This is chapter 6 of the "The Macroscope" by Joël de Rosnay



Our education remains hopelessly analytical, centered on a few disciplines, like a puzzle whose pieces overlap rather than fit together. It is an education that prepares us neither for the global approach to complex problems nor for the interplay between them.

Nevertheless the present generation of eighteen- to twenty-five-year-olds itself poses problems globally. It seems that through a thousand parallel channels, passing from the traditional media to those of the counterculture by a sort of osmosis with nature and society, the young people have learned to discover for themselves a form of the systemic approach. In their own way they are applying it to the resolution of problems that previously defied the analysis and logic of their elders. Quite naturally they have taken advantage of the macroscope as a commando weapon.

Yet this emergent thought, this new manner of seeing and judging the world, is not the monopoly of one generation alone. Other men and women, of all ages and at all levels of society, share it today. Thus I prefer to call it simply the "new way of thinking."


The new vision of the world is not the effect of a single cause but the result of the convergence, integration, and interdependence of a large number of factors.

Some observers emphasize the catalytic effect of communications. Others underline the sudden realization, brought on by the environmental crisis, of the limited character of our planet. Others stress the clarity of the political critics of the industrial society and the analysis of its far-reaching ecological, economic, and human effects. And still others single out the postwar population explosion in the industrialized countries for having conferred a global "class consciousness" on an entire generation.

It is impossible to dissociate these elements from one another. However we can try to distinguish in the global vision the influence of cultural and psychosociological factors as well as that of external factors associated with the phenomenon of evolution in its most general sense.

Certain great scientific discoveries have contributed, perhaps more than anything else, to expanding our vision of the world and to opening people's minds to the global approach. We must cite first the two most influential ideas bequeathed us by the nineteenth century: the idea of evolution in biology and the idea of entropy in thermodynamics. We have seen how they made it possible to integrate "vertically" the different levels of complexity in nature. But we must also cite new disciplines born out of the confusion of the 1940s: cybernetics, information theory, systems theory, and computer science. They insert themselves like wedges in the cracks between our partitioned but disjointed representations of the world, and they break apart our restricted and fragmentary vision of nature and society.

The plunge into the immense past of man, life, and the earth, as represented by the generalized study of evolution, leads to another confusion, this time of philosophical character. It traps such observers as us in our own objectivity.

Thanks to what science has taught him about the mechanics of its own evolution, the subject can now "put himself in nature's place," ask questions about the "logic of the living," and see himself in the "mirror of objectivity." The observer has cast his net over nature, thinking he could remain outside the phenomena he studies, a neutral, impartial, incorruptible spectator. But in his net he recognizes another aspect of himself, connected by his own fibers to the life and matter that preceded him on earth.

In this context we are led again to the eternal questions of our origin the meaning of life, the consequences of our actions, our destiny. In the global context these questions appear in an entirely different light. The new vision no longer wants to--no longer can--separate object from subject. It cannot separate the certainty of the experiments accomplished patiently by science from the meaning and the finality of the conscious and creative action that transforms the world.

These upheavals in science and philosophy, joined to the major political ideologies of the nineteenth century (inspired as much by materialism as by spiritualism), have helped to facilitate the emergence of the new way of thinking. They brought to our lips the questions we are asking about the reasons, the motives, and the finality of our activity and our education .

Until very recently we were blind and deaf to the changes and the pulsations occurring in this great social organism of which we are the cells. We lacked the necessary perspective to discern its structure; we lacked the time to follow its slow transformations or to take apart its functioning machinery embedded in duration; we lacked instruments and methods for approaching the complexity of its organization and its processes.

Today, suddenly, everything is changed. The explosion in the means of communication, the acceleration of evolution, and the interplay of energy and economics have torn away the veil that hid the planetary totality from our eyes. At the same time the derisive and limited view of "spaceship Earth" made its dramatic appearance.

We see with our own eyes, with all the force of "live" broadcasting, the image of our planet as seen from the moon through the television cameras of the astronauts. A strange mirror: at the very moment that humanity regards itself, it could almost "wink an eye" by turning out all the lights of a large city.

This narcissistic vision prolongs and reinforces itself in time. Every day the newspapers publish photos, taken by meteorological satellites, of the cloud cover above the oceans and the continents. Geographical and geological satellites detect the smallest pollution of the seas--these lakes on whose borders we dwell--and send back pictures whose precision surpasses that of all the maps made from surface surveys.

Huge international organizations, travel agencies, airlines, hotel chains, and international expositions and sports events maintain a worldwide network that ensures the mobility of men and ideas. By sending us facets of our own image, these multiple mirrors force us to assume a global consciousness of both our diversity and our profound unity.

There is a close relationship between the speed of the diffusion of ideas and the collective perception of a "now" in the world. Fashions, the moral revolution, and technical breakthroughs spread with epidemic speed. Ideas have the "infectious power of viruses," as Jacques Monod has said. When the terrain is ready, it is invaded totally. The influence exerted by the young people is felt at once throughout the world--and on all the major problems: human rights, women's liberation, the protection of nature, economic growth, and the place of art, religion, and subjectivity in the industrial society.

The meeting of civilizations and cultures brings about an integration of the values of civilization and a complementary differentiation of cultural values. Through "world public opinion," "collective consciousness"--and even the "collective unconscious"--we see the outline of an emergent "psychology" of the noosphere gradually taking shape.

We never realize fully the importance of the vital functions of society until one of them slows down or we are deprived of them altogether.

Perhaps the best example of this simple observation is that offered by the energy crisis. Just as we discovered the pervasive role of energy in society, we realized suddenly the complexity of its distribution and utilization networks--for large industries, for small companies, for each one of us individually. As a consequence the worldwide interdependence of manufacturing industries and the interdependence of national economies were brought to light.

More important, we suddenly became aware of our power as individuals to act collectively through complex control systems over which we thought we had no influence. It was probably a revelation for many of us to discover the far-ranging effects on the economy of one country of the restrictions on automobile travel and the potential efficiency of systems for the salvage and recycling of discards--all dependent on the efforts of each individual.

The global perception of the functioning or malfunctioning of the social organism depends on many other positive and negative factors. Among them are breakdowns, such as the famous blackout of the east coast of the United States in 1965, and strikes of international impact, such as postal strikes, airline strikes, slowdowns by flight control operators at international airports, and walkouts by computer operators in banks. These strikes affect entire regions and countries, thereby reinforcing a sense of worldwide social interdependence.

Natural catastrophes such as droughts, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, epidemics, and famines are as much emergencies as they are aggressive forces that make us consider, in spite of ourselves, the problems of others--and draw us more closely together, no matter what may be said. Violence in all its forms--repression, guerrilla warfare, terrorist activities, airplane hijackings, the taking of hostages--mobilizes the attention of millions of persons simultaneously throughout the world. Nuclear testing in the atmosphere unites in opposition to it countries of very different customs and ideologies, and it focuses world opinion.

