The Words of the Pople Family

ICUS Discussion Highlights

Joy Pople
November 13, 1981

The 850 participants in the tenth International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, November 9-13, 1981, included three Nobel laureates (Eugene P. Wigner, U.S. von Euler and Robert Mulliken) as well as one prime minister, four ministers of education and three other ministers -- the most eminent group of scholars to visit Korea. The proceedings of the conference will fill a couple of mammoth books, and in a few pages it is impossible to give more than a simplistic account of the discussions at the conference. Perhaps the following observations made by the committee chairmen and a few of the constructive ideas presented in the conference papers will give our members some feeling for the event.

Conference chairman, Dr. Morton A. Kaplan

Following Father's address at the opening session, Dr. Kaplan said, "Through the founder's address, I think you can get some idea of the peace, happiness and prosperity of mankind which leads Reverend Moon to support activities of this kind. Despite his personal difficulties, which might have led him to devote himself to securing his own position, Reverend Moon has chosen to be here with us."

Pointing to the example of South Korea, Dr. Kaplan, a noted political scientist, said, "This is proof that development is available to those countries that make the effort and know how to do it. You will see that although this area [Seoul] is most highly developed, the prosperity reaches down into the the villages." He urged conference participants to use their free time to observe not only Korea but also the Korean people. Their dedication and energy "should provide inspiration to all of us that help lies. within each of us. Hope is not abstract; it is around us." Dr. Kaplan noted that the conference papers point to new relationships and new visions of humanity in all aspects of society -- the marketplace, government, social institutions and schooling.

A special concern of Dr. Kaplan is education. "I happen to think that schooling in the Western world is a disaster," he told participants. "What kind of character is being developed in our schools? We need individuals who are fully and not just partly human." He called the schism between science and values one of the woes of the 20th century.

At the end of the conference, Dr. Kaplan announced that Father had agreed "in principle" to the setting up of an experimental school in the United States. Dr. Kaplan felt that such a contribution might prove to be "more important than our scholarly contributions."

In closing, Dr. Kaplan called the conference the most successful ICUS he has attended. "However," he added, "I am still not satisfied; future conferences should be able to achieve many substantial things." Dr. Kaplan reminded participants that these conferences are the product of one man's vision, and he read aloud a statement of gratitude to Father which the committee chairmen had signed.

Vice-chairman, Dr. U.S. van Euler

A Nobel laureate and past president of the Nobel Foundation, Dr. van Euler praised the courteousness and friendliness of the Korean people, which he found to prevail over even the geographic beauty of the countryside. "We are also impressed by the efficiency and energy which has brought the country to its present position," he told participants.

A professor of physiology, Dr. van Euler asked what makes it possible for people to live together in peace. "As biologists, we have found no absolute answer," he commented, "but I am sure that courtesy and friendliness are not a bad start."

Committee I -- Comparative Development: The Present

Former director of the Stanford Research Institute, Dr. John Golden chaired this committee, which studied various nations to find out what makes development plans succeed in some nations and fail in others. "The papers in our committee are intended to be provocative," Dr. Golden stated. He also envisioned his committee as exerting a steadying influence on the others as they launch "on the soaring futures of the world."

In one session, this committee discussed Korea, Taiwan. Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan as nations which lack natural resources but have shown an unusually rapid development of management and production skills since World War II. Now, the critical issue for such nations is their social, cultural and religious development.

Another session discussed the new group of resource-exporting nations (primarily oil-exporting nations) which were colonies during the first industrial revolution. These nations have resources which might fuel their own joint development progress, but they encounter troubles and frustrations in attempting to participate in the "second industrial revolution" on their own terms. An Egyptian speaker described the social impact that development has had in attitudes towards work, problems of migrant workers, and urbanization in OPEC countries. Oil wealth has also created a new era of international cooperation between the southern and northern hemispheres, and even among countries in the southern part of the globe.

The third session pointed out lessons from the experiences of nations which are industrial veterans. An American scholar attributed Japan's unusually rapid industrial growth to such factors as national policy and character, superior education, emphasis on research and development, good export management, minimal defense and welfare budgets, the stimulus of Asian wars, and finally good business organization.

