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June 14-18, 1999

Canonical Texts | History & Politics | Mathematics | Sociology | Music | Semiotics | Anthropology | Earth Sciences | Political Philosophy | History | Cities | Moral Philosophy | Neurobiology | Physics | Atmosphere & Oceans | Sustainability | Economics

Canonical Texts

Sacred Texts and Canons: Interpretations and the Patterns of Culture
Michael Fishbane
University of Chicago

"…For classical Judaism and its heirs, then, Biblical Scripture was a foundation document - considered sui generis both in terms of how that text was written, handled, and recited; and in terms of how its diverse contents were understood so as to authorize every nuance of life and thought. 'Turn it and turn it again,' went an ancient epigram, 'for all is in it.' Thus the various positive and negative commandments of Scripture, as clarified and qualified by ongoing study, along with its ethical and theological teachings, serve as the diverse structures through which the Jewish community is textualized - insofar as it enacts the values and dictates of Scripture and its traditions. One may even say that this canonical text produces canonical or normative patterns of life, intimately tied to the act and legacy of exegesis. As this tradition unfolds, it too is scripturalized and becomes a sacred text requiring explication and interpretation in its own right. Hence the great collections of Biblical commentaries known as the Midrash exposit Scripture from every imaginable ideological and legal angle, while the normative rulings recorded in the Mishnah are analyzed in the Talmudic discourses, and these serve in turn as the basis for queries and discussions throughout the Middle Ages and up to our day. Traditional Judaism thus lives among its sacred texts and citations, and its teachers constantly negotiate dialogues between them. Thomas Mann's locution of a Zitathaftes Leben precisely captures this modality of scriptural living. It is a mirror that catches the moving image of all text cultures.

…As we have observed, communities based upon a sacred canon are characterized by the demands of a scripture and its traditions of interpretation. Study serves memory and practice, producing a continuity of canonical behaviors from the canonical text. This phenomenon was symbolically shattered by the Bible criticism of Spinoza. For as the purpose of study shifted from the resources of sacred Scripture to sponsor religious life and thought, to its role as a source of historical information and traces of an ancient polity, the self was cut loose from a canonical core, and cast upon new paths. Exploding Maimonides's exegetical method from within, Spinoza deconstructed the mystery of Scripture and brought the Middle Ages to an end; and by creating a non-Scriptural ethics and piety through his own act of intellectual will, he also inaugurated the modern age. Integrity now shifted from the sacred canon to the secular self. The responsibilities and necessities of choice are the patrimony that Nietzsche inherited from these changes and bequeathed to our own century."


History & Politics

History in the Twentieth Century and the Spirit of St. Louis
Jonathan D. Spence
Yale University

"…Over the last thirty years or so there has been a concerted attempt by many writers to isolate and describe the received truths that shaped the thinking of our predecessors at the beginning of this century. The rough consensus seems to be that four were the most salient: the faith that the triumph of science as exemplified by the Newtonian model was assured; the belief that the methodology of scientific explanation could be applied to the study of history, revealing definitive laws of behavior and development; the conviction that the European Enlightenment of the eighteenth century had seen the first flowering of a new structure of knowledge based upon the powers of reason; and confidence that the history of the world as it was manifesting itself clearly showed a general march forward along a discernable path of human progress. It was the interplay of these four factors that defined the meaning of being modern in the economically and intellectually expansive Western European nations, and in the United States. The corollaries of this sense of modernity were a belief in the cohesive power of nationalism, a strong sense of the autonomy of the individual psyche, a shared concept of unified linear time, and an acceptance of the natural superiority of modern states over those more backward and less fortunate.

At the twentieth century's end a large and vocal number of scholars feel that these once accepted views have all proved to be erroneous or harmful. It is not just that those views as originally formulated are now seen as having reflected little more than the self-congratulatory stance of a white, male, protestant elite, raised in a highly restricted cultural and social setting. It is that the four main premises can all be seen to have been hollow at the core. Science does not represent a cumulative rise of wisdom and certainty, but rather has revealed itself as the contriver of unparalleled forces of destruction, that affect every individual, the entire human ecosystem, and indeed the very survival of life on this planet. The belief that such science could lead to the discovery of immutable laws of human history and behavior must be manifestly false, as the theories never included most of the human race. The rule of reason turned out to be a sham, and terrifyingly malleable into the worst forms of governmental deceit, cruelty, and tyranny. And the continuous march along a path of progress was patently untrue, as one observed entire populations sliding back into poverty and degradation, while others exploited their raw power in ever crasser ways."



Mathematics at the Turn of the Millenium
Phillip A. Griffiths
Princeton University
"1. Introduction
One of the great discoveries of the 20th century has been that different kinds of scientific knowledge, including mathematics, are strongly interrelated. This network of knowledge can be seen as a vast set of principles and relationships that extends from invisible atomic particles to the vast biological and social systems of the earth.

