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V From intellectual dependence to creativity
As observed by Dr Pinguelli Rosa in one of the last interventions in this Wednesday evening session, there was to be witnessed throughout almost the entire conference a marked ambivalence towards contemporary science and technology. It can be argued that this ambivalence was not merely a subjective attitude of those present: it was rather a reflection of the objective roles which science and technology are and will be required to fulfil. Thus, the various participants frequently seemed to be saying to themselves and one another: "Let us not be too presumptuous in speaking of' the role' of science and technology in the modern world, for their functions are, in fact, variable and often contradictory." This point was brought home vividly by Drs Pecujlic and Vidakovic when, in their position paper, they evoked the image of the 'two faces' of science and technology today; and implications for the social sciences were raised by Dr Bonfil Batalla who recalled the complicity of sociology and anthropology in the oppression of subjugated peoples. As stated so often above, alternatives for future developments in the field of science and technology hinge on the question of which social forces exercise effective political and economic power, and the alleged appropriateness or inappropriateness of technologies, for instance, should not be allowed to obscure the crucial question of who is doing the appropriating. Is it being done by alien forces or by endogenous ones? by exploiters or producers?
The functions and the rate of development of science and technology will fluctuate across a spectrum of different social contexts, but this does not mean that science and technology are mere epiphenomena superfluous to 'basic' social relations, or that they lack an objectivity proper to themselves. As pointed out by Dr Damjanovic, modern science and technology are organic components of contemporary culture, affecting every society vitally through their impact upon production; and without a certain critical proficiency in generating scientific knowledge and technological skill, any society will be faced with stagnation and decay. On the other hand, the objectivity proper to science and (arguably) technology can be said to distinguish them from other forms of culture and to root them firmly in an international dimension' as recalled again by Dr Damjanovic when he described them as the 'collective intellect' of the human race as a whole. Historical light was thrown on the differential aspects of scientific and technological universality by Mr Blue when he considered Dr Joseph Needham's work on scientific achievements in China and the West and by Dr Nakaoka in his detailed account of the mastering of metallurgical techniques in Japan during the nine-teenth century.
It is the objectivity of the scientific-technological enterprise which makes possible relations of dependence in these fields. Thus, one can say that India at the turn of the century was dependent on Britain for the training of biologists or for rolling-stock, whereas one (nowadays at least) would not really say she was dependent on Britain for Christianity: she was rather subjected to a foreign domination, which included a certain religious aspect. This general domination also undoubtedly included a distinct and powerful scientific-technological aspect; between the two forms of domination, however, lay the difference that a people need not be Christian in order to flourish, but it must have an adequate scientific-technological base. An inability or impotence to generate the knowledge or skills required by a society places the possibility of dependence on the agenda; and, if such dependence becomes operative and is allowed to continue, it tends to make the impotence for dealing with changing endogenous requirements more acute. Such impotence can result' however, either from foreign domination or from an isolation from global achievements in science and technology; and, in fact, the two tend to go together, since domination increases the monopoly of hegemonistic centres over key skills and forms of knowledge, while isolation from global developments makes a society all the more vulnerable to domination by foreign powers.
Unfortunately, because the various non-European civilizations have to one extent or another been subject to European domination in general as well as to a dependence on modern science and technology (the development of which has for a relatively long period of time been centred within the European cultural area), there has arisen a fairly widespread notion that proficiency in scientific and technological matters is a uniquely European trait. This point of view was apparently a quite common assumption of many participants in the UNU Symposium on Endogenous Creativity held in Kyoto in the autumn of 1978, although Japanese achievements could, perhaps, have been expected to have offered convincing refutations of the thesis. During this fifth session of the Belgrade conference, special attention was paid to refuting it in the presentations by Dr Nakaoka and Mr Blue (in relation to the natural sciences and technology), in that by Dr Bonfil Batalla (in relation to the social sciences) and during the discussion in the intervention by Dr Pandeya. It might be suggested here that thorough criticism of the notion of 'European science' is necessary, because this idea is at present being employed as a powerful ideological weapon justifying the continued domination and dependence of Third World countries by portraying such conditions as eternal and inevitable.
