LaRouche to Polish Educators:
Teach the 'Eureka!' Principle
On May 24, Lyndon LaRouche addressed a roundtable of 20 Polish science educators at the Warsaw Polytechnic University. The presentation was one in a series of meetings with parliamentarians, scientists, union and civic representatives, and Schiller Institute activists. LaRouche was introduced by former Polish Vice-Minister of Education Prof. Jerzy Oledzki.
Prof. Oledsky: I am Mr. Oledzki from Warsaw Polytechnicum. The topic of this meeting is "The Future of Education and Science in the 21st Century." We are witnessing a period of history where there are many political-economic experiments in the global arena. At the same time, we ourselves feel lost quite often. Our task is to convey the truth to the next generation: Most of us are academic teachers, and our duty is to teach the students, and therefore questions concerning the future are very important to us.
We are very glad to have among us a man who is courageous enough to stand for far-reaching proposals. He is a man of great intellectual quality in assessing the present situation. He now will have the opportunity to present his ideas to us. The floor is yours, Mr. LaRouche.
Lyndon LaRouche:I would like to thank you for the introduction and your presence. I am very pleased, and very happy about being here. We are older people. Older people must advise the younger how not to repeat the follies of our generations. That is, we must be, in the sense of Plato, "philosopher-kings." What I will focus on, is the tasks of education, with a specific emphasis upon the new situation presented to us by the present, inevitable collapse of the world financial situation.
For me, the essential principle of science is a principle which Leibniz called Analysis Situs, which most physicists are acquainted with. Given an existing mathematical physics, we proceed, as did Fermat, the famous French mathematician and physicist, with the question of the contrast between the reflection and refraction of light. We take the mathematics, and take the experimental evidence, and present it. In the same mathematics, we find often that we get contradictory results. And, specifically in the case of Fermat, as a result of his work, we had a new relativistic conception of time, which was forced upon European civilization.
It went through the work of people such as Huyghens, Leibniz, Bernouilli, the German Abraham Kästner, and through Gauss and Riemann. So, a complete, renewed conception of physics was developed as a by-product of the imapct of the work of both Kepler, and this discovery by Fermat.
It is easiest to describe this principle of Analysis Situs in the language of experimental mathematical physics. Because we have, in terms of experimental work, very strict standards for defining what is a real, genuine paradox.
However, the same question arises in Classical artistic composition. For example, the difference between Bach and the Classical composers, as opposed to the Romantics, is defined in precisely this way. Bach and such followers as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Brahms, had a very definite method of composition, which seems formal, but is more than formal.
When you put these two together—the evidence of scientific progress, and the evidence of Classical artistic progress in composition and performance—we are forced into an understanding of civilization which is lacking among empiricists, Cartesians, existentialists, etc. That is, when formalism breaks down, because of the paradox I cited in the case of Fermat, we are forced on something which very talented young students know, and older professors forget: and that is the principle of cognition.
Formal logic is not the distinction of human beings. To a certain degree, we can create machines to do formal logic. So, you have today some insane people who think we can replace man with some new robots. But no logic machine can discover a new universal physical principle; only the human mind can discover it. Therefore, as the result of such evidence, we divide the universe into three types of interconnected, or multiply-connected principles.
'Differentia Specifica' of Life
We have processes we classify as "non-living processes." But actually, since Plato—more specifically, since Pasteur—we have the conception of the fundamental difference between "non-living" and "living" processes. But then, we find, in the human being, a capacity which no animal has: It is the power of cognition, the power of reason, which enables us to discover a solution to a paradox, which by certain strict standards of measurement we can define as a universal principle.
Now, we have a case of a very famous Ukrainian-Russian scientist, who probably is one of the most important figures for the 21st Century, Academician Vernadsky. Vernadsky was a student of Curie (the son of Curie, the son-in-law of Pasteur), as well as of Mendeleyev. Vernadsky went beyond this, but [he was] in the same school of Mendeleyev, of Pasteur, and actually the French school of Arago before them. He went through this, to develop a conception of what he called "biogeochemistry."
By working in the school of Mendeleyev—he studied originally under Mendeleyev in Petrograd—showed a way of thinking about the relationship between living processes and what we call non-living processes. He demonstrated, for example, that the atmosphere, the oceans, and most of the area on which we live on the surface of the Earth, is a biosphere. These things he called the "natural products of life." That is, one could measure a change in the characteristic of the planet, produced by the continuous action of life, or life transforming the planet.
He went further, in his work during the 1930s, and defined what he called the "noösphere," that is, the action of human cognition in transforming the biosphere, and transforming the relationship of man to the universe.
Vernadsky was also the founder of nuclear science in Russia and Ukraine. He introduced this study of nuclear physics as a source of energy into Russia in 1924-25. Especially, nuclear science was based on the influence of Vernadsky. He also introduced a methodological feature for experimental physical work, which is extremely important to us today. It's actually a Platonic concept, which put him into philosophical conflict with the Soviet ideology.
