February 3, 1967
Once we were on our way in America toward obliterating the distinction between "public" and "private" that had fashioned human history into power-madness and personal greediness. Then came the executive idea in science and socialist statism. So once more we are on the old way, of man counterposed to the state.
Thursday afternoon, by prearrangement, Adam Yarmolinsky and I rode the air shuttle from Boston to Chicago, and he told me that since he had left the government for a law professorship at Harvard he had laid down core strictures and demands for his consulting work. He was bound for New York to talk to a roundtable at the Foreign Policy Association to discuss problems of NATO. Do your financial strictures apply here, I asked, knowing the answer. No, he said, "this is public service." "Public service!" I replied, sharply. "When I take a walk with my boy in the park, I am performing a public service." He was upset a little, for like most of the "morally superior" stratum of our day, he is fairly sure of the labels of the public interest as opposed to the private interest, of commercial vs. non-profit, of altruism and selfishness. My final word was "There are good acts and bad acts; that's the distinction."
February 7, 1967 New York City, 7 P.M.. A blizzard is raging.
A Plot. I am reading a manuscript of a deep interview by a psychoanalyst, Walter Slote, of several anti-American Vietnamese. From page to page there slips into his account feelings of increased affection for his informants. They begin to love him and he they. One says "I think I know you. We were friends in a previous incarnation!" The scientist falls in love with his subjects, no matter how ugly.
The story: A young psychiatrist in Munchen in 1922 receives a young patient, recommended to him by a Viennese Jewish gentleman. The young man is full of hostility. The psychiatrist, after the lovemaking of therapy, writes his sympathetic account. The young man is unchanged. He is Adolf Hitler.
A Thesis: The poor are the destroyers of the poor. Thrice in conversation about current events with friends, my mind came upon this hypothesis, cruel, uncomfortable, pessimistic. Now I see it as a much bigger idea. It may be a general law of sociology, like the "class struggle" or the "iron law of oligarchy" -- a useful concept, capable of transforming a view of a total historical setting and leading a tool to the dissection of a group's behavior. "Every group is its own worst enemy." Professionals, races, the rich of the rich, artists of their fellows, poets of their kind, etc. and of course Man of man. I. e. It is likeness that produces hate and destructiveness. Not dissimilarity. So we turn the world on its axis. The opposite of the accepted is true.
February 8, 1967 A.M.
I finish reading Slote's interrogations of Vietnamese activists. His detail fairly good and believable, his interpretations and extensions become erratic and amateurish. I wonder: the greatness of the scientist (or philosopher) comes when he extends the experience he is perusing "in natura." The specifically non-empirical (i. e. that which is the new data), becomes almost immediately part of all the old data and forms of mental operation; hence if the investigator is inept beyond the plane of the new data, he must be abandoned there. Freud "saw" only what many others "saw"; so Velikovsky, Newton, Galileo, Bruno, Marsiglio, Plato, et al. The forms they placed upon their perceptions were more important to the use of the data, for pure and applied knowledge, and even tortured the data where necessary.
February 16, 1967
The college without printed words. Imagine a Ph.D. without having read a book, and construct a curriculum for the degree. In what fields could it be done or not be done, and why?
After all, it is operations that express knowledge. New operations express learning. In what forms can operations be criticized, evaluated, and corrected?
by observation and imitation
by successive trials
All of these are old forms of education. Yet their full and systematic development has hardly begun. In extreme, can we not assert: "Everything that happens can be reproduced. Everything that has happened or that might happen can be reproduced. Everything that is to be done can be produced. This activity of reproduction and production is education. The end result (signified by the degree-holder) is a person capable of a set of competent, improved, and even creative actions.
February 17, 1967
"Social Costs," "Hidden Costs:" why aren't these a major new field of scientific investigation? Practically every human activity has indirect consequences, hidden effects, unknown or ignored results and connections.
When the primitive Indian burned an ancient New Jersey forest in order to find game, he affected many others; he exerted an influence on evolution.
"Costs" of course is another word for "consequence" and perhaps we are only saying that we need a better science of consequences, or even [past] better social science, since what is science if not the knowledge and control of consequences?
There is a basically anti-scientific element in human activity. In order to act one must abandon remote consequences to immediate, indirect to direct. Else little could ever be done. You cannot stop to measure the effects on air pollution whenever you run your car's motor needlessly or to "warm it up."
