Editorial - Issue 3

“For a Universal Declaration of Democracy” by Federico Mayor Zaragoza promotes the adoption of a universal declaration of democracy. He reminds us that the UN charter was adopted with a preface that it is being adopted on behalf of the peoples of the United Nations. While the document in the same paragraph reaffirms its faith in fundamental human rights, the term democracy doesn’t appear in any of its provisions. It is possible, of course, to imply that the reference to the peoples of the UN is as well a reference to the rights of peoples and their role in the creation of a new global constitution. He notes that democracy appears in the preamble to UNESCO’s constitution as well as in the universal declaration of human rights. He draws attention to the fact that democracy works if human rights are respected and have their most important traction within a democratic political culture. He asserts that the concept of democracy has not received adequate development and explication in terms of agreements and other UN related instruments. He believes this is an important gap and that it can’t be remedied by the development and adoption of a universal declaration of democracy. To this end he has put together the outlines for a project on a universal declaration of democracy and has articulated the framework of articles that should be reflected in the possible adoption of such a declaration. The central idea behind the impulse of democracy is shared rights and shared responsibility as a pathway to global solidarity and universal dignity. The Editor believes that this universal declaration should be adopted not only via the aegis of the UN General Assembly but by legislatures of governments throughout the world. It should indeed be endorsed by all learned associations and all progressive internal non-governmental organizations. This is an important initiative and editors of Eruditio hope that it would receive appropriate attention in the world community.

“World University: Global Strategy for Higher Education” by Jüri Engelbrecht is a short article that provides important pointers about globalizing strategies for higher education. In this space Engelbrecht views the university partly as an inter-temporal and unique human institution. He draws attention to the fact that global problems are sufficiently equipped today, which begins to challenge the very conception of the university and what universities are for. He points out that the universities’ ways of functioning implicate, inter-alia, finance, industry and manufacturing institutions which make money from knowledge generation. A problem for the future is that society needs both knowledge and money and it is a challenge to appropriately reconcile these in beneficial ways. He gives several important illustrations of innovations in higher education such as the venture capital fund “SITRA” which created courses for policy makers. This initiative, it seems to the Editor, is important because policy education often does not find an explicit academic form in the context of higher education. His article concludes with two simple rules: (1) Support quality and (2) Support young people. This is a very useful article for thinking through the globalization of higher education.

The article by Jayasree Ahuja on “Human Needs Approach: A New Foundation for Knowledge Organization in the 21st Century” examines the epistemology of the humanities and notes that the concept of knowledge remains somewhat ambiguous and controverted. It gives us a short overview of the development of epistemological thought in the West and then brings us to the modern period. Central to her approach is that knowledge should have its focus on human needs and to provide clarity about what human needs are. She believes that if we organize knowledge according to human needs, it may be seen as superior to an approach based on conventional subject-oriented topics. She demonstrates the value of the needs-based epistemology and demonstrates that the link between knowledge and the human mind is better understood using the needs approach. This is a very useful contribution to examining the challenges of modern epistemology. In particular, the legal anthropology of Malinowski developed the legal categories of relatively primitive societies showing that the categories that are referenced to human needs in the jurisprudence of the policy sciences were developed by WAAS Fellows Lasswell and McDougal. These theorists took the needs idea of Malinowski and analyzed them to basic values which are cross-culturally demanded and sought on a global basis. In this sense, the values themselves form a clarification for the development of a human-centered epistemology.

J. Martin Ramirez’s article on “Aggressiveness can be Psychobiologically Milded: How to Achieve Peace” is an insightful inter-disciplinary investigation into whether aggression is built into the human DNA and makes human beings a war-prone species. The scientific evidence repudiates this and therefore demonstrates that there is nothing inevitable or natural about war; the scientific evidence points to the possibilities of globalizing a culture of peace. In short, science demonstrates that war is not inevitable and that peace is possible.

Jakob von Uexkull has written a brilliant and important observation from the battlefield. “Science and Sprituality: Observations from the Battlefield” questions the idea that science holds a monopoly on the modern path to truth. In particular, he is skeptical of the implications of scientific truth driven by a mechanistic universe and a mechanistic selection of the fittest without purpose or meaning. In contemporary secular tradition matters that cannot be explained by mechanistic laws of cause and effect are completely discarded and yet the abundance of evidence of non-mechanistic insights, for example, healing, is largely ridiculed or denied. Thus, operations, in which acupuncture is used as an anesthetic although demonstrated to be successful, cannot be the test of a specifically material causal relation between the acupuncturist’s intervention and pain. Uexkull draws attention to matters of telepathy and tele-kinetic powers, and notes that the findings of quantum physics limit the validity of scientific materialism. Uexkull argues that wisdom and truths that may emerge from the spiritual tradition may well represent a broader notion of enquiry with immense benefit to mankind – matters that conventional science cannot explain. This is a brave and important contribution that will help to generate interest and concern.