The economy, through its planetary dimension, contributes perhaps even more to this global perception of functions. The fluctuation of prices on the major stock exchanges, losses or lower prices in commodity markets, runs on gold, variations in the exchange rates among currencies, and the interdependence of problems that arise from food shortages, energy crises, and inflation--all these factors help to strengthen our sense of participation in the vital functions of an organism that surrounds us, that we do not see, but whose pulse of life we feel.

The acceleration of evolution culminates today in the still greater acceleration of the social system of the developed countries ( see notes ). The awareness of this acceleration contributes to the development among young people of a sense of impatience and a sense of the obviousness of the evidence.

Consider the sense of impatience. More than ever young people are measuring the gap between their expectations and the inertia of institutions, the disparity between what they learned in school, the world as they see it, and what the world could be. This impatience has been a part of every "new generation" whatever the period, but today it is heightened by the acceleration of events. Never has the future seemed so hazardous and so uncertain. Everything is possible: the collapse of the economic system, wars, dictatorships. Why then should one study patiently to accumulate knowledge that will be out of date when one is ready to use it? Why devote long preparation to careers that may be nonexistent in ten or twenty years? Why, as do so many adults today, live a boring existence in an office or a factory? Extreme attitudes often influence the responses to these questions: rather than try to integrate oneself into a social system that may be living out its last years, one should appropriate as soon as possible those things that one considers valuable, for nothing is guaranteed. We also see the beginning of a marginal class and marginal crafts, perhaps foreshadowing certain traits of the postindustrial society.

Consider, too, the sense of the obviousness of the evidence. For the acceleration of history is extraordinarily revealing. Like a film that has been speeded up, it discloses evidence of direction or purpose. Better informed through their many parallel channels of communication, observation, and mutual education--and more open, too--young people discern much better than their elders the occurrences, the developments, the situations that often escape the notice of experts and specialists. Each of these raw events is placed in a wider context that clarifies it and gives it its true meaning. The sense of priorities intensifies the feeling of impatience in the face of inaction, impotence, or resignation.

Could it be such a connection between a more global vision of the social organism and a more acute perception of the effects of acceleration that confers on the new way of thinking a gift of insight? In place of the ability to analyze, there seems to have been substituted a new faculty, that of pattern recognition. The new way of thinking appears to have taught people to view the world through the macroscope, to detect and recognize its grand patterns. This global vision has led to the substitution of the systemic for the analytical, shared subjectivity for noncommunicable objectivity.

The extensive modifications of our representations of the world are produced with such rapidity and lead to collective movements of such breadth that we confuse them most of the time with fads. Most social scientists neglect to study them or to analyze them by traditional methods. Only a few sociologists and some enlightened journalists have known

how to integrate, by means of a more global approach to problems, the new dimensions of a world in acceleration. This has helped them to explain these changes better and to place them in the context of the general evolution of customs, values, and culture.[1]

The contribution of these sociologists or journalists has very often been criticized by their more traditionalist colleagues. For their approach is very different; like the generation they observe, they use the same faculties of pattern recognition. They look at things through the macroscope, using a systemic approach that allows them to integrate facts in multiple facets that enlighten their words and reveal their meaning. Some of their interpretations inevitably contain weaknesses, gaps, even errors, but their contribution complements that of the classical sociologists.

Today the "marginal" sociologists exercise a strong influence on a generation that recognizes itself in the mirror set before it. Their vision catalyzes and strengthens a universal movement whose breadth surpasses current fads and poses clearly the real problems of civilization.


One very profound criticism of society and the nature of human relationships is elaborated in the turmoil of modern society. This is chiefly the fact of a generation that is often as foreign to traditional customs and values as the inhabitants of another world would be, were they suddenly dropped in our midst. It is difficult to regroup the principal criticisms and to identify the basic values on which the new way of thinking rests. Nevertheless I should like to try to do this, but not without taking some precautions.

These new values are not destined to be substituted abruptly for the old; there is no linear or sequential evolution here. But there is juxtaposition, coexistence, and sometimes complementarity, according to the degree or the speed of evolution of the various social groups for which the new values are relevant.

In attempting to answer the question so often asked by the generation in power--"What do the young people of today offer in place of what they are trying to destroy?"--I shall consider the major criticisms that the new way of thinking directs at contemporary society. Later in the chapter I shall bring them together in a summary table that stresses the main points of transition between traditional values and emergent values ( see page 205 ). The character of this presentation may be somewhat schematic, but its purpose is to allow a reexamination of the relationship between the aspirations of a generation and the education we propose for it.

Criticism of Authority

Criticism of authority is linked to criticism of the legitimacy of power as we perceive it. This power is symbolized by the "nine pillars" that, since the beginnings of civilization, have maintained law, social and moral order, and security in human societies: the State, the Church, the Family, the School, the Courts, the Military, the Police, and--more recently-- Business and Medicine. Authority manifests itself in the orders (or resolutions invested with the authority of whoever holds the knowledge or the divine right) of "the chief": the president, the clergyman, the father, the teacher, the judge, the general, the policeman, the boss, the family doctor (Fig. 95).

These guardians of the moral and social order were accepted by earlier generations in the same way that the institutions they represented were accepted. None was disputed; everyone accepted their commands and deferred to their authority. Today, however, we question the legitimacy of power and its applications. To action through influence and motivation, we oppose the direct exercise of power. For influence implies freedom of choice rather than physical constraint. And there are roughly just two ways of moving things and people: direct exercise of power and influence.

The direct exercise of power can depend on physical force or on psychological and moral constraints. Its legitimacy rests in the power conferred by the possession or control of an energy or money capital. Influence depends on the force of idea and example; it often has recourse to "knowledge capital." The first approach generally acts on structures in order to change people, and the time between the application and the result is relatively short. The second approach tries to modify people's minds in order to change structures, and the time involved is obviously much longer.

Great leaders are perhaps those who know how to measure out the two approaches in the light of the time and the circumstances. Totalitarian dictatorship would thus seem to be the political caricature of the direct exercise of power, while the caricature of indirect action through influence might be the form of intellectual dictatorship practiced in some elite educational and religious orders.