But like the great evolutionary forces, the cumulative interest and remote consequences of our society begin to reveal their effects to chemical composition of the air, the animal crowding, the inaccessibility of facilities, the noise, the bombarding media symbols, the gross volume of literary production, the supernumerous people with whom one is supposed to remain in touch, the paperwork mass and routines, the busyness of telephones, congested traffic, the relevance of crowds of people in far places, the bewildering variety of consumption choices.
Hence the need to press for more science of remote consequences. Fundamentally conservative, this science will say "Don't indulge this immediate plan of action. It has remote effects that have to be weighted." Bureaucracy is, of course, abetted for it is essentially conservative and prone to sympathize with remote judgments.
February 17, 1967
The justification of science
"Why do you pursue science?"
" To find out the truth."
"The truth about what?"
"The order of nature, the natural order of things. What constitutes life and matter."
"Give me an example. Would you study social problems?"
"Yes, but they are not fundamental scientific topics. The better class of sociologists and psychologists study more basic problems."
"You mean, like the physical scientists?"
"Yes. the natural scientist seeks underlying laws. For example, he is trying to solve the inner mystery of the atom."
"Because that is one of the most important secrets of nature."
"Because no one has ever imagined matter could be so small."
"Why is it important to know that matter is or is not infinitely small?"
"It may tell us more about other things."
"Such as light, energy, the nature of the universe."
"Suppose we learn much of that ...?"
"Well, I'm not saying that we shall, of course ..."
"No, I understand, but suppose we did. What then?"
"What do you mean, what then?"
"I mean you buy an ice cream cone; what then; you eat it. Now you master the secrets of indefinitely small matter. What then?"
"Oh, I see. Well, you use them to control nature, for man's good, of course."
"Then isn't nuclear physics a practical or applied science in its essence?"
"No, we don't build or use or consume."
"Perhaps not, but you enable others to do so who otherwise couldn't."
"Then why do you assert that the study of social problems is a second rate scientific pastime?"
"The results. It's less likely to get results."
"You mean that it is self-defeating."
"Yes, it is."
"And that there are better ways of solving social problems than going at their analysis directly?"
"I suppose that the same could be said about physics."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that there are many ways of going at any set of problems, and the broader the set of problems the more the ways. Hence when you say that much can come of pursuing nuclear physics by present techniques you have a most vague set of ultimate social problems in mind, to which there might be many roads of access."
"I don't see any others."
"That's to be expected."
"No matter. But the lack of direction and the devoted pursuit of directionless research intrigues me."
"If a scientist (who has a kind of mind that is very specific you grant) . . . "
"If a scientist denies the specific function of his research, he is specific in one sense, then, and completely unspecific in another."
"How do you explain that?"
"How do you explain it?"
"I just wonder whether there is not some specific motive -- namely unbridled curiosity:
"And that unbridled curiosity goes on and on, affected always by secondary motives of personality, of the culture, of social interests that are blocked from getting through fully, of ideology."
"I don't know about that."
"You shouldn't be expected to know."
"That's not your field of study."
"I know what I have to know."
"In the end we are better off."
"Unbridled curiosity is a better motive for science than the solution of social problems such as alcoholism."
"It is better not to know what one seeks, than to be fully directed."
"That's begging the question."
"The question: What is science?"
"I don't care. Call it what you please."
"How about a cup of coffee?"
"Good idea. Do you have two dimes for the coffee machines?"
"I have no change."
"Let me see . . . Yes. Two specifics for the machine."
February 18, 1967 Saturday
We might set up a test of the differential effect of the National Science Foundation system of support of science and an alternative University-based system. Plot the network of NSF grants by subject-matter, perhaps in a master overlay transparency, so that they can be examined one by one, in groups, and all together. Then select a likely formula if the system were to be quite decentralized, such as each college in the country receiving a pro rata share of the average annual fund (taken as the NSF appropriations over the years). Apply the formula to the colleges. Establish the pattern of free-fund research spending of each college. Derive the pattern of support that would emerge therefrom. Compare this pattern with the NSF pattern. How would we make allowances for the probably recent shift in college support behavior resulting from NSF effects?) Finally evaluate the different distribution profiles, determining whether the NSF pattern is philosophically superior.
The cost differential should be studied at the same time. Does it cost more to distribute funds via the NSF than via a straight grant formula by Congress through the U.S. Treasury?
