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SCIENCE, IDEOLOGY AND TRADITIONAL SOCIETY: TOWARDS NEW ECOLOGY OF HUMANKIND.
European science that came into being four centuries ago has become the root and brain of modern industrial civilization. Today, when the XX century is coming to an end and when this civilization has seemingly demonstrated its all-triumphant power, we feel by intuition (and even start to realize) that the entire concept of industrialism is in a grave crisis. As in the period of scientific and industrial revolution, mankind is again in the state, of unstable equilibrium, at a bifurcation point - at the cross-road, where the choice of any way means that the value system and ideals, the way of living and behavior pattern will be subject to dramatic transformation. (Footnote 1)
Symptoms of the crisis are in abundance, they are disclosed and accumulated in the intellectual realm, in the relation of Man and Nature and in human relations. Socio-economic crisis of the Third World, "green-house effect", "ozone hole", the cruel "Desert Storm" and the outburst of ethnical conflicts in the fragile but until recently viable multinational systems (such as Shri Lanka, Lebanon, the USSR, Yugoslavia) these are all heavy shocks in themselves. But there is something common and fundamental behind them: the picture of the world and man that was offered by science to civilization and that formed the base for developing tremendous power already is not adequate to the new state of the world, to the modern type of man, to the power itself.
The basic idea drawn from science and forming the corner stone of Western civilization that of unlimited progress is at stake. Implanted in conscience this idea opened to man the endless cosmos and broke the cyclic time of traditional society transforming it into " time arrow ". The idea of progress is the background of anthropologic optimism the reverse side of which are growing pains of civilization: unbounded expansion and waste of resources, consumer society and suppression of redeeming selfconstraining instincts.
Mechanism and determinism that are the foundation of the scientific vision of the world and new type of thinking, separation of body and mind, knowledge and ethics, man and the universe, all these factors imparted to science great analytical power and the opportunity of conquering nature. Technotronic civilization confident in this power has rejected ( and in many instances also destroyed ), cognitive and conceptual systems established in traditional cultures. But when it has become obvious that the world is not a machine and an individual is not an atom of mankind, the technology of dominating over nature and man has gained such momentum that truamas caused by it became unbearable.
Perhaps a bit late but science is beginning to recognize the challenge of the XXI century. It is to change the very basic, conceptual foundations and cognitive norms. It is to foresee possible paths of major world civilizations from the current crossroad point and to warn mankind of what might be expected along each, path. We feel that even survival of our species is not equally probable along different paths, not to speak of the price to pay for survival. Once more just as at the sunrise of scientific era the task of ascertaining the limits, of warning against the unpermissible is becoming more important than the technological function of science.
Speaking of the cross-road, alternative paths and the price to pay for the choice, we reject the sweet narcotic of determinism. If the world is a machine, it is possible to formulate objective functions, to choose the best model and adjust all mankind to it rendering help to the those who are lagging behind and appeasing the disobedient. The elite that has been formed due to this way of thinking already claims that this best order is known, that "sick" branches of our species have died out or have been cut off and that history is finished. It is exactly the same stance as a century ago when it was announced that God was dead. And though it is science itself that as a century ago was nursing this elite and bears some responsibility for its presumption, being capable of self-restoration science asserts: history is continuing and God is not dead! It is only very urgent to bridge the gap, now equal to half a century, between knowledge accumulated by science and intellectual stereotypes of the elite that accomplishes the world destiny. It is a monumental task in itself.
There is no nihilism in this self-critisism of science. Science is mature and wise enough to resist temptation to "crush the table of commandments" and to renew its paradigms only by a radical break of continuity. In the coming century well tested tools of scientific thinking such as determinism, reductionism, taxonomy and strict logic, will continue to serve their noble purpose. Still one may hope that the variety of scientific ways to comprehend the universe, and styles of scientific thinking will at the same time gain momentum. Probably, Russian science will overcome the present crisis and get stronger. It will be more closely integrated into the international academic community and will complement the broad conceptual range of the AngloAmerican school and judiciousness of the German school with the bent for sweeping scientific generalizations ( perhaps, occasionally intuitive ) inherent to the Russian tradition. This bent is brilliantly represented by such names as Mendeleev, Vernadsky or Vavilov. And the voice of science that is culturally linked to millenial systems of traditional knowledge of Eastern civilizations with their harmonic union of natural history, philosophy and ethics will sound ever louder. And although we can anticipate numerous conflicts at the demarcation line between socalled science and socalled nonscience ever more bridges will be constructed over cultural gulfs.