The new way of thinking questions all forms of the abuse of power. Attempting to avoid abuses, the new way of thinking tries to oppose institutional hierarchy and the centralization of power with the continuous evaluation of a hierarchy based on competence and the decentralization of responsibilities. The traditional pyramid of authority, rank, discipline, and domination is transformed into a more "horizontal" organization that resembles a living cell. In this type of organization, power, elitism, sense of duty, and adversary relationships are replaced by shared obligations, participation, interior motivation, and partnership. This is the reverse of traditional power and authority; it is management by the base, by interdependent communities. This reversal is foreshadowed in the proliferation of words prefixed with "self-" or "co-" whose power lies in the ability to evoke action: self-determination, self-management, self-discipline; co-ownership, co-responsibility, cooperation, and co-decision.

Criticism of Work

The essential criticism of work goes beyond simple disrespect for its value, and questions its ethic. It attacks the conditions, the environment, and "the rules" of work--not in order to praise idleness (as one might often think, judging from some extreme attitudes) but in order to liberate working time so that each individual may again govern his own time, work under his own conditions, at his own rhythm, and for irregular periods--so that each person may personalize his work.

Why produce so much when we no longer have the time to consume what we have produced and when what we produce irreversibly degrades nature? Why work so hard to accumulate material goods if we no longer have the time to fulfill ourselves in our relationships with others?

This criticism has repercussions for a whole set of conformities, practices, and rules that have always been taken for granted: diplomas, the career, competition, success. And it brings out the hypocrisy of the "work alibi."

Diplomas. No longer considered the keys to social success, diplomas are the means of defining, in terms of one's own deadlines and one's own potential, the personal rules by which one learns to organize oneself, to enrich one's mind, and to see oneself through. After the confrontations of the late 1960s, the students of the 1970s appeared to be concentrating more than ever on their studies and their diplomas. They became selfcentered, they worked for themselves.

The career. It seems delusive to spend a large part of one's life preparing for duties that will no longer be the same when one is ready to assume them. Instead of a single linear career, one may prefer a series of multiple trajectories. One may even interrupt one's professional preparation for a period of reflection and commitment.

Life is a succession of choices and objectives. Adaptation is the rule. In a changing environment the laws of cybernetics bring out the efficiency of servomechanisms, which are capable of adapting themselves, and the failure of programmed mechanisms. Because of the acceleration of evolution, no career can be programmed. The choice of a career should no longer be the major decision of one's life.

Competition. Up to now professional competition has appeared to be a healthy motivation for success. The new way of thinking rejects all competition that is heir to the traditional "struggle for existence" and spurns any notion of simplistic comparison founded on "excellence" and "merit." For such comparisons generally lead to the arbitrary classification of individuals and to value judgments that limit and impoverish human relations.

It is the refusal to join the rat race. To finish or simply to hold one's own in this race requires the elimination of every human obstacle that appears before one. Today many people are rejecting competition for the "marginal" professions, where one finds now and then the warmth of human relationships and the time for reflection.

In a somewhat naive manner, society, freed from the notion of competition, no longer sees itself as a jungle but as a community of interests whose evolution depends on helping one another, on cooperation, shared education, and partnership.

Success. Social success, too, has long been considered the principal motivation of the professional life and an indirect factor in economic and social progress. With success come honors, attention, respect, position, security, material well-being, and power. These are the essentially selfish values of a civilization founded on the conquest and domination of nature and the servitude of one man to another.

In the new way of thinking, success is based on personal accomplishment. It is the enrichment of experience that one feels in one's contacts and interactions with other persons and other cultures, the pleasure that comes from work well done, the sense--still so difficult to achieve in the context of our societies today--of the usefulness and the effectiveness of one's actions. People are looking for a "role," an involvement, a cause, rather than the specialized but ultimately insignificant job that modern society all too often offers.

The hypocrisy of the "work alibi. " Perhaps even more than it criticizes the diploma, the career, competition, or success, the new way of thinking criticizes the hypocrisy of rules stemming from work that has become an end in itself, that produces its own immaterial rules and develops a logic unrelated to real life.[2]

Outward signs of wealth are deservedly taxed, but we exaggerate the value of "outward signs of work." In many organizations, especially in Europe, one is still judged--and promoted--on the basis of the thickness of one's reports, the quantity of notes, memos, and letters produced daily, the number of meetings and telephone conversations, and the length of one's working day. Each of us in his professional life has known at least one incompetent boss who was incapable of making a decision or motivating those who worked with him but who nevertheless held on to his position because, raised in the same environment, he had the same values and the same ethic as those who admired his "work pattern" and his "devotion to duty."

We confuse feverishness and efficiency. Our remaining methods of control are based more on the quantitative than on the qualitative, which is harder to evaluate.

Already the image of the tired businessman or the overworked executive is no longer a source of respect but one of pity. Their excessive activity and the pressures they must endure are in many cases justified, made necessary by the responsibilities or the special conditions of a particular situation. But doesn't this activity often mask marital or family problems that one is trying to forget or to escape? "Exaggerating the value of work can hide a flight from reality," Denis Vasse points out in The Time of Desire. "Work can be the most deceitful alibi of man"; "the need to work lends itself to any subconscious justification." And there are the usual cliches: "I can't take a vacation, I'm swamped with work"; "I don't see my children because I never get home before nine"; "He's a slave driver, but you have to excuse him--he is overworked."

These are no longer acceptable excuses, for they denote a refusal to accept full human responsibility. And many young people today are declining to squander their energy in a sterile and empty contest in which appearance has the advantage over reality, where the image that one creates counts more than what one actually does.

Criticism of Reason

It was in the name of reason and logic that political and industrial leaders influenced by scientific and technological achievements created the civilization of progress, economic growth, and the domination of nature.

The new way of thinking distrusts reason and logic. Of course the analytical method, Cartesian logic, and the principle of sufficient reason have been indispensable tools in man's attainment of a certain level of development; everyone recognizes this. But these methods, principles, and postulates are no longer the only bases of knowledge. To objective knowledge we can now oppose subjective experience; to "life" defined in scientific terms, the experience of having lived and the quality of that experience.

To emphasize the necessity of such an advance, I offer as example the replacement of the logic of exclusion (to which our education has accustomed us) by the logic of association. The logic of exclusion leads to reasoning in opposing and mutually exclusive terms such as true or false, good or bad, black or white. It leads to the well-known dichotomies of thought in which certain ideologies inherited from the nineteenth century take refuge. The class struggle (in the Marxist view) and economic competition (in the capitalist view), for example, opposed as they are in fact two sides of the same coin. Both are derived from the Darwinian concept of the struggle for existence, and this struggle is everything or nothing, life or death. On concepts of this kind we build a scale of values that determines our action or our opinion with respect to others: if I am right, you are wrong; if I win, you lose. This is the zero sum in game theory. It leads, as we discover every day, to sectarian and intransigent attitudes.