Does the NSF presence tend to bureaucratize the colleges by provoking into existence a parallel set of officers in the colleges, diverting attention from local to national agencies, interjecting "noises" into the communication system of research, depersonalizing the research support/activator/evaluation process?
My feeling is that NSF will be revealed in a poor light, and by implication, all unsophisticated statalized, centralized systems.
February 18, 1967 Princeton Saturday night
Jill and I visited the Frelinghuysens for dinner, leaving the four boys and their cousin Iano chomping happily on a mess of chicken parts deep fried. At the F.'s were also an engaged couple, Juliana Cuyler and Jim MacIntosh. She is a very tall homely blond young woman of rare humor and beauty of character. Tom's family and hers were friends and she told several marvelous stories of her grandfather's ways of playing with children (he had an elaborate bumblebee act that would excite them out of their wits after their mother had put them to bed) and of Tom's graciousness to her when she was compelled as a child to wear torturing foot-correcting boots. "I was ashamed of my feet and the boots made me stumble around, but Tom picked up my foot and looked at it and said "What a fine foot" and I fell in love with him." (Tom admitted that this was the natural gesture of a horseman.) Her fiancé is from Joliet, Illinois, and has the great energy and confidence, often misplaced and erroneous but always progressing and correcting itself, that boys from the small-city bursting heartland often possess. He is annoying in his free expression of a multitude of opinions, brashly formed of a smattering of this and that, but I qualify my dislike knowing what is happening to him. He is in charge of Latin-American activities of Dillon-Reed investment brokers. To me he appears raw for the job, but his morale and active intelligence must carry him along.
Jill was beautiful. Laura Bergquist had given her a Pucci dress, which had shrunk the first time it was cleaned in Mexico. Its light soft blue and absolutely simple design carried her good frame, reddish hair and skin and blue eyes perfectly.
The dinner was ordinary save for the squab. Tom served a poor California Almaden wine. Why? He loves his third son Denis, Den, Almaden. C'est vrai!
February 19,- 22 1967 Sunday-Wednesday
I wrote Dick Cornuelle that the young graduating lawyer, Dave Miller, whom he had sent to Princeton to meet me, was full of intelligence and drive, and that I would be glad to take him to Vietnam with me.
Vietnam is crowing my time these days, elbowing aside other matters. Ithiel Pool and I met for two hours (Hagai sat by) to evaluate the many persons who had applied for the expedition. I have been snatching paragraphs and pages, skimming my eyes over maps that the State Department gave me, and talking to people who have returned from there. Wednesday Greenfield, Roger Gold (newly hired administrator working at the Simulmatics office in Cambridge) and I lunched with Mary Raymond, a pert mouse of a woman who had worked for S. in Vietnam / her husband. She hadn't learned much, it seemed to me, gave forth the usual generalities of the returning traveler, somewhat to my invitation, and to hers, and we ate only moderately well in the luxurious and full Edwardian room of the Plaza. She publishes a little Caribbean newsletter, exhibiting commendable initiative. Victor Kramer, whom I keep meeting in odd places, bumped into me in the hall, attired in a gay vest, his hair electrically askew and his small daughter and a little friend in tow.
The Earhart Foundation granted me three emergency fellowships to tide over until summer. David Henderson, Ibne Hassan of Pakistan, and Nina Anemogianis. All were happily surprised, since I had not told them that I was seeking aid.
The Department of Government is seeking several faculty members. Our strong letter had effects. No one at the University challenges our right to bring in a good man in political methodology. However, what excellent man will come. The University is incredibly bureaucratic and poor in talented people. The Department was only one-tenth the ability it should have to be called first-rate, and whether Ralph Straetz or Dick Swift is Head makes no difference; it will be poorly directed. Facilities are lacking; good students are scarce. The curriculum is bad. Yet I do not wish to be involved continuously in their reform; I do enough as it is, bringing along half the better students in some way or another, and teaching an approach that perhaps no one on the faculty understands or can imitate.
Still I am considering whether I should withdraw either from the Department alone, or from teaching at the University. "Life is a great classroom" said somebody; the saying goes for teachers as well as learners. I have often observed how much more -- even of basic philosophy -- can be taught and how much social effect may be had via consulting with government and industry, with foundations and politicians, and through setting up programs of work, training and community action than in the classroom
February 23, 1967
Jill, Louise Shelton and I went out with Rajah Sohoni last evening to the Indian ship "Water-Messenger" whose chief engineer is an old friend of Sohoni. The docks of far Brooklyn were dead quiet and beautiful in the twilight and the peace of a cargo ship in port affected us all most pleasantly. Sohoni, who sailed the seas many years since childhood, is now practicing as a naval architect and taking his doctorate at NYU. I promised him that I would manage his political campaign when he returns to India to run for the Senate.
