Ivan Supek



Ivan SUPEK (1915-2007): Appeal for Peace



        Evil is ingrained in human nature--one would say when faced with the horrors of wars, ethnic cleansing, murder and pillage--it is integral to humanity! On the other hand, J.J. Rousseau wrote that human beings are naturally good, but corrupted by civilization. Which of these two is true? In its beginnings, UNESCO surveyed the people on five continents, trying to establish whether they have some common values. And the answer was affirmative. The people everywhere respected truth, justice, courage, honesty, and beauty, and helping the less fortunate. Therefore, good is universal.

    But, if UNESCO seeked out whether the evils such as lying, brutality, exploitation of the powerless, cowardice, hypocrisy, destructiveness, and murder are also common to all the people, they would have had to admit the same. And the dilemma would remain unresolved. Some historians and sociologists explain wars with the aggressive nature of human beings. But, one may respond to that: A brute may mistreat his wife, or he can incite fights, but he will not go hundreds and thousands of kilometres away from his home to burn, destroy and kill. The armies are moved by statesmen, in white gloves and observing the rules of etiquette.

    The dilemma about the nature of evel is resolved through an understanding of biological and cultural complexity of human kind. A human being becomes human in the mind and the feelings only within the complex framework of a genetic basis and the society; a child reared by wolves, and there are such cases recorded, would not think or feel as a civilized being.

    We cannot change the genetic basis, which would be very risky, but we could develop the culture of peace. This is the hope for the ultimate resolution of a global nuclear, ecological and ideological-religious powderkeg, in which even being inactive is deadly. 

June 2000



About the author of Appeal for Peace

Ivan Supek is a physicist, philosopher, and writer.

In 1960 he founded the Institute for the Philosophy of Science and Peace, as a section of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences (then Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences). As one of the founders of the Pugwash Conference, and a world organization, the World without the Bomb (Svijet bez bombe). In 1966, he started the journal Encyclopedia moderna. In his numerous works, Supek developed a worldview in which the values of the freedom, responsibility, and democracy are integrated with his philosophical-scientific reflections.