He is typical of those Soviet scientists who, despite their ideological deviation, were so valuable, that they kept using them.
Let me defend his method from my personal standpoint. The empiricist, or so-called materialist method insists, as Lenin insisted, that the universe, the objects we see, are a perfect reflection of objects as they exist. In other words, that the senses are the only true basis of knowledge. If you think about it, this is obviously absurd, because the human sensory apparatus is a product of a living process. The living process, through its sensory capability, translates the shadows of reality onto our senses. It is our job as human beings to understand this, and to discover what is the reality behind the shadows which our senses give to us.
Cognition and Children's Education
Obviously, science—all real science—is based on this concept. Science is not accounting. It is not connecting dots, it is not counting objects. Science is typified by the discovery of a relativistic principle of time, through Fermat's famous experiment. In the paradoxes of experiments, we discover universal principles which are the reality of the universe in which we act.
Therefore, if we wish to educate children, if we wish to create a society which is just, we must, first of all, educate them in a certain way, which used to be called "the Classical humanist method of education." This method of education originated with the Classical Greek.
What we must do, as in the case of Plato's Meno—the famous story of the education of the slave boy—is, that we have to recognize that we are given a newborn child with all the potentials of humanity, a creature made in the image of the Creator. This new creature is not born as an adult human being. As we know from experience, a baby is infantile. If you are successful with an infantile child, you turn it into a childish child, and if you are successful, you bring that child into a state of insanity called adolescence. (If, at the age of 25, a person acts like an adolescent, you class them as insane; whereas at the age of 16, you say they are normal.) Our job, therefore, is to transform babies into mature adults by the age of 25. But they are not dogs, they are not cows, they are not vegetables.
How, therefore, do you educate a human being, as distinct from a dog, or a cow? In the United States today, we educate people to remain infantile. A successful case of that type, is the current President of the United States, who is absolutely infantile. His irrationality, his emotional make-up, is that of a very sick, mentally ill infant. I can attribute that normally to his use of drugs when he was in college, but also to his family upbringing.
Obviously, the difference between a beast and a man, the characteristic difference, is this quality of cognition, quality of reason. The quality of making fundamental discoveries which can be proven to be true about the universe. So, our job is essentially to take a young child; and, knowing in the child there is the spark of the ability to make creative discoveries, our job is to enable that child to experience the great discoveries of principle of past civilizations, and to embody those discoveries in themselves.
The problem today, is that the current method of today's education, the so-called liberal education, destroys that potential in the child. You know what the experience is with a successful educational process, where promising young people come out of the educational process. You present them with paradoxes when they are ready for that paradox. You confront them with some experimental apparatus, to see what the paradox looks like experimentally. You try to get a group of not too many students—maybe of 15-16 students in a class—to worry about this problem, this paradox.
Maybe out of 15-16 students, two see what the solution is. Then you get them to communicate that to the other students. Then you confront them all with the experimental demonstration of the principle. So, you do two things: You develop them not only in their own individual habit of discovery; you also develop them in a special kind of social relationshsip.
This is the most crucial problem. The problem is that the ability to make a discovery is an individual activity which can not be observed by the sense apparatus of an observer. You can never see cognitive thinking as a phenomenon; you can communicate it by replicating it in a second person. So, a group of students can recognize they all have the same experience of discovery, so that, when you educate them, they know the name of the person who first encountered the paradox.
I sometimes use the case of Archimedes. It's a similar case. Archimedes screamed, "Eureka!" Why did Archimedes scream "Eureka!"?
So, you ask the students: "Why did Archimedes scream 'Eureka!'? What was the problem he was working on? What do you think the solution is?" So, you describe ancient Syracuse, you describe Greek culture, you describe that he was a correspondent of Eratosthenes of Egypt. You present them with all this historical setting of this discovery, and of the personality.
And you leave the class to make the discovery. So, the first of the students who realizes what the discovery is, says, "Eureka!" So, in that way, the student knows that they are reliving a living moment from the mind of Archimedes, 2,200 years ago.
That's the way we do science, the way we do things in music, the way we do things in artistic composition: Re-enact the great acts of discovery of the past in the mind of the living student of today. In many cases, the student knows personally the name of the person who made the discovery. It's as if that person was still alive, and they had talked to them, would work with them.
And thus, the child's mind, in a good education, begins to look like the famous mural in the Vatican, of Raphael, "The School of Athens." You see the people in the painting by Raphael, they come from different times, they don't live in the same time. But they are all in a great discussion, in the same painting. Isn't that the mind of the well-educated person? That people from a vast expanse of known history, who are discoverers, have an immediate personal relationship inside the mind of the student.
This picture in the mind of the student, is called "conscience," "scientific conscience." From inside your mind, you can not do anything shameful under the eyes of these people you know from the past.
