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Restructuring a framework for assessment of science and technology as a driving power for social development: a biosociological approach

Yuji Mori

Yuji Mori

I. Introduction - The darwinian and ned-darwinian systems
II. Sociobiology or biosociology? how to view humans and their society
III. Three levels of production and consumption
IV. Needs
V. Science and technology as cultural phenomena
VI. The turning point of social development: space and time

I. Introduction - The darwinian and ned-darwinian systems

It may appear circuitous to commence a discussion on the problem of social development by reference to biological evolution, particularly as there are academic disciplines involving researching the unique characteristics of human society and social development. Since Darwin few have questioned that the human species and society spread around the globe because of biological evolution. Nevertheless, the historical position of Darwin should not be assessed in relation to his discovery of evolution; rather, it should be assessed, and highly evaluated, in terms of his having firmly established a scientific theory to explain the causes of evolution.

Darwin's theory of evolution was, self-evidently, profoundly influenced by the social ideas prevalent in 19th-century Europe. To put it another way, his theory was profoundly influenced by the entire socio-cultural fabric of a developing society. Hence, Darwinism has not simply been confined within the bounds of a theory of biological evolution; it proved a major challenge to social ideas, too, becoming a philosophy that powerfully shaped the central elements of modern culture.

The quintessence of Darwinism is that: (1) an over productivity of living things occurs beyond the possible bounds for survival, and (2) superior/inferior differences exist between individual organisms so that, as a result of the "struggle for existence" between the organisms, only the "fit" are able to survive. In the process, natural selection operates. In other words, the selection operation is left to nature. Through the developments of biological science, especially genetics, both Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are now manifest; but this fundamental premise remains unaltered. In the differences between individual organisms, only mutation due to variations of genes bears any relationship to evolution in Darwinian theory. In this sense, natural selection has come to be regarded as a major cause of evolution.

One of the unique characteristics of modern culture is the existence of the following phenomenon: on the one hand, there is a high degree of trust in the axiomatic quality of natural laws; on the other, there is an amorphous trend in ideas, an uncertainty regarding social laws, and a lack of laws to explain social phenomena. Darwinism and neo-Darwinism have both been shaped by the influences of a competitive society; however, when evolution or development based on competition i.e. the principle of a competitive society - and the survival of the fittest were established as natural laws, they were in fact accepted by society as laws governing society. Needless to say, nowadays such ideas have so fully penetrated people's lives that they are regarded as common sense. Moreover, that extreme form of Darwinism known as social Darwinism is at present being emphasized, and the ideologies of big powerism, war, and aggression in human society are being put forward. It is no exaggeration to say that people accept as axiomatic the necessity to win domestic and international competition, to become a big power, and to gain advantage over others through war, all under the banner of "social development."

At the beginning of the 1960s, the publication of Konrad Lorenz's Das Sogenannte Böse: Zur Naturgeschichte der Aggression (1963) set off a lively debate on aggression. Lorenz details how both animals and humans are equally endowed with an aggressiveness that may manifest itself spontaneously. Insofar as animals are concerned, Lorenz says that aggressive behaviour does not lead to the defeat of the other party, but rather becomes a bond of solidarity between the animals; thus, aggressive behaviour functions to maintain order in the animal world.

In the case of human beings, however, Lorenz posits that the manifestation of aggression leads to the killing of the other party and causes war. He then asks: Hasn't an error occurred in the function of aggression since the time man became man by the use of tools? This theory is behind the modern ideas that connect Darwin to Lorenz. It is aggression that lies behind Freud's development of the idea of aggressive drive, too.

The beginning of the 1960s saw the Cold War reach its extreme and, with the US invasion, Viet Nam became "America's Viet Nam War." The formation of Lorenz's theory of aggression and the debate surrounding the theory could not possibly have occurred in isolation from this historical setting. The debate on aggression which developed involved not only ethnologists, but also biologists, psychiatrists, anthropologists, and other social scientists. Without entering fully into the debate on aggression,1 I will simply make the following points: First, Lorenz formulated and developed his theory focusing on the aggressive behaviour of biological organisms and human beings. In this respect, the core of his theoretical construct is identical to Darwin's. Second, Freud's theory of aggressive behaviour was formulated after the end of World War 1, and, along with the sex drive, aggression was considered to be one of the instinctive drives of our species. Here can be clearly seen the impact of World War I.

