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Dialogue of Cultures
The following address was delivered to an International Symposium, "Space And Time In The Evolution Of The Global System 'NatureSocietyMan,' " dedicated to the memory of Pobisk Kuznetsov, at the Russian Academy of Continuing Education for Teachers, in Moscow, on Dec. 14.
Because the time is short, I shall focus on what I consider would be most useful for me to say on this occasion, noting the fact that there have been published in other locations in Russia, or presented documents, which I have issued on such subjects as the significance of Vernadsky. So, I focus on the implications and certain aspects of the concerns of Pobisk Kuznetsov, from the vantage point of comparing him to Vernadsky.
We now are in a situation, in which the world may go into barbarism very soon. I've indicated the reasons for this, in other locations, and I've also indicated what I propose to be the remedies for the threat, of this immediate financial catastrophe. I've indicated, that if the world is to come out of this great financial, and monetary, and economic crisis successfully, Russia, as a Eurasian nation, must play a very crucial, central role.
Looking from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, across Eurasia, we see countries, such as China, India, and Southeast Asia, and other countries, which are in great deficit in respect to the amount of technology they have, and can supply, to meet the urgent needs of their populations, as a whole. So the nations, such as China, Southeast Asia, and India, must now catch up with the technology they have not had and have not assimilated, or have not developed, over the recent century. To a certain degree, India has a significant scientific community. That capacity far exceeds India's needs. China has significant technology. But Chinese technology is far less than the urgent needs of China, as a nation, as a whole. The sources of this technology available within Eurasia, include Japan, Russia, and, mostly, Western Europe. As we can observe todaythose of us assembledthat scientific potential in Russia, has been sleeping for a while, without work.
While related problems exist in other parts of the world, we can concentrate upon the Eurasian continent and the islands associated with it, as the typical center of the world's problem today.
The Greatest Transformation Of The Biosphere In History
This brings us to Vernadsky. One of the greatest concentrations of mineral and related resources in the world today, is an area, which includes Central and North Asia, including the tundra areas of Russia. Of course, it is possible to loot some of these resources, and ship them abroad at cheap prices. That would be a tragedy for Russia, and a betrayal of the interests of Eurasia, as a whole. So, I have proposed, that we must develop development corridors, superseding the Trans-Siberian Railroad, across Eurasia. Through large-scale water management, improved transportation, power generation, and other infrastructure, including human support infrastructure, in these regions, we can transform these areas of Asia.
To the west of Russia, in Europe, we have bankrupt nations: Germany, France, Italy, other nations. They are bankrupt, presentlynations which are traditionally producers of modern technology. So, there's a natural market for these parts of Europeas for Japanin Asia, if the proper system of economic development is organized. And Russia and Kazakstan represent the principal conveyor belt of development, and other things, necessary to tie the potentials of Europe with those of various parts of Asia. This would require, and would mean, the greatest transformation in the biosphere, in the history of humanity.
Now, obviously, we can not do the kinds of things we've often done, in looting the biosphere. Often, at present, through looting policies, we degrade the biosphere more rapidly than we extract useful results from it; for example: mineral resources.
So therefore, when we are going to transform the biosphere, by means of a policy action, we must consider the implications of what we're doing, and approach the problem in a way which becomes, then, a net improvement in the biosphere, as the basis for man's activity. This forces us to think in terms of all modern economy from the standpoint of Vernadsky. And, here, as I view Pobisk's work, lies some of the central significance of this endeavor.
This also involves, how we look at man's relationship to the Solar System and beyond. This means that space exploration and space science become an integral part of developing life on Earth. As some Russian scientists know, the radiation not only from the Crab Nebula, which produces most of the cosmic ray radiation we experience, but other radiation, affects life on Earth and the conditions on Earth in various ways. For example, the question is posed, immediately, from the standpoint of Vernadsky: What is the differential relationship between the same radiation impinging upon a non-living process, and the same radiation impinging on a living process?
Vernadsky And The Principle Of Life
Then, look at this more generally. With that as preliminary, let me get to the core of my point. And put my relationship to Pobisk's work, not only for the past, but for the future, in that context, within the context of the work of Vernadsky. Now, Vernadsky, using the same methods of crucial, universal scientific proof, which had been used by Mendeleyev earlier, made a conclusive scientific demonstration of the distinction of the principle of life, on the basis of biogeochemistry, continuing the work of such predecessors as Pasteur and Curie.
He also went further, and this comes to the question of what man should do about the biosphere. And I'll state the thing in my own terms, rather than exactly the way Vernadsky put it. What Vernadsky demonstrated (though I think not as conclusively as he would have wished to, had he lived longer), from the standpoint of physical science, is that man is made in the image of the Creator of the universe, and has special powers which no other creature has. This corresponds to a concept, first developed in known European civilization by Plato, in his dialogues. This is also a concept, which was developed in what are called "spiritual exercises" in certain aspects of Christian theology. So, this power is known, and we have ways of demonstrating it, as Plato demonstrated it with the dialogues, and as theologians sometimes demonstrate it, as well.
So, from Vernadsky's standpoint, with this background, the universe as we know it, is divided into three special kinds of interacting "phase-spaces." These are defined from the standpoint of experimental physics, as follows. We know certain principles, which can be proven experimentally, to be universal, from the standpoint of the assumption that the universe were abioticnot a living universe. There are also experiments, as typified by the work of Pasteur, and Curie, and Vernadsky, that demonstrate that the abiotic universe is efficiently transformed by a principle which exists entirely outside the abiotic universe. This is the principle from which life-forms are generated, in the universe. This principle"life," if you wish to call it thatis apparently very weak, relative to abiotic forces, but its persistence on Earth demonstrates, that life has increasingly transformed this Earth, so that more and more of the Earth is either living processes, or the products of the action of living processes.
