The Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion and Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life was founded in 1940 at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, by seventy-nine leading American intellectuals including Seminary president Louis Finkelstein, Harold D. Lasswell, Mortimer J. Adler, Paul Tillich, Robert M. MacIver, Van Wyck Brooks, Franz Boas, Enrico Fermi, I.I. Rabi, and Pitirim Sorokin. Dr. Finkelstein was the president of the Conference and editor of many of its published volumes.
Originating in a meeting of academics and seminary presidents called by Dr. Finkelstein in November, 1939, the Conference constituted a response to the rise of totalitarianism in Europe. Its founding members and their successors sought to create a framework for the preservation of democracy and intellectual freedom through the collaboration of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines in the sciences and humanities. Conference members, many of whom blamed the development of "value-free" scholarship for the rise of European fascism, additionally hoped to synthesize traditional values and academic scholarship.
The Conference grew into an established institution, meeting regularly from 1940 until its demise in 1968, at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Columbia University, Harvard University, The American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, the University of Chicago, and Loyola University. During the 1950s, the topics treated during meetings shifted from issues of the preservation of democracy and world peace to questions of race relations, labor relations, governmental administration, and educational policy. Membership expanded to include government officials, industrialists, and officers of private foundations. Members from Catholic, Jewish, and non-Western religious backgrounds also held prominent roles, reflecting a growing interest in intergroup relations on the part of Dr. Finkelstein and other Conference organizers. New participants included John LaFarge, Bayard Rustin, Swami Akhilananda, Hannah Arendt, Mordecai M. Kaplan, and Perry Miller.
From the description of Records. 1939-1977. 1940-1968. (Jewish Theological Seminary of America). WorldCat record id: 122633610