Articles From the October 1995 Unification News
ICUS Marks 20th Conference in Seoul at 2nd WCSF
by Gregory Breland-Lexington, KY
The most recent International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) which occurred from August 22-25, 1995 in Seoul, Korea as part of the 2nd World Culture and Sports Festival, was the twentieth such conference since its inception in 1972. About 150 scholars from various disciplines participated with many friendships being made and renewed. One of the often asked questions about this kind of conference centers on its cost and its overall benefit to the Unification Movement and society as a whole.
Just to mention some of the benefits that come from our association with ICUS professors, let me mention the following: Often those introducing Father or Mother on their recent speaking tours have had their first connection with the movement through ICUS; Father's recent tour of South America was aided by academics affiliated with ICUS and enabled him to meet various country presidents and other important political figures; Many of those on the board at the University of Bridgeport come via ICUS; When Father has made various proclamations in newspapers, many of those who have been asked to support it have been ICUS-related professors. And, of course, the discussions have helped bring the question of values into the scientific arena, where they have long been vacant.
To those who wonder about the significance of this work, it is hoped the above short explanation has been reassuring. The plenary sessions and each of the seven committees will be reviewed in this report. The theme of this conference was Absolute Values and the Unity of the Sciences: The Origin and Human Responsibility.
Conference Chairman's Welcoming Address
At the Opening Plenary Session, Dr. Tor Ragnar Gerholm, conference chairman and Emeritus Professor of Physics at Stockholm University, gave his remarks. He noted that strife, strike and struggle are words that readily come to mind when thinking about the last three years since ICUS met in Seoul in 1992, marred by warfare and atrocities in all quarters of the world.
Yet, he admonished us, we must not despair. Ever since the first ICUS in New York in 1972 the Founder has insisted that the invited participants consciously and seriously address one or the other, or both, of the two recurrent themes of ICUS: the "Unity of the Sciences" and "Science and Values." The Founder feels that the scientists and scholars of the modern world can and must come up with answers and provide guidance not merely in sophisticated scientific issues and esoteric scholarly pursuits. They are obliged to shoulder the responsibility inherent in the enormous power and prestige of today's science and technology. This is possible, as the Founder has shown us, through the concept of unity of knowledge
In his Closing Plenary at the last ICUS Gerholm suggested "The Unity of the Sciences" must not be taken to imply that we are aiming at a Superscience, incorporating all other sciences as subfields and specialties. What ICUS is trying to achieve is something very different: a united action of autonomous disciplines. Thus promoting unity in the true academic sense: the quality of being one in spirit, a cognitive and emotional whole in short, a university.
Maybe, he noted, we have made a mistake in asserting that values or ethics have no place in our scientific discussions. Maybe it was wrong to tacitly assume that ethics, as a rule of order for human conduct, is a means to bring about moral behavior in creatures that otherwise would behave in a completely amoral way. In a complete reversal of this assumption, it is now being argued by philosophers such as Zygmunt Bauman and Emmanuel Levins for the case that morality precedes ethics! Moral behavior is primordial, implanted in humans as a weak and feeble potentiality which may never develop but nonetheless exists as a possibility.
The question is why? Could it be that this potentiality of moral behavior is inherited, part of our genetic code? Humans are, after all, more than ninety-nine percent genetically identical. It is conceivable that we inherit not merely our physical traits and mental abilities, including the ability to recognize human beings as like us, but also the ability to recognize moral behavior. Expressed in a secular language, this idea is not far from the religious idea that almighty God has given us the ability to distinguish good from evil and the capacity to do right.
Introduction of the Founder
The Founder of ICUS, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, was introduced by Nicholas Kittrie, Professor of Law, American University, Washington, D.C. In answer to the question of why Kittrie has affiliated himself with the Unification Movement and the Reverend Moon, his response has always been plain and simple. As a youth, he has been introduced to the Moslem Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, later met the Pope in Rome, and got to know the Chief Rabbi of Israel. But not even one of these three ever asked for his opinion, for his assistance, or for his participation. They all were too deeply immersed in their own missions, in their own institutions, their own faiths. It was in the Reverend Moon that Kittrie found for the first time a true ecumenical spirit, a fierce commitment to the unity of man, an unflinching love of all mankind, a full commitment to the institution of the family, the wisdom to blend the Occident with the Orient, an ability to combine eternity with a sense of timeliness, the talents to create a bridge between science and faith, the courage to wage warfare against escalating contemporary hedonism, and the divine as well as human gifts of humor and love of life. He concluded with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, America's most original, thoughtful and optimistic philosopher: "Institutions are, by and large, the lengthened shadow of one man ... and all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons."
