Toward a new world; A philosopher looks toward a new world, part two
And I believe one of the problems that is coming more and more to the fore in this new world. Is the increasing role of glamour. In political life. I know of no other way to put it. And more and more it seems that I'm not tract of public image is more useful politically than a career of public service. I am distressed even at the cynicism that I see quite widespread in the approach to the electorate. For instance in the formulation of propositions it is hard for me not to believe that it's deliberate. The cynical formulation of propositions to be submitted to the electorate in such a way that if you are for them you must vote no. And if you are against them you must
vote yes. And I give you as examples not only the open housing measure here in California in 1964 but also in my own state in Michigan in Detroit of fluoridation proposition in 1066 or in New York. Proposition on the establishment of a civilian police review board. And these examples could be multiplied and I am afraid they will be multiplied in the years to come. In this new world we will have the desperate need for new political leadership for statesmen. And not salesman. Or Sean. And yet with all that. To put the matter in its perspective I think that
this nation is blessed. By and large. In the wonderful quality in the really high caliber of the men in the United States Senate for instance. Of those who sit on the benches of our federal courts and of those who have the high executive responsibilities and both federal and state governments. I'm an educator and we are met here under the auspices of an institution of higher education. The new world doesn't consist only of technology and economics and politics. There is also a life of the mind and of the Spirit. And I would like to say something about the new culture that I see emerging
and some of the problems with which it confronts us. I believe that ours is a century of adjustment to information in the most general and abstract sense of that term. Just as. The previous century was one. Of adjustment to matter and energy. And with the fantastic proliferation of the amount of information that flows in upon us and the fun testing development of our techniques for transmitting and processing that information. With all that. There is at the same time in a very important way a string
of control over the media. More and more is being said but it is being said in fewer and fewer voices. Almost every day. One can pick up the newspaper and read the obituary. Of another newspaper far if it hasn't altogether folded its merged and consolidated. And there are very few American cities today. That have more than one. Independent newspaper. On other media. Control seems more and more to be in the hands of the advertiser. I'm speaking particularly of television but not only of that meeting. I wonder if the American people is aware. That
we are spending today on advertising. In just the direct costs of advertising and all media. As much as we spend on all public education from kindergarten through high school. I cannot believe that that is an optimal allocation of our resources with regard to the processing of information. And we spend indeed three times as much on advertising as we do on all colleges and universities public and private put together. I am fearful that scripture will be rewritten to start in the beginning was the word from our sponsor. I would wish to say. That it seems to me it is time and high time
for the medium to have a message other than its own existence. And yet. The explosion of knowledge in our time is fantastic. And perhaps in the new world will have implications as great. As the population explosion or the new clear explosion. Someone recently pointed out that of all the scientists who have ever lived from the beginning of time 95 per cent of them are alive today. Partly. Because there are more people on earth partly because education is more widespread. But partly because we are beginning to learn at an accelerated rate.
And we are beginning to make that learning available. And I have nothing but gratitude to. The technology of information processing and its organization in the media by publishers and elsewhere for the widespread. Availability. To so much of our population of the best that has been thought and said. As well as the worst. There are great changes going on also in morality and religion. A new morality is coming to the fore. Unquestionably and I do not believe it is just a product of the pill.
What I think. Our young people. All are contributing to our moral insight is this. They are rebelling against what conventional morality so often has been. A tyranny tempered by hypocrisy. I believe that this present. Young generation. I would put any other to shame in its dedication. To principle. And in its high resolve. To make its life its place in the stream of generations meaningful. And with a significant impact on the future.
