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Why study culture and education?

A Science-Driver Economy

by Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.

I have emphasized two points of policy which must be emphasized in defining a future recovery from the presently ongoing, global economic catastrophe. These are, a shift to a Classical humanist mode of education, at all levels of education, and a new quality of emphasis on universities as the focal point of science-driver policy for direction of the economy as a whole....

To that purpose, I turn now to the subject of my educational policy, and, after that, the way in which such an educational policy flows, naturally, into my conception of introducing a science-driver form of economy as a natural next step in the development of what Hamilton, the Careys, and List named "The American System of political-economy." In earlier locations, I have used the image of a contemporary child re-experiencing an act of original discovery of a universal physical principle by the ancient Archimedes. I have emphasized, that every child should be educated in that way, and no other. The object of education must be, primarily, that the pupil should accumulate a memory of having re-experienced the actual cognitive act of original discovery of a universal physical principle made by persons who, for example, are today, chiefly, long deceased, even back many thousands of years.

In the act of re-experiencing such an original discovery of universal principle, there is a wonderful change from the effects produced by standard instruction in learning in general and higher education today. The change makes education human, for a change.

The keys to understanding this difference, are, in summary, the following. First, the act of cognition through which a successful hypothesis is generated, is a mental process which is perfectly opaque to the sense-perceptual apparatus of the external observer. Therefore, the most important of all social acts, are those transactions through which a valid hypothesis and its validation as a universal physical principle, is replicated as a cognitive act provoked in the sovereign cognitive powers of another person. It is the power to generate and transmit, so, verifiable discoveries of universal physical principle, which is the absolute difference between a human being and all other living creatures. Therefore, we should educate our children for what they are, human beings, rather than the monkeys, which programs in mere learning imply those children to be.

This cognitive form of social relationship is not limited to relations with living persons. In the case of the actual reenactment of an original discovery of a universal physical principle, originally made by a long-deceased discoverer, the student has established an active relationship with that deceased person which is of the same degree of social intimacy, and distinctively human character, as with any living person. The reenactment of a cognitive act of discovery performed by a long-deceased person, produces a living memory of that reenactment within the mind of the (for example) student.

"The School of Athens" by the great Renaissance painter, Raphael, depicts great thinkers who lived as much as 2000 years apart, in living dialogue with one another. In the same way, a child must come to know the great minds of all human civilisation.
Indeed, I have reminded my readers many times, Raphael Sanzio portrays a crucial principle of the human education of human beings, in his famous The School of Athens. The mind of the person who has acquired knowledge through a cognitive relationship with persons both living and deceased, has the living memory of that person, as represented by the relevant cognitive act or acts of discovery, present as a virtual living personality within his or her own mind. All even approximately competent education produces precisely that sort of effect, or a fair approximation of it in the mind of the student.

Within the conscience of the person so educated, the voices of many from among the greatest known scientists, artists, and statesmen of the past are heard as living voices in the mind. This is the jury to which the discoverer appeals, even when he disagrees with many among those authorities from the past. He is self-obliged to present them compelling arguments, which should win them to accept the discoverer's overturning of what they had adopted and defended in their time.

For that and related reasons, a truly human relationship is based upon that quality of cognitive relationship. This point is the pervasive burden of Plato's Socratic dialogues, for example. This cognitive quality of relationship, is also the proper definition of sanity, in contrast to the insanity represented by ideologies such as "free trade" and "shareholder value." The habit of thinking cognitively, of seeking out and challenging the paradoxes lurking within popular opinion, for example, is the standard of sanity of both individuals and societies. Therefore, the policy must be that a truth-seeking Classical humanist mode of public and higher education, as so indicated, must be the only tolerated standard of education ... from henceforth.

Examine an additional implication of what I have just stated. Man's power in and over the universe, stems entirely from those cognitive processes by means of which discoveries of universal physical principle are transmitted, from past to present, and future. Therefore, if we define the university as the pinnacle of a system of universal education premised upon Classical humanist principles, the advanced and other research functions properly situated in such a university system, provide the most appropriate driver for both the world's economy and for the crafting of those long-range objectives around which today's physical-economic policies are defined.