Founder's Address: True Knowledge, True Family and World Peace
The Reverend Moon addressed a completely full ballroom of ICUS, Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA) and local guests of 500 people. He noted that the development of scientific knowledge and of civilization has, on the one hand, allowed people to enjoy an abundant life. But on the other hand, it has resulted in such global problems as the destruction of nature and the environment, global warming and the diminishing of the ozone layer. Serious problems have also arisen in relation to the human condition. In the process of industrialization and modernization, the family is being destroyed, and serious problems such as drugs and AIDS, violence and crime, warn us that humankind is facing a crisis.
Peace and human happiness depend on the moral and spiritual development of people. This is because world peace, or a peaceful nation, is comprised of individuals and families. Science and technical skill can be used for good for the improvement of human life when they are utilized by good people.
The Reverend Moon noted that he has taught about the establishment of a society of co- existence, mutual property and the common good. An ideal world means co-existing economically, prospering together politically, and, from an ethical viewpoint, creating a society of goodness. Co-ownership based on God's true love is the essence of the ideology of co-existence. The basic unit of a society of co-existence is the family. By co-ownership it is not meant ownership merely in relation to material possessions, but based on God's love. Even though all property would be legally held in the parents' names, in practice, it would be jointly owned by the whole family parents and children alike. At the same time, each family member might have his or her own room, clothes and personal money. In this way, joint ownership among family members would be based on the family, but individuals would still have their own property. Thus, the purpose of the whole and the individual would be harmonized. This ideal pattern of ownership in a family based on love would expand to the society, nation and world.
He went on to say that the goal here is not just to discuss the latest discoveries in physics, biology and chemistry. We must understand and discuss how such discoveries and academic achievements can benefit each individual and society as a whole, and how harmonious relation ships among humankind, the world, and the creation, can be realized. Professors not only teach theory but also instill students with character and values. As they have an important influence on the character formation and development of their students, they should guide and help them onto the path of goodness. Professors have a great deal of influence on young people. However, students are influenced even more by their parents. It is the family that exerts the most influence on the formation of an individual's character.
Plenary Address: The Unity of Man and Science
D.H.R. Barton, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1969), addressed the jointly assembled ICUS and PWPA audience. He is a distinguished professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University. He stated that for the past 40 years his main aim in science has been to invent useful reactions to aid in the synthesis of biologically important molecules. Chemical reactions are truly international and bind together all mankind. At a given temperature and atmospheric pressure, a reaction will proceed at the same rate in any part of the world independently of the political regime. This reaction is also independent of time and will proceed at the same rate in the future as in the present or in the past.
He noted that for the first billion years of life there was no oxygen in the world. Life depended on the reduction of sulfate to sulfide for energy. With the arrival of oxygen, produced by the photosynthetic activity of the blue-green algae about three billion years ago, the world changed dramatically. Much more energy could be obtained via oxidation and the evolution of multicellular life proceeded rapidly in the sea and then moved onto the earth.
He maintained that science, itself, has no moral stance. But, scientists are well aware of the moral implications of their work. The tremendous power given to man by science should be used with moral reason. The dangers that political ambition might overcome this moral reason constitutes a fearsome hazard that must unite all mankind in a crusade for peace. The principal danger is from the nuclear bomb, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, this is very unlikely.
There is, he stated, another time bomb in our future, probably in the next century. This is the strong probability that molecular biology will be able to determine what causes the aging process and them remedy this cause. Already there is a theory that aging is produced by a simple deficiency in the replication of DNA in its final stages. If this is true, then application of the right enzyme would enable us to live forever or until some suitable accident killed us. Certain carp and the giant land tortoise may already have this enzyme. What a terrible fate for mankind this will be. Such is the power of the life wish for most forms of life, especially man, that we shall all become Fausts. Fortunately, the present audience is probably too old to worry about our destiny in a world of perpetual youth.
