Silvanus P. Thompson, FRS, popularized calculus in a book called Calculus Made Easy. He was a most influential advocate of technical education in England and said the pursuit of the scientific method is absolutely priceless for mental and moral training. He reported seeing electromagnetic waves and wrote that he was privileged to ride down the River Thames propelled by the motive force of electricity in 1882, four decades after Moritz Hermann von Jacobi first propelled a boat on the River Neva by means of a large and primitive electro-magnetic engine. Clerk Maxwell asked what was the greatest scientific discovery of the last twenty-five years. He replied that Gramme was an early form of dynamo with a ring armature that, when rotated between the poles of a magnet, produced an electrical current in wires wound upon it. When an electric current was passed through the wires, the ring rotated. Mark Twain described Tesla's induction motor invention as the most valuable patent since the telephone. It is a case of magnetism in rotation, which led on from Arago's rotations to Faraday's work on eddy currents induced by a revolving magnet and to Nikola Tesla and his polyphase induction motors. The magic of magnetism held great fascination for scientists and the public alike. The Gramme ring, named after a Belgian electrical engineer, was exhibited at the Vienna exhibition in 1873. In 1875, Nikola Tesla observed a Gramme machine at the Graz University of Technology and conceived the idea of using it for alternating current.
In 1887, Nikola Tesla invented an alternating-current induction motor. It was with one such device that Thompson reported stimulation of his retina. It occurred with his head inside the stator, with electricity passing through its coils and the rotor removed. To aid his own demonstrations of electrical phenomena before very large audiences, he devised a lantern galvanometer. One of his public lectures was Recent Discoveries in Natural Philosophy, which was devoted to electrical phenomena. Tesla theorized that the application of electricity to the brain enhanced intelligence. Not only does AI today call for philosophical oversight to prevent its misappropriation, but so does the human body's exposure, especially the human nervous system, to electromagnetic radiation. Thompson heard Tesla speak in New York, commenting that it was not brilliant but of great scientific interest. In wartime, he would write that men of good will in all nations (including nations now combatant) would see to it that the evil passions of jealousy, distrust, domination, and hate would not be permitted to interfere with progress and civilization. These passions are the causes of war, not its consequences. When WWI ends, those who continue to foster these passions will be the enemies of mankind and of progress, in whatever nation they are found. Thompson became a member of the Nobel Prize Committee and took an active interest in preventing medical swindles by medical electricians while managing to avoid prosecution for libel. When WWI ended, the Institution of Electrical Engineers tabled a resolution to expel members of enemy origin or nationality, but it was successfully opposed by Thompson, who saw the effect of war on international cooperation for progress in science as well as how much electrical engineering owed to German inventions.
Let's not forget that Prometheus gave man fire to warm him, Demeter bread to feed him, and Hygienic public health to protect him. Socrates added to philosophy the study of the human soul and society and gave us the concept of global citizenship and a proposal to Greece not to let humanity reach the end of Hellenistic discourse, ethics, justice, and responsibility before deciding to invest in the wisdom implicit in practical classical philosophy. Let's not forget the enormous contribution of Greece to culture, health, education, philosophy, and the development of Europe.
Philosophy in Greece and the intellectual elite are falling short of their civic-social role and their social agendas. Greece can reduce its contributions to global warming and make it easier to live with extreme weather phenomena in the future, as it does with seismic activity today. Summer 2023 has demonstrated that as long as universal efforts to check climate change are disrupted or delayed, the earth will get warmer, and the result will be far worse catastrophes. We are already at the limit of no return, 1.5 degrees. Delay is a boon to power centers that don’t give a hoot for philosophy, and they acquire time to gain more clout, control, and wealth. Next year, catastrophes of flood and fire will return, but who cares?
The history of humanity knows of two great ancient Greek traditions. The first one was the Olympic Games, a competition in the physical force of human bodies, which in 393 AD was prohibited by Theodosius. In 1996, this tradition was revived. The second tradition was the Dialectic Symposium, a competition in the mental force of human brains based on wisdom and reason. In 529 AD, this tradition was prohibited by the Byzantine emperor Justinian and was only revived by the World Philosophical Forum. The Dialectic Symposium emerged in 2009, led by Igor Kondrashin, a Russian philosopher. This initiative received encouragement and support from one member of the Athens Academy. At that time, the Forum had the backing of Irene Bokova and Ban Ki-moon. The distinguished British scholar Nikolas Hagger says he feels the presence of Socrates when in Athens. On becoming a Gusi Peace Laureate, he was congratulated by Ban Ki-moon.
My keynote address, entitled "Ancient Tears, Modern Fears, and Philosophical Wisdom," got underway with Dear participants of the World Philosophical Forum, Athens, Citizens of Greece, and Peoples of the World, today we have abundant tears along with disturbing fears and unfortunately little practical classical philosophy, and we asked, What do the philosophers in Greece say today? Igor Kondrashin, a Russian philosopher and president of the World Philosophical Forum who is visiting Moscow, sees the threat of a reptilian-launched thermonuclear war looming.