One reason the 20th century has been a golden age for mathematics is that it interacts so powerfully with the natural and social sciences. These interactions have led both to great insights within the sciences, and to the broadening and deepening of mathematics itself. I want to discuss some of these interactions, to describe a few outstanding mathematical achievements of the 20th century, and to pose some challenges and opportunities that await us in the 21st century."

"2. The World of Mathematics
But what is it that these mathematicians do? In general, mathematics can be described as the search for structures and patterns that bring order and simplicity to our universe. It may be said that the object or beginning point of a mathematical study is not as important as the patterns and coherence that emerge. And it is these patterns and coherence that give mathematics its power, because they often bring clarity to a completely different object or process - to another branch of mathematics, another science, or to society at large.

When mathematicians speak of their work, two words carry great importance. Mathematics is a field where a 'problem' is not a bad thing. In fact, a good problem is what mathematicians yearn for; it signifies interesting work. The second word is 'proof,' which strongly suggests the rigor of the discipline. Sir Arthur Eddington once said, 'Proof is an idol before which the mathematician tortures himself.' A mathematical proof is a formal and logical line of reasoning that begins with a set of axioms and moves through logical steps to a conclusion. A proof, once given, is permanent; some have existed since the time of the Greeks. A proof confirms truth for the mathematician the way experiment or observation does for the natural scientist.

The 20th century has been a fertile time for the resolution of long-standing problems, and for a wealth of accomplishments that would require at least an encyclopedia to describe."



Sociology: Spanning Two Centuries
Neil J. Smelser
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford

"…Fourth, we must note sociology's special status with respect to the issues of discovery and accumulation. Science in general is believed to generate discrete discoveries (Boyle's law, the theory of relativity, the polio vaccine), build progressively on its own findings, and forever discard its past by continuously advancing its knowledge. According to this view, the history of science is mainly a matter of scholarly curiosity. Such has not been exactly the case in the behavioral and social sciences, including sociology. We might point to certain discovery-like moments, such as Freud's formulation of the unconscious, Keynes' unemployment equilibrium, demography's demographic transition, sociology's primary group and the 'Hawthorne effect,' and the principle that race is more socially-constructed than it is biological. However, most of these discoveries are not located very specifically in time, and once they are made, they may be absorbed into ordinary disciplinary knowledge, even into common sense.

The dynamics of theoretical accumulation in sociology and related fields is something like the following. From time to time, scholars formulate a timely, original, or creatively synthetic statement about social relations or society - for example, the idea of linear evolution. This statement excites interest if it emerges in an appropriate intellectual or societal context; or it may lie dormant for a while, to be activated when its time comes. In any event, this interest invariably gives rise to a number of theoretical and empirical challenges to the statement, accompanied by the assertion of alternative interpretations. Such criticisms, in their turn, invite statements of defense and adaptation elaboration of the original statement by its advocates. As an outcome of this, a perspective (or 'school') takes its place in the history of the discipline. Over time that perspective may endure, be discredited, be revitalized, or be transformed as it is combined and recombined with other perspectives.

The history as well as the current state of sociological thinking, then, is the precipitate of scores of such intellectual episodes. It is a history of invention, elaboration, synthetic combination and recombination, vitalization and revitalization, and occasional death of perspectives and theories. This history is sometimes one of additive accumulation - replacing the old by the new in light of more adequate knowledge. But it is also a history of increase in numbers, complexity, and enrichment of more or less systematically expressed perspectives, frameworks, and theories about human society. It is also a history of continuous flux, as knowledge undergoes internal shifts through invention, controversy, and debate and as it responds to the changing conditions in the societies in which it is generated."



Western Musicology in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Charles Rosen

"…Of the principal composers of 1825-50, Chopin, Schuman, Liszt, and Berlioz, only the last-named has received completely sensible treatment in our time. The so-called 'Paderewski' critical (a misnomer in this case) edition of Chopin was an international scandal and inspired the Poles to start immediately on a new and better one. This new edition has been coming out very slowly and it looks as if most of us may never live to see the final volumes. I believe there is even a third critical edition that has just begun. The recent Liszt edition coming out from Budapest is inferior in several respects (fidelity to the original text, classification of works) to the old and incomplete Liszt-Stiftung edition. All editions of Schumann now available are defective. The latest one is Wolfgang Boetticher's: his work on Schumann is deeply marred by Nazi ideology, and it is almost a pleasure to report that he has generally chosen to reproduce the text of Schumann least likely to interest modern performers, and that his variant readings are incomplete and inaccurate. The twenty-first century will have to deal with all this mass of music. I have not yet mentioned the large gaps in our understanding of the seventeenth and much of the eighteenth centuries, if we are to make any progress towards a deeper understanding of both the vocal and the instrumental production of the past three centuries.