The last session discussed the less- developed countries, nations who achieved political independence in a condition of "chronic poverty." A Trinidadian stated that the reduction of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean does not mainly depend on outside aid, but on actions on a national and regional level. These countries should work towards a more equitable distribution of national income, goods and services, he said. An oriental scholar warned developing countries against focusing only on their immediate needs rather than thinking about the long-term well-being of their people.

Committee II -- Technology and Society in Transition

Chairman Alvin M. Weinberg, director of the Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, led discussions on scientific and technological revolutions that are already in the laboratory and an examination of their likelihood for success and their probable impact on society.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Weinberg commented on the views of technological pessimists, who see the world becoming more disorganized and more polluted, and the technological optimists, who see new technologies as the means of fulfilling man's yearning for a better world. He noted hopeful developments and voiced a concern for the human implications of technological developments. "As I listened to Reverend Moon speak," he said, "I came to realize that he also must be counted among the technological optimists."

Speakers during the first session, which focused on energy, aired a variety of views about the feasibility of various energy sources.

A second session discussed information technologies and their social implications. Robotics can increase productivity in manufacturing and release workers from dangerous or boring tasks, for example, but it could also mean that the control of manufacturing will consolidate into a few giant corporations. A Japanese analyst predicted that advances in microelectronics will eventually prove the greater dignity and worth of humans over machines, not the reverse.

The third session, on materials, offered guardedly optimistic views of resources, depending on technological advances and supply and demand economics to regulate their use. The real threat, according to one American, is the depletion of agricultural resources, for which there are no technological substitutes. He predicted that these resources will remain adequate only if population does not increase too rapidly.

The final session discussed the broader social implications of technology. An American analyst felt that it was impossible to predict the impact of technology, but one could get a sense of the future by examining aspects of society, such as the family and leisure habits. He felt, for instance. that the current tendency to separate work and home may run counter to future technology. An Indian scientist called for advanced technology which could be adapted to the needs of various regions of the world, both developed and developing.

Committee III -- The Future of Technology and Society

With Dr. Eugene P. Wigner as honorary chairman and Dr. Kenneth Mellanby, director emeritus of the Monk's Wood Experimental Station in Huntingdon, England, as chairman, this committee envisioned the science, technology and societal patterns of the future.

Trying to counteract the literature of gloom, Dr. Mellanby said, "I have found a unique awareness in Korea of what must be done to safeguard future developments, preventing, for instance, the industrial pollution that affects so many developing countries. In Western countries, increased leisure seems to have given rise to activities which are not of the highest spiritual nature. Let us hope that we learn from the East, so that when our work week is reduced to one or two hours, we can spend the extra time in meditation and improve the human situation!

"We have made a mess of many things we have done. Only as we meet people of other disciplines in places such as this conference can we as scientists perhaps learn to discipline ourselves. Only then can an ideal world such as Reverend Moon spoke of be possible."

The first session discussed the concern of science with the improvement of human welfare and wondered whether such concern will continue or whether it will focus rather on extending the limits of human understanding and giving satisfaction to its practitioners.

A Swedish scholar commented on the different ways in which the Chinese and the Japanese have reacted to Western technology. In the last century, the Japanese adopted the policy, "Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world, so that the welfare of the Empire may be promoted," and because of this receptivity, the Japanese have reached and in some areas surpassed the West. On the other hand, the Chinese attitude has been ambivalent, and at times negative, as for example during the recent Cultural Revolution. Were the Japanese right and the Chinese wrong, he questioned.

A Swiss scholar claimed that applied science has no intrinsic goals, but rather is "instrumental to" something. Applied science has its costs, he maintained, and these costs are often charged to a society which does not play a sufficient role in determining its goals. He urged that science be submitted to public control and also that scientists themselves recognize their own responsibility.

The second session dealt with the changes in technology and whether the consequences might be a super-technology or a kind of "post-industrial society;' characterized by a return to a simpler life. An American called for new social inventions to minimize the ill effects of some potentially harmful technologies. Another American predicted that information technology might result in increased isolation, privacy and reduced survivability, including possible mental imbalance and emotional instability. In the political field, either a dictatorship or a participative democracy might result. However, he felt that human beings have a high degree of resilience and can evolve through learning and correcting errors.

