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The Institute on world affairs the Institute on world affairs held each year on the San Diego State campus brings together statesman scholars military leaders and businessmen from all over the world. The purpose of this institute is the understanding of the problems and challenges that face man gained through knowledge and discussion. This year's theme was toward a new world and here to introduce this session speaker is Professor Minos generalised director of the Institute. Man of distinction. Dr. Kaplan who comes to us freshly from Hawaii. I'm sure that was quite a sacrifice to come at this time from this these beautiful islands has had a career in the academic area which is quite enviable. He is presently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. He's going to be spending the next couple of years preparing the conference at the East-West
Center of Philosophy Conference at the East-West Center. He has served in many capacities at many universities lectured from coast to coast. He's lectured abroad in India and Japan in Israel he's received many scholarships and recognition and distinction. He's a writer of note. Heres another words a man who is worth listening to. So it is with great pleasure that I invite you to listen to Dr. Abrams was. Thank. You. It is certainly a privilege to be invited to participate in this institute. To be invited to return as I have been is indeed a great pleasure for which I'm grateful.
I want to put the new world that is coming before you in perspective. If I can. And in that perspective. I think we will be able to see that the new world is not so new after all. The more it changes the more it is the same. The problems the emerging problems that I shall identify are not original with our time and place. And the solutions that are propounded for these problems are not final solutions. And I say this not in a spirit of hopelessness are
what is missed called philosophical resignation. And certainly not in a spirit of cynicism. But so that our aspirations. In the emerging future. Will be. Realistic. I think it is not often enough realised that to be disillusioned. One condition is necessary. First you have to have illusions. I would like therefore to face the new world without illusions if possible so as to spare ourselves the pain of disillusionment. The council that I am following I think is essentially that of Plato.
Who cautions in his book on the laws discussing an ideal society. Remember that we are only men. And are legislating for the sons of men. The problems are human problems and the resources that we bring to bear to cope with them are also only human resources. The basic problem. In the new world as I see it and which unites all of these specific areas of difficulty that I will point out is I think this. It is the task of us devilish ing and maintaining a genuine community community first of man in nature
community among nations and among various constituent groups and community perhaps most fundamentally of all within each individual personality so that we learn to be at one and at peace with ourselves. Let me turn then first to. The situation of man in nature in this new world that is emerging. I think we all have very good reason and in the years to come we'll have even more reason to be proud of our membership in the human species
the human animal in geological perspectives has barely learned to stand erect and already he is reaching for the stars. And even at this moment manmade instruments are hundreds of thousands of miles away orbiting. The moon and sending to us information about what we expect to find when we get there ourselves. I find something that kept curious my imagination. And that makes my pulses pound in our whole exploration of the space frontier and something I must
also say particularly philosophical in a way that was best expressed for me some time ago in the comic strip Pogo. When Pogo and his friend Elbert were sitting out and looking up at the night sky and the sky was covered with stars and they were sitting quietly and looking at it and Pogo said you know. Some people think that there is intelligent life on every one of those stars and they sit and look and there's a pause and Pogo says and others think that we're the only ones. Another pause. And then Pogo says. Either way it's a sobering thought. Our problems however of establishing a community of man in any chair have their focus on Earth rather than in space.