Plenary Address: The Challenge of the Information Society
Marcelo Alonso, Principal Research Scientist, Retired, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida gave his talk to a joint session of ICUS and PWPA participants. The rapid increase in the means of communication, that has taken place in the last 100 years, has increased considerably cultural interactions throughout the world, becoming a global phenomenon. As knowledge increases, old civilization evolve and change and new civilizations emerge. For knowledge to be effective and useful it must be transferred and disseminated and, when appropriate, used or applied to improve the quality of life, through the process of technological innovation, which in turn affects cultures. In other words, knowledge is a prime factor of cultural change.
On the positive side of the electromagnetic stage of the information evolution has been the facilitation of information by people at all levels and the exchanges of ideas among peoples in different parts of the world, thus contributing to their mutual knowledge. On the other hand, there has been the risk that electromagnetic information facilitates special interest groups or dictatorial regimes to manipulate, influence and even control the way people think and behave.
Alonso asserted that these new technologies have made it possible to amplify many times the power of the human brain, just as the steam and internal combustion engines multiplied many times the power of human and animal muscles. As this brain amplification has become available to more and more people, it has produced profound social and cultural impacts. Information technology has been aided by the development of quantum electronics, opto-electronics and digitalization.
C.P. Snow introduced in 1959 the idea of the existence of two cultures of global dimension. One is the scientific/technical culture composed by scientists and engineers that, while affecting the whole world with their ideas, research and actions, have very limited direct communication with the public. The second is the humanistic/literary culture composed of the much larger group of non-scientific intellectuals (writers, philosophers, religious leaders, lawyers) that have much more direct influence on the public in general and in a sense dominate the scene. Its members appeal to a variety of aspects of human nature such as values and responsibility, social and family issues, beauty and pleasure, art and poetry, justice and order, which are of immediate interest to most people. A serious consequence of the two cultures has been that, because their language and conceptual paradigms are different, the communication among the practitioners of both cultures has been minimal resulting in two parallel global cultures.
The rapid growth in diversity and importance of scientific research and technological innovation has forced decision-makers and the public to become aware of the scientific and technical issues facing modern society. The result has been the emergence of a third culture that I would define as those who can bring in a meaningful way the scientific culture to a broad audience. One of the most important factors contributing to the expansion of the third culture is the current infotec revolution. One of the reasons is the simplicity with which information can be exchanged all over the world, another is the variety of information, scientific and non- scientific, education and non-educational, and, thirdly, people are induced to use new technological innovations.
Instead of communication being one-to-one, with the internet communication can be many- to-many, in the sense that anybody having access to the net can use the information available or communicate with any others with access to the net. Also it does not matter with whom we communicate, but only the quality of the information transferred. We are even seeing the emergence of virtual communities, which are people separated geographically but sharing some common interest, that use computer-mediated-communication to interact, communicate and establish relationships. There is hope that this will promote trans-cultural relations and a danger that it will dehumanize human relations.
In addition to the Plenary Addresses there were seven committees that made up the ICUS.
Committee 1: Scientific Objectivity and Human Values
Committee 1 was chaired by Paul Badham, Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Wales and the honorary chair was the world-renowned expert on the world's religions, Ninian Smart of the University of California. Over the past three hundred years it has been increasingly recognized that the scientific method and research are the best ways to determine issues of empirical fact. The implications of this for the study of human values has not yet been fully appreciated. There is abundant evidence that changing perceptions about issues of empirical fact have had a very significant impact on ethical beliefs and it would be good for this to be documented and its implications explored.
Committee 2: Genetic Knowledge, Human Values and Human Responsibility
Committee 2 was chaired by Jacquelyn Kegley, Outstanding Professor of Philosophy, California State University, Bakersfield, California. Recent developments in the science of Genetics and certain accompanying technologies such as genetic screening techniques and gene therapy present great promise for the prevention and possible cure of "genetic-based" diseases and thus for the relief of much human suffering. However, genetic science is still at the frontier in gaining knowledge about gene mechanisms and manifestations and there are many uncertainties associated with any application of genetic technologies in the human context. There is, in fact, mounting evidence that any deterministic linear and unique causality model is inadequate to the complexity and flexibility of human genetic mechanisms. The general lack of understanding by the public of genetic uncertainties and the tendency to great over-expectation concerning the promise of genetic technologies makes the ethical and public policy issues surrounding the use of genetic knowledge of crucial importance for general discussion from a wide range of perspectives.