Well, that should be the goal of education, which applies not only to physical science; it applies also to Classical artistic composition.
For example, in music: Well, you have the principle of polyphony, which is very ancient. It's from the time of Plato, well known, probably earlier. It was discovered in a more refined way by Leonardo da Vinci, in his work on polyphony, in his lost work on music. The student of the work of da Vinci, Johannes Kepler, applied the work of da Vinci on music, to solve the problem: how the Solar System is constructed. And the genius Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, developed a method of counterpoint—which is still not understood by most music schools today—from which Classical composition came.
The same thing is true in painting. And, what we call the study of art, such as the Classical methods in painting, music, and so forth, combined with Classical methods of education of physical science—we call the study of history. History as the history of the cognitive experience of man. From the study of history, we are able to develop the study of politics.
The 'Science-Driver' Principle
This comes to the crucial point. The crucial point is that all productivity, increase of the productive powers of mankind, comes from this cognitive process we associate with that kind of science and that kind of Classical artistic education. Economics, physical economics, is man's increase of our mastery of nature per capita, per square kilometer, with an improvement in the demographic characteristics of the population.
In this century, in the past century, we have had a number of "science-driver projects." We have often referred to the history from Kästner through his student Gauss, the work with Monge and Carnot through the work of Riemann, as also a "crash program in science." We have also the period of the work of Leibniz and his group, as another "crash program" period in science.
So, you find that man's mastery of nature depends upon two things: the creation of the social and political conditions which foster the emphasis of humanity on developing the individual to make and implement steps in progress, based on discovery of principle. Which is why I have emphasized my field, physical economy, in which all these things come together as I indicated to you in the few remarks here.
What it requires, is a form of "statecraft," in which the object is to use the educational system in the way I described it, as the driver of policymaking for society. To understand man's relationship to the biosphere, to understand man's relationship within the biosphere, and to increase the power of the average individual in and over nature.
I saw this, by flying into Warsaw. We flew over these fields; we were flying low enough, so that I could see Polish agriculture. The problems of Polish agriculture were already notorious to me, so I was not making actually a discovery, but I was having a sensual effect in seeing it. What to do about unemployment in Poland and the Polish agriculture? This is an essential problem of statecraft. It certainly is not the biggest problem in the world; there are much bigger ones. But, it's a typical problem of statecraft.
How do you solve this problem in a just way, not in a mechanical way? Not by thinking like an accountant, but like a humanist scientist: What do you do for the Polish farmer, to change the circumstances, in which a more healthy development for Poland as a whole occurs?
The obvious answer is to have a stronger educational system, which is Classical humanist, which goes in the direction I have tried to illustrate in my few descriptive remarks here.
Existing Education Fails
As you know, from your own experience in teaching and related work, the existing educational systems are terrible. They are designed to train human cattle according to the number of places available for the employment of cattle. They are not designed to develop creatures made in the image of God. "You will get a job as a cow in this field, because there is place for a cow in this field." We know that that is not competent education; it's not competent economics.
Competent economics is changing the relationship of the typical individual to nature and society in general.
You saw this paradox of the Soviet system, which I studied for many years. In the military-scientific field, with the help of some gulag science, Soviet science in the military and related fields achieved wonders, given the resources available to them, whereas the Soviet economy, especially from the period of Khrushchov on, was a disaster.
You could not get science, as practiced in the military field, into the factory. Because the conception of man was mistaken, the goals of economy were mistaken. The goal of economy is the transformation of human individuals to a higher state of personal development. Not only to give them that capacity, but to give them that "intention."
The greatest problem is the individual who may have the potential ability to learn a new skill, but who has not the intention to learn a new skill.
Take two examples of the university experience.
First of all, you have the case of the student that does not wish to progress—not because they don't have the brain: They don't have the intention to progess. They run away from the challenge, rather than facing it. Then you have another case, which was studied by an American scientist with the name of Kubie. You have the promising young graduate student, who seems very creative. When he receives his habilitation, his brain goes dead, because he does not want to be a scientist, he wants to make a successful career. And I have seen many of these in dealing with them: people of great talent, but they refused to progress. Why did they not progress? They had a different intention. They had an intention to progress in their career, but not in their profession.
The typical problem: The poor family says, "Go to school to learn to make a living when you become 16-18." And our purpose of education should be: "Go to the education to become more fully a creature made in the image of the Creator." And then, from my experience with this kind of situation, people who have that kind of self-conception, will tend to do good work, in whatever they have to do, because they wish to do good work. They will also be good citizens, and the children in their family will probably be fortunate.
So therefore, I think with the great crisis coming now, where everything that seems to be the world's leading authority will disintegrate, we must look at this crisis as an opportunity for change, and we must build the conception of an economy as I have described: an economy which is committed to increase the productive powers of labor, through experiencing the great discoveries of the past, and making the new discoveries of the present and the future. The university must be the conscience of the nation. Thank you.