So much for the most practical side of traditional Western musicology: it is evident that a great deal remains in order to make much of the repertory available for performance. We do not yet know what in fact will be interesting for this purpose, and a certain amount of investigation will have to be undertaken. Cooperation between musicologists and interested performers in special repertories is obviously a sine qua non.

The theory necessary for the analysis of these different and often stylistically opposed repertories is in an anarchic state. Understanding even of the period 1700-1900 is handicapped by competing orthodoxies and dogmatism. Comprehension of musical procedures that precede that long period is still somewhat primitive, and in any case there is very little consensus. It cannot be said that the application of Schenkerian analysis to Renaissance and medieval styles is particularly efficient or convincing. It is to be hoped that the next century will bring some kind of a breakthrough in theory, and one can only pray that it will appear in a flexible or supple form and not create new rigidity."

Expanding Horizons in Musicology in the Twenty First Century:
Comments and Observations on Musicology in the 20th and 21st Century by Charles Rosen

J. H. Kwabena Nketia
University of Ghana

"…While the validity of studying music as music (that is, in respect of its varied dimensions as a creative and experienced reality), is acknowledged, the study of music as a social fact or music in culture or music as culture is sometimes questioned as a legitimate task when a study concentrates on any of these areas to the exclusion of the music itself or significant references to aspects of the music. It appears in the estimation of some critics to have been given, on the whole, much more weight over the years than other areas of research and analysis because of the earlier emphasis on structural analysis (see Nketia 1981).

The emphasis on society and culture is of course due partly to the kind of repertories that are studied and partly to the fact that many scholars approach their fields as outsiders who more often than not need a lot more background information to understand what they see and hear than it is the case when an insider is the investigator. However, I know from my own experience that even in the latter case some contextualization of the materials of music is inevitable because the concept of 'art for art sake' does not apply everywhere (see Nketia 1990). This point is often overlooked by musicians in the western tradition.

It must be borne in mind also that music has a nexus relationship to society and culture and that in ethnomusicology, society and culture are not fields of focus but contexts of research where one looks at specific problems or issues related to music as experienced reality in order to enhance one's knowledge and understanding beyond perception of musical elements and structures.

…Only a few decades ago no one would have thought that Western musicians would go to India solely to study the tabla and the sitar, to Japan to study the koto or Australia to study the techniques of the didjeridu in order to extend their own skills as performers, use the knowledge they acquire in the courses they teach or in special programs they work out with school Boards of Education that feel the need to give children some experience of non-Western music. Nor would anyone have thought that musicians would go to Africa to learn to play drums, xylophones and mbira or work with migrant musicians, or that the Royal Amsterdam Academy of music would employ a traditional jembe master drummer to teach their percussion students or bring a Chopi xylophone ensemble from Mozambique into residence in Amsterdam so that the conservatory students could learn to play their xylophones and other instruments and learn a couple of items of the Mgodo dance repertoire."



Semiotics of the XX-th Century
Vyacheslav V. Ivanov
University of California, Los Angeles

"Logical semiotics has become the most advanced formalized area of research on sign systems. The linguistic turn in the history of thought has been so influential mainly due to the work of such thinkers who had started with the investigation of the logical languages and then applied similar concepts in an attempt to understand the everyday speech. One of the main theoretical results of these studies has been the introduction of a notion of a metalanguage coined to discuss an object language. Natural language is in a privileged position among all other semiotic structures since they all may be translated into it. All the signs and different semiotic systems of culture might be considered as constituting semiosphere. The arrow of time in the human biological evolution as well as in the history of semiosphere is defined by the tendency towards the growth of the amount of information.

A major step in the development of the semiotic systems was a shift from logographic representation of words to the later alphabetic principle that makes it possible to perform successive operations not only on letters but also on natural numbers and other sequences of discrete symbols. With this a possibility of understanding the notions of order and set and of rational and legal reasoning is opened. In alphabetic cultures elements usually are called by nouns (e.g. atoms, molecules, genes, quanta, particles, strings, phonemes in the European scientific traditions) different from the verbs. If the achievements of human knowledge were made possible by the coevolution of brain and language, the main part of it should be connected to the dominant (in a major part of population, left) hemisphere that is responsible for speech, logical thinking, counting and other operations with the discrete signs and objects.

Outstanding successes in deciphering a number of unkown systems of writing are significant not only from an internal semiotic point of view. They show the generally high level of a research connected to fundamentals of human knowledge. In a way an important part of natural sciences can be interpreted as similar to cryptographic work."




