Synthesis of Knowing Integrating Art & Science Barriers to Peace Blue Economy
Impact on Policy-makers Zero Growth Focusing on New Sciences Themes for Projects on Law

Synthesis of Knowing

The WAAS Program Framework is based on the view that each of the disciplines of art, science and humanities has a valid contribution to a complete perspective on any issue. Reliable knowing is inclusive and reconciles diverse perspectives. That is with regard to different disciplines. The same is true of different nations and cultures. Each brings a unique perspective to the understanding of knowledge and solution to problems.

For instance, one could argue that Greece gave rise to pure intellectual reflections on ethics, society and nature. Rome gave birth to modern conceptions of law and social organization. The scientific outlook was born in Europe and most of the profound theoretical discoveries were made by Europeans. America’s unique contribution has been the practical translation of scientific knowledge into technology and organization expressing through a spirit of individualism (e.g. Ford, Apple and Amazon). Japan has excelled in evolving knowledge that is founded on values of social harmony, beauty and honor. China has developed intellect and administration to an extraordinary degree based on communal values. India’s focus has been on the inner law and essential reality governing processes, rather than on external mechanisms. It applies analogy, metaphor and intuition to overcome the limitations of logical thinking.

Some of these examples may be more appropriate than others in bringing out differences in perspective. The scope for differentiating perspectives is not limited to continent-wide generalizations. A series of books by a Spanish diplomat written early in the 20th century elegantly bring out the differences in thought and perspective of England, France, Germany, Spain, etc. Churchill said that the British have an anathema for analyzing anything from first principles, an approach more characteristic of the French who give greater weight to pure ideas. Such variations exist in other regions as well.

Instead of arguing who is right, it is rational to base ourselves on the premise that each of these perspectives represents a valid aspect of knowledge. A comprehensive way of understanding and acting would need to take into account many or all of them. The best solution to humanity’s problems and to arriving at a global consensus would be founded on a wider conception of knowing than any one country or region affirms today. An approach based on this premise could have immense practical value for the evolution of global governance.

We would like to propose that WAAS organize a project to identify the varied ways of knowing and different conceptions of what constitutes knowledge according to different cultural traditions and attempt a synthesis of the world’s perspectives. This might be a first concrete and original step toward evolving an informal World University as our founders envisioned in the Academy’s charter, based on a truly global conception of reliable knowing.

We might start publishing articles on different cultural perspectives of knowing in Cadmus, organize a conference (Library of Alexandria would be the perfect place) or a series of conferences and e-conferences, and ultimately publish a book presenting not only diverse views but an attempt at a Synthesis of Knowing.

This project ties in closely with the project on Limits to Rationality and would embrace all fields of art, science and humanities. It could unite the work of many Fellows and attract the interest of other individuals and organizations.

Integrating Art & Science

Solving and overcoming the numerous problems and threats we face today require understanding, and as Blaise Pascal wrote, we understand both with our brain and our heart. Understanding and creating are two centers of human activity. Science and art are examples of the two organized systems of research, understanding and creativity. Our Academy – World Academy of Art and Science− strives for global welfare by integrating art and science. Global welfare is our goal; art and science, our tools.

Weisskopf claimed that science progressed when instead of asking the most general questions, it focused on narrow, seemingly simple questions. That was the root of many scientific disciplines. Today, most of the problems and threats we face require multidisciplinary, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches. The world needs unity of science – consilience, as E.O. Wilson entitled his book. Many national and regional academies are organized in sections of scientific/scholarly disciplines. World Academy focuses on the problems that the world faces: peace, governance, ecology, new economic theory, global employment and human capital. Their solutions require ideas, initiatives, proposals, projects, policy-making, decision making and actions.

World Academy encompasses researchers, artists, business leaders, policy and decision-makers from many countries and cultures. Every culture has contributed to art and science, as reflected in our motto Unity in Diversity. Our Academy endeavors to achieve sustainable global welfare and equitable development based on programs enriched by cultural diversity, by approaches integrating scientific and artistic perspectives and, most importantly, by wisdom cumulatively augmented through generations. Creation of such programs is clearly a bottom-up approach, but also a cumulative approach where leadership in thought generated from a variety of cultures leads to a united action for sustainable global welfare.

Garry Jacobs and Ivo Šlaus

Barriers to Peace

PushpaIn their landmark report, Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome awakened global public opinion to the environmental hazards and constraints to uncontrolled economic growth and consumerism. Equally urgent and important are the threats and barriers to peace that threaten to undermine the remarkable gains of the last half century. Traditional threats have faded, while new ones have emerged that are even more insidious and difficult to contain. The Cold War is over, but the 23,000 remaining armed nuclear warheads represent an incentive for nuclear proliferation, a tempting target for terrorists, and an intractable barrier to democratization of the UN.

Rising levels of economic inequality destabilize economies, spread disenchantment and generate angry resentment that could explode into violence anywhere anytime. Rising levels of unemployment are associated with rising levels of social unrest, crime, drug traffic, religious fundamentalism, and are a source of new recruits for terrorist outfits. Widespread corruption in politics, public administration and the judiciary undermines democratic institutions and subverts efforts to address the basic human needs of the masses. Low levels and inadequate quality of education deprive hundreds of millions of young people of the opportunity for social advancement. The absence of basic human rights, both political and economic, absence of basic needs such as water and power, the absence of legal and judicial protection – these and numerous other factors – pose serious barriers to the peaceful development of global society.