Biology and ecology show us that there are no such entrenched oppositions in nature. Every relationship or equilibrium is founded on pluralism, diversity, mutual causality. There is no logic of exclusion or opposition but there is a logic of association or complementarity. Thus biological or ecological thinking leads to the emergence of associative values that foster tolerance, the respect for other ideas and cultures.

The logic of exclusion, associated with a causal, analytical, sometimes reductionist conception of society and its evolution, has led numerous political and industrial leaders to be concerned only with objects (things, people) and to disregard subjects (persons, life). We train men to manufacture material objects or to manage people conceived as objects situated in large organizations.

Today this basic criticism also applies, in a vague way, technical progress, to the finalities of research or economic growth. From this comes the extreme antiscientific, antitechnological, antirational attitude that one finds on so many university campuses.

We look for a social role for science. Great universities traditionally dedicated to teaching and research now add "services" to their agenda, helping--for example--municipalities or government agencies to approach social problems of such complexity that their solution warrants multidisciplinary cooperation.

Such criticism of reason often leads to attitudes that are now and then extreme or naive. Yet these attitudes indicate a willingness to be open toward subjectivity--what observers sometimes interpret as an "escape" into the irrational or into mysticism: the infatuation with Oriental religions, astrology and magic, the rediscovery of Jesus, and even a sort of ecological pantheism verging on an "ecocult," or a devotion to the great cycles of nature.

Criticism of Human Relationships

It seems intolerable to the new way of thinking that those who trust in an all-powerful authority, in the value of work, in reason and logic, can, in the name of law and order, cover up crimes against a country and allow repression, hypocrisy, lies, and the manipulation of consciences to be used widely. The most recent history has shown us how the very people who deplored the erosion of traditional values, the lack of idealism in young people, the disintegration of manners and morality where the first to corrupt and pervert human relationships in major government bodies or in business, through their untruths and their egotistical, partisan attitude.

Seen in such a context, the pressures exerted by American youth on the media and on Congress in order that justice be rendered in the Watergate affair could be the transposition to the level of political morality of the struggle they led against big business at the end of the 1960s to establish a new environmental morality.[3]

Human relationships, at all levels of society, ought to be founded not only on a morality for individuals but on a new morality for the groups among them, one compatible with that for individuals. This group ethic, an essential intermediary between the morality of the species and that of individuals, has yet to be created.

One way of creating the new ethic is to go beyond one's own interests in order to understand other people better. The only real way of communicating with others, according to Charles Reich, is to be true to oneself first ( see notes ). One must succeed in defining one's own values, goals, and lifestyle, at the same time accepting and respecting those of other people. This point of departure brings out dramatically the poverty of human relations in contemporary society--the injustice, the privilege, the intellectual and material conformity, the segregation of old people, the lack of affinity between education and real life.

Criticism of the Plan for Society

Clearly we must try to go beyond the forum of the traditional political critics of society to indicate the directions that the new way of thinking is taking. Once again extreme attitudes and caricatures run the risk of concealing meaningful movements.

It has become almost commonplace to proclaim the failure of two plans for society, that offered by unrestrained capitalism and that offered by bureaucratic communism. But it is more difficult to define the "third direction," in which the new way of thinking is headed. Beyond the Chinese model, beyond Illich's conviviality, beyond ecologism, or Naderism, how can we integrate into the postindustrial society what each of these directions brings, while avoiding being taken in by the ideology under attack?

I am aware of the difficulties of the task, and following this chapter I shall try to describe in broad terms the likely structures and functions of such a society, using an indirect method, that of the "scenario." But at the critical level we must first reconcile the fundamental points that the new way of thinking will emphasize: centralization of power, bureaucracy, the descending flow of information, growth and consumption, the quality of human relations, dogmatism in science, anarchy in technology, the inadaptability of institutions, and deficiencies in education.

It is an account of failure--the failure of the application of science and technology to make us masters of nature, the "failure of the dreams of Descartes and Faust," as Roger Garaudy has said so aptly ( see notes ).

To formulate a new plan for society, we must start with new relationships among men, between man and nature, and between man and his future. We must call on the creative talent of the individual and respect of his independence, his pursuit of happiness, his search for pleasure, and his desire for personal accomplishment. Inevitably this requires, alongside the traditional "liberty, equality, and fraternity," pluralism, personalization, responsibility, and participation.

To clarify the values on which a new plan for society might be founded, I offer the following table, which contrasts traditional values with emergent values. Of course this is not a matter of mutual exclusion, but one of complementary enlightenment.

Traditional Attitude
Emergent Attitude
Authority founded on power, secrecy.
Authority founded on influence, openness of motives, competence.
Respect for institutional hierarchy, devotion to established institutions, sense of duty, sense of obligation.
Continuous evaluation of a hierarchy based on competence, institutional innovation, personal motivation.
Elitism and dogmatism, centralization of power, conflicts of powers.
Participation, openness, criticism; decentralization of responsibility, relations based on competence.
Importance of diplomas; responsibility based on age, theoretical knowledge, social rank.
Importance of participative experience; responsibility founded on ability to resolve problems and motivate people.
Linear career, programmed progression, competition, honors, success.
Multiple careers, succession of choices and objectives; cooperation, personal joy, personal accomplishment.
Prizing of contribution and personal effort, hard work, devotion to an organization; exaggerated valuation of "outward signs of work."
Prizing of creativity and collective merit; creative work at one's own rhythm, commitment to a cause, efficiency in accomplishing a given objective.
Material job security, need for hierarchical domination and discipline; specialized jobs.
Liberty achieved through acceptance of risk and through diversity of functions; need for cooperation and communication, "role" of social responsibility.
Logic of exclusion (Manichaeism); unidirectional, causal, sequential.
Logic of association (ecosystemic), mutualist, globalist.
Principle of sufficient reason, postulate of objectivity, analytical method.
Contribution of shared subjectivity, complementarity of objective facts and lived experiences, systemic method.
Pure knowledge.
Inventive thought.
Defense of finalities in science and technology.
Criticism of finalities in science and technology.
Acceptance of technical progress, economic growth and power, the domination of nature.
Acceptance of technical progress as a function of social need, equilibrium and sharing, partnership with nature.
Partisanship, stubbornness.
Aggression, cynicism, skepticism.
Openness, naivete, enthusiasm, sense of usefulness.
Use of others for personal ends; projecting an image of force and strength.
Respect for others, being true to oneself.
Domination, private interests.
Cooperation, sharing of interests, search for a group ethic.
Uniformity, homogeneity.
National power, individual well-being, economic growth.
National involvement, individual improvement, balance and sharing.
Patriotism, chauvinism, nationalism, imperialism.
Internationalism, interdependence of nations and cultures, religious and philosophical contributions.
Unrestrained capitalism, bureaucratic communism.
Conviviality, leftism, Maoism, ecologism, radicalism.

