Maxwell, and the Academic Enterprise
a brief introduction by Copthorne Macdonald
Nicholas Maxwell notes that "two great problems of learning confront
humanity: learning about the nature of the universe and our place in it,
and learning how to become civilized." Science has focused on the
first of these problems, but no enterprise of similar scope and magnitude
has been mounted to address the second. Starting with his 1984 book From
Knowledge to Wisdom, Maxwell has sought to bring "about a revolution
in the nature of academic inquiry as a whole so that it takes up its proper
task of helping humanity become wiser." He feels that the social
sciences history, anthropology, political economy, psychology,
and sociology got off on the wrong foot by focusing primarily on
present and past realities rather than the improvement of the human situation.
Long out of print, we are delighted that Pentire
Press has now published an updated
second edition of this seminal work.
A brief introduction to Maxwell's ideas can be found in his article
"Do We Need
an Academic Revolution". In "Can
Humanity Learn to Become Civilized? Part 1", Part
2, and Part 3 he goes
into more detail. A brief biography appears at the end of Part 3. Information
about his recent
books can be found at bn.com and other online booksellers. Check out
his Personal Web Site.
Nicholas Maxwell also started The Friends of Wisdom, an association
of people "charged with the heavy responsibility of bringing wisdom
to academia so that it in turn may bring wisdom to the world." There
is now a website for this group: http://www.knowledgetowisdom.org.
There you will find membership information and many useful resources.