I have the same feeling with regard to the developments in the field of religion. And that God is dead. Is more than a slogan. Or an oak cation for misplaced witticisms. I think it is an expression of exactly the contrary of what the words seem to indicate. I think it is an expression of the revitalization of religion and the desperate search. For some way of facing up to the ultimate concerns of a troubled man tined without resorting to methodology or sheer formalism. In this new world that is emerging. I think we
will see a continuation and the deepening. Of the ecumenical spirit. But I am fearful. That it may be misconceived as I see it being mis conceived by some today. Who imagine that. What we are after is somehow to water all faiths down into thin soup of sentimentality. I do not regard ecumenist cism as a way of diluting one faith by exposure to another but quite the contrary as a way of becoming more fully aware and understanding more clearly our own faith. As we see it in relationship to the other.
It is so easy in this respect as in so many other respects to look at the world only as a screen on which we project what is to be found within our own subjectivity. I think the limits of the ecumenical movement in its misconception. Were beautifully expressed by some wit. Last December when he said let's put religion back into Christmas this Christmas goal to what church or synagogue of your choice. I find not only in religion but in many other aspects of our lives. Uh growing fear of differences and I believe in the new world we are going to have to learn to master those fears. For too many of us I think we have been able to
accept others. Only by incorporation. We say after all they're just like us. As though if they were not just like us then we cannot accept. We cannot understand we cannot live with one another. As though indeed we are incapable of loving the other. And can love only ourselves. I believe in preserving differences. The difference between the sexes. The difference between the generations. The difference among various languages. And cultures each with their own genius. The differences in the multiplicity of faiths and of schools of art and it
seems to me in so much that gives to human life its substance and its richness. In this new world. It's going to be increasingly difficult just to live as a human being. Maybe increasingly betrays a lack of perspective. Every generation must have felt that way. Things are tough now except that we think the young they have it easy. When I was a boy that's when things were tough. And both these points of view really are quite on philosophical. Are they not. There will be difficulties but of the sort that man has always faced difficulties in family life for instance. I think we're going to have to recognize more than we have in the past that the
quality of family life is just as important as the stability of family life. And there are more problems in marriage than are defined by divorce. As a matter of fact the trials and not just arrests but the trials. Of Americans on. Charges of having committed offenses against one's family or children are three times as many. As those for all the various kinds of drug addiction. Put together. It is ironic that in the United States today. We make marriage so easy. And we make divorce so difficult. And it's no wonder that so many people think of marriage as a trap. That's exactly what they find that it's easy to get in and impossible to get out.
We make it easy to make the mistake and so hard to correct it. And should we not now pay some attention. To making the initial state of the marriage as difficult as those first 25 or 35 years are bound to be. I think we're going to have to recognize that to live as human beings in this new world. We have got to do incomparably more than we are doing now with regard to the problem of mental health and this problem is being increasingly recognized even in your state. I. See. Patients suffering from mental illness. Occupy as many hospital beds as
all other illnesses put together. No. I don't think it's true. But there is more mental illness today than there was in the past. I don't believe that the peace of the life and the weight of our problems produces intolerable tensions. Life always was intolerable. And all was moved to wrap it up paced and there were always too many problems coming again for anybody to be able to handle. I think. The difference is only that now we are recognizing the illness for what it is and we have great and they will be growing needs for therapy. Not just. Care. For the mentally ill.
Most Basically I suppose the problems of being human in this new world. Are summed up. In alas a phrase that has become something of a cliche but that I think still points to something fundamental for all that the search for identity. It's quite extraordinary. People in the 19th century saw it that the days of nationalism were over. And we're finding in this mid 20th century that. It is a stronger force than it has ever been. And everywhere groups of people. Are see gaining their identity and they're seeking ways of giving it expression and fulfillment. Whether politically or through language or in a variety of other ways
in our time and place. I think the problem of identity is particularly acute because in so much of our lives we replace identity by sheer identifications by those external marks in terms of which one man is distinguished from another. Oh we all have identifications. So many of them and all numbered. One of the posters that I understand appeared. On the Berkeley campus. Things like that never happen. The University of Michigan State one of the posters said Mr President I am not just an IBM card. And there's a problem here there's a very real problem that we're going to have to come to terms with. I've sometimes expressed that so far as the educational scene is concerned in this way.
