UNESCO: Its purpose and Its Philosophy

by Julian Huxley, First Director-General of UNESCO

(Washington DC: Public Affairs Press, 1947)

Skip down to The Synthesis of  opposites & Teilhard deChardin's Cosmic Evolution


Quotes and Excerpt

"Unesco [UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] also can and should promote the growth of international contacts, international organizations, and actual international achievements, which will offer increasing resistance to the forces making for division and conflict. In particular, it can both on its own and in close relation with other UN agencies such as the FAO [Food & Agriculture Organization] and WHO [World Health Organization], promote the international application of science to human welfare. As the benefits of such world-scale collaboration becomes plain (which will be speedily be the case in relation to the food and health of mankind) it will become increasingly more difficult for any nation to destroy them by resorting to isolationism or to war." Page 14. [See The UN Plan for Food and Land]

"Further, since the world today is in process of becoming one, and since a major aim of Unesco must be to help in the speedy and satisfactory realization of this process... Unesco must pay special attention to international education - to education as a function of a world society, in addition to its function in relation to national societies, to regional or religious or intellectual groups or to local communities." p. 29-30

"The fact has also been emphasized by the development of intelligence testing, some authorities in this field going so far as to assert that only 10-20% of the population are capable of profiting by a university course."  p. 29-32

"...peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind." p. 5

"In the forefront is set Unesco's collaboration in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass-communication." p. 6

"It must be an evolutionary as opposed to a static or ideal humanism....  In the last few decades, it has been possible to develop an extended or general theory of evolution which can prove the necessary intellectual scaffolding for humanism...." p. 7  [See the last part of Saving the Earth]

"In addition, we now know much about the biological evolution, the existence of several types of selection... the evolutionary conflict between the limitations set by an organism's nature and past history and the requirement of the present, and its solution by means of some new adjustment.... This last point immediately recalls the thesis, antithesis and synthesis of Hegelian philosophy, and the Marxist 'reconciliation of opposites' based on it. Indeed, dialectical materialism was the first radical attempt at an evolutionary philosophy. Unfortunately, it was based too exclusively upon principles of social as against biological evolution." p. 11

"...a priori reasoning is inadequate to arrive at truth.... truth is never complete and explanations never fully or eternally valid. On the other hand, the scientific method... leads steadily to more truth, both in the quantitative sense of a greater amount of truth as well as qualitative sense of the accurate and more complete truth." p. 36

"...taking the techniques of persuasion and information and true propaganda that we have learnt to apply nationally in war, and deliberately bending them to the international tasks of peace, if necessary utilizing them -- as Lenin envisaged - to 'overcome the resistance of millions' to desirable change.

        "Using drama to reveal reality and art as the method by which, in Sir Stephen Tallent's works, 'truth becomes impressive and a living principle of action,' and aiming to produce concerted effort, which -- top quote Grierson once more -- needs a background of faith and a sense of destiny. This must be a mass philosophy, a mass creed, and it can never be achieved without the use of the media and of mass communication. Unesco, in the press of its detailed work, must never forget this enormous feat." p. 60

"There are thus two tasks for the Mass Media division of Unesco; the one general; the other special. The special one is to enlist the press and the radio and the cinema to the fullest extent in the service of formal and adult education, of science and learning, of art and culture. The general one is to see that these agencies are used both to contribute to mutual comprehension between nations and cultures, and also to promote the growth of a common outlook shared by all nations and cultures." p. 60

"Conclusion: ...The task before UNESCO... is to help the emergence of a single world culture with its own philosophy and background of ideas and with its own broad purpose. This is opportune, since this the first time in history that the scaffolding and the mechanisms for world unification have become available and also the first time that man has had the means... of laying a world-wide foundation for the minimum physical welfare of the entire human species. And it is necessary, for at the moment, two opposing philosophies of life confront each other from the West and from the East....

"You may categorize the two philosophies as two super-nationalisms, or as individualism versus collectivism; or as the American versus the Russian way of life, or as capitalism versus communism, or as Christianity versus Marxism.  Can these opposites be reconciled, this antithesis be resolved in a higher synthesis? I believe not only that this can happen, but that, through the inexorable dialectic of evolution, it must happen....