It will occur, he says, because of a wrongly cultivated consciousness in the human neocortex that leads to the development of social dementia. The key to our future, as he sees it, lies in rethinking the basics of education. We must return to the systemic philosophical teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle with a measure derived from the golden ratio and the priorities of logic and ethics, which in turn prepare the ground for global citizenship. Socrates had told his Athenian judges that a life that is not properly examined is worth nothing. I, in turn, say that we also need a reliable model of reality and a humanitarian corridor and compass to guide us to a meaningful future. Trust is the vehicle, and philosophy is the driver. Unfortunately, philosophy no longer has a driver's license, and the world’s global bureaucracy treads water. It is needless to remind you that the ancient Greeks recognized the importance of logic, which gave birth to the techniques of modern science and mathematics and the establishment of the foundations of the modern state.
As Honorary President of the World Philosophical Forum and from the corridors of the 14th Dialectical Symposium, Athens, we condemn all violence, voice our deep concern with respect to existential threats hovering over humanity, and call for an immediate ceasefire wherever war rages, the protection of civilians everywhere, the release of all hostages captured in the conflict and all prisoners unjustly held in prisons in all states without exception, and a formal reinstatement of the Universal Declaration on the Illegality of Wars on Earth, which the World Philosophical Forum in Athens first proclaimed six years ago.
A proposal of the World Philosophical Forum has been put forward many times and once again proposes that a symbolic peace be negotiated at the sacred site of Delphi in Greece with an agreed Ecumenical Peace Treaty signed in the Ancient Greek Parliament of Modern Greece. Igor Kondrashin’s reference to the threat of a thermonuclear war reminds me of the Erice statement written by Paul Dirac, Piotr Kapitza, and Antonino Zichichi calling for nuclear disarmament. It was signed by Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and Deng Xiaoping, as well as other world leaders and more than 90,000 scientists. But who heard then, and who took notice today?
What now, Hellas? 4000 years of linguistic history and concentrated philosophical wisdom, 2 centuries of the modern Greek state and its recent bicentennial and glorious celebration, and a week or so ago, the Day of OXI1 and a celebration of the first Allied victory in WWII. What now is Hellas as it moves into its modern 3rd century (2021-2121), carrying a serious demographic challenge, compromised quality of life, the escape of youth, and the need for the divine intervention of Hygiene, goddess of public health, and the rejuvenation of Hellenism? According to Plato, the sense of daring is more important than wisdom. Greece today must daringly support practical classical philosophy and utilize its wisdom in decision-making.
The force field that brought Tesla and the World Philosophical Forum together was philosophy, and he attended lectures in philosophy at the university. Later, Tesla looked to the future to improve it. The mission of the World Philosophical Forum is to help save it. These are dreams that should not be put off. Reference to the great Nikola Tesla is an important event in our 14th Dialectical Symposium. Having heard in 2022 and in opera by Philippe Hersant about the life of Nikolas Tesla, the emerging image of the man is that of a global citizen, a good Samaritan who helps his fellow travelers, and a well-meaning adventurer in new worlds. 2023 represents 80 years since his death. Nikola Tesla was charismatic, generous, open-minded, practical, and a dreamer. He developed a way to photograph the retina to record thought and theorized that electricity applied to the brain enhanced intelligence by saturating dull students with infinitesimal electric waves vibrating at high frequency through the wired walls of the schoolroom. Tesla claimed that classrooms could be converted into health-giving and stimulating baths of electromagnetic fields.
Tesla described a border defensive weapon against attacking ground-based infantry or aircraft as a super-weapon to end war. He called it a teleforce, while the press referred to it as his death ray. One report concluded that there was nothing that would constitute a hazard if it landed in unfriendly hands, as qualified by a note. Tesla's thoughts and efforts during the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative and philosophical kind.
In Serbia, this is the Year of Tesla and the World Philosophical Forum, with Athens adding to its 14th Dialectic Symposium a special session on Tesla as a means of bringing his philosophy to the philosophical world. In this way, it supports the establishment of an international committee and the Nikola Tesla International Prize. Let me add that great interest has been given to this proposal by online participants from China and elsewhere to the symposium welcoming the initiative of the World Philosophical Forum to dedicate a discussion to Tesla’s philosophical heritage, which is important for all humanity. In order to promote the ideas of Nikola Tesla in today's life and to perpetuate the memory of the great scientist, we propose that China create an international Nikola Tesla Committee.
