Monograph prepared by Marian Crist Lippitt on "The Science of Reality" Education Curriculum for The Association for a World University, delivered by Dr. Daniel Jordan.




While World Education may be developed as a philosophy for higher education in the decades ahead, the question remains: What will be the philosophy underlying World Education?

The idea of World Education presupposes the notion of one world and although there are many trends pointing towards the emergence of world civilization, human life is still dominated today by conflict, disunity, fragmentation, and a host of tragedies and deprivations resulting from our inability to know and love one another, and thereby cooperate in efforts to mobilize resources required to guarantee our survival as a species and improve perpetually the quality of our lives.

We believe that there is little hope that higher education will be able to play a significant role in creating one world if the various institutions of higher learning throughout the world do not offer a curriculum that will enable students to develop integrative schemes of thought and feeling without which no action for unifying mankind will take place. It seems not unreasonable to hope that the current vision for a World University shared by those attending this conference might include the concept of a core curriculum designed to help students to acquire an appreciation of and a commitment to unific perspectives on not only their own lives but also on existence as a whole. Such students, on the verge of blossoming into young adults are our best source for leaders of the future. The purpose of this presentation is to suggest the basic features of such a core curriculum, which we refer to as the science of reality.

Julian Huxley, a distinguished biologist and former Director-General of UNESCO, wrote:

    I would go so far as to say that the lack of a common frame of reference, the absence of any unifying set of concepts and principles, is now, if not the world's major disease, at least its most serious symptom. (Knowledge, Morality, and Destiny. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960. Pg. 88)

The purpose of the proposed science of reality is to function in the core curriculum as a unifying framework of thought, feeling, and action -- a framework capable of being used to interpret every item of experience in ways that are morally, socially, and scientifically sound.

We refer to the science in the phrase "science of reality" in the sense of "organized knowledge." To be organized and coherent, all of the propositions constituting a body of knowledge must be related to a first principle. This point can scarcely be overemphasized, since the science of reality could hardly perform a unifying function on the levels of thought, perception, feeling, and action if it, itself, were not fully integrative. Thus, while the science of reality as we present it here may appear basically as a philosophical exercise, its power lies in its applicability to human life on the individual and social levels, where empirical results can be seen and evaluated.

In brief, the first principle of the science of reality is that reality has two forms: material and immaterial, or actual and non-actual. The material form of reality is subject to the various laws of material existence such as those dealing with gravitation, radiation, and chemico-electric phenomena. The immaterial form of reality concerns a category of items not subject to such laws. This category includes such things as ideas, ideals, virtues, abstract form, purpose, plans, objectives, the future, etc. None of these things can be weighed, burned, or propelled through three dimensional space because they are immaterial. Yet, they have consequences or effects in the material world (to be sure, largely through the minds of human beings), but they cannot be explained by the laws of chemistry or physics.

Up to the present time, modern science has concentrated entirely on understanding material reality, the assumption being that this is the only reality. Hence, scientific attempts to understand man have reflected the same assumption, with limited results. Modern Western medicine, for instance, is now confronting the evidence of successful forms of healing not dependent on the cause and effect relationships explicable by the laws of chemistry and physics. It is evident that belief, faith, trust, and hope have an effect on patients. But, until there is a science of reality that rests on the assumption of non-actual forms of reality as well as actual forms of reality, from which a new medicine can be developed, modern, Western medical science will remain out of touch with many of the essential realities of man which are immaterial in nature, including many of those directly involved in the promotion of physical health and healing.

Throughout history, human beings have felt compelled to accept what has been intuitively self-evident about themselves, namely that the phenomenon of life includes far more than a mere collection of chemical compounds. The "far more" part of life has been and is variously referred to as the soul or spirit, etc. Such acceptance gave rise to religion, philosophy, and the arts. Science, however, having adopted a more limited assumption about the nature of reality of man, has, for this reason, made its major achievement in understanding the lower ontological levels of being that are primarily dominated by the physical laws of physics and chemistry. It is for this reason that we have achieved such incredible technological advancements, but have not made too much progress in moral and social development.

The science of reality proposed for a core-curriculum in a university for the future recognizes various ontological levels in creation: mineral, vegetable, animal, human and ultimately unknowable essences, and sets forth the proposition that man is at the pinnacle of material existence and the beginning of non-material existence or spirituality. Religion and science must in a future age somehow come together, since both presumably are interested in reality and truth. To accomplish this union will require a reorganization of traditional thought in both religion and science. To illustrate a point, the science of reality we suggest introduces a fifth-dimension -- added to the three dimensions of physical space and the fourth dimension of time -- which is purpose. This is a non-material dimension that nonetheless has effects in the material world.

This is not a new idea; Aristotle referred to it as final cause, because it was the end or purpose underlying efficient or physical causes. Purpose gives form or structure to material reality and underlies its functioning. A clock, for example, is designed the way it is and not like, say, a boat, because of its purpose. That is why trying to sail in a clock or tell time by a boat doesn't work. Now the structure of society in the function of humanity will be conflict-ridden unless and until we collectively arrive at an acceptable working hypothesis about our purpose as human beings. We propose that the purpose of man and thus the giver of form to our functioning is to know and to love the ultimate reality behind the order of creation and to express our developing capacities of knowing and loving in service to each other, to the end that our survival is not only guaranteed, but the quality of our lives will be perpetually improved.

Such a scheme of thought, so briefly presented here, is not incompatible with the fundamental intuition of historical and contemporary religions, and also has an aesthetic, philosophical and scientific respectability that has the potential for engaging the interest and support of scholars in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts, as well as those in applied fields like engineering, medicine, law, and government.

If World Education is to be the philosophy of higher education in the decades ahead, we need to deliberate on the philosophy of World Education. We suggest that at its core should be a universal curriculum -- a science of reality -- that will put us in touch with all dimensions of existence, including the most elusive yet most fascinating and essential non-material reality of man, his spirituality.

From Procedure Summary of June 1980 Conference, Committee for the World University, Inc. Monologue prepared by Marian Crist Lippitt and presented by Dr. Daniel C. Jordan, Chairperson, Department of Education, University of Massachusetts.

Science of Reality monograph © Copyright Marian Crist Lippitt

return to FIR home page

Page last updated: Sept. 15, 2001