Friday, July 4, 2014


by Nichols Maxwell

We need to promote awareness of just how important it is to transform universities so that they come to seek and promote wisdom, and not just acquire knowledge as at present—wisdom being the capacity, the active endeavour and the desire to realize (apprehend and create) what is of value in life, for oneself and others, wisdom thus including knowledge but much more besides. 

We urgently need our institutions of learning to be devoted to helping us resolve our conflicts and problems of living, including global problems, in increasingly cooperatively rational ways, so that we may begin to make progress towards as good a world as possible. 

What we have at present, universities devoted primarily to the pursuit of knowledge, is damagingly irrational.  The extraordinarily successful pursuit of scientific knowledge has led to much of great benefit: it has made the modern world possible.  It has led to modern industry and agriculture, modern medicine and hygiene, which in turn have led to all our current global problems: population growth, immense differences in wealth and power around the globe, destruction of natural habitats and mass extinction of species, the lethal character of modern war, pollution of earth, sea and air and, most serious of all, the impending disasters of climate change. 

We urgently need an academic revolution so that the pursuit of knowledge becomes a part of the more fundamental task to help humanity learn how to tackle problems of living in increasingly effective, intelligent and humane ways.

Why is this important?

We face grave global problems.  Climate change may become a threat to civilization.  There is no more important task confronting humanity than to learn how to tackle our problems of living - including our global problems - in wiser, more effective ways than we do at present.  For that, in turn, we require our institutions of learning, above all our universities, to be rationally designed and devoted to the task.  At present, they are not.

Transforming universities so that they become devoted to helping us make progress towards as good a world as possible is the single most important thing that we need to do as far as the long-term interests of humanity are concerned.