We are polluting our air and our water and it may be even poisoning our foods. The awareness of this problem I think has only just come into being and our efforts to deal with it I think have only just begun. But I expect that they will be of very considerable importance to every human being in whatever country in the coming decades. I find great hope in the development of our capabilities for desalination. Indeed even more exciting prospects. In our beginning recognition of the oceans as an unlimited resource for farming
and for mining and the marine industry and agriculture I think will unquestionably become of very important feature of man's relationship to his environment. And perhaps even more fundamentally in our command over make sure we are beginning to extend our powers of altering even our own human nature. Genetic engineering also no longer belongs to science fiction. And I venture to say. That in the next quarter century. Molecular Biology will be as important and have
as profound an impact on human affairs as atomic physics has had in the past quarter century. Our technological advance confronts us with the problems of automation. We are in the midst of the cybernetic revolution as Norbert Wiener aptly called it and its affects will surely be at least as great as the more familiar industrial revolution and it will constitute I am confident. A true liberation of the human spirit. I believe that whatever can in principle be done by a machine ought in fact to be done by a machine
so as to leave the human being free for what only a human being is capable of. But the extension. Of the capacities of the machine does create problems and problems especially of economic disorganization. And the needs of retraining workers and suchlike. I think it is worth being reminded that the very word sabotage. Came into our language and came to have the meaning that it does. Because the supple wooden shoe was cast by workers at the time of the industrial revolution into the machinery we would say they threw a monkey wrench into the works to express their hostility and resistance to what was then the new
technology. And there is a good deal of hostility and resistance to the new computer technology today. But I think with as little ground as in that other case problems however are real. But I think they will be they must be met. And finally on this level of man in relationship to nature and his command over nature there is of course the great though very pressing problem constituted by the population explosion. We have begun to talk about this problem. But as yet in broad social terms there is very little concretely that we are doing. You're again another comic strip artist. The
author of The Immortal peanuts I think is instructive the attitude of many people today towards the population explosion is I think that expressed by Linus. When Lucy is trying to get him to appreciate the seriousness of the problem she said you know one of these mornings you're going to get up out of bed you're going to find you haven't even got room to stand up. And I said why should I worry I'll just go back to bed. But we're going to need to worry and we're going to have to make our work constructive. I turn then to the world of nations to the tasks that we face not in coming to terms with our environment its resources its limitations. But in coming to terms with our fellow human beings in other countries and living in different social
systems. It is only a half truth I think to say that we live in one world. We are indeed living in one world not only technologically but also culturally. And for my part I find it rather depressing. The great drive towards cultural uniformity around the whole world. But simultaneously as we all know alas too well. There is also an enormous drive toward political diversity. I believe that the fundamental problem that we will face in the coming years in the world of nations is to reverse both of these trends to move
knocked to cultural uniformity and political diversity. But to move towards political unity and cultural diversity in the world. At any rate we Americans I think must learn much better than we have in the past that there is a diversity of cultures. And that it is neither our mission nor our destiny to Americanize the rest of the world. Our late and great ambassador to the United Nations at least Stevenson. I think gave very wise comes when he
said that we shall have to learn to listen. As well as to talk and we shall have to be prepared to learn from others and not only to teach them. The war in the Middle East a month or two ago reminded me as perhaps it did some of you. Of the Suez crisis of 1956 when America when an American under secretary of state with tongue in cheek I am sure expressed the hope that Israel and her Arab neighbors could settle their differences like Christian gentleman. The political diversity that is increasing around the world
is a resource. Which we can employ. As well as a problem. I think in the years to come. We Americans must appreciate more and more vividly. The enormous importance of the differences among various world communism's the differences between the Communism of Yugoslavia or of Poland say on the one side. Or of China on the other side and Russia in between. In between not just geo politically but ideologically also. And we will have to learned and appreciate all sold the differences among various countries on this side of the Iron Curtain. The difference between the democracy of. France let us say. Or of
Egypt I suppose or of Britain or of Israel or of the United States. I suppose that many of you must have reacted as I did a few months ago in seeing and hearing the proceedings in the United Nations and I don't mind saying that I found myself quite depressed and at times even discouraged partly at the low caliber. Of some of the representatives in the United Nations on whom so much depends partly at the cynicism. That it seems to me I heard expressed. Partly also at the ineffectiveness of the
United Nations in that situation. Forgotten what. Commentator it was who coined the brilliant phrase that the United Nations seem to have been an umbrella. That folds as soon as it begins to rain. And yet with all that. I cannot help but think also that in broadest perspective man has only just begun to was established his dominion over the beasts of the field and already he is aspiring At any rate to world government. And it seems to me in terms of. The relationship of one nation to another. The development of world government. Or at any rate the development of a truly affective international police force
must surely have at the very highest order of priority. In a world in which nuclear weapons are constantly proliferating and I am afraid inevitably spreading. On our own national scene. It is difficult I think to put matters in perspective as it becomes. All was increasingly difficult to see in perspective. What is increasingly close to home. We are near the end of that long hot summer. Of which everyone was so fearful and rightly so for so long.