The notable benefits of such a policy, are not merely technical, but also moral and psychotherapeutic. The development of a person's sense of a close personal sort of cognitive relationship, to not only some of the greatest intellects of humanity's past, but an impassioned regard for those past contributions which have yet to be fully realized, if realized at all, motivates us to see in ourselves the opportunity to change the outcome of past history, by rescuing for the present and future, that which might have been lost forever without our current intervention. That view of our cognitive relationship to great personalities of the past, informs our view of ourselves, as the image of our living self might be reflected back to us today, from those observing us in the future. Similarly, in a related way, we must be impassioned to ensure that the future does not make the terrible mistakes we know of the past and our present time. In our minds, so informed and developed, the past, present, and future have an historic order in respect to each other, but, in our minds, those whose acts of cognitive discovery we have relived live within us, as if they were our moral contemporaries. Thus, it is said, we become privileged, through the redemptive process of cognition, to live forever, with such companions, within an eternal moment, called sometimes "the simultaneity of eternity"....

The crucial principle of physical economy which defines a science-driver economy, is that the increase of mankind's potential relative population-density within the universe, depends essentially on the discovery and socialization of universal physical principles. The university-led Classical humanist form of educational system, thus typifies the form of practice by a society which realizes both aspects of the principle of universal human progress. The Classical humanist method develops the ability of the individual mind to recognize ontological paradoxes and effect relevant, verifiable discoveries of universal physical principle. The same method socializes both the process of discovery, and the discoverer as both student and scientist.

The universities of educational systems of that intention, each and all modelled implicitly on the method of knowledge exhibited in Plato's Socratic dialogues, should serve as the pinnacle of science. That should drive the economy. In brief, that proceeds by the following steps.

In competent programs of education in what is conventionally termed "physical science," in schools and universities, there is great emphasis on two sets of experiments. The first, are called pedagogical experiments, through aid of which the student reenacts the crucial and other discoveries of the past, in a Classical humanist, which is to say, "Socratic" way. This accumulation of pedagogical experimental work, prepares the student's mind for discovering and testing hypotheses. All of the historical knowledge and skills represented by pedagogical instruction and experiments, is then marshalled to serve as a point of departure into the previously unknown. The pivot on which the success of a science-driver program hangs, is fundamental, experimentally oriented research into discovery of new universal physical principles. This success requires intense concentration on a crucial feature of the design of proof-of-principle experiments, a feature to which I have already referred, above.

In any successful proof-of-principle experiment, there are elements of the design of the experiment which are in specific correspondence to the principle at issue in the test in the chosen medium. Thus, the success of that experiment identifies those distinctive elements of the experimental design as the appropriate keys to the application of that principle in the designs of products and productive processes.

The bridge between the university-centered programs of fundamental research and the productive economy, is provided, usually, by the very type of machine-tool-design engineering which the current fad of "benchmarking" has proposed to eradicate, that in the interest of promoting both the evils of out-sourcing, and product-quality failures in performance! The type of machine-tool-design practice consistent with proof-of-principle experiment, is the bridge between so-called "pure science" and production of qualitatively improved kinds of products and processes. On the condition, that the indicated principles of educational policy are in force, then society's priority ought to be that of increasing the ration of the total population being so educated, and employed in the indicated categories of research and of product and process design. This should be reflected in the ratios of composition of the labor-force in each agro-industrial category of production and science-based services.

The best medical system, which the United States was working toward improving under the post-World War II Hill-Burton law, was the emphasis on full-service public teaching hospitals, including those associated with universities. These were but one aspect of the total capacity for developing and delivering medical and related benefits, but they were exemplary, and crucial in the respect that their patients were selected on the basis of the patients' needs, rather than any different consideration. Such hospitals typify the principle of the science-driver approach I have summarized immediately above.

For related reasons, I continue to propose mission-oriented, pioneering, science-driver programs, as typified by the Manhattan Project, by the development of the space program, and by my own design for what President Reagan named a "Strategic Defense Initiative." A large-scale, long-term mission, assigned the task of making the seemingly impossible real, expresses the principle of science, and of human progress generally, in a way nothing else could do.

The revolutionary impact of wartime and related science-driver programs, and their expression in new qualities of technologies, products, and processes, happened to lie largely in the military or related functions of government, because such scientific and technological achievements were unlikely to occur in any other way. The massive concentration of power, by government, on areas of breakthrough beyond the capacity of any private enterprise, is the only way in which the transition to a science-driver economy is likely to emerge.

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