"In pursuing this aim, we must eschew dogma - whether it be theological dogma or Marxist dogma.... East and West will not agree on a basis of the future if they merely hurl at each other the fixed ideas of the past. For that is what dogma's are -- the crystallizations of some dominant system of thought of a particular epoch. A dogma may of course crystallize tried and valid experience; but if it be dogma, it does so in a way which is rigid, uncompromising and intolerant.... If we are to achieve progress, we must learn to uncrystalize our dogmas."  p. 61

"...society as such embodies no values comparable to those embodied in individuals; but individuals are meaningless except in relation to the community." p. 62

Additional notes and excerpts:


Bush calls for the U.S. to rejoin UNESCO: "UNESCO is often referred to as a school board for the world and, as such, it reflects the educational philosophy of its founding Director-General, biologist/humanist Julian Huxley.


"Huxley stated that the agency would advocate 'the ultimate need for world political unity' and would condition 'all peoples with the implications of the transfer of full sovereignty from separate nations to world organization.'... UNESCO 'can do a great deal to lay the foundations on which world political unity can later be built."


"In the early 1950's, former Communist Joseph Z. Kornfeder expressed the opinion that UNESCO was comparable to a Communist Party agitation and propaganda department. He stated that such a party apparatus 'handles the strategy and method of getting at the public mind, young and old.' Huxley would lard the agency with a motley collection of Communists and fellow travelers.


"In Hamburg, Germany, 1964, Huxley chaired a UNESCO sponsored conference called the 'International Symposium on Health, Education, Sex Education and Education for Home and Family living' in which the agenda was laid out for sex education....  The conference concluded, 'Sex education should begin at an early age.'...


"Through its 'World Heritage' subsidiary, UNESCO has, incredibly, already taken over control of such U.S. landmarks as the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park, Independence Hall, and other essential parcels of sovereign U.S. property. A portion of the admission to these symbols of American freedom now goes directly to UNESCO." Chuck Morse, September 16, 2002.

From Evolutionary Humanism by Julian Huxley

(Prometheus Books, 1992; Great Minds Series)

"Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was at the same time a Jesuit Father and a distinguished paleontologist. In the Phenomenon of Man he has aimed at a threefold synthesis---of the material and physical world with the world of mind and spirit; of the past with the future; and of variety with unity, the many with the one. .... Conversely, he is able to envisage the whole of knowable reality not as a static mechanism but as a process... 202

"Pere Teilhard starts from the position that mankind in its totality is a phenomenon to be described and analyzed like any other phenomenon.... His second and perhaps most fundamental point is the absolute necessity of adopting an evolutionary point of view."... 202

"... since the evolutionary phenomena.... are processes, they can never be evaluated or even adequately described solely or mainly in terms of their origins: they must be defined by their direction, their inherent possibilities....and their deducible future trends. He quotes with approval Nietzsche's view that man is unfinished and must be surpassed or completed; and proceeds to deduce the steps needed for this completion."203

"...perhaps because he was so deeply concerned with establishing a global unification of human awareness as a necessary prerequisite for any real future progress of mankind... he did not discuss the evolutionary values of cultural variety in any detail." 204

"He seeks to link the evolution of mind with the concept of... energy in the physicists' sense, measurable or calculable by physical methods, and 'psychic energy' which increases with the complexity of organized unity."206

"In the process of convergence and coalescence, what we may metaphorically describe as the psychosocial, temperature rises. Mankind as a whole will accordingly achieve... more integrated mental activity.....
      "Teilhard was a strong visualizer. He saw with his mind's eye that 'the banal fact of the earth's roundness'--the sphericity of man's environment -- was bound to cause this intensification of psychosocial activity.....
      "Years later, when at the U of Californian in 1952, this same vivid imagination led Pere Teilhard to draw a parallel between the cyclotron generating immense intensities of physical energy.... and the entire noosphere with its fields of thought curved round upon themselves to generate new levels of 'psychical energy.'"

"His position in France became increasingly difficult, and in 1951 he moved his headquarters to New York. ...here, in 1954, I had the privilege of working with him. ...  He has .helped both to clarify and to unify of vision of reality." 215

"The condition of advance are these:

  • global unity of mankind's noetic organization or system of awareness, but a high degree of variety within that unity;
  • love, with goodwill and full co-operation;
  • personal integration and internal harmony; and
  • increasing knowledge. ...

"We, mankind, contain the possibilities of the earth's immense future, and can realize more and more of them on condition that we increase our knowledge and our love. That, it seems to me, is the distillation of The Phenomenon of Man." 216-217