(B) Liberating the Past from the Future

(B) Liberating the Past from the Future

Andrew Targowski (Haworth College of Business, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-004-2.ch005
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The purpose of this chapter is to define intrinsic values of information-communication processes in human development. The development of civilization depends upon the accumulation of wisdom, knowledge and cultural and infrastructural gain. Man is prouder of his heritage than of that which he can eventually achieve in the future. The future is often the threat of the imminent unknown, something that can destroy our stability, qualifications and position within society. On the other hand, the “future” is also the hope of the desperate for a better life.
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The Accumulation Principle

The development of man’s existence is directed by his wisdom, expressed in values by which he is prepared to shape his life. Figure 1 illustrates a pyramid of values formed on the basis of accumulation. Each era has created its own store of values in response to the corresponding needs of civilization. If we enter the 21st century with such values as love, truth, hope, autonomy, responsibility, creativity, self-fulfillment and wisdom, it does not mean that we are rejecting the values of the previous era. Has not the value of tolerance from the age of Enlightenment already been adopted? We can say that this value has been applied perhaps more intensely in our own time than when it was first formulated. Likewise, justice, a value formulated under ancient Judaism, is applied today with even greater firmness. Of course, not all values retained from the “past” are taken uncritically today. For example, the cult of Nationalism, formulated under Romanticism (the 18th and 19th centuries) is diminishing in value in our era of the Electronic Global Village and emerging global civilization. This example may be seen, ultimately, as an exception to the rule, yet only in Western civilization. In general, each succeeding generation can interpret old values better than the last, not only accumulating them, but bestowing on them new qualities.

Figure 1.

The values pyramid developed by accumulation (The Kawczak-Targowski Model, numbers identify centuries)


Similarly, the development of knowledge occurs by accumulation (Figure 1), with great scientific discoveries serving as a corrective. We do not discard books containing outdated knowledge from the libraries, nor, even less, do we burn them. In this regard, we build even bigger libraries which, in the Electronic Global Village, we transform with digital knowledge, to fit onto a computer disk no bigger than a dime. We can find room on such a disk for both discoveries and solutions by astronomers: Copernicus, Galileo, Brahmagupta, Kepler, Lagrange; mathematicians: Euclid, Pythagoras, Archimedes, Leibniz, Gauss, Bernoulli; physicists: Newton, Ampere, Bohr, Celsius, Doppler, Einstein, Fahrenheit, Faraday, Fermi, Heisenberg, Hertz, Kelvin, Kirchhoff, Maxwell, Oppenheimer, Planck, Roentgen, Rutherford, Volta, Cavendish, Galvani, Gibbs; chemists: Mendeleev, Nobel, Curie-Sklodowska, Pauling; biologists: Darwin, Fleming, Freud, Galen, Hippocrates, Jung, Pasteur, Pavlov, Salk, Warburg, Watson; computer scientists: Babbage, Boole, Hollerith, Pascal, Turing, Von Neumann, Cray, Wozniak; technicians: Newcomen, Savery, Coulomb, Jacquard, Henry, Colt, Bell, Edison, Marconi, the Wrights, Ford, Monroe, Sikorsky, Crey and many, many others. Although the achievements of these pioneers of science and technology have, in the meantime, been perfected or superseded, they nevertheless determine the immortal achievements of man from the “past.”

One of the measures by which we judge a university is the extent of its bibliographic store. Harvard, for example, recognized as one of the world’s best universities, has also the biggest library, comprising 12 million volumes. In other words, the measure of Harvard’s greatness is its relationship to the past.

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