Eruditio Issue 1 Part 3 Editorial

July 26, 2012

We are pleased to bring you Part 3 of Issue 1 of ERUDITIO, the new electronic journal of the World Academy of Art & Science. We have indicated previously that the first issue of ERUDITIO is dedicated to the theme of individuality viewed from a multidisciplinary focus with implications of social consequences and policy possibilities. The papers emerged from a web seminar of the Academy on “Individuality” as well as a conference on “Humanities and the Contemporary World” organized by the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts in June. Issue 1 will eventually contain approximately sixteen (16) papers, which will be released in four (4) parts. This communication contains the third batch of four (4) articles. These articles are attached to this communication as a pdf file. Links are provided so that you may also access the individual papers online.

Issue 1 – Part 3: Individuality

Emil Constantinescu’s essay on the search for a new alchemy that can overcome the limits of lead-based information overflow to the creation of an intrinsic golden dimension of knowledge is a profoundly thought-provoking and challenging contribution. This contribution explores the meaning of knowledge, its philosophical implications and the fact that knowledge is a complicated and not easy to understand idea. However, there is an important task that requires a better integration of what we mean by knowledge and its consequences for humanity on a global basis. One of the contemporary challenges is the insistence that higher education in particular be connected to the efficient market and the generation of profit. Such a demand seeks to ultimately marginalize the idea of creativity, which is the foundation of theory generation from which practical consequences may be generated. However, there will be no practical applied benefits and profits without the creativity required for theory construction. When you bring the element of creativity, we bring in the humanities, the classics and indeed the salience of emotional intelligence. Indeed, the great truths from the classics, such as Socrates’ statement that an unexamined life is not worth living for a human being, represent an insight into knowledge and the human element implicated in it. To undercut the humanities is in effect to undermine knowledge, and to undermine knowledge in this sense destroys the narrative imagination of the human being. The author concludes as follows, “I think that an alchemy able to transform the huge quantity of information in true knowledge is, indeed, an essential skill, and even the mother of all science, in the modern world.” The author has given us a brilliant insight into one of the most important precepts that guides the values of the Fellows of the World Academy of Art and Science: the need for a new alchemy of knowledge itself.

Mirjana Radovic-Markovic approaches the theme of knowledge in the context of practical educational challenges, which she formulates in five basic questions. One of those questions requires that we explore what should be done to increase freedom in learning and foster individuality. Since she has a background in business education, she is particularly interested in the question of students learning entrepreneurial skills and how this might be applied, in particular, to the education of women. Her paper summarizes a cross-cultural study of these issues in nine (9) countries. In effect, her strategies to improve learning require the development of an entrepreneurial orientation, which is an application of the notion of creative intelligence but with a specific application and relevance to the status of women. The paper then develops an understanding of how to encourage creativity as an active mode of learning in a new teaching approach. She then explores the important question of the impact of new technologies on education and whether such technology enhances individual freedom and self-awareness. The author sees great potentials in the learning process when the students can access new and diverse forms of information and can combine face-to-face learning with e-learning opportunities. Some of these issues require changes in the role of teacher in a virtual learning environment. The author then addresses the link between education, creativity and entrepreneurship, in particular, as it applies to women. The last part of Professor Radovic-Markovic’s paper deals with the cross-cultural empirical findings of a survey relating to these issues. The data suggests the importance of “multi-dimensional relationships between course concepts and community based on entrepreneurial experiences”. Creative and interactive education must provide a completely new dimension for gaining knowledge. This mode of learning generates innovative personality development in the individual. The individual in turn creates something unique and transforms it into entrepreneurial behaviour, at least regarding the education of women.

            John Avery Scales has written a brilliant paper on the evolution of cooperation. The paper starts with the apparent paradox that human beings will generate the most destructive of behaviours out of altruism justified by some symbol of the altruistic. In short, individual crimes for selfish motives are generally insignificant compared to the numbers massacred at the altar of unselfish love. Quoting Koestler, Avery notes that “wars are not personal gain, but out of loyalty and devotion to king, country or cause”. He then explores the symbols and conditions, which create in a group a sense of the “we” in which unlimited altruism may be important and the “other” which may be a perceived threat to the “we”. He notes that population genetics and group selection may explain the willingness of individuals to sacrifice themselves for their own groups. The question then is, how do we biologically explain the issue of in-group altruism? At the birth of antiquity, altruism was tied to group survival, particularly if there was competition with other groups. Individuals, loyalty and altruism in the group increased the group’s chances of survival. In order to distinguish the in-group from the out-group, the distinguishing factors tended to be cultural rather than biological. These included scarification and, as Avery notes, there are endless signs and symbols, which constitute cultural markers for differentiation. Language is of course an important and ubiquitous marker of difference. It establishes the group boundary. Religion is another marker. Avery provides an insight into the cultural factors that make up group identity, which would seem to have important psychosocial implications. However, the important point is that group identity is a cultural/social construction. If this is true, then it has large-scale implications for an organization such as the World Academy of Art and Science. What role can the Academy play in the expansion, culturally speaking, of human group identity to the point that group identity represents global human solidarity?  Avery moves from these insights back to science and biology and examines the evolution of cooperation. He finds that there is a wealth of evidence of cooperation at all levels of biological existence. In particular, he uses illustrations between single cell and multi-cellular organisms as examples of cooperation, which have altruistic elements. He notes, additionally, that multi-cellular organisms live in cooperation with animals and humans since bacteria are essential for the digestion of food. Insects, in turn, are essential for plant pollination. The comparison of animal cooperation with humans shows that humans are profoundly impacted by cultural as distinct from genetic evolution. Our changes are not significant in the genetic code but they are revolutionary in the cultural communications context. Moreover, cooperation is central to the new form of human evolution because cultural advances can be shared universally. These insights lead us to see that humanity is going through a gigantic transformative evolution, which advances cooperation and indeed, makes cooperation a global and cultural necessity. Avery notes that competition has a role in evolution but cooperation is clearly more important. Cooperation is confronted with cultural regression in the form of genocide and the threat of nuclear extinction. The challenge is to strengthen cultural cooperation on a global basis recognizing that human nature still nurtures a dark side.

The final essay in this part of ERUDITIO is a speech made available from one of the most distinguished Fellows of the World Academy of Art and Science. I refer of course to Yehudi Menuhin. In reviewing Menuhin’s paper, we considered it especially relevant to the theme of individuality in this journal. Menuhin was one of the greatest violinists ever. He was also a great and distinguished intellectual. The central point in the paper is his effort to define morality in the most comprehensive terms possible. For example, he suggests that he “would like to envisage morality as simply the unseen senior partner presiding at every transaction between a human being and his environment, as within a human being, between himself and his person. Morality could be described as that attitude or approach essential to achieve maximum joy, satisfaction, ecstasy, security and health—mental and physical, over the longest possible period for oneself and other creatures.” Menuhin draws attention to the drive for development and the role of indigenous Indians in New Mexico to preserve a sacred lake from being contaminated by the forces of development for profit. He sees a profound insight in their idea that private property should be limited: “they believe that land is very much like air and water, that you cannot tie it down, cut it up and apportion it—that it belongs to everybody”. With numerous other illustrations, Menuhin makes the case for a new morality, which is a matter of current contemporary salience as well. In some ways, Menuhin was making a plea for a new inclusive paradigm of morality and values, which would be cross-cultural, trans-disciplinary, and global in its importance. This makes the essay worth reprinting in our journal.             

Click here to read articles in Issue 1 – Part 1 & Part 2

Winston P. Nagan
Chair, Program Committee
Editor-in-Chief, ERUDITIO