A collection of new values does not make a political ideology. The emergent values could very well be rearranged; for example, at the individual level (morality, ethics, religion), at the cultural level (philosophy, science, technology, art), or at the political, economic, and social levels.

Such a regrouping would place them in a hierarchy and bring out their dominant values, but it could also lead to repetition and would require too normative an approach.

We must not founder in a smug idealism, seeing the remedies for all our ills in the new generation. The important thing is to notice--in the absence of any clearly recognizable manifesto, politics, or practice-- how its ideas and its values modify modern society. More than through a coherent and even shared political approach, it is through example, influence, individual action, collective movements, life-styles, and behavior that the new way of thinking will slowly but profoundly change our industrial society.

On the other hand, what appear as independent actions or fashions belong in the coherent global context that I have tried to describe and explain.

We are also witnessing the birth of a new religion founded not on "revealed truth" but on a truth compatible with our objective knowledge of the world. It is an emergent religion that results from a collective creation and that accepts the immersion of the spirit in matter.

In all their diversity, the ecological movement, the search for a spirituality drawn from Oriental religions, the T'ai Chi movement, and the human potential and awareness movements that still flourish on the California coast all denote a search for a global vision of the universe that is compatible with a personal ethic and individual and collective action.

We find the most exaggerated contrasts at the level of life-styles and behavior. To make them more personal, we might enjoy comparing (admittedly a somewhat simplistic contrast) the "technocratic" style and the "hippie" style of the 1960s. What could be more revealing than the study of these two extremes? For technocrats, the only thing that matters is action--doing and making do, through reason and technology. For hippies, what counts is feeling, relationships with others. One can contrast the two attitudes by referring to the discussion of the various criticisms and the table of the preceding pages. One will find, in varying degrees and with many shades of meaning, this characteristic contrast of the two life-styles.

Are we moving toward a schizophrenic world divided between those who believe themselves invested with a mission to push the world forward and those who prefer to profit from it--between robot actors and pleasure- loving spectators? To avoid such a division, we must be more attentive than ever to the gropings of the new way of thinking. We must define, along with the young people of today, free of all demagogy and paternalism, the main directions of the education that they need to face the twenty-first century.


The emergence of new values changes each personality even as that personality is modifying its relations with others and with the world. What does modern education propose in the face of the demands of an entire generation? Far from helping it adapt to a new environment will it constitute a cultural aggression? Or, as Marshall McLuhan calls it, a new "tribalization"?

For some years efforts have been made through traditional instruction to integrate the disciplines and to increase motivation and participation among students. Yet new methods and techniques still do not offer a global approach based on the systemic approach. That is why I want to try to outline the basic principles of a systemic education and to suggest several new approaches that might be integrated with traditional instruction. [4]

One way to evaluate what a systemic education can achieve in comparison with traditional instruction is to start with an extreme, almost exaggerated point of view, that traditional instruction is based in part on principles and methods inspired by those used to increase productivity in shops and factories. In education the division of work is replaced by the division of knowledge. Thus we can appreciate the limits of traditional instruction, its approach, its means, and its methods. This instruction emphasizes, essentially, seven principles that I might define in a very irreverent manner:

Basics: Knowledge that one must master before knowing how it will be useful.

Subjects: That which each of us must assimilate in small quantities in order to acquire a "minimum knowledge."

Program: Organization of subjects in time in order to increase the efficiency of the process of acquiring knowledge. (That which is not in the program obviously has no educational value.)

Course length: The theoretical minimum time needed to assimilate a given quantity of information.

Equality: The principle that says that everyone shall receive the same amount of information in a given time (too bad for the slow ones, too bad for the bright ones).

Fields: Processes of "fractional distillation" in which each plateau represents a school year and through which an individual has to specialise for his entire life.

Examination: An initiation rite invented by adults, in the course of which the student demonstrates (so that he may quickly forget) what he has temporarily learned, in order to obtain in exchange a passport for entry into active life, called a diploma.

In all countries, clearly, efforts are being made to bring greater flexibility to this rigid framework of instruction. Numerous innovations have already upset traditional methods. But without the global approach the various attempts to modernize instruction are perhaps doomed to failure. Among the most striking innovations are the audiovisual method, the multidisciplinary approach, teaching machines, programmed textbooks, and computer-assisted instruction. Each of these means is often considered an educational innovation in itself; suitable for accelerating the process of acquiring knowledge, and therefore an efficient means. Yet if one were to evaluate the systemic impact (in relation to all other forms of instruction) of each of these methods, one would see that their incorporation in an educational process that remains basically unchanged does not lead to the "educational revolution" that people expect.

The Illusions of Educational Technology

The audiovisual method has immediate pedagogical utility only to the degree that the student himself repeats what he has just seen on the screen. (Piaget noticed this long ago ( see notes ). That is how the student registers new facts. Knowledge is not a "carbon copy of reality", it is an "operative process" that ends in transforming what is real into action or thought, in acting on objects in order to transform them. Thus the feedback loop between observation and action, of which I have spoken repeatedly, ought to be found again at the instructional stage. Without feedback, isolated audiovisual instruction risks being only "another verbalization of a picture." To avoid this, the audiovisual presentation must be filled out with individual action, group participation, and the simulation of reality.

The purpose of the multidisciplinary approach is theoretically to permit the solution of complex problems by benefiting from the illumination of several disciplines and the complementarity of their methods and techniques. But without a systemic approach to blend and integrate the respective contributions of each discipline, the multidisciplinary approach never goes beyond the mere juxtaposition of disciplines. A true multidisciplinarity cannot arise from the a priori juxtaposition of specific disciplines on the same campus or in the same university building- it must be the result of a purposive organization, made necessary by problem solving. Experience shows that multidisciplinary cooperation is more effective in systems design (convergence of disciplines) than in systems analysis (divergence of disciplines). When we disregard these facts, we only mingle the researchers of various disciplines, believing we are leading them to collaborate. We create a disparate organization, not a judiciously integrated functional system.

About fifteen years ago educators (and private companies) had great hopes for "educational technology": programmed textbooks, teaching machines, and computer-assisted instruction. Thanks to the works of Skinner and Crowder on programmed instruction, the techniques of linear and branched programs allowed professors to dissect their courses and to give their students a "predigested" instruction that was entirely new. But the use of the new techniques was never as important as their promoters had predicted. Programmed texts in general had little attraction--as little for those who edited them as for those who used them. As for the teaching machine, it was too costly to be used on a wide scale, and it did not adapt well to student work habits.[5]

The computer represents, in principle, the ideal extension of the programmed text and the teaching machine. We can write programs, simulating a dialogue between teachers and students, that broaden the scope of programmed courses and give them more flexibility. Since 1960 experiments in computer-assisted instruction have been made in several American and European universities. They have shown that it is possible to use the computer to individualize instruction, to control a multimedia environment, to communicate with hundreds of students at the same time, to test and mark students, and to suggest further reading to supplement their knowledge.