The third session discussed population and social patterns, such as marriage and the family, and the effects of increased longevity, decreased mortality, genetic engineering, etc.

Committee IV -- Transformations of the Individual in Society

Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein, director of the Florida State University Humanities Institute, chaired the discussions focusing on a comparison of Eastern and Western religion, philosophy, culture and the arts, health and healing, supranational movements and modernization trends.

In his introductory remarks, Dr. Rubenstein quoted a London Economist article which stated that the post-Confucian civilization in the East is better suited to meeting modern needs than the individualistic Western civilization. "Land has tended to divide people more than oceans," Dr. Rubenstein-Stated. "History has seen the Mediterranean and Atlantic civilizations and soon will see a Pacific civilization. I expect tö see books on what we in the West can learn from Korea. In Asia we can find the most exciting synthesis of various cultures and systems of thought. I hope in the future that it will be considered a form of illiteracy for Westerners not to be knowledgeable about Asian literature and culture."

The first session explored the Eastern and Western approaches to health and healing and discussed the implications of the modern divorce of science and religion in the West. It also considered the possibilities of integrating Western medicine with the ancient holistic approaches of the East. A Sri Lankan discussed the limitations of the Freudian approach to analysis from a Buddhist viewpoint, and an American discussed research on a new photo-radiation therapy for cancer.

The second session featured cross- cultural perspectives on modernization: an American studied Japan, a Japanese studied Korea, and a Korean studied the United States. The Japanese scholar called for modernization adapted to the cultural values of the receiving country, not just an imitation of the West. He attributed the Korean success in industrialization to the Korean people's "strong sense of the self and the desire to promote one's social status and advancement in life." In a similar vein, the Korean scholar denied that modernization of Asian societies would inevitably lead to self-alienation, isolation or psychic insecurity. He argued that modernization of new nations requires the marriage of traditional spiritual cultures and modern scientific culture.

In the third session, on the resurgence of the cultural and spiritual dimensions of East Asia, an American commented on recent Western interest in studying Japanese management and production techniques, but noted that the motivation behind these developments may not he transmissible to another culture. A Korean studied the Asian development of three aspects of citizenship -- the expansion of civil rights, the expansion of political power, and the actualization of social rights. Although noting that modern pluralistic social structure tends to eliminate these characteristics, he observed that the free peoples of Asia would have their dreams shattered if they came under the control of communist totalitarianism.

The final session discussed Catholic Christianity, Marxism and Islam as supranational movements. A Saudi commentator on Marxism declared that communism is an unattainable goal and that Marxism is a transitory ideology whose days are numbered.

Committee V -- Transformations in Consciousness

Chaired by Dr. Karl H. Pribram, professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, California, the fifth committee discussed the origins of human thought, conceptual revolutions in current philosophical approaches, and the future convergence of scientific and religious traditions.

"Committee V is unique in theme this year:' Dr. Prihram told conference participants. "We need to examine our roots," he continued, "and see if science really knows as much as it claims it does. Most of us who have grey temples have grown up under logical positivism: But I grew up to realize that something goes wrong if analyzing is all you do. Medicine has made tremendous strides in taking care of dis-ease, but what is ease?

"We will be discussing the first scientific discovery since Galileo that will bring together science and spirit -- a holistic order within the brain that is so closely aligned with the order that philosophers have spoken about in the East. This will really help bring us together towards the unity which Reverend Moon stands for."

The first session dealt with some discontinuities in the evolution of the human brain through various primates. The second session contrasted various lines of contemporary philosophic thought, as represented by Popper and Wittgenstein. The third session discussed recent contributions to the transformation .'f scientific thought, in areas such as the way people organize themselves in spontaneous settlements, how interacting populations function, and quantum mechanics.

The fourth session dealt with the new hypothesis of brain function in perception and memory, based on the analogy of holography. The speakers proposed explanations of conceptual changes arising from new discoveries in physics and optics using laser light. 

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