The fruits of a unique cultural exchange are brought together in this unusual book. Twenty-eight of the most eminent men and women of our generation – philosophers, historians, and scientists from nineteen countries – here discuss what they consider the most vital issues of our day. Paul-Henri Spaak, Barbara Ward, Gunnar Mydral, Linus Pauling, and many others participated in the Noranda lecture series at Expo 67 in Montreal, and each is concerned here with a special aspect of Expo's theme: Man and His World.
The approaches to the theme are as varied as the backgrounds of the speakers. Some of the essays give a revealing and optimistic description of the national and international efforts to ensure a future for mankind; others, less optimistic, stress the increasing insanity of the world and draw attention to the poverty, starvation, hatred, waste, and war which destroy what creative men have built.
One group of papers deals with the idea of progress. André Leroi Gourhan offers a panoramic description of man's cultural evolution and sketches the vast possibilities of future development; Karl Löwith questions the very notion of progress and observes that much "progressive" development has resulted in nothing but destruction; Félix Houphouët-Boigny, president of the Ivory Coast Republic, describes progress in one section of the world – Africa, and the Ivory Coast in particular.
Other lectures deal with such diverse topics as the proper role of government, the modern scientist, formal and informal aspects of education, the history of architecture, recent biological contributions of chemistry, the population explosion, new advances in physics, and the world as a separate entity from man. "The world as universe is not made by man," Professor Löwith reminds us. "It is there, even without us, existing for and by itself."
Originally sponsored by Noranda Mines Ltd., the lectures attracted wide attention at the time of their delivery and again later when some of them were broadcast on radio and television. Collected in this book, they offer a distillation of some of the most significant thinking of today – clear and cogent presentations of ideas that have won Nobel prizes for some of their creators and international recognition for all. In her Introduction, Helen Hogg writes, "It is a book to be sipped and savoured, to be dipped into again and again. Such an approach will enable the reader best to appreciate the penetrating commentaries of some of the world's greatest figures."