Unfortunately, the cost of computer-assisted instruction at present is much too high; systems in operation are too expensive to be merely "turning the pages of a good programmed book." And the results that have been achieved in student interest and educational effectiveness have been little more than modest. Today, apart from some significant results we cannot say that computer-assisted instruction represents, for the moment, a direction as promising as we thought it at the end of the 1960s.

The relative failure of these new educational methods emphasizes the need to decentralize technical means and to increase student participation. It is clear that the new educational technology follows in the direct line of the traditional unidirectional courses, of which it is more often than not only a straight technological transposition.

The Basis of Systemic Education

The systemic approach in education cannot be substituted for the traditional approach, nor can it resolve magically its principal problems. The systemic approach is an indispensable complement to traditional education. But the effective implementation of this complementarity necessitates both a simplification and an enrichment of present-day instruction. A simplification of our instruction because if we continue in the analytical approach, there will be (there is already) too much to learn. And an enrichment because the systemic approach, uniting facts in a coherent set, creates a conceptual frame of reference that can facilitate learning by traditional methods.

Systemic education must also define its principles and its methods by beginning with biological facts and psychosociological fundamentals-- not to impose a certain kind of education that would be the same for all students, but on the contrary, to help all people, whatever their age or educational attainment, to acquire new knowledge and to make more effective use of it. It seems to me that systemic education should try to benefit, more than it does at present, from our knowledge of the functional organization of the brain and the basic components of human nature.

Recent research on the organization of the brain has revealed a pronounced functional difference between the two cerebral hemispheres. Because of the reversal of the nerve fibers that occurs in the corpus callosum, it is the left side of the brain that controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. And it is the left hemisphere of the brain that controls verbal activities such as reading and speaking, while the right hemisphere controls the perception of spatial relationships and pattern recognition.

The solution of problems requires two kinds of cerebral functions. The analytical function processes information sequentially; the intuitive function processes information simultaneously.

In other words, the left side of the brain, the location of the processes that govern reading, speaking, and calculating, is a tool of precision and analysis. It is the logical and rational part of the brain. In a complementary way, the right side of the brain is a tool of integration and synthesis. It enables one to recognize a pattern or a melody, and it controls the sequence of coordinated movements that one employs in sports or in dancing. It confers the sense of timing and it dominates artistic creation. Through the use of symbols, analogies, visual representations, and models, it is the framework of intuition.

We still cannot explain why evolution produced such a differentiation in the brain. But we recognize that our education seems to favor the left side of the brain disproportionately over the right side. That is, it favors analytical thought over systemic thought; rational thought is emphasized rather than intuitive thought. Doubtless at some time in the evolution of man and humanity the analytical, logical, and rational approach was one of the conditions for the survival of the species and for the domination of nature. This may no longer be true today.

The great constants of human nature are expressed as needs or drives at the biological, intellectual, social, and symbolic levels. But I prefer to speak here of components (which introduce the idea of properties) rather than traditional needs, which seem to be too closely linked to a given socioeconomic context. The four fundamental components are: the biological, in which the organism is the unit; the intellectual and behavioral, in which the person is the unit; the social and relational in which the citizen is the unit; and the symbolical, in which the being is the unit. These four components are integrated in the totality that is the multidimensional man. Systemic education must also take into account this multiplicity of human dimensions.

The Principles of Systemic Education

On the practical level, how can we formulate and then apply the basic rules of systemic education?

One experiment has served as my model in formulating such principles. This experiment, the Unified Science Study Program (USSP), was conducted at MIT between 1967 and 1972 and was then taken up by numerous American universities. I was part of the teaching staff. Its "guinea pigs" were a hundred volunteers, eighteen-year-old freshman students. The original particulars of the program were that the students would study fundamental subjects (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, the humanities) related to a multidisciplinary project chosen from a list prepared by the team of fifteen teachers. In his own way the student would arrange to do his bibliographical research and then his laboratory experiments. Courses were prepared in cooperation with the teaching staff; some students would teach other students, and there would be no formal examinations. The student could demonstrate his command of the subject matter in four ways: the preparation of a minithesis; an oral or written examination; a presentation before the staff and students- a proposal for study that included a justification of the pertinent materials and the subsidy required for continuing the research.

The program was divided into five interdependent levels: atomic, molecular, biological, social, and ecological systems. The dynamics of these systems would be taught through simulation and teaching games, facts through self-instruction techniques (quizzes and self-teaching guides). There would be a "dry" laboratory for physics studies and a "wet" laboratory for chemistry and biology. Finally, one day a week would be given to reevaluating the program in the presence of both staff and students.

The general approach of the new education is clearly that of the systemic approach discussed in the second chapter. I simply want to add a few considerations of a practical nature that apply particularly to the first chapter, which was of a more pedagogical nature.

1. Avoid the linear or sequential approach. The traditional approach consisted of treating A in detail in order to understand B, which was then studied in detail in order to approach C. One never knows what the teacher wants to achieve; one only hopes it will ultimately be useful.

On the contrary, the systemic approach in education involves returning several times at different levels to whatever is to be understood and assimilated. It approaches the subject matter through progressive steps. Following a spiral passage, student and teacher take a preliminary look at the entire subject in order to define it, to evaluate the difficulties and the unknown areas, and then return to it in greater detail, even at the risk of some repetition.

2. Beware of overly precise definitions that may polarize and dry up the imagination. A new concept or law ought to be studied from various angles and seen in many contexts. This leads to the mutual enrichment of concepts through indirect illumination rather than the automatic use of a definition.

3. Emphasize the importance of mutual causality, interdependence, and the dynamics of complex systems by stressing disciplines that integrate time and irreversibility, such as biology, ecology, and economics. Even at the elementary level, the bases of systemic education could be represented by descriptive models or reasoning models used in these disciplines; they would complement the traditional instruction of mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

4. Use themes of vertical integration, general themes that make it possible to integrate several disciplines and several levels of complexity around a central axis. This is what I have tried to do in the chapters on energy, information, and time. Depending on the relevant levels of knowledge, one can even use more specific themes.

Here are several examples taken from the natural sciences. Around the concept of continental drift it is possible to teach the complementary aspects of geography, geology, biology, and ecology; at a higher level, geophysics, paleontology, genetics, and climatology. Using blood and hemoglobin as a central theme, one can bring out many of the fundamental laws and principles of physics, organic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, cybernetics, and genetics. The theme of the origin of life can bring together astrophysics, physical chemistry, geology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and the theories of evolution and ecology. With the help of a theme such as farm products (food or animals), one can integrate elements of microbiology, nourishment and diet, hygiene, the process of fermentation, and the prevention of illness.