At the beginning of World War II, a Japanese entomologist-ecologist, Kinji Imanishi,2 raised serious doubts concerning Darwinism. Imanishi proposed a theory of evolution based on a thorough criticism of Darwinism.

Before he went to the battle front, Imanishi wrote The World of Life (1940). This contains the basic ideas of biosociology in which he succeeds in developing a theory of evolution. Fortunately Imanishi returned safely from the war and in the post-war period has energetically devoted himself to research on animal society, social surveys of villages, and so on. In fact. during this period he organized and widened the scope of his research to encompass fields of study ranging from primatology to anthropology. His research cannot be considered apart from his experiences as a mountaineer and explorer, for they gave consistency to his theoretical work. In my discussion of Imanishi's system of biosociology, I will take all of the above into consideration.

If I were to suggest one phrase for Imanishi's system, it would be "post-Darwinian system." In contrast to Darwin, who bases his theory on the over-productivity of living things and variations between organisms, that is, the construction of a theoretical system based on the organism, Imanishi takes into consideration the historical and social nature of a species to construct a theoretical system based not on an organism belonging to a species (i.e. specion), but on a society of species (i.e. specie). His theoretical system is thus called "biosociology.''

The purpose of my presentation is to push forward the basic ideas of biosociology and investigate science and technology as the driving forces for social development. Within these bounds, I will comment on and examine Imanishi's theory. In doing so, however, I feel it is first necessary to touch upon another theory, one which approaches human nature and society in terms of neo-Darwinism. This is sociobiology, the subject of debate which broke out with the publication of Edward Wilson's Sociobiology: A New Synthesis (1975). As a technical term, sociobiology had already been used independently by John Scott (1946) and Charles Hockett (1948). Sociobiology can be defined as an interdisciplinary science comprising biology (particularly ecology and physiology), psychology, and other social sciences. Research covering such fields also is referred to as biosociology and animal sociology.

The debate that arose with the publication of Wilson's scientific theory again cannot be considered in isolation from the social factors present at that particular time in history, as we moved from the 1970s to the 1980s. Of course, for Wilson, the publication of a comprehensive compilation of research results is probably due to nothing more than pure research activities. In making such a compilation at this particular time, however, it is obvious that even Wilson's choice of a research theme was profoundly influenced by the social and cultural pressures of the age. In fact, if we examine the debate surrounding sociobiology, we find that it has been most actively pursued by those outside the original fields of study, for example, by journalists, intellectuals, social scientists, and others.

What are the present social and cultural conditions that lie behind the debate on human nature and its future development vis-ā-vis sociology? As we have already seen, behind the debate on Lorenz's theory of aggression was the manifest display of human aggression in the Viet Nam War. The misgivings, despair, fear, anger. and then opposition to the war can be said to have urged people on to examine not only instinctive human drives, but also the aggression that runs through the animal kingdom. The identical situation does not exist at present; in fact, it might seem as if behaviour directly exhibiting aggression has already been hidden from view. Still, oppression has not disappeared, nor has opposition to oppression vanished; it seems rather as if a complex, powerful, oppressive organization - one that is difficult to come to grips with - is gradually blanketing the world. Isn't this the reason why the path to liberation is no longer clearly visible? Moreover, many of the problems pertaining to natural resources, energy, the population explosion, and environmental destruction are viewed as being difficult, almost impossible to solve, types of natural phenomena. Simply put, these are the political, social, cultural, and natural crises of the modern world. Here, I think, lies the fundamental reason for the attempt of sociobiology to search out a means to solve these problems faced by mankind and society, because sociobiology is a coherent theory ranging in applicability from animals to humans. In the next section I will briefly consider the unique characteristics of sociobiology in comparison with biosociology.

II. Sociobiology or biosociology? how to view humans and their society

I have already mentioned that the basis of sociobiology is the theory of neo-Darwinism. This theory is based on the organism. Human behaviour in sociobiology can be seen to result from any of the followings:3 (1) The human brain, as a result of evolution, has become an "equipotential learning machine" determined by culture. In other words, the human mind is free from genetic influence. (2) Human social behaviour is constrained by genes, although the genetic variability that exists within humans has been fully used. In this sense, human behaviour is to a certain extent influenced by our genes, although each human being possesses the same potential. (3) Humans, as a species, are to a certain extent limited, although genetic differences between individuals are displayed. As a result, humans possess the biological capability for social behaviour and maintain the potential for continued evolution.