Consider a few albeit representative examples that demonstrate the qualities to be acquired by postindustrial science to meet the challange of the XXI century.,
The concept we are used to express by the word "ecology" is actually embracing a combination of scientific and quasiscientific movements with sometimes radically different philosophical and cognitive basis. "Normal" and efficient, in the common sense of the word, fields of science belong here. They are imbued with technomorphic way of thinking and designed to optimize economic activities involving variuos biosphere subsystems. But there is a new morepowerful movement of scientific reflection gaining momentum that integrates value components into the process of cognition and seeks to establish bonds with primarily holistic mentality of traditional cultures and peasant attitude towards Nature. V.I. Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin have formulated important postulates of this movement in the language of European science and strong yet different scientific schools have been established within its framework.
It is a nontrivial question whether this movement is capable of becoming a real sciene paradigm inheriting analytical and technological efficiency of normal science or it is going to become a kind of science ideology. And again we are facing the cursed problem of science: is the separation between cognition and moral values an unavoidable price to pay for efficiency ? Could knowledge be constrianed by ethics without opening a way to totalitarism ? How is it possible to combine freedom (including freedom of cognition) with responsibility. The answer to these question predetermines basically the choice of civilization model. And it is impossible to evade this choice. In fact, if we incorporate man in the picture of the Universe and admit the bond between biosphere and noosphere (which could not be denied any longer ), then the cognitive act itself ceases to be autonomous from ethics and fundamental cognitive norms of "industrial" science are bound to be reconsidered.
It has become obvious that any ecological system is a unique entity. This raises doubts about the criterion of reproducibility of scientific results. Being unique the oject under study ceases to be simply an embodiment of some common properties and regularities but presents a value in itself. Hence, any interference with the object and, even more so, an experiment on it are accociated with moral choice. Problems of simulation criteria that we employ in laboratory experiments or mathematical calculations are assuming new dimensions. Reality itself investigated by an ecologist and occasionally irremediable consquences of his recommendations force one at the personal level to be convinced that the structures of thinking inherited by us which are dominated by determinism and reductionism are essentially limited. Strong nonlinearity of all relations, synergism, the presence of critical and vulnerable points, a special role of minor elements all these factors dictate new imperatives that form the mentality of the XXI century scientist.
We are talking about ecology but its impact is already felt in cognitive activities at large. At the stage of emerging industrial civilization mechanism of science preconditioned cognitive patterns in economics, sociology and even psychiatry by breeding technomorphic thinking from early childhood. But now we observe sypmtoms of counteracting influence: sociology, economics and even politology are beginning to be imbued with ecological thinking. The change in Gestalt is sometimes tragic but it also inspires optimism. We realized it in Russia using determinism and reductionism on the very best intentions, as a tool to destroy fragile cultural, economic and ethnic structures of traditional society in the course of revolutionary perestroyka. Science of New Time became the cradle of revolutionary thinking. Science of the XXI century should become the source of solicitous thinking.
Science of Man.
Perhaps, it is from ecology that we might expect most powerful impacts on the vision of man. Obviously, in the future the concept of man will be also biased by ideologies, in the future science of man will be ruthlessly exploited by politicians of all creeds. But this will be ever more difficult to accomplish and will cause ever smaller philosophical and social damages as science of man will be overcoming mechanism of New Time and will be passing outside the limits of planar, onedimensional models of man.
Meanwhile the technomorphic approach to man both as an individual "atom" endowed with rigths and interests (typical for sociology of democratic society) and as a free entrepreneur or homo economicus (typical for various versions of political econmy ) each time leaves us helpless against powerful systems phenomena based on solidarity relations that are impossible to explain within mechanistic framework. Such phenomena as terrorism, outbursts of violence, unmotivated criminality, drug addiction and fascism inflict ever heavier injuries to the individual and society while we are lacking adequate scientific explanation for these phenomena. Deprived of scientific knowledge we are approaching the stage in civilization crisis that was forecasted by Teilhard de Chardin, namely to "strikes in the noosphere" and technological terrorism which is becoming evident. On the other hand, we do not know how to make use of such powerful qualities of man that are philogenetically inherent to him as compassion and attraction to cooperate. We have inadmissibly little khoweledge of that portion of humankind which is outside the scope of interests of politicians and economists, i.e., of the world of childhood and old age. During current century this ignorance has been to a certain extent compensated by traditional kinsfolk relations, by the walls of native villages filled with love. But due to unavoidable industrialization and urbanization we are being deprived of this resource. And science has to render support in time.
