- The physical sciences have given us the knowledge that has produced hydrogen bombs, which are vastly more powerful than even atomic bombs. If these are used, Albert Einstein told us, they can make our planet so radio-active that no life as we know it can survive. This is just one of the ways in which we humans may extinguish our own species. (I could list more ways.)
- The biological and genetic sciences have greatly improved our capacity to conquer diseases. As a result, we may live longer, but our safety is not guaranteed by these sciences.
- Preventing our species’ extinction and controlling disease are not our only troubles. Perhaps most pressing is our bungling of life as we live it — such as producing genocides and wars and other moral perversions. I believe these are an outgrowth of a basic DUALITY in our very existence as human beings.
- The DUALITY: (1 ) From the moment of our birth to the time of our last breath, we are separate creatures. (2) And yet, we are not self-sufficient. Each one of us is dependent on our surroundings — from the air we breathe to the social relationships that nurture us.
- This cries out for a science that addresses how the DUALITY actually operates — in our everyday life and in the bungling that afflicts us so often. I have tried to jump-start such a science in my book, OUR QUEST FOR EFFECTIVE LIVING: HOW WE COPE IN SOCIAL SPACE / A WINDOW TO A NEW SCIENCE. It does not claim to be the last word of such a science. At most, it is a small beginning.
Yesterday (January 9th) I posted an essay titled “On the survival of Our Human Species” in the Tikkun Blog (you can check it). In it I point out that the survival of our human species is gravely threatened by our own actions — such over 100 million violent deaths and genocides during the past century. Alongside the great successes of the physical sciences, the sciences that address human existence on this planet are in a woefully inadequate state.
We need a far more viable, basic science about our life in Social Space.
During the past twenty years I have tried to address that shortfall. First, in two books — “Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil” and “Confronting Evil: Two Journeys” — that clarify that we can only understand horrifying actions, such as the Nazi Holocaust, by their basis in quite mundane, “ordinary” human attributes. Yes, Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” thesis was onto a basic truth.
Then, in two more books — “Immediacy: How we confront our world / How our world confronts us” and “Our quest for effective living: A window to a new science / How we cope in Social Space” I try to help jump start science about human life in Social Space.
I see my work as a bare beginning. I hope that others will build on it, improve on it. I am 87 years old. I don’t have much more time. And neither may our species.