The above summary of the points made by Wilson reflects a debate on three levels, that is, mind, action, and genetic structure. However, common to all three is the tendency to equalize human beings. A question to raise is: What are the sources for development in neo-Darwinism which, as we have seen, places emphasis on natural selection, in cases where no genetic relationship or major variation exists?

Kenneth Boulding divides the genetic structure and process into two categories: biogenetic and non-genetic. In the biogenetic structure, both DNA and the gene play a part. This structure is connected to behaviour through the production of nervous systems. It is from here that instinctive behaviour derives; however, at some stage in the evolutionary process, the ability to learn is achieved. There also is the non-genetic structure. It is here that learning comes into play. These non-genetic structures and processes are not simply passed on from generation to generation: they also have the capacity to organize behaviour and make new artifacts. In the human species, such processes are dominant; indeed, it is the non-genetic processes that characterize the human race. And it is learning that creates the non-genetic processes.

Simply combining human beings and their actions does not make a society. This is the problem in the sociobiological approach to human society. Exactly the same problem remains even after the development of Darwinism into neo-Darwinism. Several of the ideas of the authors introduced here are in fact incompatible with neo-Darwinism. We can view this as an attempt to transcend the confines of the Darwinian system, although the ideas are still not fully developed from the perspective of scientific theory.

In scientific theory, we began research at the level of the elements composing the system. Except for physics, however, hardly any success has been achieved in attempts to try and deduce the nature or structure of the system. If the interaction is simple, a theory linking the micro and the macro is possible; however, in the case of social phenomena, because they come into being as a result of extremely complex relationships, the possibility of achieving a theoretical link between the micro element, that is, the individual, and the macro element, that is, society, is at present almost non-existent. Yet this certainly does not mean it is impossible in principle, since one of the unique characteristics of the modern scientific method, namely, methodological progress, might one day bring to light a solution to the problem.

In this respect, it should be pointed out that the biosociology of Imanishi is an example of a neo-Darwinian theory of evolution that approaches things from the system's level as with, for example, thermodynamics. Imanishi adopts a holistic point of view, In this theory, an entire system is simply part of another larger system, and, through the mutual relationships between these systems, each system becomes embedded in a hierarchical structure. The above does not simply pertain to what kind of system to adopt, but also depends on what a system is considered to be. Societies can thus be divided into single and complex-level societies.

In biosociology, which recognizes the existence of a society in any species, society is a universal phenomenon. In this sense, human society is no more than one example from among many. Thus, human society becomes an object of research for biosociology, which has its roots in two types of sociology: (1) sociology of the inter-species, and (2) sociology of the intra-species. The former considers geographical and historical factors; the latter, in contrast, includes the level of the individual organism and a society of species. The higher animals form herds, and the phenomenon of the herd level is related to the cultural phenomenon in human society. In other words, the origin of culture can be sought in the herd.5

Let me give the major conclusion of Imanishi's theory of evolution: "Congeneric organisms, which are the same morphologically and functionally, or systematically and behaviorally, must all undergo change in the same way when the time for change arrives. Moreover, as a result of these changes brought about by mutation occurring in all the organisms of the species, mutation improves the species's fitness to win." The path to human society, too, Imanishi argues, is of this type.

A species society is a society constructed out of the individual species's capacity to lead an independent life. In this sense, a society made up of those leading an independent life is the basic level of a species society. In a species society, for example, birds and wild animals which are taxonomically different form independent, yet parallel, societies. Moreover, among both those leading an independent life and those leading a group life, the necessity for raising offspring makes demands on some of the species. It can be seen, therefore, that the road to human society began with a society which supported those taking care of the offspring in the group.

To our distant ancestors who led a daily nomadic life, a life of constant movement would have been an extreme burden to females with young. If they were bipeds, moreover, the difficulties would have been compounded; indeed, the possibility of abandoning the young or breaking up the group may have had to be faced. The way to avoid such a crisis, Imanishi suggests, is to change from a nomadic to a sedentary life. It is quite likely that with the establishment of this kind of life, a meat diet came into being; that is, a change to a hunting and gathering life took place. Here the division of labour between the man, doing the hunting, and the woman, doing the gathering and child rearing, became the rule. As a result of this division of labour, Imanishi continues, a family type was established that necessitated the running of a joint, co-operative household. A local society held together by neighbourly ties then developed. Work, carried out cooperatively by those of the same sex, maintained the group and also allowed opportunities for new families to be formed.