The trend to to make a transition from the conglomerate of sciences studying man and separating body from mind, an induvidual from socium, a citizen from ethnos is mature and will manifest itself.
Production of Food
A solution to the food problem will essentially determine the type of future civilization and the future of mankind at large including its fortunate portion. We anticipate radical changes in this respect also due to the transition from technomorphic way of thinking to ecological one. Industrial civilization has envisaged the solution of the problem on the way of rational land use and implementing continuosly improving intensive technologies. Accordingly peasantry as a type of production and a specific culture was constantly forced out of life. In fact, the peasant household has an important irrational factor as its basis, i.e., a love to land. In terms of suboptimization (say, profit maximization) it is inefficient. A.V.Chayanov, a remarkable Russian scholar, who studied the peasant family as a specific type of civilization, the specific cosmos, demonstrated that provided it is, harmonically combined with science and that social relations in the peasant household are fundamentally changed the farm will become highly productive in the long run without causing damage to biosphere. These views clashed with dogmatic Marxism as an ideology of industrialism and Chayanov was doomed to perish. But he managed to introduce a new dimension in the agrarian school of thinking. The major way to provide man with bread is not to transform the field into the phytotron and the farm into the factory which was an ideal for the industrial agronomist but adaptive intensification of production which is only feasible, if ecological way of thinking prevails and knowledge is united with ethics. This is a new challenge to science since the field, as distinct from the phytotron, is subject to the impact of a multitude of uncontrolled and poorly formalized factors. Progress in the studies of illdefined systems and fuzzy sets gives hope in this respect. Biotechnology also offers great opportunities. But to adopt a new pattern of production activities in biosphere politicians, economists engineers the entire industrial world will have to master the unusual philosophy of instability.
Naturally, the new challange will demand that science should not merely renew its philosophical foundations, ideals and norms not merely introduce a new mode of interaction with other parts of culture and other types of thinking. "The scientific enterprise" will change in itself, in the first instance structurally. If we visualize how scientific effort is distributed in terms of the common optical srectrum, we observe that the XX century gravitates, towards its left, red portion. These are fields of "hard" science permeated by physics. They service basic industrial technologies, military in the first instance. As we move towards the "green" portion of the spectrum where studies of life, biosphere, man and human communities, culture belong, the amount of effort is rapidly and markedly diminishes. Moreover, even this sector of science becomes permeated with mentality of physics: in life sciences the lion's share is devoted to research at the molecular level and to biotechnology. And the point is not that funds are scarce: by reallocating the effort it would have been possible to increase input into the "green" portion of the spectrum at almost negligible losses for the "red" one. This is explained by the fact that these are two different realms of science involving different cognitive patterns, ways of thinking and even types of spirit. On the left we observe desintegration of the entity down to elementary, particles, strict logical thinking , materialistic and technocratic, pathos. On the right we have perception via systems synthesis (and, occasionally via religious revelation ), imaginary thinking denial of mechanism and the presence of essential idealistic component. In the XX century many nations, even with ancient cultural traditions have found themselves incompetitive at the knowledge "market" in the left portion of the spectrum which was certainly dominated by European civilization. In the coming age we have to abandon the market and competition metaphor and to find a way, if not to cooperate harmonically, but to achieve at least some form of symbiosis. And it is only then that traditional societies and cultures which preserved imaginary and flexible mode of thinking, which did not completely break the ties between knowledge and intuition (perhaps, even mysticism) will render mankind an invaluable service. Because of such contributions science will expand the structure of its cultural resources to the extent capable of facing the hard challenge of the XXI century.
Ecological Conscience and Perestroyka Lessons in the USSR.
European civilization and European mode of thinking have been waging a struggle against traditional archaic societies for more than three centuries. Fragile, unprotected cultures of these societies in most instances turned out to be incompetitive in economic and military terms. They perished and their peoples were dying out or were remelted in the ethnic melting pot. Only a few big civilizat ions managed to erect cultural, idological or military barriers (iron curtains of various types) and to survive and initiate their own modernization programs without destroying traditional cultural structures. First of all these are Japan, China, India and Russia. At present original societies are recovering and gaining strength also in other regions.
I would like to focus here on the tragic experience of Russia which was the scene of revolutionary modernization under the slogan of progress and freedom twice in this century. In 1917 the revolution was carried out under the banners of radical ideology of industrial civilization, i.e., Marxism. Now at the close of the century it is going on under the banners of equally radical branch of liberalism.
