Time, Science, and Society in China and the West

By J. T. Fraser; N. Lawrence et al. | Go to book overview

Opening Remarks by the President

Ladies and gentlemen,

For the past four years, since 1979 when our last conference was held in Austria, I have been serving as your President, and in that role it is my privilege to officiate at the opening of this conference.

In many countries, opening ceremonies are festive occasions such as when a president breaks a bottle of champagne over the bow of a newly constructed ship. In my country, the United States, there is a special kind of opening ceremony every spring in which our president inaugurates the baseball season by pitching the first ball. In our organization we have no symbolic rituals such as champagne bottles or baseball pitching; instead it is all accomplished by a simple and prosaic declaration, and I therefore hereby declare that the Fifth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Time is now officially open.

In 1976, one of my predecessors as president, David Park, noted in his opening remarks that the effect of presenting a scattered assortment of papers, during the first three conferences of our Society, had been "kaleidoscopic," and he advised us that the Society had decided its future meetings were to be less kaleidoscopic and more unified. This decision was implemented. Our Fourth Conference focused on the "single though manyheaded" theme of "beginnings and endings" (see Foreword to The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser, N. Lawrence, D. Park [ New York: Springer-Verlag, 1978]). Our Fifth Conference likewise has a unifying theme; it is of time in its relation to society and science in China and the West. The setting of our present conference in this ancient hilltop Castello di Gargonza, with its surrounding Tuscan landscape, is surely evocative of the medieval heritage of Western society, and it will be interesting here to reconsider that heritage in juxtaposition with the great intellectual heritage of China.

Surely all of us must rejoice to be meeting in these glorious surroundings, and we can express our thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Fraser who for many years have demonstrated an extraordinary skill in discovering beautiful locations for our conferences, as they did at Oberwolfach in the Black Forest, and at Lake Yamanaka in Japan, and twice at the lovely setting of Alpbach in Austria. And now they have done it again. For the arrangements for our present conference, we are also indebted to the strenuous efforts of the members of the Conference Committee: Professors Hans Agren, Brian Goodwin, F. C. Haber, S. Kamefuchi, Nathaniel Lawrence, and Nathan Sivin. We are also indebted to Albert Mayr who has been serving as our one-man Italian local committee; he has been extraordinarily helpful in taking care of the innumerable preparatory details. And, most especially, we are indebted to our treasurer, Professor Rowell, who is ending his term of office with a dazzling display of ways to make sure that this meeting at Gargonza will achieve its desired objectives.

-xi-

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