Anthropology in the 20th Century and Beyond
Ward H. Goodenough
University of Pennsylvania


At the beginning of the twentieth century, anthropology had a very different aspect from the one it has now, a hundred years later.

The only fossil evidence of human evolution was provided by one specimen from Java of what was then called Pithecanthropus (now Homo) erectus and by a few Neanderthal specimens (now Homo sapiens neanderthalensis). We knew nothing of Africa's central role in hominid evolution. Physical anthropologists were concerned with anthropomentrics and the classification of races.

Linguistics was almost entirely devoted to historical linguistics, largely concerned with reconstructing Proto-Indo-European and using the vocabulary evidence from that endeavor to narrow down where the original Indo-European speech community had been geographically located.

Archaeology was devoted to classifying artifacts and the sites from which they came as whether they belonged to the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze or Iron developmental stages in the Old World or to equivalent stages in the Americas. Almost nothing was known of the pre-Aztec and pre-Inca civilizations in the New World. It was authoritatively argued that human occupation of the New World was only four or five thousand years old. It was assumed that classical Greek civilization emerged directly out of a neolithic precursor. The prehistoric roots of ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures were also unexplored. Of African, East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Oceanic prehistory we knew nothing.

Cultural anthropology was primarily concerned with classifying customs and classifying societies accordingly to where they fit into a unilinear developmental scale of civilization. The major debate was between those who argued that societies went through these developmental stages relatively independently in accordance with laws of evolution and those who argued that there were no such laws and that new developments had specific historical origins and were spread by trade and migration to other places and peoples. By both schools of thought human cultural history was seen in terms of a scale of progress in which different societies partook differentially. Why and how differences on that scale and the role of race in those differences were the theoretical issues. As for data, some ethnography had been done, but there was much reliance on ethnographic accounts by concerned missionaries and colonial officials.

Physical anthropologists sought to establish and refine racial classifications according to various anthropometric criteria that were assumed to be hereditary, but Mendelian genetics was as yet unknown. Nothing was known of how humans adapted physically to environmental extremes. Ethnocentric assumption as to the superiority of the Caucasian race and of western European cultures and languages were widespread among anthropologists as well as among the layity.

How things have changed! The fossil record of early humans has grown enormously. Archaeological evidence, in spite of large remaining gaps, is now vast. Many of the world's unwritten languages have been described as to phonology, grammar, and lexicon. Historical linguistic methods have been applied to other than Indo-European languages. Mendelian genetics and, recently, the availability of genetic markers have largely replaced anthropometry in the study of how populations differ and what their history of reproductive interaction with other populations has been. Important advances have been made in the study of physical adaptations to extreme environmental conditions. Archaeology is no longer concerned with developmental stages, but is now aimed in reconstructing what has been happening in the past in different parts of the world and the extent to which these events have been local developments and the extent to which they reflect actual trade and population movements as attested by archaeological data. With the increasing concern to reconstruct what has actually happened has come increasing use of different lines of evidence - archaeological, linguistic, biogenetic, ethnographic, and paleo-ecological - rather than reliance on any one of them alone. Various new techniques for dating archaeological and fossil remains have revolutionized chronologies and made it possible to compare the time of prehistoric events around the world with considerable accuracy. The quality of ethnography has greatly improved and the record of the world's cultures been vastly expanded. Our understanding of culture in relation to language and of both in relation to social and biogenetic processes has been considerably advanced."


Earth Sciences

Earth and Environmental Sciences
Marcia K. McNutt
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute


As we stand on the threshold of the 21st century, it is instructive to review what was known about Earth in 1900. We knew that Earth was a flattened sphere, with the equatorial radius exceeding that of the poles by a little more than 20 kilometers. The average density of Earth was calculated from the acceleration of gravity to be about twice that of surface rocks, and therefore density must be greater in Earth's interior than at the surface. Earth's magnetic field was correctly inferred in 1600 to be of internal origin, based on the pioneering work of William Gilbert, physician to Queen Elizabeth I. In addition, we knew that the magnetic field changed with time, a phenomenon termed 'secular variation.' The notion that earthquakes were the result of crustal movement along faults was a novel concept, having been recently motivated by careful observations of changes in ground elevation following a series of earthquakes in California and elsewhere that closed out the century.

But it is even more impressive to reflect on how much of what is now established in Earth Sciences was not known at the dawn of the 20th century. We didn't know how Earth formed, the origin of her Moon, the cause of Earth's magnetic field, or the fact that it reverses polarity. Concepts now part of 6th grade textbooks, such as continental drift and plate tectonics, had yet to be articulated. Instead, it was thought that mountains rose and seas subsided in response to vertical forces of unspecified internal origin that reshaped the planet. At the close of the 19th century, most held to Lord Kelvin's estimate, based on some rather faulty physics, that Earth was only 25 million years old, despite geologic evidence to the contrary. We earnestly believed that the basis of life was a photosynthetic food chain, and that therefore the deep sea would be cold, barren, and nearly devoid of living organisms. Well into the 20th century, this narrow view of the prerequisites for life completely dominated our thinking of where to look for life elsewhere in the universe.

