The Open Mind by J. Robert Oppenheimer
New York : Simon and Schuster, 1955. First Printing. Stated. Hardcover. 146 pages ; 22 cm. $2.75 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding firm.
THIS BOOK is about two related subjects: atomic weapons and the relationship between science and the wider culture of our times. It is made up of eight lectures given by J. Robert Oppenheimer during the decade since the end of the war. It contains none of his technical writing in the field of physics. Some of the material has never been published before; most of it has been printed only in journals of limited circulation.
The book begins with a report on atomic explosives made in May 1946, less than a year after the development of the first atomic bomb. It closes with the already famous view of the world's arts and sciences which was the concluding lecture in Columbia University's Bicentennial, delivered in 1955. Together, these essays make a fascinating record of change and growth, over ten years, in the thinking of one of the outstanding scholars of this generation.
The entire book is thus an illustration of its central statement of the values to society of the open mind. Here is the author's definition of his belief in this: "An indispensable, perhaps the indispensable, element in giving meaning to the dignity of man, and in making possible the taking of decision on the basis of honest conviction, is the openness of men's minds, and the openness of whatever media there are for communion between men, free of restraint, free of repression, and free even of that most pervasive of all restraints, that of status and hierarchy."
J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER has been director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, since 1947. He is a physicist trained at Harvard, Cambridge and Gottingen who was for eighteen years Professor of Physics at the University of California and the California Institute of Technology. Between 1943 and 1945 he was director of the laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, where the first atomic bombs were made. From 1945 through 1953 he served in many advisory positions to the Atomic Energy Commission, the White House, and the Departments of State and Defense; in the spring of 1954, in a much-publicized proceeding, he was denied security clearance. He is the author of Science and the Common Understanding, published by Simon and Schuster in 1954.
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