5. Keep in mind that the acquisition of facts cannot be separated from the understanding of the relationships that exist among them. This principle is valid for all levels of instruction; only the resources change and adapt themselves to the levels of knowledge.

The Methods of Systemic Education

The first rule of systemic education is to let the student learn at his own speed (the principle of self-learning). The resources used will vary with the level of instruction. One might employ self-teaching modules that are made up of questions and answers but differ from programmed textbooks in that they permit greater flexibility. One might even use a computer-assisted instruction program specialized in a specific application.

The learning of the course material is supplemented by teaching kits that make it possible to perform simple experiments. The kits may include slides, 8mm film loops synchronized with texts recorded on cassette tapes games, and models. This is the multimedia "package." The audiovisual thus has its place in these packages, where it is part of a whole educational system.

The second rule is interaction; its most often used resource is simulation. Simulation is building a model of reality and making it function as though it represented one aspect of that reality ( see page 82 ). In education simulation can take several forms.

Noninteractive simulation[6] is represented by films, especially animated films, that communicate the dynamic elements of a complex process (chemical reactions, physical and mechanical laws, the functioning of a machine, biological and social processes, industrial growth, etc.). A computer equipped with a graphic output or visual displays and a camera can produce animated films. These films result from the synthesis of images rather than the filming of a subject in reality. Computer-made animated films will no doubt have considerable educational impact in the coming years.

Simulated games, with or without the help of a computer, are a basic method of systemic education. Very generally, a game can be defined as an activity taking place between two or more decision makers who try to attain their objectives (win the game) while taking into account various constraints and limitations (the rules of the game) ( see notes ). Thus the game is a model of processes and rules that correspond to real events, situations, and objectives.

The educational simulation game takes various forms ranging from games in cardboard boxes to business games that utilize computers. In the latter each player has a role that corresponds to a real-life function: general manager, financial or marketing director, foreman, and so on. He formulates strategies, trades with others, forms partnerships, makes decisions, and evaluates in real time the consequences of his action-- thanks to the information that is fed back to him from his environment.

While classical instruction concentrates on the events themselves, simulation affords an ideal way to facilitate the perception of the dynamic relationships that exist among the elements of a complex system. It is very difficult--if not impossible--to describe in words, spoken or written, simultaneous and interdependent interactions. It is much easier to understand the rules of a game, whether it be football or bridge, when one has seen it played or tried to play it oneself.

Simulation games can train one to find intuitive solutions to complex problems, to perceive opposition, conflict, balance of power, delay. The design and construction of a game also offers considerable educational value; one must first carry out a detailed system analysis, then execute the model. Consequently one must interrelate variables and then question their limits and the effects of their interrelationships.

Today simulation games are used on many occasions in business schools, industries, universities, and elementary schools. The "case study," often used in preparatory courses in business management, is another kind of game, but it cannot take advantage of the complexity of interactions in real time.

It is likely that the new generation of miniature computers or microprocessors will help to develop new interactive educational games in a decentralized and easy-to-use form that makes use of the ordinary television set.

Finally, computer simulation, when it is possible, is the indispensable complement to the acquisition of facts. Its principal advantages were listed earlier ( see page 82 ). Experience shows that students who have made a model of the system they are studying are led, as in a game, to ask "good questions"--the limits of variability in the parameters of a system, the precision of basic data to be introduced into the model. Now they look for these facts in specialized books, when formerly they did not feel motivated by the traditional course that consisted of learning a collection of unrelated rules and facts without first having a use for them. Model building and the writing of computer simulation programs are therefore particularly educational, especially when the programming language and the symbolism used are simple.

Education must first teach young people to create rather than to copy faithfully what has been created by others. They must also learn to understand the role of time's duration, which is part of any new work and gives it its unique character and its value. Traditional education has too often neglected this fundamental point--that there is no true original creation without the integration of time.

Obviously the arts lend themselves better to creative activity than do the sciences or technology, where it is difficult to create something entirely new. Traditional arts such as painting, music, and poetry are now part of the curriculum, but the accent is chiefly on the fidelity of the copy rather than on the process of artistic creation.

More modern forms of art such as photography, film, and the production of synchronized slide tapes can also offer students the means of creating original programs and performances. Dance, choreography, film direction, and all forms of artisan creation develop the sense of harmony of form and movement, the sense of timing, the precision and certainty of action. These activities balance the role of the right side of the brain vis-a-vis that of the left side.

Education must also provide the means of relating what has been learned to the immediate environment, to society, and to the world. The reintegration of newly acquired knowledge in its human, social, or economic context tends to reinforce the sense of responsibility and social utility. This re-creates the bond between pure fact and the milieu that makes it meaningful and (as Piaget would say) "operative."

This concern for the connection between theory and practice, integrated into the curriculum, is now to be found in several universities and an increasing number of countries as alternate instruction. In the course of studying for their degrees, students take paying jobs in business, then return to their universities to complete their formal studies.

Some cities are trying to interest students in municipal activities in order to enhance their sense of social responsibility. The sorting of household wastes, the recycling of materials, and the restoration of natural sites harmed by industry allows them to participate in a useful social activity and to relate their efforts to the ecological cycles.

Other experiments, especially in Canada and in France, have given high school students the opportunity to prepare, with the help of portable television equipment, documentaries and newscasts for local stations and cable television.

One of the surest ways to master a new subject is to teach it to others. Thus students may teach the basics of a course to younger or even older students--and in this way instruction can "snowball."

This form of mutual instruction can be replaced or supplemented by a rather peculiar type that involves a teaching machine. When a student writes even a simple program for the computer (a very dumb machine that has to have everything explained to it), the student learns to be simple and specific and at the same time to generalize the facts, rules, and restraints that he prepares and puts into the machine. Abstract concepts that are often difficult to assimilate--concepts such as variables, equations, derivatives, asymptotes--take on their full meaning when the student succeeds in "teaching" them to the computer by programming it.

The new approach, then, tries to reverse the unidirectional flow of ideas from the teacher to the class. Now it is up to the students to organize their knowledge from component materials provided by the teacher. At present, paradoxically, it is the teacher who performs the most creative part of the work--in preparing the materials for the course. The students find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to reassemble the pieces as accurately as possible.

Possible Structures of Parallel Education

The structure of education today takes the form of a tree; we acquire the basics by following a common trunk, then we specialize in order to find a career. Backstepping is impossible or certainly very difficult.