The scientific revolution that reshaped Earth sciences in the second half of the 20th century was so sudden, complete, and compelling that it has become the type example of a scientific paradigm shift. This review will attempt to chronicle this century's events that led up to the plate tectonic revolution, the understanding that was achieved, and the impacts that resulted from this and other related breakthroughs in Earth sciences."

Political Philosophy

The fate and meaning of political philosophy in our century
Pierre Manent
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

"On this solemn and happy occasion, most of us are by common sense bound to stress the difficulty of our assignments: how is it possible to give a fair account of the abundance and complexity of our subjects within the limits of a twenty- or thirty-page report? It is a consideration, or an excuse, I for one have no right to allege. Commissioned to treat of political philosophy, I am confronted with an unexpected difficulty: not an overflowing wealth of materials, but on the contrary a singular dearth of them. It could even be said without paradox that our century has witnessed the disappearance, or withering away, of political philosophy. An old-fashioned empirical proof of this statement is easy to produce: certainly no Hegel, no Marx, even no Comte, has lived in our century, able to convey to the few and the many alike the powerful vision of our social and political statics and dynamics. However highly we might think of the philosophical capacities and results of Heidegger, Bergson, Whitehead or Wittgenstein, none of us would consider any one of them for his contribution to political philosophy. Heidegger, it is true, ventured into some political action, including discourses: it is a matter for deep regret, and which we would fain forget if we might. In this Heidegger is not the sole, only the most deplorable, witness, or rather culprit: his was the steepest fall. On a much lower level, I should have mentioned Sartre's indefatigable vituperation against anything tolerably rational, or reasonably decent, in civic life. It is true that contrariwise, I could evoke authors like Sir Karl Popper or Raymond Aron, who have been worthy contributors to both general epistemology and political inquiry, always in a spirit of sturdy and humane citizenship. Or some modern representatives of a venerable tradition of thought like thomism, who have offered serious reflection on moral, social and political problems within a comprehensive account of the world. But despite these countervailing considerations, and many others which could be adduced, the general diagnosis seems to me to be inescapable: no modern original philosopher was willing, or able, dialectically to weave a thorough analysis of political life within his account for the human world, or, conversely, to elaborate his account of the whole from an analysis of our political circumstances.

…Totalitarianism was so to speak the experimentum crucis for political philosophy in our century. Through totalitarianism political philosophy was radically tested, and it was found wanting. This failure was two-faced. First, the mere fact that such terrible enterprises could arise was proof that no rational and humane understanding of modern political circumstances had developed and taken root in Europe. It would be unfair indefinitely to extend into the past the culpability, or the responsibility, for the crimes of totalitarianism, but it is true that, after Hegel had elaborated his synthesis, no other philosopher was able to give a satisfactory, that is, impartial, account of modern State and society. Thus the two opposite poles of the dialectics of master and slave were fated unilaterally to break loose and bring havoc to our common life, until Europe was made into the Kampfplatz of self-declared Masters, and self-declared Slaves, alias Workers. This argument does not presuppose the proposition, abstract to the point of meaninglessness, that 'ideas govern the world,' only the sound observation that human beings are thinking animals who need tolerably accurate ideas and evaluations to orient themselves in the world. This truism is the truer the more intellectually active and able the person concerned. Martin Heidegger and Carl Shmitt were fully responsible for what they did and did not do. But one cannot help imagining that, had not the powerful hegelian synthesis receded into irrelevance due to the incapacity of posterior thinkers to carry on its true meaning or to recover its validity, Heidegger would have felt less contempt for the mundane working of democratic society, and Schmitt would have been less attracted to the extreme case and the fact of enmity. Those are just guesses, however plausible. But it is a fact that political philosophy was not nearly able to give a satisfactory account of totalitarianism during and even after the fact. This time the owl of Minerva could not take its flight."