Even if we consider this to be the first step along the road to becoming human, it was still a life completely dependent on nature and a single-level society based on equal relationships. When it comes to the formation of groups in bird and wild animal society, various adjustments are necessary and new behaviour patterns come into existence in order to maintain the group. If this is true, therefore, there is absolutely no need to consider group instinct.

Imanishi stresses the importance of sister relations as the origin of group life among higher animals. Following this way of thinking, it is possible to trace the origin of culture as far back as the establishment of the herd. It was through farming that human beings came to take a completely different evolutionary path than animals. What is of importance here is that farming allowed the production of a social surplus. In contrast to biological evolution, therefore, which occurred through a metamorphosis in the form of the body in order to adapt to nature, human beings evolved as a result of modifying the environment and achieving independence from nature. To put it another way, human beings evolved through culture. In fact, we can consider that speciation in humans came about through culture and that culture is the same as a species in the animal kingdom.

The most important factor in bringing about this evolution was the use of tools. Tools developed into technology; at present, technology is subsumed under the rubric "science and technology." The production of a social surplus through using this technological power led to unequal possession of the surplus and thus the stratification of human society. Between societies, too, it is creating at present a hierarchical structure" As in the animal kingdom's food chain, groups within societies or societies (states) themselves are appearing as predators. In this sense, human beings today are living in a dual hierarchical structure.

III. Three levels of production and consumption

So far I have outlined a perspective or framework for investigations human beings' production activities. First, we have found that any species, including humans, has a society. in other words, the. existence of all living things is a social existence. Second, in tracing the origin of culture, we have been able to go as far as the animals who lived in herds. Unlike evolving animals, however, human beings took a completely different path of development because of the social surplus which followed the start of agricultural life. In the background were the physical changes that led to man becoming fully biped.

Let me now discuss the production activity which animals and hewn beings share. This is the most basic of production activities, namely reproduction of the species. Behind Imanishi's idea of making species society universal is that of the need to achieve a male-female tat c in order to ensure the continuation of the species. Therefore, the period of leading an independent single life must be limited. In Darwin's theory the over-productivity of living things beyond the survival limit is the cause of the struggle (competition) for- survival and leads to evolution. If we examine the food chain in the animal world, however, a hierarchy exists in which the number of non-predators is greater than predators. This is necessary to stabilize the hierarchical structure of animal society. Needless to say, human beings are outside of the food chain. As I have already seated. however, something similar to the predator in anima; society has already made its appearance in human society. If we examine the population explosion from a global perspective, we can see that it is concentrated in South and South East Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

The countries in these regions are either: (1) countries that have been controlled, exploited, or oppressed by international predators (that is, countries that have conducted imperialism, colonialism, or neo-colonialism) or those countries seriously affected by these predators, although formal liberation has been achieved; or (2) those countries rapidly attempting to accumulate social surplus through an internal ruling class of predators; or (3) those countries under this dual hierarchical structure. I have no intention of distorting my meaning when I say that a phenomenon similar to that in the animal world food chain has now appeared in the human world. For human beings, too, if survival is guaranteed, the population problem will be solved. In this case, the guarantee of human survival is not a physiological nor physical guarantee; rather, human survival is guaranteed through culture. In other words, it is as an element of culture that physiological and physical guarantees exist. Here is a fundamental difference in the type of existence enjoyed by animals and human beings. If we are to attempt to solve the population problem, therefore, we must basically start by guaranteeing the survival of the people who live in the problem areas. Specifically, it is not because of overpopulation that poverty and starvation occur; rather, the population increases because robbery, exploitation, and oppression are carried out to the extent that poverty and starvation result. Irrespective of the type of aid that is given, it will be of absolutely no use in solving the problem so long as the structure of robbery, exploitation, and oppression remains the same; instead. it will merely aggravate the situation.

The productive activity unique to humans is production through the use of tools or, as we think of it at present, production activity through science and technology. It is clear that without production there can be no consumption; likewise, we cannot think of production without at the same time thinking of consumption. However, the problem I am concerned with is not what or how to produce and consume, but rather the role and meaning of production and consumption.

In the discussion which follows, a divide production and consumption into three levels (this is a special problem; that is, a problem of the sociology of intra-species): (1) the organism level (organism production has already been dealt with); (2) the social level; (3) the political level.