The structure of systemic education would take the form of a pyramid; we would enter at the top through what is most general, most common, even most intuitive in elementary education, then we would define in broad terms the goals of our own education and move toward the base of the pyramid to obtain essential knowledge. Ultimately, everything we learn would be related to action (or the simulation of action).

Are today's centralized structures of instruction ready for such an upheaval? And what methods might be used alongside traditional methods?

Mutual instruction. Each individual is the center of a communication network and consequently a potential source of knowledge or knowhow. Mutual instruction on the most varied subjects will be developed and applied only at the level of small communities managed by the participants themselves--cultural associations, social clubs, business groups, and senior citizen associations. In the very long term its effectiveness might be greater with computer selective matching and "horizontal" communication networks.

The university without walls. This is already a reality for many people receiving their initial training or a continuing education. The way was led by the Open University in the United Kingdom. The development of cable television and videocassettes will probably enlarge on an educational process that is already bearing fruit and help to make it more widespread in many countries. Media other than radio and television are beginning to cooperate in long-distance instruction. In some California towns the local newspapers publish entire sections devoted to courses for which students can obtain credits at the nearest university or take their examinations.

Free access to knowledge. To extend the notion of self-service to all educational material it is not necessary to wait for the installation (perhaps only hypothetical) of computer data banks for public use or selective information access systems (described in the fourth chapter). Ordinary libraries clearly act as self-service centers for education. And some university libraries, especially in the United States, have an audiovisual center where one can find slides, film loops, tapes, models, and games, depending on the specific programs and courses. Such a center is transformed into a learning center when the student can project the films and slides he chooses. Sometimes students can interact with a computer controlling a multimedia terminal.

Why would it not be possible to have self-service stores devoted exclusively to educational products? It would be like filling a basket in a supermarket, but instead of food or soap powder the basket would contain educational "packages" of books, magazines, games, models, and audiovisual materials.

The computer center. Another form of free access, the computer center of many universities and engineering schools in the United States and (more recently) Europe, tends to become an "open house." The computers of the data processing department are available to students at night and on weekends as well as during the usual hours of courses. Students learn "on the spot," working with their own problems, as much about data processing as about their own fields. Thus they can quickly apply their knowledge and verify its range. The role of the more experienced student to whom the novice students address questions is also important. This education is empirical: the theory arrives afterward, the computer acting as a catalyst that accelerates the acquisition--and especially the integration--of knowledge in a greater, more comprehensive system.

Instantaneous feedback. Interaction in real time allows one to learn through trial and error with the help of feedback. The need for this led to the study and the installation of systems of interrogation, communication, and participation adapted to different environments. For some time there have been classrooms equipped with automatic response systems. These systems function by means of keyboards placed at students' desks; each of the several keys corresponds to one answer to a multiple-choice question asked by the teacher. All answers (and in some equipment the response times) are recorded on a terminal at the teacher's desk. Such techniques develop slowly, for they limit the students' choice and they depend too much on the way in which questions are phrased.

Commercial firms are already selling interactive participation systems to universities (for seminar courses, round-tables), businesses (for boards of directors, management meetings, workgroups), and international symposiums (for questions, comments, seminars). These mini networks use miniaturized response terminals that can be held in the hand of each participant; a microprocessor and a giant screen make it possible to tabulate and display the results. In this way we have the use of a continuous opinion poll, made necessary by the increasing effectiveness of group work or collective creation.

Educational parks. These parks could be created by town councils in cooperation with private businesses. Planned in the manner of amusement parks or wildlife parks where animals wander in freedom, these parks would be an extension of the science museums. Young people could play while observing nature and participating in real experiments. Educational parks would try to avoid the disciplinary approach; they would bring together the exact sciences, the human sciences, and technology in order to emphasize not only their complementarity but the importance of a common ground where new methods and techniques could be used to try to resolve complex problems.

The role of industry. The privileged center of professional training and continuing education, industry is probably the level at which systemic education will come to occupy--and more quickly than elsewhere--a choice location. The global model that business represents lends itself particularly well to the description and the assimilation of basic systemic facts (see p. 33). It is not a question of adding a new discipline (such as data processing or marketing) but of learning to collect, integrate, and rank the quantities of information that come continuously from the environment in which one lives. It is thus a matter of synthesizing rather than absorbing ready-made "recipes," often poorly applied for lack of a general frame of reference.

Numerous educational seminars already solicit business personnel. Perhaps we should try to take advantage of the possibilities offered by the extension of flexible working hours. A special card (like that inserted in electronic terminals for recording work hours) would make it possible for members of a given company to earn an "education credit" by attending at times of their choice (lunch hour or off-peak hours) continuing courses taught right in the company. This education "canteen" is possible today through models of audiovisual classes that permit students to take these courses on a continuous basis, answering the programmed questions and thereby accumulating credits that can be recorded from week to week.

Senior citizen universities. In a society of growth and consumption there is little room for the aged. Youth seems to take precedence over the experience of age. The hiding of death in our society leads to the hiding of old age. But everything can be modified in a society of stationary population and economy. The decline of the birth rate in the developed countries is already changing the pyramid of age and leading to an increase in the population of the aged. Because of the appearance of new values introduced into a society with a stationary economy (such as respect for experience and for those things that endure and perpetuate themselves), we can expect that senior citizens will strengthen their position in tomorrow's world. Perhaps they will find again the happiness and respect that aged people enjoyed in ancient societies or the prestige of the elders in so-called primitive cultures.

In place of the open conflict between the generations that is customary today (accompanied by the scorn and selfishness of youth and the barriers raised by older people trying to defend their privilege) we must perhaps anticipate and prepare for an unprecedented cooperation between youth and the aged. As older people take advantage of the educational opportunities open to them, as they reflect on and synthesize newly learned material, their minds will accept the general ideas and global approaches with greater facility. This is the role that the universities for senior citizens must take up in order to arrive at a more equitable sharing of powers in a more balanced society.

[1] I am thinking particularly of the work of Jacques Ellul, Marhall McLuhan, Herbert Marcuse, Margaret Mead, Edgar Morin, Charles A. Reich, Jean-Francois Revel, and Alvin Toffler (see bibliography).

[2] Obviously this criticism and rudimentary analysis applies chiefly to salaried work symbolized by ''the office.''

[3] Traditional morality (in politics, for example) was founded all too often on such principles as "the law of the stronger," "the end justifies the means," "out of sight, out of mind," and "never admit anything."

[4] The principles of this approach pertain to various levels of instruction: primary, secondary, advanced, continuing, and adult.

[5] Programmed texts and teaching machines are nevertheless used regularly today, and some editors have succeeded in preparing excellent manuals for specific applications.

[6] The creation of educational films by students can be considered a form of interactive simulation.

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