February 24, 1967
Last evening went over to the annual income tax returns. The modern state has discovered that a population can be held in line by giving it excessive routine tasks to perform. Given enough questionnaires, forms, licenses, [requestions], and, important to add, a plentiful demand for follow-up tasks of resubmitting, querying, amending and conferring, and the people is shackled.
February 24, 1967
The contemporary theater is fond of simple settings. It puts actors in ashcans, suspends them on swings, and puts them in a jail cell, someone should set a play in a classroom. A classroom can resemble an ashcan, or dizzying swing, or jail. It can stand for much more too.
A team of biologists at NIH in Maryland has just published evidence that the DNB structure of very different animal forms is basically the same. The genetic code within their cells reproduces its message in the same way. How should we react to this news which the New York Times reports as of great moment?
Since ancient times, millions of men have asserted that all animals are related. Why be surprised that the relationship starts in the interiors of cells?
If we are related, what should we do about it?
a. Stop eating animals? Many a devout person believes in vegetarianism on such grounds.
b. Should "vive la petite différence?"
c. Begin to search for ways of increasing the differences in ways that we consider gainful?
d. Dispute the findings as meaningless and probably only supported until the next batch of experiments of the next generation of theorists?
e. Begin looking for conventionally acceptable drugs, medicines, and physiological corrections that may be connected with the discovery?
In a century or so, we shall be controlling heredity to the extent of restraining certain kinds of reproduction and producing artificially "strengthened" persons. The great improvement of mental and physical capacity should be possible through artificial selection for reproduction, and clever manipulation of living processes to enhance memory imprinting and printing out.
The question who should determine the nature of the controls is anguishing. That man can be improved will be admitted by most of us. How he should be improved is much more difficult. Who to trust with the function of improvement is nearly an impossible problem. The indicative and leading elements of our age are already so radical, technologically, organizationally, morally, and intellectually that a complete Utopia should be prepared, treating of all the moral issues, social problems, and technical possibilities of our age. Practically every moral premise of the old order should be examined and overhauled. Think of the radical changes required of the morality of the family, sex relations, divinity of Christ, Buddha, et al., formal education, presentation of news, information retrieval, centralized government, music and instruments, child-rearing, urban social organization and ecology, diet, attitudes and practices respecting infancy and prenatal, monopoly, taxation, law and judicial systems, personal leadership and greatness, transportation, housing, etc.
February 24, 1967
Yesterday, an unknown miserable Mr. Harrie swallowed many pills, pulled the sheet up over his hot body in his New Orleans room, and died. For some time he had been "under investigation" by a district attorney named Garrison. Long ago, within days of the event, he had been discharged by the FBI from any complicity in the assassination of President Kennedy. He had not known Oswald, the presumed assassin, and only the flimsiest of stories, told by an habitual drunkard, made him the object of harassment by the city's investigators. They played at cloaks and daggers. They excited the public with dark hints and ominous presentiments.
Articles and books against the integrity and intelligence of the Warren Commission abound (the Commission's structure was, to my mind, a mistake; the President, ex V-P, should not name a jury to consider what might involve his guilt; likewise, the Chief Justice should not sit on a panel for proceedings that might be challenged and brought before his own Supreme Court. The paranoid muttering is boring and sick. There is enough evil to suspect in human affairs without inventing evils. One of the sanest men in the country, for hours after the assassination, was Oswald. Sometimes it appears that the statement is true about the present as well.)
February 24, 1967
Utopia Plot (Science Fiction??)
An expedition is launched from Earth. It is to go for eighty-three years. Its frame of government and society were drafted by a special non-governmental group and scaled into a set of orders, one chapter of which is to be opened and read among the group each day. Each chapter, it appears, contains provisions pertaining to some social problem area. Thus a completely new morality evolves day by day as the craft speeds toward its destination. However, motor troubles developed, the ship returns, and though offered to the world, the plan is put aside. It seems ridiculous here, the chief reason being that it is the plan of people on a far-fetched mission, and has many dreamy spots that no one will acknowledge on cynical Earth. The plot gives a setting for the exposition of utopia. All hinges upon the value of the utopian plans.