History & Society

The renewal of the historian's craft during the 20th century in the spirit of Marc Bloch
Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Collège de France

"…The renewal of the historian's craft during the 20th century should be ascribed to many scholars, but pertaining to this, let me quote a personal remembrance: 20 years ago, there had been an informal referendum inside the department of history in the University of Michigan in order to know who had been the greatest historian in the world for the 20th century, and the majority of the votes went to my fellow countryman Marc Bloch. This was a great honour for France, but I don't think it was undeserved. To be clear: Marc Bloch was one of those great contemporary historians who diverted the attention of our colleagues from the consideration of short term events, to structures, long duration, and the flow of profound development or growth, in contrast with an exaggerated appreciation of the role of battles, changes in revolving-door governments, King's mistresses, etc. It's true that on the reverse, the subsequent underestimation of the importance of events could also have its shortcomings. Think for instance of an abrupt phenomenon like the fall of communism or so-called fall of it, which had not been foreseen even by shrewd minds, like Paul Kennedy's; but in the middle range term of the 20th century. Bloch's decision was both intelligent and useful and it can be recalled here for the benefit of our colloquium. Marc Bloch's intellectual and existential biography may therefore be a key to a better understanding of my topic, the renewal of the historian's craft, and this, all the more, since the historian's craft is exactly the title of one of Marc Bloch's most important books.

…Is history a science? Or, and should it become a science? At an early stage, Marc Bloch was confronted with this issue, and he very soon indicated that among the «social sciences» (or human sciences as the French say) the ones which are closest to hard science are economics and linguistics. For a long time, however, American scholars have refused to give a seat to history proper among the social sciences, whereas the French with their taste for Humanities have given a place of honour to Clio among their own brand of human sciences. The later solution that the successors of Marc Bloch and the Ecole des Annales have propounded with regard to this topic can be explained according to several lines of thought."



The Culture of Cities in the Information Age
Manuel Castells
University of California, Berkeley

The intellectual debate on cities has been in the 20th century, and it is at the end of the century, a debate on the state and prospects of human civilization.

Cities have been throughout history, and in our time, the sources of cultural creativity, technological innovation, material progress, and political democratization. By bringing together people from multicultural origins, and establishing communication channels, and systems of cooperation, cities have induced synergy from diversity, dynamic stability from competition, order from chaos. However, with the coming of the Information Age cities as specific social systems seem to be challenged by the related processes of globlization and informationalization. New communication technologies appear to supersede the functional need for spacial proximity as the basis of economic efficiency and personal interaction. The emergence of a global economy, and of global communication systems subdue the local into the global, blurring social meaning, and hampering political control, traditionally exercised from localities. Flows seem to overwhelm places, as human interation increasingly relies on electronic communication networks. Thus, cities, as forms of social organization and cultural expression materially rooted in spatially concentrated human settlements, could be made obsolete in the new technological environment. Yet, the paradox is that with the coming of a new techno-economic system, urbanization, understood as spatial concentration, is in fact accelerating. We are reaching a predominantly urban world, which, by 2005, may include at least 50% of the planet's population. Core activities and a growing proportion of people will be concentrated in multi-million metropolitan regions. This pattern of socio-spacial evolution could lead to urbanization without cities, as urban/suburban sprawl diffuses people and activities in a very wide metropolitan span, in which local societies may become socially atomized, and culturally meaningless. Are we heading towards the disappearance of cities as a cultural form at the moment we enter a predominantly urban/metroplitan world? Is the culture of cities coming to an end, precisely because of the pervasiveness of metropolitan settlements? Are virtual communities, and electronically-based communications networks (including fast transportation systems) substituting for the urban community? Which are the differential patterns of spatial concentration and dispersion? And how spatial locality and trans-territorial vertuality interact in the shaping of function and meaning?

The tentative answer to these fundamental questions requires a long and complex intellectual detour which constitutes the subject matter of this paper."


Moral Philosophy

The Measurement of Morals
John T. Noonan, Jr.
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

"Human acts that prevent, promote, or constitute the good are the subject of morals. By its focus on human acts, the subject excludes the acts of animals, angels, God and of all imaginary beings; the focus also excludes such disciplines as architecture, engineering, and mathematics. What is a human act is debated. What the good is - whether, for example, it consists in individual happiness, maximal collective utility, the fulfillment of natural functions, authentic self-realization, adherence to law, or obedience to the will of God - is also debated and affects the logically dependent but often interrelated debate as to how the good may be promoted, prevented, or constituted.

…Participants are so many and the subject itself is so large and multifaceted that it does not yield to the modern sesame of specialization. No academic department can claim a monopoly of it. Who counts as authority is not admitted. It has proved far easier to poke holes in an opponent's position than to demonstrate the correctness of one's own. No method has established supremacy. No single measurer, no single measure exists.

Morals are expressed at different levels. There are those articulated by advanced moralists; there are those embodied in law on the books and those actually enforced by the legal system; and there are those dispensed by the media and those popularly practiced. I speak schematically; there is more interaction than communication by hierarchy of authorities. Decisions of appellate courts often reflect the ideals generally enough accepted to be enforced and in some cases to be practiced. They serve me here as indicators of the measures in use, as benchmarks of the changes."