What is there that Third World countries can do in order to achieve a creative capacity to generate the scientific knowledge and technological resources which their peoples so urgently need? We have already seen that, first of all, there are certain definite political and social conditions which must be fulfilled; these taken together can be said to be equivalent to the effective exercise of genuine national sovereignty. On the other hand, all five of the position papers presented to this session emphasised that, within the domains of science and technology themselves, it is crucially necessary to rely on and strengthen endogenous capacities and facilities, while simultaneously drawing efficiently on global achievements in all fields. The interplay of universality and specificity is essential to the development as well as to the diffusion of modern science and technology; this interplay must be reinforced productively, rather than weakened by the negation of one of the poles. Dr Furtado's final warning against romantically idealising the universality of contemporary science was undoubtedly made with the multinationals' flagrant disregard for specific national needs and conditions in mind; and his comment is thus very important at a moment when the peoples of Africa Asia and Latin America are, to use Dr Abdel-Malek's words, running into an onslaught of scientism from the West. But this should not cause one to lose sight of the equally important fact that monopolistic structures at the international level work powerfully against universality as well as against specificity in both the development and the utilization of science and technology. Dr Nakaoka demonstrated the importance of the interaction of endogenous and exogenous factors for scientific-technological advance, especially by peoples who are relatively backward in these fields; he stressed the fact that advances should be conceived of as occurring typically in leaps, and he illustrated from Japanese experience the point that such leaps in fields of science and technology usually go together with others in the social and political spheres. In this regard, Drs Pecujlic and Vidakovic noted that real progress in the natural sciences and in the development of new technologies will necessarily have to be part of a 'great inversion' of the patterns and priorities governing social life in general; and they emphasised that the leading role, both in this general leap and in the scientific-technological one, must needs fall on the shoulders of the organic intelligentsia of the labouring people of each nation in the world. Dr Bonfil Batalla's stimulating account of the recuperation of the endogenous social knowledge of the American Indian peoples provided the conference with a striking example not only of the function of such an organic intelligentsia, but also of the vibrant creative and regenerative potentials preserved by even the most oppressed peoples.
Let us now consider in some detail the arguments heard during this fifth session.
Developing the theme of Science and technology as organic parts of contemporary culture, Dr Zvonimir Darnjanovic based his paper on the proposition that both human freedom in general and national liberty in particular ultimately depend on economic independence. In tom, the development of science and technology is a necessary prerequisite for such economic independence; and for this reason much attention is given to discrepancies in the levels of research and education between the 'North' and the 'South'. "Scientific knowledge, technological ability and organizational competence represent the real prospective potentials of a nation; liberation from classical, blunt forms of colonial rule, from foreign cultural domination and even from the insidious pressures of neo-colonialism will bring lasting fruits and stability, only when it leads people to scientific-technological competence, i.e. to the power to create and [to] develop their economy." This is not always sufficiently appreciated by those whose primary concern is cultural emancipation: their "dominant aim is to preserve and revive national roots in culture and so to open up the prospective of human civilization as a plurality of national cultures". Because, in global terms, science and technology have long been concentrated in the metropolitan centres, they are "too often treated as something local ('Western science', 'European thought', etc....)." Thus they are considered "foreign and alien" in other localities.
The real relationship between science and technology, on the one hand, and production and social life, on the other, is highly complex. "Basic knowledge maps onto everyday life - including production - in very complicated and usually unpredictable ways." The classification of sciences does not and cannot fit the division of practical aims. Rather, "being the 'motive force' of production in toto, science... acts as criticism of practical activities". Therefore, it is impossible to develop science simply on the basis of "local, divided practical activities"; and "a good scientific contribution to praxis is, in fact, usually the negation of a technique, its removal or exchange". Encouraging only local industrial interests works to produce routine improvements and not scientific breakthroughs; and although the integration of industry proceeds on a different plane from that of the integration of scientific disciplines, nevertheless, "only the integrated broader interests of industry tend towards science". On the other hand, "it is impossible to plan scientific application in detail; one cannot know in advance which people (and combinations of people) are most likely to solve a new problem on a scientific basis. A broad population should [therefore] be cultivated in science in order to achieve the competence of a society to develop." Two decades of Yugoslav experience in attempting to integrate science with praxis have shown that (1) success is possible "only if one starts with concrete definite projects reflecting real needs in praxis"; and (2) successful projects are as a rule carried out by multidisciplinary teams. An appropriate ensemble of different types of scientists is usually necessary to perform useful research, and a broad and active scientific social base tends to be much more inventive than a small group of narrowly specialized experts. Thus, one can speak of "a critical structure and mass" of the research medium without which science will most probably be unable to meet social and industrial demands.
Just as with mathematics and the natural sciences, a socially broad competence in technology must be considered an essential part of modem culture. It is often forgotten that automation was a characteristic of the first industrial revolution; the main innovation in present-day industry, on the other hand, can be said to be "the introduction of 'adaptive' machinery". Thus, one can trace a technological evolution from the simple tool through the programmed (or automated) machine which controlled a process to the adaptive machine of today. Examples of this last type not only perform set functions, but also "govern the organisation of processes, not only in industry, but also in many... services". The prototype here is, of course, the computer and the computer network so reminiscent of neural networks. The object of technological research is now often "a complex, only partially defined system whose potentials, behaviour and characteristics must be investigated as if it were a 'natural', living creature". For this reason, technological research and development can no longer be treated simply "as a step from science to application" but must rather be conceived of "as a basic scientific activity". This becomes especially apparent when one recalls that technological innovation itself has made possible new areas of basic scientific research, e.g. in experimental mathematics. This new status of technology now a days cannot fail to bring home to one "the stubborn fact that there will be no more easygoing Piecemeal] engineering: only a 'critical mass and structure' of modern technologists deeply rooted in theory can be a guarantee of complete cultural, industrial and scientific advance".
