Building peace in the minds of men and women

Science and mankind; Nobel Prize winners' Round Table

In general there are now two groups of people in the world: those full of hope but living in poverty and those enjoying prosperity yet haunted by fear of the future. Perhaps science will furnish the means to break this hellish circle ... If we are rational, if we achieve freedom through science, then, carried onward by it, we may perhaps taste the pleasures of culture, promised to all men yet still far from accessible to ali. This thought itself should be U:ke an open rwound to us for we could never, without a pang of conscience, take pleasure in even the finest of cultural things while knowing that there are millions of men and women in the world who suffer from hunger." 

In these words, Professor Gaston Berger, the eminent French psychologist, concisely summed up the problem and the promise of science and society in our day. Professor Berger, who has been called "a bridge-builder between the social sciences and the exact sciences " was participating in the International Round Table of world­renowned scientists which recently debated the vital question, "Man and Scientific and Technical Progress," in Unesco's new headquarters in Paris. 

"Unesco," Professor Berger told the audience in the great Conference Hall, "is far more than an organlzation whose job it is to provide technical and financia! aid for a certain number of scientiflc, educational and cultural projects. Unesco must stimulate the efforts of others bring about meetings, can up new ideas. In a world of constant change it must be in the vanguard of research and invention. And in the same world, restless, disturbed and fearful, it lknows too that it must be a pillar of great moral strength. 

"To justify the hopes that men place in it, Unesco keeps a double goal in view. It can and must turn to the most eminent men in every field, yet it must never forget that it is at the service of all men: on the one hand the scientists, artists, rwriters and great teachers· on the other, the immense numbers of men and women who aspire to :knowledge, who have a right to culture and who must be given access to education. Between the two Unesco lays down its bridges."

Today, technology and its creations are no longer the exclusive realm of engineers and industrialists. They are part · of the everyday scene, of immediate concern to ali of us. How are men and women to adjust themselves to the impact of science and technology on their lives? 

Educational programmes · and broad campaigns pub­licizing the work of scientists and technologists could do much to make the ever-expanding frontiers of scientific knowJedge seem less remote. And the value of a broad appraisal such as that made at the Unesco Round Table lies in its ability to bring into perspective for the man-in­the-street the vast new rworld which the triumphs of science and technology are creating for him. That too is the purpose of this issue of The Unesco Courier entirely devoted to the debates of the great scientists at the International Round Table. 

Read this issue. Download the PDF.

February 1959