Then we come to a third category: The power of individual human cognition, as expressed by the discovery of scientific principles, is also a force which acts upon all aspects of the universe, both the abiotic and the living, in the same way that the living processes act upon the non-living universe.
How Man Changes His Nature
Now, what Vernadsky considered, but did not undertake, in his late work, on this subject, was a question which I found Pobisk wrestling with, at the time I first met him: How can we represent a universe, which is composed of three concurrent, but distinct, phase-spaces? It was suggested to Vernadsky, but he didn't take it uppartly because of his age and condition, at that time. There is a unique mathematical-physical conceptual approach to this problem. It's called "Riemannian geometry." In particular, this geometry has a very specific name, of great significance, which is peculiar only to Riemannian geometry. That name is, "differential geometry."
This is not exotic. It's very tangible, very demonstrable, but like all scientific facts, it has to be demonstrated, to be made clear. This is where Pobisk became fascinated with my definition of "potential relative population-density," as a function.
So, the significance is this: What is the difference between man and an animal? An animal can not change his nature. Man does, we hope. How does man change his nature, in a positive way, of course? By making the equivalent of an hypothesis, which turns out to be an experimentally provable, universal physical principle. By our adopting these principles, as we discover them, and by our cooperating in using these principles, we increase man's power in the universe, per capita, in the only way possible.
That is the secret. Therefore, if you wanted to have the best economy, if you want the kind of economy that can master the problems of the biosphere of Central and North Asia, you must change the policies of education, and qualification and employment of the labor force. You must make the educational process, including the university, the driver of the economy. You must get away from the textbook approach to education. You must burn all multiple-choice examinations. You must teach science the way it was developed: The pupil must experience the mental act of discovery, of the great discovery, from thousands, or hundreds, or tens of years ago. You must base the educational process on a heavy emphasis on pedagogical experiments. In other words, the child mustor the child, or the adultthe student must experience the paradox, which shows that the present assumptions of knowledge are false. The student must somehow develop the experience of generating the hypothesis, which solves that paradox. The student must experience the pedagogical experiment, which is sufficient to test the hypothesis. And the process of pedagogical experiments must be extended, as a habit, into fundamental-research experiments, which should be the driving concern of the university.
This must be a process, not merely of a few scientists; it must be the process of the entire population. You can not have a scientist directing, effectively, a scientific principle's implementation, to a bunch of working people who can't understand it. From my limited knowledge of Pobisk, if he were sitting here now, he would be laughing with pleasure, at what I am saying.
Look At The Condition Of The Mind
Now, finally one point. The idea that science is limited to what we call "physical science," is a great error. What we should look at, is not the idea of physical science as such, but we should look at the condition of the mind, which generates, successfully, the great discoveries of universal principle upon which we depend. I'll give just two examples on this point, in order to limit time. Take, first of all, the case of Johann Sebastian Bach: Now, Johann Sebastian Bach's work was rooted in some work by Leonardo da Vinci, earlier, at the end of the 15th Century. Leonardo, in a partly lost work, called "De Musica," defined the principles of singing-voice tuning. Leonardo explored the singing practice which had been cultivated in Europe at that timethat the human singing voice has six basic species, defined by registration. He examined this question of the singing-voice organizationwhich was well known at that timebut, he examined it scientifically, and left fragments of his "De Musica" to later generations.
In his life's work, Johann Sebastian Bach, who was from a long succession of Bachs in Saxony, in Germany, dealt with the ironies of two things: the ironies of the way you compose a succession of two notes, and then try to sing a counterposition to those two or three notes, and make a composition out of that. From this, based largely on the impact of Bach's work, at a later time, on Mozartin about 1782there was codified what became known as "the Classical method of composition derived from Bach," which is characteristic of all Classical composition, in Europe, in all media, from the time of Mozart through Brahms. The key thing here, is: We're looking atin music, or, particularly in well-tempered counterpointa relationship among persons, a social relationship, organized around the equivalent of scientific principles, which are discovered as physical principles.
A Happy Revolutionary
And then, you have a second subject, which will illustrate the same point. You have the work of the great composers of drama, which include the ancient Greek drama: ancient Greek tragedians; the work of Platohis dialogueswhich are actually a form of drama; the great successors of Plato, which are Shakespeare and Schiller, in modern times; and we have Pushkin, of course, in Russia, as echo of that.
The characteristic of great Classical drama, is: It's never fiction. It's always based on either a legend, which a society has, or on actual history. The subject of great drama, is to show how a culture, or a society, tends to destroy itself. The audiences of a good performance of great drama, walk out of the theater, as Schiller said, "better people than they walked in," because they have seen society on stage, society they recognize, destroying itself. And, they are happy, because now they know that this mistake could have been avoided, with consciousness of the people of what that error is.
And the greatest of Classical drama, does not really show tragedy. It shows people rising above tragedy, how one or more individuals, in a doomed society, discover the principle of action, which leads that society to save itself. Take the casethe famous one I often refer toof contemporary times: 1962, Charles de Gaulle, the President of France. He was faced with a coup d'état by a terrible, fascist mob. And he used the television media, to address the French population, simply to exert leadership, and to say to the French, "Help me." It was possible for him to prevent tragedy, by exerting the proper form of individual leadership at the moment of great crisis.
So, in addition to this role of the scientist, who is also one of these sublime people, who lead nations out of potential failure, we must see physical science as simply one branch of a larger science, properly called "statecraft," in which the greatest Classical art is used to help a population educate itself in the kinds of institutions and cooperation that society must employ to solve its problems. That's why I'm a happy revolutionary. That's why I was able to recognize Pobisk as an essentially happy revolutionary: He had the essential quality of a great scientistlaughter.
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