Let me first provide a definition of the political and social levels. The difference between these two is that which exists between social authority and political power. Social authority and political power generally overlap in human society; however, the problem is that a gap has arisen between the two. If we examine them in terms of origin, they are different: in animal societies that make a group, a distinct social authority exists; for example, a pecking order or leadership system. In the case of animal societies that depend only on gathering, however, there is no evidence of political power. Thus, the origin of political power can be found in the attempts to solve the problem of possession and distribution of the social surplus that appeared when human beings started an agricultural life. Those societies which maintained order only through social authority were still single-level societies. We can say, therefore, that the stratification of species society was brought about by political power.

Quite obviously, so long as no political power exists in animal societies, neither production nor consumption on the political level exists. In those animal societies exclusively dependent on a life of gathering, however, it is worth investigating whether production and consumption on the social level take place. Among birds and wild animals, for example, there are those who make nests and lairs, raise children, bring food to the young not capable of independent survival, and so forth. In a more primitive form of division of labour, we can see in this the germ of social production and consumption.

What gives production activities in human society their unique characteristic is production based on science and technology. We can call this culture. Such production activities are not simply limited to material production but also include the output of various knowledge industries. Moreover, production activities extending over a large area in terms of both quantity and quality become the force for the development of society through the use of the products (resulting from production) and consumption. The rate of evolution in human society, accelerated by production activity, already seems to be far greater than the rate of evolution in animal society.

Yet there is one example of a gap between production and consumption on the political and social levels. This is the example of the nuclear weapons system. Despite the fact that after World War II nuclear weapons have not been employed, the production of weapons is proceeding at a rapid pace at enormous expense and with an increase in both the quality and quantity of weapons produced. Instead of these weapons helping in the development of the producing country's society, however, they are actually impeding social development; their sole function is political. What must be recognized here is that these enormous nuclear weapons systems are being consumed quite effectively and politically. This is because weapons employment is not merely limited to war. It is in fact these systems that gave credence to the idea of a new kind of global political order at a time when territorial expansion and the acquisition of colonies is no longer possible. The perspective taken in the analysis of the nuclear weapons system is, i would argue, also of utility in considering, for example, economic and technical assistance and the transfer of technology.

IV. Needs

Needs regulate and stimulate the complex relationship between production and consumption; thus, let us consider the relationship between production, consumption, and needs. I will not discuss the distribution and exchange occurring between production and consumption as this is not essential to my argument, because whatever process of distribution and exchange is adopted, production depends on consumption for completion; likewise, production without consumption does not make much sense. Needs, of course, must be fulfilled.

How are needs to be fulfilled? Two processes can be suggested. First, there are needs in relation to consumption. In this case, needs regulate production; as a result, needs are fulfilled through consumption. These are needs in relation to quantity. Second, there are needs in relation to direct production. This means a demand for new, quality production; by consumption, therefore, needs are fulfilled. I would like to emphasize that needs have both a quantitative and qualitative aspect. This is because development is a concept relating to quality. More precisely, and quite apart from the conceptual level, there cannot actually be quality without quantity nor, for that matter, quantity unrelated to quality. In social development, therefore, we must grasp both the aspects of quantity and quality of production as a composite whole.

Another perspective on the analysis of needs is to consider them or, the same three levels as production and consumption. In order to achieve balanced social development, needs have to be met on all three levels. The following figure provides a graphic illustration of the relationship between political, social, and individual needs. The shaded area represents the overlap between needs on these three levels. However, things are not so Ripple - political, social, an,] individual needs have their own respective hierarchical structures.

Political, social, individual needs

As I have already pointed our, moreover, the perspective of this analysis is that of the sociology of intra-species. Hence, Spaceship Earth provides the perspective on human society - since mankind is one species. By the same token, if culture is regarded as the Sam as a species in animal taxonomy, then one cultural area becomes the object of analysis. (Here lies my reason for having stressed biosociology; it is also here that the main point of my discussion lies.) In addition, by taking this perspective, society on various levels, from the state to the community, can become independent objects of analysis.

The purpose of the above discussion was to clarify a framework for analysing the role and meaning of production, consumption, and needs. it is still necessary, however, in analysis of actual problems, that the analysis be carried out with respect to various suitable systems.