The World Academy can make a significant contribution to global society by launching a project to identify and examine these common threats to humanity and to evolve the outlines of a global master plan for banishing the serious barriers to global peace. I invite interested Fellows to share their ideas and participate in a WAAS project to produce a report on this important topic. Contact us here.

Pushpa Bhargava

Blue EconomySlide

As discussed in my presentation and webcast for the WAAS Global Employment Challenge, The Blue Economy, a report to the Report to the Club of Rome, offers 100 strategies for generating 100 million ecologically-friendly job opportunities in 10 years.

In September 2012, The Blue Economy team will host in Berlin the “Blue Economy Summit of Entrepreneurs”. We are inviting 100 innovators together with about 1,000 entrepreneurs who have already taken up one or more of these projects to translate into local initiatives around the world.

This is a unique opportunity to connect scientific research to concrete projects and immediate challenges faced by the world (water, food, health, housing, energy, jobs and education with ethics).

WAAS can play an active role in promoting practical solutions to employment and ecological challenges by conducting a survey to identify obstacles to bringing these innovative business models to the market, the government action needed, the jobs generated, the skills and the education programs required, the type of businesses that have the greatest potential, jobs which are based on the local economy, jobs which rely on the globalized economy, etc. The experience of WAAS in mobilizing its Fellows to vote in the referenda and elections could be applied for a significant scientific research project.

Gunter Pauli

Impact on Policy-makers

I am pleased to see WAAS is concerned with creating impact on policy makers at the highest level, as indicated by your meeting with President Barroso of the European Commission and the interesting articles in the latest issue of CADMUS. For WAAS, communication with policy makers is extremely important. Congratulations to WAAS/Club of Rome/Pugwash as they step into a new era! As the world looks today, I am convinced a federation of some of the best research institutions in “all” disciplines combined with the operational capacities of corporations has great opportunities, especially if electronic communications can be used for the evolution of such a network.

Sam Nilsson

Zero growth

Disarmament is and remains one of the big problems. The financial and economic system poses another major problem whose consequences go far beyond the economic and financial domain and might even threaten democracy. Economy today is completely based on growth. But everybody who knows a little bit of mathematics is aware that an ever-growing function (an exponential function) diverges and leads to a catastrophe. In the long run only a society with a stable economy can survive, avoiding periodic big catastrophes. It would be useful to consider the possibility of an economic system with zero- growth.

Herwig Schopper

Focusing on New Sciences

blackwhite.jpgIn the last half century a new range of sciences has emerged. I suggest that WAAS either contribute to or reflect on new scientific methodologies to better understand human society and its evolution. Page 2 in this document has a graphic from Wikipedia with my highlights in blue. In principle, the new sciences are very interesting to look at. The science of Dynamics Systems Theory was applied in the first report to Club of Rome (1972); the blue full lines in the graphic refer to a project in start-up phase, and to the application of a new Science of Networks and a Science of Complexity to issues of sustainability (2011).

Sustainability is a very complex matter. Many initiatives in climate change and ecology lack coherence and long term vision. Political decision-making processes are hindered by the absence of a ‘grand unified theory’ on sustainability for human civilization. These new sciences offer new approaches for addressing vital concerns. Another failure like the Copenhagen Climate Summit must be avoided in future.

Scientific progress made in the fields of self-organization and autopoiesis evokes new philosophical questions about the relation between physical structures and the mind like ‘what is life?’

The impact of science and technology on the Internet and related innovations will have a dramatic influence on society and on how knowledge will be transmitted.

Systems thinking as mentioned in the chart (see document), can also be applied to address problems related to new economy and social evolution and may inspire innovative thinking patterns.

Raoul Weiler

Themes for Projects on Law

The following themes contributed by Fellows are intended to stimulate thought & discussion on possible new WAAS projects.

1. Law & Social Development: Law, freedom and human rights play a fundamental role in the process of social development. An exploration of the theory of law and its relationship to the theory of social development may help us identify the means to leverage the power of law to accelerate development nationally and globally.

2. Values, Human Rights & Development: Values and human rights are a driving force for social development. They are not just utopian ideals. Values are the quintessence of society’s acquired knowledge about survival and sustained human accomplishment. Furthering the evolution of values is a powerful means to address global problems.

3. Broadening the conception of sovereignty: Traditional notions of national sovereignty ignore the sovereign rights of the individual and of humanity as a whole.

4. European lessons for International Law: Europe is the closest the world has gotten to a laboratory for global governance. A study of cases before European tribunals may generate significant insights applicable to other regional courts and to global jurisprudence.

5. Nuclear Energy: Environmental rights are closely allied to the issue of sovereignty and human rights. If a nuclear power plant explosion crosses national boundaries, what rights do states have against actions by other states that may pose equal or greater dangers to their own citizens?

6. Law and Economy: The right to speculate and destabilize financial markets infringes on the fundamental right of other people to employment and economic livelihood. What is the legal basis of the current economy?