“The Future of the Pacific and its Relevance for Geo-economic Interests” by Francesco Stipo et al is a useful article which highlights the most important US-Asian relationships, especially in the area of economic organization. It touches on the issues of energy, resources and how these will play out in terms of the interests of the Pacific region. It provides an excellent summary of an important future trend.

The article by Ljudmila Popovich, “Break Downs and Break Throughs: Empires through Crises and Transformations”, focuses on the forces of history that have generated major crises in human history and the effects such crises have had on the evolution of humanity. She notes that research and historical appraisals about such events as the decline and fall of Rome, or the decline and fall of the Axis powers are somewhat under-studied and an adequate appraisal remains inconclusive. The author takes a broader view that relates to the staging of the crises which generate a multitude of pressures and tension points and then examines the outcome of the critical precipitating events. She explores systemic patterns that emerge in terms of a long-term perspective, the condition of the humanities, the dynamic of variability and inter-dependence, a global comprehensive perspective as well as issues of sustainability and political economy. She explores these and other issues in an original and creative contribution which opens up more questions of contemporary global relevance.

In “Panem et Informationem: Toward Inspired Responsibility,” Ljudmila Popovich has given us a sophisticated and multi-level insight into the problems of perception, action and responsibility as a global mandate. She is concerned that the forces which seek to control and regulate how we perceive, think and act, are sustained by powerful myths that generate notions of crisis and global threats which sustain insecurity as a mechanism of securing compliance often with agendas that are non-transparent or at least not sufficiently obvious to disentangle. She sees here an immense challenge reposing in the world of information systems and how responsible intellectual engagement can change the paradigm and permit more reasoned public participation in the great debates of our time. This is a timely and challenging article.

The article by Gerald Gutenschwager on “The Dialectic of Change” is an exploration of some of the dominant ideas of change which he weaves into Kuhn’s explanation of scientific change. He then proceeds to examine the paradigm changing idea in the light of the current economic crises and maintains that we are going through something deeper than economic crises; we are actually going through a cultural crises and the basic paradigms are the beliefs we have about the current paradigm and the beliefs we might hold about a paradigm that is yet to come.  He sees the current paradigm as one involving domination over nature and human relations and sees this as unsustainable. A new paradigm would have to be based on human solidarity, empathy, cooperation and indeed even affection. This is one of the clearest articles on the need for a global paradigm change.

The article by Robert W. Fuller on “The Dignitarian University” recognizes that in the university there is a hierarchical order based on rank, grades or achievement. The question is how we can reconcile evaluation and reward for merit while at the same time recognizing that all members of the community are equal when it comes to dignity and respect. What Fuller seems to suggest is that rank tends to result in the abuse of rankism. It is therefore appropriate that we construct a dignitarian community that moderates or diminishes rankism and elevates equal dignity. Essentially, Fuller is addressing the problem that society reproduces hierarchy but should clearly and unequivocally repudiate the abuse of hierarchy. And the best way to do this is to ensure that dignity essentially becomes the central node of construct. Fuller has uncovered an important problem namely, the abuse of rankism and also a solution to the problem, the culture of dignity.

Nancy Flournoy’s article “Corruption of the Scientific Method” focuses on the importance of the assumptions behind the statistical categories by which science evaluates itself. She points out that there is much that is discretionary and expresses the concern that null and alternative hypotheses may well be distorted. She believes it often is in favor of vested interests.

In “The Evolution of Sovereignty”, Winston Nagan and Garry Jacobs continue their effort to expand the understanding of the rule of law concept. In this article they give specific attention to unpacking the notion of sovereignty in terms of the global rule of law. This is an extremely useful constitution of the discourse about the challenges to global governance.

Michael Marien has given us an extremely useful and informative summary of trends in literature about the immediate future of the planet from two different perspectives. The first is the view of The Economist, Megachange: The World in 2050 and Future Vision: Scenarios from the World in 2040. The Economist’s predictions appear to be coincident with changes that do not require futures in which capitalism takes a back seat. We are given a tour through the four main divisions in the book: people and relationships, heaven and earth, economy and business, knowledge and progress. There is a hint that the future is not as dark as some vision it to be. There is a good chance that in 2050 we will be richer, healthier, more connected, more sustainable, more productive, more innovative, better educated and have less inequality between men and women and the rich and poor. Additionally, they see more opportunities for billions of people. In Future Vision the authors ask us to imagine a world of intelligence, a world of greed, a world of prudence, a world of fear. The book then goes on to provide a careful analysis of these scenarios. What distinguishes this study is that these authors provide a number of wildcards in the future scenarios. These are possible game changers and make for stimulating reading. They predict more and more change. These materials are worthy of consideration to the Fellows of the Academy.