Neuroscience at the New Millenium (a Precis)
Gerald D. Fischbach
National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, National Institutes of Health

Neuroscience, ranging from the atomic structure of membrane proteins that are responsible for electrical excitability to the philosophy of mind is a formidable subject. One way to begin a discussion of the future is to focus on a few representative levels of analysis. I will, therefore emphasize advances and opportunities in studies of ion channels, synapses, neural circuits, and neural systems. Modern neuroscience, an era that began in the late 1940s with the introduction of new methods of recording bioelectrical signals and new techniques for studying the anatomy of the brain, has been marked by revolutionary discoveries. Progress has accelerated in the past 20 years. The Society of Neuroscience held its first meeting in 1970 with about 500 members attending. Last year more than 25,000 members were listed. Some of the best young scientists have been attracted to the brain sciences widely believed to be among the most complex, challenging, and rewarding frontiers of the new millennium.

…The great unknowns to be addressed in the next millennium involve ensembles of molecules and of cells. How do proteins, genes, and neurons work together? It is naïve to think that one protein determines the connectivity of synaptic partners or the survival of particular neurons. Likewise, it is naïve to think that one neural circuit and only one can accomplish a particular task. Principles of interaction over space and time will provide the most pressing challenges. Once we know how things work alone, we must determine how they work together. In each case it is important to ask - what constitutes a meaningful signal, meaningful for the task at hand. We are in a relatively primitive state in which the questions that must be answered have not been clearly stated (well posed). One suspects that as this level of analysis advances distinctions between neurological sciences and psychiatry will disappear as they will be seen as different ways of describing the same phenomena."


Physics in the 20th Century
Leon M. Lederman
Illinois Institute of Technology

"...But we do have milestones, perhaps six major revolutions.

  • In 1687, Isaac Newton published Principia Mathematica, a summary of his contributions to physics. Its impact rivals any single body of work in the history of mankind. From it flowed a succession of profound changes in human thought and capabilities.

  • Newton created mechanical engineering. Bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, cars, ships, planes - all are designed on Newtonian principles. His syntheses led to an understanding of the motion of moons about planets, and planets about the Sun. Today, his equations are programmed into NASA's computers to control the motion of space vehicles.
  • But his deepest impact was the recognition of how orderly the world was and that this order could be understood and used.

  • A comparable revolution, led by Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell, took place in the 19th century. The nature and behavior of things electrical - currents and charges, magnetism and the electrical nature of light - were unified into one comprehensive theory. That so huge a variety of phenomena could be described by a few beautiful equations furthered the idea that the world was indeed knowable. Experiments by Cavendish and Coulomb, by Ampere and Faraday, laid the foundation of Maxwell's electromagnetic theory.
  • The conquest of the atom led by Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr and others between 1910 and 1930 gave rise to quantum mechanics, which revolutionized physics, most of chemistry and an important part of biology. Quantum theory gave us a unified and comprehensive command of the atomic world. The creation of the quantum mechanics came from observations of how heated matter glows red, then white. Phenomena at the level of the atom could not be understood using the physics of Newton and Maxwell. A radical break was devised. This provided an extraordinary new framework for portraying physical reality, revolutionizing our most fundamental concepts of measurement. Counterintuitive, conceptually disturbing, but it worked. The understanding and control of atoms, molecules and solids is basic to chemistry, biology and many other sciences. In every application, to atoms, nuclei and subnuclear particles, quantum mechanics gave us new understandings. And it was profitable! New industries such as semiconductors, optical communications, microelectronics continue to create new technologies, and new materials and devices like the ubiquitous laser.
  • The discovery in 1947 of the transistor effect paved the way for the computer revolution that has changed everything from the way business and governments are managed to the day-to-day operation of our households. The subsequent telecommunications revolution impacts politics and knowledge acquisition and dissemination. The pace at which it is changing our lives shows no sign of slowing.

  • At about the same time, Einstein and others were giving us a new view of the cosmos and a new and unified view of the nature of space and time. Special and General Relativity took their place alongside of Quantum Mechanics as the great intellectual revolutions of the 20th century. Whereas vast new powers were made available to humans, we were made aware of our perilous perch on a tiny planet, a mere foundling in the cosmos of billions of suns expanding from a primordial explosion. The mind could now reach to the edges of the universe.
  • In the 1930's came the assault on the nucleus, occupying only a millionth of a billionth of the volume of the atom. Larger scientific tools were needed. The nucleus became familiar territory: nuclear energy, nuclear medicine and horrendous weapons. Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and CAT scans revolutionized medical diagnostics. Radioactivity was understood for its power and its peril. And the nucleus of the atom is a collection of nucleons, protons and neutrons, densely packed. But each nucleon is a bag of confined components: quarks and gluons. The experimental efforts of nuclear physicists towards the end of this century is to exhibit the change of state from rigorously confined quarks to a plasma of quarks and gluons.
  • Thanks to particle accelerators, the 1960's witnessed the beginnings of a new organization of the stuff from which everything is made: we, our planet, the sun - the whole works! Even the creation and evolution of the universe were beholden to this synthesis of particle and force. The summary made in the 1980's is a concise table of the particles called: The Standard Model. Quarks, leptons and force-carrying particles are arranged in a concise summary of everything that has been learned since the discovery of the electron in 1897. This summary cried out for new observations that would account for particle and force complexity.

