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Inside this Issue


Knowledge of the Whole

The mental world we live in today is infinitely divided into categories, subjects, disciplines, topics, and their more and more specialized subdivisions. As a result American universities now offer more than 1000 specialized subdisciplines. Specialization is a power of knowledge to uncover the intricate mysteries concealed in the infinitesimal. Many of the marvellous things we use and enjoy today are a result of this minute investigation. But no matter how much we try, our lives cannot be so readily divided into innumerable airtight compartments. The quest for right knowledge too often reduces to selecting some aspects of knowledge that fit neatly together into a conceptual framework and ignoring or rejecting those that do not. This process of acceptance and rejection may elevate our specialized knowledge of the part but it is likely to overlook profound truths about the whole. Thought is the power to link and relate two or more things together. Knowledge is the capacity to see each thing in right relationship to everything else.

The challenges confronting humanity today are very largely the result of this fragmentation of knowledge that views financial markets as separate and almost independent of the real economy, technological development as if it can be embraced without any regard for its impact on employment, markets as if they can function independent of law and regulation and regardless of their impact on society and the environment, social policy as if it can be divorced from human values, and education of the mind as if it can be separated from development of personality. The devastating impact of modern society on the natural environment is a direct consequence of this fragmentation of knowledge.

The knowledge humanity needs today to effectively address these challenges is a knowledge based on truths that complement and complete other truths rather than those that compete and oppose all other perspectives. Only then can our knowledge be fully rational. Every viewpoint that survives rational scrutiny possesses at least a grain of truth that can enhance our understanding of the whole. The need for more integrated knowledge is especially apparent today in the social sciences where humanity is confronted by problems that deny solution by piecemeal analysis and fragmented strategies. The real solution to the problem of climate change lies in healing this fractured image of reality and restoring a vision that reconnects us mentally and emotionally with each other and the world in which we live. A holistic understanding is the first essential condition for healing society and the planet.

The articles in this issue of Cadmus present perspectives that highlight linkages and relationships between different aspects of knowledge in diverse fields of life—economics, education, governance, history, law, security, science and technology—which are more often examined in isolation from one another. Taken individually these articles provide a rich variety of insights into specific fields. Taken together they sketch the outlines of a more integrated knowledge of society and human evolution.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

The Editors