Conflicts of Power in Modern Culture: Seventh Symposium

Conflicts of Power in Modern Culture: Seventh Symposium

Conflicts of Power in Modern Culture: Seventh Symposium

Conflicts of Power in Modern Culture: Seventh Symposium

Excerpt

The approach of the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion, to the human problems of our time, differs from most others, in its basic premise. This is that the developing political, economic, and cultural crises of the twentieth century require for their solution more than ability to deal with day by day manifestations. The members of the Conference believe that scholars, precisely because they are somewhat removed from the arena of human struggle and look at the passing scene from the vantage point both of history and of the future, can make a distinctive and worthwhile contribution to the preservation and advancement of peace, mutual understanding, and co-operation among men.

In this undertaking, the members of the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion, find themselves under attack from two diametrically opposite points of view. Some of their fellow specialists in different fields decry this diversion of energy from the advancement of particular disciplines, in order to deal with what seem to them ephemeral "practical" affairs. Cognizant of the urgent need for broadening frontiers in their own fields, and of the paucity of first rate scholarship in any time, they believe that the business of human relations ought to be left to professionals, technicians, statesmen.

On the other hand, there are those who, reading the Conference papers and listening to its discussions, wonder how men of intelligence and spirit can permit themselves to fiddle while Rome burns. The discussions carried on with the detachment of scholarship, and often dealing with abstractions and theories instead of immediate issues, often seem cold blooded and heartless to those who have to meet the daily problems of life, and are aware of their urgency. "A world is on fire," a visitor to the Conference once remarked, "and you are busy theorizing about it." Others have warned that in the atomic age civilization will be blown to pieces long before the members of the Conference will have arrived at a consensus regarding the nature of the world's ailment. "We have no more than five years, or at most a . . .

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