And I find it almost unbelievable. That so many Americans are blaming the events of this summer in Newark Detroit and elsewhere. The president. Or on agitators or on conspiracy or on Congress. On everything it seems except poverty and discrimination then frustrate and despair. And those are certainly the fundamental features of the situation. Apparently we are not prepared to bring the power and resources of our government to bear to destroy rights.
But we think what we do need are more vigorous anti-riot laws. Some centuries ago. John Milton. Who was not only a super imitative writer. But who also made significant contributions to Democratic political theory. In his aerial project Ika. Discussing the importance of freedom of thought and its expression also remarked. In a way that I think is wonderfully apropos of the problems in our cities today. A dram of well doing it is preferable to many times as much the forcible hindrance
of evil doing. What is done is evil. I don't want to be mis understood and I condemn it. But we must move beyond the condemnation of lawlessness to the transformed nation of the conditions that have and will continue to breed. It is we who have sold the wind and now we are reaping the whirlwind. We can only see lawlessness. For what it is. When we recognize that the law. Did not provide decent housing and food and clothing and
opportunities for productive work to say nothing of creative leisure. Indeed the law did not even punish in a single case so far as I know in recent years. Any of those who murdered their fellow Americans both white and black who were trying to secure the rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution to every American. We have in fact gone further and we have seen what to mine is a cynical perversion. Even I would say a subversion of the law. By some of those. Who were sworn to uphold it. I mean like some of the even highest elected officials in some of our Southern states.
And if we can stand by and allow law to be flouted in that fish we breed lawlessness whatever our intention may be. We talk a good deal of the war on poverty and I suppose in some measures a good deal has been is being done. But I believe that what we call our War on Poverty is hardly an opening skirmish. And I believe in the New World. That will have to become a total war which we must carry out. To end on conditional victory. For every dollar that is spent by the most prosperous tenth of our nation. The poorest tenth of our
nation spend three cents. And that 3 cents isn't getting them much today. I believe. That in the years to come. We will increasingly recognize public assistance where it is needed. As a right comparable to the right that we all enjoy of being protected from robbery. Or from fire. Or from plague and suchlike. Instead of treating it. As so often it is today as a basis for humiliation. And hopelessness. And yet. If we are to view this problem also in perspective we must recognize that in
one generation or so since the time of Franklin Roosevelt we have moved a long way from the condition in which one third of the nation was ill fed ill housed and ill closed. Now perhaps the proportion is something like one fifth and that is very considerable progress indeed. But I also say to you that one American out of every five is also of very considerable proportion of our country. The richest country on earth not to enjoy the minimum requirements of human decency. Before leaving the national scene there is one other aspect of it that I would like to touch on. Interview in perspective in political terms.
It is my profound conviction that we cannot maintain democracy on the basis of engineered consent brought about by public relations firms nor by the techniques of the marketplace. With our political affairs being put in the hands of the advertising agencies. Government by the consent of the governed means a freely given consent and freely given by an informed and thinking people.
Toward a new world
A philosopher looks toward a new world, part one
Producing Organization
San Diego State University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the first part of a lecture from Dr. Abraham Kaplan, University of Michigan.
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Lectures recorded at San Diego State College's 25th Annual Institute on World Affairs. The Institute brings together world leaders to discuss issues in politics, culture, science, and more.
Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: San Diego State University
Speaker: Kaplan, Abraham, 1918-1993
Speaker: Generales, Minos D.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-9-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:48
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Chicago: “Toward a new world; A philosopher looks toward a new world, part one,” 1968-01-11, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
MLA: “Toward a new world; A philosopher looks toward a new world, part one.” 1968-01-11. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Toward a new world; A philosopher looks toward a new world, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from