We've done a great deal in the development of. Teaching machines and I think we are going to do very much more and I support them. But maybe somebody should also give some thought to learning machines. Because it may be that in this new world of the future the ideal university will consist of a closed circuit with a teaching machine on one end and a bank of learning machines on the other end and somewhere in another room a few human beings will sit around and talk. And that would be education. There are problems here. Intrinsic to the situation. If you are going to be educating tens of thousands of people all at once. It's so easy to de-humanize. Just as. In other areas of our lives. It was all very well holding up
pastoral society to say love thy neighbor you had only one or two. But the density of population in American cities today means that. Within a radius of one my ole. Which is pretty close. You've got about 25 neighbors. Try loving even five or ten. It's interesting that. So many of our poets and artists. Have looked at this new world of ours with feelings of. I won't say despair. But at any rate with great concern. W.H. Auden has called this the age of anxiety
and the houseman wrote some decades ago lines that to many people are becoming more and more meaningful. A stranger and afraid in a world I never meet. And it is understandable we waken every day. And almost don't want to look at the front page there's going to be another crisis and another disaster in another emergency and another demand made upon me and what can I personally do about it. But I think it must also be said. That when we start getting tired of crises we are getting tired of life. There's a wonderful Zen. Anecdote. In which the Mung says to the master and master.
The summer is so hot the winter is so cold. What can I do about it. And the Master said why not go to the land where there is neither summer nor winter. And the monk said yes master and where is such a land to be found. The master looked at him and said. In summer we perspire and in winter we shiver. There is no such place. He built up the expectation. Look what you are asking. How deeply you have sunk yourself in your own fantasy world and you condemned the reality because it falls short of your fantasy. Instead of condemning your fantasy because it has turned its back. On the reality. I like our own American Robert Frost who says in one of his poems. Earth is the right
place for love. I don't know where it's likely to go better. There is a great temptation to turn our back on the world and stop the Earth I want to get off. Must be a slogan for many people if their feelings were fully articulated. I think the great interests that we find in some quarters in the various psychedelic drugs is an expression of they saying these are hired to get away from the world. Milton says again Paradise Lost the mind is its own place and in itself can make. A hell of heaven and I have another hell. But this is Satan who is speaking and he is living out his damnation. The mind is not its own place. Except
for the madman. And to turn within in this way seems to me already to be on the road to madness. I think we must continue to face the problems of the new world. But face them with the realisation. That real problems don't have solutions. It's only the essentially trivial problems that we can solve real problems can only be coped with. You live with them. You learn to live with them. And you go on and you face the next problem. And it seems perhaps just as bad as the one that went before. And maybe it is.
I have no faith in a pre ordained progress. I think what progress we make. And what meaning we find in our lives will depend on what we put into it. But we must have. The courage to undertake it. I want to close what the council found in the Talmud in the ethics of the fathers. The work is not yours to finish but neither are you free to pass it by. When that new world comes I hope I'll be there with it. And I hope that I myself will be as good as new. Thanks. If.
You were. If. You were if you have been listening to the Institute on world affairs a series of lectures and discussions held each year on the San Diego State College campus at this session the principal speaker was Dr. Abraham Kaplan Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. The institute brings together noted leaders from all walks of life who address themselves to the perplexing problems that face mankind. Since its founding on the San Diego State campus in 1943. The Institute on world affairs has examined those trends in politics economics science and culture which shaped the world in which we live. The institute has been an open forum attracting the authorities on international and national problems from around the globe. It has been a sounding board for military as well as moral issues scientific and
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- Toward a new world
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- San Diego State University
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- This program presents the second 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.
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Producing Organization: San Diego State University
Speaker: Kaplan, Abraham, 1918-1993
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University of Maryland
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- APA: Toward a new world; A philosopher looks toward a new world, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-nz80qf7d