V. Science and technology as cultural phenomena

Production activities in modern society are being carried out through science and technology. To the human members of society, this means labour. Imanishi gives a biosociological definition of labour as follows: "The effect that living things make to support themselves is not labour. Speaking from the position of a self-centred organism, no further requirement exists. When effort is made to support others besides oneself, however, this additional effort is what equals labour. In this sense, therefore, until a situation arose in which originally, non-essential items became essential, labour did not exist." Why did such a situation appear? Imanishi continues: "If we hypothesize a danger on the level of preserving the species, i.e., that if the male did not support the female then she would not be able to raise the young, then we can provide an explanation for the origin of labour at the same time as the origin of the family." Hence, Imanishi regards that "the ape changed to man at the time that the herd changed to the family (even if there appeared no morphological and physical difference to distinguish between the two, there was certainly a revolution in the mode of life)," and that this "brought about a revolution in social structure."7

To Imanishi, therefore, more important than the origin of labour is the fact that it played a revolutionary role in changing the life of man. We may add, moreover, that even though tools have been produced and employed, and even though the development of these tools has led to the construction of the enormous system of science and technology that exists today, no change has occurred regarding the social development of labour.

Serious misgivings and disappointments seem to be spreading concerning the environmental destruction brought about by science and technology and the alienation of man from his labour. The increase in the destructiveness of war through high-powered weapons is the result of science and technology, too. Perhaps science and technology are actually working to oppress society and its people.

The Industrial Revolution in Europe led to the perfection of modern science and technology, for it freed production power and brought about social development. I would like to make two points, however. The first pertains to science and technology as the motivating powers for social development for all of mankind and as universal, general principles. The second pertains to modern science and technology, that is, science and technology formed against a European social and cultural background. This could also be called the cultural element in science and technology. It is quite natural that in the European world both of the above have been a co-existent whole, rooted in society. At the same time, however, it is natural for problems to arise when western science and technology are transplanted to a society with a different culture. In order for the universal and general principles of science and technology to become the power to bring about social development, it is necessary to clarify needs from the analytical perspective previously mentioned. This is essential if science and technology are to root themselves in non-western societies as culture.

Yet here, too, two problems arise. When we speak of needs, for example, no matter what level we are referring to, they are not simply those of which we are fully aware or conscious, but rather exist as objectively definable requirements dependent upon the state of the society's culture. Thus, the needs of someone who is ill are not only those of which the patient is aware; even if the patient is not aware of his needs, the doctor, through application of his medical knowledge of illness and disease, appropriately meets the patient's needs, that is, provides treatment. The same rules apply to accepting science and technology as the force to bring about social development.

The second point pertains to what I mentioned earlier about culture as a species. Living things are able to maintain themselves as a species because cross-breeding does not occur. In the case of culture as a species, however, the reverse is true; culture arises through mutual Influence and receptivity. While this is occurring, moreover, culture as a species is blossoming in areas which are maintaining and developing independence. From this perspective, we are reminded that behind the establishment of modern science and technology lies western societies' receptivity to Arabian science. the reason modern science and technology are not carrying out their ordinal role of providing power for social development and are instead operating dysfunctionally is quite simple: in short, it is the liberation of social productive power to an extent previously unwitnessed in human history. The accumulation of an enormous social surplus has resulted from this liberation of productive power. Even today, this process seems to be continuing unabated. I have already explained how the social surplus created a hierarchical structure in human society. This hierarchical structure has continued to operate oppressively in human society from the time of slavery. In fact, such a system is nothing more than a difference in the nature of the problem surrounding the control and possession of social surplus.

Of course, to say that the reason modern science and technology are not carrying out their original roles is simple is not to say that the solution to the problem is equally simple. In order to satisfy needs on various levels, the social surplus must be utilized. From the perspective of this analysis, I would raise two questions: First, is it too much to expect some kind of contribution to be made in order to free social surplus? Second, is it impossible to approach the solution to this problem from the perspective of science and technology as a cultural phenomenon?

VI. The turning point of social development: space and time

Let us start the discussion of the turning point of development from a comparison of neo-Darwinism and biosociology. According to neo-Darwinism, mutation occurs randomly. What provides the direction for notation is natural selection. In Imanishi's biosociology, on the other hand, living things must all change in the same way when the time for change arrives. It is in a sense true that this applies only to animal society, human society being different. What we must remember, however, is that coherence of theory and unity of ideas make demands originating in the nature of theories and ideas themselves.

