difficult goals of encyclopedias that still strive for extensive coverage. Historically, the encyclopedia has encompassed two different types of product: one is a collection of long essays, often written by renowned authorities, that give comprehensive coverage on a limited number of major topics; the other is the encyclopedic dictionary, with thousands of short entries covering every possible topic including technical terms, cities and towns, people, and events, but with only brief and superficial coverage of each. The 15th edition of the Britannica tries to deal with this problem by creating two different encyclopedias, a dictionary-like Micropædia and a Macropædia composed of a limited number of short essays. This attempt has been widely criticized as unwieldy and difficult to use. Some of the Macropædia entries are over 200 pages long, the size of a book, and suffer from unreadability.
Our approach to this problem is designed to maintain extensive and readable coverage while at the same time allowing for comprehensive discussions of major topics. Comprehensive articles will be required if there is to be space for discussion of values, interdisciplinary and intercultural aspects, and character as described above. But there is not space to discuss every topic in such a manner. The key will be to select specific and representative topics which are worthy of such comprehensive discussion, while leaving others to short, dictionary-size entries. In order to maintain readability, we will limit the size of even the largest comprehensive entries, and break them up into appropriate subsections.
At the time of this writing, research on the encyclopedia has only just begun. But sooner or later, a new encyclopedia embodying the Unificationist vision will be published. Its historical importance and educational influence will depend upon how fully it embodies this new vision and announces, through its radical departure from the norms of current encyclopedias, the transcending of the old Enlightenment paradigm.
It is my hope that the production of this new encyclopedia will become a beacon, attracting scholars from every field who share these convictions about the shape of knowledge. It can become a vehicle through which they can express their views in a collaborative effort at educational reform. In the 18th century, Diderot and d'Allembert collected many like-minded Enlightenment thinkers into their stable of writers for the Encyclopédie, and we should do no less. The project has obvious attractions to scholars in fields of study which have been given short shrift by conventional encyclopedias due to their materialistic and Western bias: Islamic scholars, holistic physicians, transpersonal psychologists, and religionists, to name a few. But it is my hope that thinkers from a wide spectrum of disciplines will recognize the need for a reform of education as outlined here. The Unificationist encyclopedia may become the nucleus of a new intellectual movement for revisioning knowledge as the world enters a new age.
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