A fundamental aspect of the human predicament is the dependency of life and social organization on accidents and chance. There is little, if anything, certain. One thing hangs on another in an invisible progression; and like a spider-web, if one skein is pulled, the whole network is distorted or even destroyed. Physical human life is unpredictable, open to disease, decay, death and pain. Emotional life knows no equanimity; happiness and suffering exchange places without plan. Societal life is filled with conflict, and economic life is always precarious. Peace is shattered by war, and in this century human existence is threatened in its entirety. The increasingly perceived contingency of life is a destructive influence amidst any hope or optimism that human problems can be solved.
People who are most aware of the associated problems of contingency and absurdity are inclined to filter the world through their thought and rob it of the meaning which it naturally possesses.
Nature, of which humanity is part, shows in its evolutionary patterns, purposes and trends of development that can be summarized, from the human and animal point of views particularly, as the emergence of mind, or intelligent control. Nothing is contingent in the biological life of humans. All activity points to the ascendency of intelligence and the rise of human nature to the omega point of evolution and mankind's ultimate purpose.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.