Every place has or is witnessing disturbing images. Yesterday, the agony of an actress of incredible beauty, a national icon of Japan, was drenched by Hiroshima’s blast of nuclear light, brighter than a thousand suns. Her one thought after regaining her senses was to inform the Emperor of the horror. She made it to the river, floated down it for some time, and was pulled out by soldiers. Two weeks later, in Tokyo, her skin was gone, corroded; she had no hair; nothing remained of her youth and beauty. The happiness she gave to her doting audiences was no more. Her mission to reach the Emperor was completed, and her life was over! Another is that philosophy is slowly becoming homeless, which is a creeping cultural disaster, and that Greece is slowly recovering from the disastrous summer of 2023.
Under such circumstances, the organizing committee of the 14th Dialectic Symposium accepted with great enthusiasm my proposal to set aside time for creative discussion and leisurely brainstorming on Nikola Tesla's legacy, which is not only in scientific circles but also in the arts, culture, and humanities, as well as in relation to the welfare of the Serbian people. My proposal called for cooperation between the World Philosophical Forum and institutions inside and outside of government in Serbia.
Nikola Tesla benefited and enlightened mankind with more than 700 inventions to give the world the Tesla legacy, which shows the debt the whole world owes to him. His mind knew no bounds; he was an electrical genius, magician, magic maker, and photographer. While a student in Austria, Tesla became obsessed with the idea of creating an alternating current generator powered by three-phase induction motors. For personal reasons, he dropped out of university before finishing his degree in electrical engineering.
Tesla, with his fluid imagination, made important discoveries and entertained enigmatic ideas. While fossil fuels were the source of energy, Tesla was thinking about renewable energy and the camera of thought and information shaped and encoded into brain waves. His eyes were on the future, which he worked for. After spending his life in the service of humanity, his experience towards the end brought him insults and humiliation. Most experiences are bittersweet, with the hope of the young and the disappointment of the old. He saw a man longing for new sensations, to which he soon became indifferent.
On January 12, 1897, he released controlled energy at Niagara Falls, the world's first hydroelectric station, and enlightened mankind. When the power was turned on, it reached Buffalo at midnight, and the press reported that the Niagara River flowed uphill when the switch was flipped. John O'Neil, Pulitzer Prize winner and science editor of the New York Herald Tribune, pointed out Tesla's invaluable contribution to international peace: "Tesla lived and worked to bring peace to the world, to bring an age of peace, plenty, and happiness to the whole human race."
Tesla believed that the prosperity and progress of mankind could only be achieved through the conservation of nature and the proper use of energy. He offered mankind the ideal of a scientist who feels and knows that the truth of scientific progress can never and must not be separated from the welfare of mankind. He changed the world with his immense talent. Today we need his thinking to examine the loose coupling between radiation, brain activity, and neural damage in the context of artificial intelligence.
Tesla was a giant in his own right, a visionary inventor. He dreamed big and made those dreams come true. Today we celebrate his genius. With his incredible contributions to science and humanity, we wonder how his legacy can be utilized philosophically to address the existential issues plaguing our world. Here, let us not forget that in war, international cooperation for progress in science stops, and sanctions can cause technology to run down and the flow of ideas to the sanctioned country to cease. Tesla's work fell into relative obscurity following his death. In 1960, his name was given to the unit of measurement for magnetic flux density. In 1976, a statue of Tesla at Niagara Falls was unveiled, a gift from Yugoslavia to the U.S. Tesla's legacy was not only in scientific circles but also in the arts, culture, and humanities, and above all, in the Serbian people. Tesla offered the world the ideal of a scientist, the benefits of scientific progress, and the thinking of a philosopher who knew that science and philosophy should never be separated from the welfare of humanity.
Noteworthy are the closing statements of the 14th Dialectical Symposium made by the President and Honorary President, Igor Kondrashin from Moscow, and Jeffrey Levett from Athens regarding a road map for further cooperation between Athens and Belgrade and a renewed call to the Greek authorities for support of the 15th Dialectical Symposium, 2024, under the banner of Greece, an eternal and inexhaustible historical source of knowledge, a flame that inspires philosophy as a peaceful and spiritual ally of man.
It is difficult to respond to the horrors that surround us, so I suggest we take the advice of Odysseus Elytis: when evil strikes, when our minds are clouded, when we are at a dead end or in the middle of the road and we do not know which way to turn, reach back for knowledge, supplies of mental energy, and water from the rich resources of the Ancient Greek Letters.
Let us not forget that our highest goal must be to safeguard the future of humanity and to provide our children and our children's children with the proper means to live meaningful and fulfilling lives as citizens of a less hostile earth, and of course within the context of the forgotten golden mean.
PS: Barbarians are in our midst, not aliens. The world is not ready to listen to the voice of practical classical philosophy. The world is not ready for a new and peaceful way! The world is not ready for Tesla’s return! Socrates is not through with Nikola Tesla!
1 When Mussolini told Greece to open its gates and let his troops pass, Metaxas said no! When the Persians told the 300 to put down their weapons, Leonidas said, Come and get them!