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 Robert Jungk & The New Encyclopedists (1978) revisited - a late eulogy
picture picture 13 Jul 2008 @ 14:27
At the 14. Anniversary of Robert Jungks (Bob) death tomorrow July 14, I want to revisit his essay "The New Encyclopedists" 30 years ago and his view on science 20 years in a form of a late eulogy.
Both were published in his book: "Future between Fear and Hope" - pleadings for political imagination" in 1990.
I have only discovered this book only a week ago, and feel very touched and moved by it, as they are relevant today as they are in the futures to come, if we do not come up with answers and solutions to his questions, concerns, and warning.

Why do I put this up and why only now?
Bob when we met in 1991 has been all eyes and ears when I spoke about my work around international knowledge organisation and dialogue. Only now I can see that he has been laying out the issues so deep and insightful that I can only be at awe when I gaze at his essays about the needed for a new Encyclopedists and the trends he outlined 10 years later in "The Evolution of Science (1988).

I myself liked his interest s and good questions but had no clue that he cared so much about knowledge organisation and challenges of future communication and media. But now reading his texts I can see why he has open so many doors for me, to people and organisations like Anthony Judge, UIA and his Encyclopedia [link] the World Future Studies Federation (WFSF) Turku 1993 [link], the World Future Society, or Hans Jonas [link] (an old friend of him, born 10 years minus one day earlier, ... Bob opened doors and urged me to get involved with great recommendations of his, in symposia and events, asked me to help organize the German Churchday with a special event under the title: "Water, Sources of Creation": [link], help organise his 80th birthday celebrations in Munich, and Graz: "Eco-Town - Graz End and Beginning" [link] ,..., and repeatedly encouraged me to continue with all my "gots" in the field of education and policy.

Why I can see this and speak up only now?

I was under deep shock having lost Jungk and Jonas when I was just starting to explore the incredible depth they both stand for. And because the Jungk camp was in deep sorrow and agony - not listening - but crying and fighting.

Why I feel I should speak up now?

I have been addressing and focussing on the questions and challenges he raised in the 2 essays above.

AND I feel not only that his analysis and synthesis are very insightful and special, but that I have answers to central challenges he poses. (not me alone but in the context of all the valuable leads he provided me with !

Robert Jungks book is urging us to develop further sharing and imagination:

I started to summing up his central analysis and what needs to be done in German. Please have a look:

Here is the essence:

First: There is a need for a new Encyclopedists, Jungk sums up what Diderot and D’Alembert wanted and where they and later attempts failed, brings in the new project on the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, and outlines what needs to be done.

Second: In Evolution of Science he is very critical with Science, another Feyerabend I would say, but continues with trends to make a difference, guiding us to move towards positive ends:

We should develop the following trends: 1. from narrowness to width (holistic thinking etc.), 2. from abstraction to reality, 3. from elitists to participatory, civil, humane sciences, 4. from conformance to resistance, 5. from secrecy to openness, 6. from dogma to pluralism.

All this when I read it last week was like a revelation. This was what I am doing and aiming at over the last 20 years. No so clear and explicit. And it showed that I am not alone in this – so many people are working on the same obvious but somehow for themselves unaware "supergoals".
Bob laughed heartily when I showed him the Motto of the UN G7 UNEP Harmonisation project I consulted at that time: "much is known, unfortunately in different heads”. (Werner Kollath)

As most of Bobs writing is not available in English and all the nuggets he left tend to be forgotten by new generations, I feel it is time to table again what was done in my most productive time: 1989-1994.

I will provide here links so papers and subjects can be found, studied and improved:  More >