Modern science and technology have brought into play enormous, high performance production power and have made high-speed transportation of goods and people, along with rapid communication, possible. This has planted the illusion that we can realize our thoughts any time and any place. This phenomenon has come into being, I think, as a result of the failures of huge social experiments. We can here recall the "experiment" of the American Viet Ham War and the huge social reorganization that took place in China during the Cultural Revolution, even if we disagree on an evaluation of the results.

At some time, a turning point in social development arrives. This has both historical and social characteristics, that is, the characteristics of space and time. The analytical perspective taken in regard to production, consumption, and needs pertains to the space characteristics of social development. I will thus now discuss time, then the problem of time and space.

The time that ticks by on a clock proceeds in the direction in which the universe is expanding. Although social time proceeds in the same direction as physical time, its passing is different. Historical time is of course measured by the clock. When we look from the present to the past, however, all of the past is, symbolically speaking, built into the present. The time built into the present-day structure of time is constructed in relation to the future; hence, it is not physical time, but social and physiological time.

In the Japanese language, there are two words which express future time: one expresses the future soon to arrive, the other the future quite a distance off. The subtle difference between the two seems to be suggestive of the kind of thinking about time that exists in Japanese society. Of course, this is merely feeling or emotion, but surely such feelings about the past or the time to come can be built into a theoretical framework. This is because in the hearts of the people who have effectively dealt with and controlled the turning points of social development or change in the past, whether they were aware of it or not, has been the ability to grasp the nature of the crisis. The point I wish to make here is not that we should marvel at the genius of the individual, but that we should question whether this is really something that cannot be the object of scientific inquiry.

As an example of this kind of research, one effective method could be to measure the degree of change in social conditions. We can think of this as resembling changes in material things. Water, for example, changes from a solid to a liquid and then to a gas. In this case, we can understand the change as a change in entropy. Needless to say, the decision on what indicators to use to express the conditions in the society depends on how the social system or change in social conditions are viewed. In this way, it becomes possible to grasp the turning points in social development when the time axis is indicated for changes in social conditions. This not only makes it possible to apply research to the past, but also, by following the passage of time, makes possible predictions of changes likely to take place in the future. In short, social change does not occur suddenly at one stroke; rather, despite the fact that it does not appear on the surface of society, social change shows signs of occurring before the change actually occurs.

We are required to consider two different goals in the case of social development. The first is to strengthen social organization and social order. The second, on the other hand, is to increase the amount of freedom, that is, to expand possibilities. Modern science and technology have brought about an increase in productivity through a high degree of organization of the production system; however, they have also made people no more than cogs in the production machinery. If this is the case, then, modern science and technology are working for the oppression of human beings. So long as an increase in material production and a decrease in work do not tie into the construction of a social system that increases social and human freedom, it is clear that modern science and technology, in their present forms, lack the power for social development.

In the preceding discussion I have done no more than point to a framework for thinking about social development. I will leave for another occasion the discussion of the measurement of changes in actual social conditions based on research. An indication of turning points in social development will also have to be postponed.


1. The author discussed aggression in "A Life Sciences Approach to Peace Science," Heiwa Kenkyu [Peace Studies] vol. 1 (1976), Peace Studies Association of Japan.

2. Imanishi Kinji was born in Kyoto in 1902, graduated from Kyoto University, and was a professor of the Research Institute for Humanistic Studies and Faculty of Science, Kyoto University, a professor at Okayama University, President of Gifu University, and President of the Japan Mountaineering Society. He became a Person of Cultural Merits in 1972, and received the Order of Culture in 1979. He is professor emeritus at Kyoto and Gifu universities. He is the author of Collected Works of Imanishi Kinji (10 volumes) and many other books.

3. Wilson, E. (1978) "Introduction: What is sociobiology?" in Sociobiology and Human Nature, Gregory, Silvers, and Sutch, eds.

4. Boulding, K. (1978) "Sociobiology or Biosociology?" in Gregory et al, eds. (1978).

5. Imanishi's two types of sociology first appeared in Logics of a Society of Living Things (1949) and Prehuman Society (1951) respectively. The former considers geographical problems and the latter historical problems.

6. "Against the Authorized Theory of Evolution" (1964), also in Collected Works, vol. 10.

7. "Prehumans and Humans" (1952), also in Collected Works, vol. 5.

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