Committee 3: Values and the Social Order: Order by Rules and Rules by Order
Chairman was Gerard Radnitzky, Professor of Philosophy of Science, Emeritus, University of Trier, Trier, Germany. The committee was a continuation with a different focus of the work of the committee with the same working title at the 19th ICUS. A social system involves a collection of agents, who organize themselves or are organized, into a certain organizational structure. Such a structure roughly corresponds to what Hayek calls an order . The friends of the Free Society will judge a social order according to whether it tends to promote private liberty (Samuel Johnson, but also such diverse thinkers as Burke, Jefferson, Madison, Hayek, and so forth). Before we can evaluate social orders we have to describe them in a way that is relevant for the evaluation. Particularly important are the distinction Voluntary (non-coercive) vs. Coercive orders (roughly, market vs. state) and the distinction Spontaneous vs. Constructed orders. Since the value position chosen gives priority to freedom, Voluntary Order is evaluated positively and Coercive Order negatively. Insofar as the distinction Spontaneous Constructed is based merely on the genesis, it is value-neutral. On the other hand, constructed order suggests a coercive element, which at least prima facie is morally suspect. Hence we can judge only from case to case. Qualifying as a spontaneous order is of course no guarantee that the order is non- coercive.
Committee 4: Science, Nature and the Sacred
This committee was chaired by Ravi Ravindra, Professor of Comparative Religion and of Physics, Dalhousie University, Halifax Canada. Much of the discussion in the committee revolved around the fundamental distinction of "having a religion" (or "believing in religion") and having a "religious mind" (or a "spiritual mind" or a "compassionate mind"). Although there were a few members who had a commitment to one or another specific religion, the majority in the committee were more interested in the religious mind. However, it is clear that the historical, social and institutional aspects of religion cannot be ignored. The very fact that such a committee is needed arises from a specific set of circumstances and situations in the history of Europe and of the Christian Church.
It was generally agreed in the committee that any activity whether it be Physics or Poetry or Pottery can be a way to relate with the Sacred if there is a right attitude involved. The major ingredient of this attitude is a freedom from self-centeredness and self-occupation which naturally leads to humility and inclusiveness. Also, all the member in the committee agreed that a life of the spirit and in the Spirit cuts across religions and sects, and that there are many levels of consciousness, and that a relationship with the Sacred is a mark of a higher level of conscious ness.
Committee 5: Re-Visioning the Aging Society: A Global Perspective
Chaired by Rick Moody, Brookdale Center on Aging, Hunter College, New York, New York this committee dealt with the topic of aging. Population aging denotes a rise in the average age of the population linked to an increased proportion of elderly people. It is a demographic transition arising under conditions of modernization involving decline in both death rates and birth rates. Population aging is a distinctive and historically unprecedented phenomenon of the 20th century, and it poses a far-reaching challenge to all sectors of society: family, religion, economy, the educational system, health care, and government. From a global perspective, the challenge is most evident in advanced industrialized societies of the North (North America, Western Europe, and Japan), while less developed countries of the South typically have younger populations. Population aging, therefore, has global and international dimensions, as well as implications for medical technology, intergenerational relationships, and economic development. An aging society, in the final analysis, represents a triumph of longevity and is a cause for celebration. But it also demands a new vision of the human future. The committee offered an interdisciplinary approach to an emerging global problem and responded to the ICUS theme of Science and Values. Whether in geriatric medicine or in pension policy, today we face difficult ethical choices in the allocation of resources: life-prolongation and euthanasia, taking care of young and old, and employment opportunities over the lifespan are only a few of the issues on the horizon. Neither technology nor public policy by themselves can resolve these troubling questions. Only by better integrating empirical findings from many fields and by considering old age as part of total lifespan development can we hope to respond to the challenge of an aging society.