In both cases academic community plays a very active role in the revolution and science serves a basis to establish the legitimacy of the revolutionary political, economic and social order. I leave out the declared goals and ideals of perestroyka. We take that these goals, such as democracy, freedom, human rights, are noble. But a revolution that did not proclaim noble goals is not known to history ! Nevertheless these concepts are ideograms. They do not express fundamental values but acquire meaning depending on the context whereas the context is represented by actions with respect to real conditions in which people and the world exist.
Although ideologies (Marxism and liberalism) of the two Russian revolutions seem to be in strong opposition to each other, actually they are based on the same fundamental postulates regarding the picture of the world, nature, man, society and state. They are structurally hostile to a traditional society. Therefore, it is no wonder that the matrices of ideological postulates and actions of the 1917 revolution and perestroyka are remarkably similar and offer an opportunity to study the conflict of two types of civilization close to the experimental mode. In both cases this conflict turns out to be the nationl catastrophe for Russia. After 1917 it was overcome though through heavy shocks and sacrifices and basic world outlook structures were recovered and a strong impetus for development was generated. Social conditions have changed now (society has become much more complex and urban) and the technology of revolution has become radically different (destruction of cultural structures in the first place instead of social ones). It looks like the catastrophe is much more grave and is leading to the ruin of development potential and, probably, to complete breakup.
The clear-cut diagnosis of the Russian intellectuals, the beautiful but sick subculture, was made at the end of previous century by Dostoevsky and after the 1917 revolution by Russian philosophers. This is a cultural hybrid of deep religious and painful moral feeling of archaic Russia with ideals and scientific ideology of the West, the hybrid unknown at that time both in the West and in the East. Today in the course of perestroyka we are being convinced that congenital deseases of the Russian intellectuals have manifested themselves with much more power (but also with many important mutations ). And again the intellectuals, this favorite child and the driving force of revolution, are being prepared to become its food.
Comparative analysis of both experiments on Russia leaves much to be said about vulnerable points of traditional society, about sufferings that are endured by a person brought up in such society when radical liberalization and atomization occur in it, about processes generated in chaotic conditions when cultural and economic structures are going to ruin. Through the prism of ecological thinking it is clearly seen how social technologies generated by the technomorphic paradigm when applied to the traditional society cause not only destruction of great values (such as peasant's culture, for example) but also create unknown dangers on the global scale.
Taking the USSR as an example we can observe what unforseeable consequences may result once such harmless systems as arts and science are broken. We witness how in youth counterculture violence and terrorism free of ideology are glorified in a brilliant poetic form. Who could predict what will become of the "red brigades" in the former USSR and how will they collaborate with radical movements of the first and the third world ? We also witness the emergence of a new social entity: an unemployed marginal scientist nursing the idea of social revenge. According to forecasts of the Ministry of Labor 2.5 million people from the R&D sector will loose their jobs in 1992. Who could claim to be aware of the way of thinking and behavior pattern of this social group unknown to the world ? The West senses a danger only due to 50 thousand researchers working on nuclear weapons becoming marginal. This danger is ridiculously small as compared to the revenge tools that are in posession of unemployed chemists, molecular biologists and virologists.
As a matter of fact, Western civilization has not yet recognized that it faces the real dilemma: either to reject destruction and find a way to coexist with traditional societies and even to enter into some kind of symbiosis with them or to be ready to instantly and ruthlessly destroy vast numbers of people. The "Desert Storm" is just a smallscale experiment but we do not know yet how it affected the mentality of the Western intellectual elite.
Perestroyka is a largerscale experiment but in this instance we until now only observe a senseless rejoice at the sight of the crushed "Empire of Evil". This is a triumph of the technomorphic mode of thinking, this is a way to continuing simplification of the world, to the end of history. This way leads to illness and degradation of the human ecosystem and there is a rather high probability that this way will be chosen.
We could only desire and hope that the instinct of selfpreservation and a natural religious organ which is still present in most inhabitants of the Earth will direct us to the road of preserving and increasing variety of the human ecosystem variety of ethnic groups, cultures, State and economic systems.
This article is published in "Towards Eco-Ethics. The Proceedings of the third UNESCO Science and Culture Forum. Belem, Brasil 5-10 April 1992". UNESCO PRESS, 1993. P. 66-69.
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c 1993, S.G.Kara-Murza
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