Mind Body Seminar: April 1977
A Weekend Symposium
April 23 & 24, 1977
The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge
In cooperation with
The School of Continuing Education
New York University, New York City
Increasingly in recent years, the media have reported the incidence of new environmental “crises”—explosive population growth, pollution, over consumption of energy, depletion of resources, and the multiple impact of inappropriate technological intervention. Yet, few social critics and even fewer citizens realize that problems which we have come to consider “environmental” are problems of human choice, action, and understanding. Overcrowding, polluted waters, urban smog, gas shortages, are created anew each day by our own decisions. As such, they represent problems of human, not technological, dimensions.
Many contemporary thinkers have noted that the global crisis in our environment has common roots with current problems in medicine, psychology, and education. One source of the difficulty is that we are trained largely for analysis, to divide whole systems in order to study the parts. In so doing, we have failed to develop the ability to perceive the whole dimensions of the problems facing humanity and to assess properly the consequences of our actions.
What is most needed, therefore, is not a set of programs or even new technological solutions, but a new understanding of our actions and their effects. This ability to perceive comprehensively can be learned and developed through psychological methods which are known in Eastern and Western worlds.
This symposium will explore the relevance of educating human understanding for the creation of sound social policy. The program brings together leading experts on technology, global issues, and human ecology with those who have specialized in the study of the mind in both Eastern and Western contexts.
RENE DUBOS, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Biomedicine at the Rockefeller University. His early research involved the development of anti-microbial drugs and more recently he has been investigating the effects that environmental forces—physiochemical, biological, and social—exert on human life. Dr. Dubos is author of over twenty books including THE MIRAGE OF HEALTH, MAN ADAPTING, SO HUMAN AN ANIMAL, and BEAST OR ANGEL: CHOICES THAT MAKE US HUMAN.
ROBERT E. ORNSTEIN, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California, San Francisco, and President of the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. He has done research on the relation of hemispheric specialization to consciousness, biofeedback of EEG asymmetry, and the experience of time. He is the editor of THE NATURE OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS, and author of THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS, THE MIND FIELD, and co-author of ON THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MEDITATION.
AURELIO PECCEI is a founding member of the Club of Rome, an organization which has brought problems of global magnitude to contemporary concern. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of the International Institute for Environment and Development and The Population Institute and a member of the Board of Trustees, the International Ocean Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund. He is also a member of the Advisory Council, Friends of the Earth, and a member of the UNESCO Panel of Counselors on major world problems.
E. F. SCHUMACHER is author of many articles on economics, ecology, philosophy, and development. He is best known for the book, SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL, and for A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED. He has been an economic advisor to Burma, India, and Britain, and is President of the Soil Association, and Founder and Chairman of Intermediate Technology.
IDRIES SHAH has, for twenty years, been publishing in the field of human ideas and their relationship to individual and collective problems. He is regarded in both the Western and Third Worlds as a catalyst whose theme is that all human progress and understanding depends upon the recognition and understanding of the role of human ideas in philosophy, religion, and psychology alongside scientific, technical, and economic considerations. Shah is the Director of Studies of the Institute for Cultural Research, carrying on interdisciplinary work in Britain, has been a Visiting Professor in Europe and the United States, and is currently contributing to the ambitious OXFORD COMPANION TO THE MIND. He has written twenty books, published in several languages.
Saturday, April 23,1977
9:30-10:00 INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
MODES OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING I: WESTERN SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE—Dr. Ornstein
Recent research has indicated that human capacities for understanding are not limited to the analytic mode. In most people, half of the brain is specialized to link elements together. The relevance of the development of these two modes to our current situation will be discussed.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS—Dr. Ornstein
MODES OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING II: THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE EAST—Idries Shah
Finding solutions to present and future concerns re-quires greater knowledge of how people think, how they have thought in other times and other cultures, and what influences the process of understanding. A study of this kind helps to identify the continuing influence and determining effect of our cultural heritage.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL—E. F. Schumacher
In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man. Yet it remains a widespread assumption that if only there were more and more wealth, everything else would fall into place. There has never been a society without its sages to challenge this kind of materialism. Today, however, this message reaches us not solely from the critics but from the actual course of physical events. It speaks to us in the language of terrorism, genocide, psycho-social break-down, pollution, and exhaustion. What is most needed today is the development of a lifestyle which while utilizing the benefits of wealth for civilization, accords to material things a secondary place in the order of priorities.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS—E. F. Schumacher
Sunday, April 24, 1977
SYMBIOSIS OF EARTH AND HUMANKIND—Rene Dubos
Although much of the subject matter of this program concerns itself with the already serious despoliation of the earth’s resources, clearly not all human incursions into the environment are destructive. In many instances, the “natural” environment has been modified to produce mutual advantages for both man and nature. This lecture will point out and discuss examples of such symbiotic relationships.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS—Rene Dubos
THE WORLD PROBLEMATIQUE—Aurelio Peccei
An overview of the threats to human life from population, energy consumption, and resource allocation.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS—Aurelio Peccei
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS?
Panel discussion and audience questions: Dubos, Ornstein, Peccei, Schumacher, Shah.