Approaches to Group Understanding: Sixth Symposium

Approaches to Group Understanding: Sixth Symposium

Approaches to Group Understanding: Sixth Symposium

Approaches to Group Understanding: Sixth Symposium

Excerpt

As in previous years, the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion has devoted itself to an aspect of the central problem of our age. The most threatening obstacle to the attainment, of our cherished goals--peace, material and cultural progress, security and understanding--is the shocking failure of communication among men. Our inability to communicate, to achieve understanding with one another across the barriers that have arisen from differences of group, nation, religion, profession, skill and philosophy, is cast into bolder relief than ever before by our vastly increased ability to communicate across the barrier of space. We have overcome physical obstacles, but we are still waging an uphill struggle to overcome the obstacles born of men's ways of life. Words, ideas and institutions have different meanings for different individuals, groups and fraternities of knowledge. The increasing specialization that mirrors the growing complexity of modern civilization, creates a new barrier with each advance in technique or knowledge. And among the strands of this barbed wire entanglement barring the route to understanding are woven threads of disagreement over the most basic ethical questions.

Thus the riches of diversification and progress through specialization carry a price that we must pay, that of solving a problem more fundamental and yet perhaps more subtle than many of the great questions mankind has solved before. To preserve those riches, those values, we must meet the test that their attendant problem presents. If those riches are not to turn into thorns of discord, we must build "Bridges for Cultural Understanding."

In selecting this topic for the Sixth Conference, the program committee hoped that the many viewpoints held by the authors invited to contribute would help create a richer vision of the problem, offer insights into its nature, and possible approaches to its solution. The papers in this volume have been written by men and women who have devoted their careers to the building of bridges for cultural understanding, who have studied the gaps to be bridged and the nature of the spans required, who speak from the vantage point of a particular pro-

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