Committee 6: In Pursuit of Beauty: The Biological Foundations of Aesthetics
This committee was chaired by Frederick Turner, Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas. The traditionally modernist (and post- modernist) view of art and beauty is that since they belong within the sphere of Geisteswissenschaft spiritual or mental knowledge they cannot be studied within the realm of Naturwissenschaft natural or scientific knowledge. The Platonic, Cartesian and Kantian division of the world into mental and physical still held true for C.P. Snow's two cultures; artists and scientists agreed on the separation, artists maintaining that their work was too lofty to be sullied by the materialistic, mechanistic and deterministic physical world, and scientists maintaining that the arts were a trivial fantasy useful only for passing leisure time.
However, this modernist (and post-modernist) picture has recently been undergoing a profound change. In a wide range of disciplines neuroscience, psychophysics, psychology, cultural and physical anthropology, literary theory and criticism, oral tradition studies, visual perception studies, mythology, infant and child development studies, and the evolutionary study of ritual among others a new approach to aesthetics is being explored. Chaos and complexity theory have demonstrated that most of the characteristics attributed by nineteenth-century philosophy of science to the physical universe linearity, theoretical predictability, mechanistic causality, and so on are true only of isolated and exceptional physical systems, and that much of the universe participates in complex nonlinear dynamical systems in which every part depends upon the behavior of the whole, the whole can be sensitively dependent on the behavior of the parts, and new and unpredictable forms of organization can emerge through spontaneous symmetry-breaking. These nonlinear features are especially characteristic of biological systems, and are so par excellence of the complex feedback processes of the nervous systems of higher social animals such as ourselves.
This new scientific paradigm provides a justification for renewing the great classical and renaissance project of the scientific study of aesthetics. A daring new group of interdisciplinary researchers in several fields have begun to ask some fundamental questions: why do human beings across the whole range of human cultures find certain objects, sounds, movements, stories beautiful? Why are the basic genres and forms of the arts culturally universal? What structures and functions of the human brain and sensorium underlie aesthetic experience and competence? Why do scientists report a strong aesthetic element in their research? Do more primitive forms of aesthetic experience and competence exist in nature? What technological, ecological, social or ritual developments might there be, that could provide the adaptive pressure by which our remarkable human aesthetic abilities evolved?
Committee 7: Towards the Harmony of Cultures
Chaired by Frederick Sontag, Professor of Philosophy, Pomona College, Claremont, California, this committee has considered a wide variety of questions and answers about achieving harmony among cultures today. This is especially important in a world which is increasing in violence and destructive conflict between cultured groups. Below are outlined some of the suggestions made by our paper writers:
Marcelo Alonso explored the information revolution and outlined the way in which the quantum leaps in technology both challenges us and makes possible changes which could improve society. Henry Bauer discussed the conflict which cultured stereotypes pose for us, and the way in which listening to individual voices and individual people can help us to overcome conflicts which stereotypes generate. Many of us witnessed the mass blessing in Seoul, and David Carlson told us how this event can promote harmony by using it as an educational paradigm for the children of the next generation. Helmut Fritzsche told us of his experience of radical change in Eastern Germany after the end of the Cold War and the hope that this offers ways to lessen cultural conflict by problem solving. Michael Higatsberger used his wide experience in the discussions over international disarmament to illustrate both the possibility of international agreement and the way in which this can be used as a model to resolve divisive issues.
Sangwhe Lee discussed cultural prejudice and the ways in which we can overcome these, as well as our need to avoid the distortion in mass media. Juha Pentikinen outlined our need to broaden our definition of religion and the categories we use to define it in order to avoid the narrowness that generates conflict due to exclusiveness. Hans Schwarz used historical understanding as an example of the way this can promote conflict or, alternatively, heal us rather than harm. Theodore Shimmyo used his analysis of current cultures as a basis to argue for the need for humility as a mean to achieve a universality centered on God and on living for the sake of others. Alexander Shtromas argued the need for agreement on some universal principles in order to avoid repeated national conflicts. Both Andrew Wilson and Sang Hun Lee argued for a Unificationist approach as a basis for the hope to avoid religious conflict and achieve harmony.
Gregory Breland is the Executive Director of ICUS
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