All six revolutions began as abstract studies whose implications for society were concealed in distant futures. In each phase, a new piece of reality was revealed."


Atmosphere & Oceans

The Role of the Ocean in Climate Change
Wallace S. Broecker
Columbia University

In 1906 T.C. Chamberlin proposed that changes in the large-scale pattern of ocean circulation went hand in hand with glacial to interglacial climate cycles. However, it was not until 80 years had passed that this idea received full recognition. Now, not only does clear evidence exist that circulation changes did accompany and perhaps even trigger the abrupt climate changes which punctuated much of the last period of glaciation, but also a fear has arisen that were greenhouse gases to continue upward along their business-as-usual course that late in the next century yet another reorganization of the ocean's circulation system might be triggered.



Sustainability: Prospects for a New Millennium
Peter H. Raven
Missouri Botanical Garden

"...The World Then and Now

At the turn of the century, after more than a hundred years of the Industrial Revolution, the global population stood at approximately 1.65 billion, with about 74 million people in the United States. In about four months, an event to be officially celebrated on October 12, 1999, there will be 6 billion of us, a billion added within the past 12 years, and the billion before that in 13 years. There are at present just over 270 million people in the United States. Human expectations have risen continuously over the course of the century, while the global population has more than tripled; consequently, the level of consumption in the industrialized world has risen to heights undreamed of just a few decades ago. Changes in the biosphere also have been unprecedented, with a major proportion of them having occurred during the past 50 years (Turner, 1990). Over this period, and for the past few hundred years, technologies have been invented and deployed, and the world has in what is geologically an instant of time been converted from a wild one to one in which human beings, one of an estimated 10 million species of organisms, are consuming, wasting, or diverting an estimated 45 percent of the total net biological productivity on land and using more than half of the available fresh water. The properties of the atmosphere have been and are being substantially changed by human activities, and habitats throughout the world have been decimated while species extinctions have reached levels unprecedented for tens of millions of years. Despite the optimistic tone set by the Earth Summit declaration quoted above, with two billion people joining our numbers over the next quarter century, four billion by 2050, we will clearly have an increasingly difficult time in maintaining our current levels of affluence or in achieving the lofty goals which our historical progress seems to have made available to us.

...The Science of Ecology

The essays that were presented by Oscar Drude and Benjamin Robinson in St. Louis in 1904 revealed an ecology that was in its earliest stages of development. Their papers were mainly concerned with plant distribution and the organization of plant communities around the world, with no reference to any of the dynamic concepts that have come to be associated with the modern synthetic science of ecology a century later. The term ecology had first been proposed by the German biologist Ernest Haeckel in 1866, but Haeckel had no particular novel insights about the field. In developing the concept, he was referring to the notion of natural history as it had been understood earlier. Essentially, the science of ecology is one that has developed entirely in the twentieth century."


Revolution and Evolution in Twentieth-Century Macroeconomics
Michael Woodford
Princeton University

"The twentieth century has seen profound progress in economic thought. This has been associated, among other things, with the progress of economics to a fully autonomous disciplinary status, which had only begun to be established late in the nineteenth century, and with a very substantial improvement in the technical methods employed in the discipline, both in the elaboration of economic theory and in the statistical analysis of economic data. Over the past century economics has also come to play a more important role in the world at large. Economic advisors have become more important in the formulation of government policies and the policies of international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank; economic theory has proven to be of practical use in the design and use of a world of new financial instruments; and economic ideas have become influential in a number of areas outside the discipline's traditional boundaries, including sociology, political science, and legal studies.

...Finally, macroeconomics is an appropriate case to consider on this occasion because it has been such a quintessentially twentieth-century development. The rise of macroeconomics as a second, co-equal branch of economic theory in the standard curriculum is a novelty of the twentieth century, the result both of intellectual developments (notably the rise of Keynesian theory) and of new importance attached to management of the economy in twentieth-century ideas about the role of government. Skeptics may challenge whether it should have an equally prominent role in the curricula of the coming century. I am inclined to believe that it should, but the question is worth considering, and raises central issues about the nature both of this subfield and of economics more generally."


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