Saturday, 29.04.2017

Joseph Knoll: The Future of Mankind*

Laszlo Gyermek’s commentary**

 

             I am privileged to know well Professor Knoll, as a colleague, friend, and professionally, a neuropsychopharmacologist.  He has gained international recognition through his successful and wide ranging animal behavioral studies. He is a pioneer in preclinical and clinical psychopharmacology.  His most remarkable accomplishment has been the development and therapeutic introduction of deprenyl (Jumex) followed by successful research with its derivatives.

            This agent, in addition to its therapeutic use in the symptomatic treatment of Parkinsonism, has also gained attention as a novel pharmaceutical means whereby the natural aging of the human brain can possibly be mitigated/delayed.  Deprenyl has opened a new avenue in therapeutics that is still actively pursued by Knoll and provided a new perspective for medical science and public health.  While Knoll is an extremely-motivated and active scientist, he also is a polyhistor with additional interests in the fields of literature, religion, politics and particularly with an impressive knowledge of art and art history This wide spectrum of intellectual activities, coupled with a long life experience, makes him one of the prominent personages on the stage of Behavioral Sciences.

            In his recent books and articles, he extends his interest to the analysis of the present world and for its possible amelioration. In his latest book, The Future of Mankind, published so far only in Hungarian, he  compares and analyzes  the  observations obtained by animal behavioral experiments and the “rules” of science with the transcendental “World of dreams,” unique in the psyche of the human individual and in collective human behavioral manifestations within groups, e.g., families, clans, classes and societies.  Professor Knoll, with his broad interest moves from science to the wide fields of art, various religions and also to the “slippery” slopes of the “political aspects of the World” trying to analyze and appraise them.  We should realize that these topics can be approached with our present level of intelligence, but to effectively influence them for the “better,” at least within the realm and capacity of our social system and governmental structures, remains practically impossible. Nevertheless, Knoll, with his impressive knowledge and massive self-confidence, proposes to change the present world, which is still full of “dreams” and “myths,” into a “ratio-driven, directed and dedicated World.”

            The reviewer feels that Knoll’s concept and program represent a monumental, innovative task. But to characterize it as is in the title,  “The Future of Mankind,” seems to me to be exaggerated.  I feel that an alternative title such as: “Experimental foundations and applicability of my concepts about the future of mankind” might have been more fitting. In the attempt on my part to overview and analyze the concepts of Knoll about the future of the world, it is important to emphasize the role of the sciences in the world’s affairs and its perspectives, along with the remaining sociopolitical, “mystic”  and religious influences.  We have to realize that the modern societies are still affected by spiritual, mysticism-oriented factors and remain perceptive to some worthless and sometimes hazardous and dangerous theories, and to their applications.

            When we look at the extensive and significant research curriculum of Knoll, we have to admit that in his book he devotes a major chapter to the devastating, man-made category of events in recent history. (The tragic events that affected him, whose entire family and most of his friends were exterminated in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, remained a devastating experience, but also evoked a moral commitment. As a result, after the War Knoll became a supporter of the “lesser evil,” e.g., Soviet–type communism, and concentrated on his medical studies, from which he was previously deprived by the “racial discrimination” policies prevailing at that time in Hungary.)

        Of course, we have to realize, besides these above- mentioned harms to the individual and the society, the “uncontrollable,” immense damages to the World from randomly occurring natural disasters.

             In Knoll’s book, a leading concept emerges:  The introduction of a “ratio-directed” society, in which separation and discrimination, based on nationality, race, gender and languages will be dissolved.

            Concerning this new concept, we have to realize the following: The proposed changes will be forthcoming within a society which may be partly “liberal” in attitude, but also may remain “one sided,” primitive and generally uninformed in the traditional, historic terms. Many persons will be living either in the abundance of “worldly” goods or in the midst of accumulating them through perpetual “credit buying” during a new, rampant consumerism-dominated world. Still, large regional differences in life style and human behavior will remain because even in such a “New World society” native inhabitants of Equatorial Africa will be markedly different from the successors of present Eskimos or Chinese.

            A major factor along these lines will be that we, humans, will not be able to separate ourselves from our “dimensions.”  One question along these lines would be: Will it be possible to reach and inhabit, for example, a new, just “relatively close” New World-Planet (that would be “only” few light-years away!), when the prevailing human life span will remain the same within the “foreseeable  future,” e.g. in the next one million years?  Clearly this would be an impossible scenario to even think about.

            On the other hand, there is a burning need to rationalize the present world-order for reasons outlined eloquently and convincingly in the Knoll's thesis. A  realistic new “Modus Vivendi,”  with applicable and temporally permissible desired changes, achieving better cooperation and understanding between  nations, cultures and religions may be attainable, but only through a scientific, educational approach and with continuity.  The myths–oriented societies will not be able to develop that approach because they will be, for example, “enslaved” by a religion, or continually mesmerized through the raving mass hysteria of different  (e.g., political or sportive) “cults.”

                       What kind of conditioned reflex paradigms and programs will be applicable, and in what time frame, to prepare such “modern societies” for a more “appropriate” future?  To work out theoretically outlined, suitable and “tailor made” programs and their psychobiological  details, there will be a need for a new group of behavioral scientists and educators who will be up to the immense task to advise and guide  the new  mankind into a  better, “ideal” future and for the benefit of all.

 

 

 

Laszlo Gyermek

December 29, 2016

 

* Budapest: Semmelweis Publisher; 2010.  LISBN 9789639879744.

 

**    Based on an essay published in Hungarian in August 2014, in the “Iparjogvedelmi es szerzoi jogi szemle” (Volume 9/4: 288-90).