Yet such an advance necessarily has its social and intellectual implications. Modern science and technology are "a way of thinking" and of approaching reality: they are not "a set of recipes or of static information". Thus, "it is not possible for a society to benefit from science and technology without being exposed (spiritual tradition, creeds and national prejudices included) to their revolutionary influence on human behaviour"; in particular, the extension of modern science and technology tend to work against the various forms of elitism. "The scientific-industrial revolution both pushes many workers in all fields out of their old jobs and makes it possible to educate great numbers of youths to the highest levels. It not only makes society richer, but also education cheaper and technically easier."
Throughout history, science and technology have been rooted in the human race as a whole, and they are, to use Marx's phrase, the 'collective intellect' of mankind. "All attempts to ascribe them to any nation or group as a local achievement or characteristic can be proven false." "Reproduced, corrected, adapted to experience, in comparative autonomy (by being judge over itself)," science is "the most objectivised and critical activity of mankind. Of course, its real appearance can be deformed by certain carriers..., but its lasting, collective spirit transcends the individual and local.... In this respect it is important to note that the contributions of the scientists of Asia and Africa... have remained the basic part of science even during the ages when it was maximally 'Westernised', even when other aspects of the cultures of those nations were suppressed."
"Science and technology remain common denominators of all national cultures. Accordingly, every specific cultural complex must adapt to this fact." Scientific culture is able "to co-exist (but not to co-act) with different creeds and religions"; and "whatever the national culture, science and technology can fit in as complements". Yet, paradoxical as it may sound, "no national culture will survive unless it makes space within itself for the all-human complement of scientific-technological culture".
"Science and technology are prerequisites of emancipation and development, not only because of their impact on production, but also as decisive democratic factors; their proliferation will render the majority of people competent not only on technical, but also on social and political matters." Thus, "the old truth that man is something that has been built gradually turns into a new demand that he be rebuilt, reeducated, he re-adapt perhaps more than once during his working age. He must act at that very level at which changes in the environment are generated - i.e. at the level of science and technology. And he will have plenty of time to offer to others, to society... [But] it is not possible to combine effectiveness in changing production with passivity and a non-democratic order. One can hardly imagine a man driven by scientific progress, keen and able to follow the changes around him, who would be willing to accept bureaucratic, dogmatic leadership. The integrity of the social system [then]... will be preserved only on condition of some type of genuine democracy and self-government." (By the way, one cannot fail to note in this regard that "the basic, ultimate problem brought about by scientific revolutions is not unemployment" - "which can be solved via corresponding social rearrangements".)
Although at the global level the gap between developed/rich and underdeveloped/poor countries is still growing, nevertheless "many facts suggest that it is objectively possible to bridge this gap". Almost all of the new technologies are becoming cheaper and cheaper, and the developing countries will soon be able to have control over any of them that they will want. In fact, "the only thing that is not growing cheaper is human competence"; and in the future "the real 'currency' will not be the mass of produce, nor even possession of the momentarily best technology, but the ability of people to move ahead, to change production and services. It is, therefore, equally possible for a developed community to drop down low - if they neglect scientific education and technological culture - and for an underdeveloped country to jump high - if they put highest priority on science and education." The second scientific-technological revolution now in progress is opening vast new horizons for human creativity; but "those who do not adopt modern knowledge and remain non-creative will have it worse than those who missed the steam engine". Hence, "science, technology and education should be given highest priority in national life, as well as a high priority and support in [the realm of] international co-operation". And as a precondition of success here, everyone should have the effective right to share in them and to contribute to them. According to Dr Damjanovic, "objective hindrances to progress in this sense for some - maybe many - countries will be inferior to the subjective resistance of bureaucracies, minor groups with leadership ambitions, etc... Here again only democratic trends of participation by the majority in shaping the future promise to break the passivity, pessimism and resistances proper to... that part of our inheritance which belongs to the past".
Mr Gregory Blue presented his position paper entitled Joseph Needham's contribution to the history of science and technology in China, and he suggested that Dr Needham's work was of interest to the conference not only for providing a compendium of traditional sciences and technologies in one of the world's major cultural areas, but also for putting the historical development of science and technology into a global perspective. Thus, for example, "a correct historical perspective on [their] long-range development might... serve as a cogent critique of positions which still portray all scientific thought as an eternal and exclusive possession of Western civilization". The first third of Mr Blue's paper listed in some detail the results of Dr Needham's research as published in his magnum opus, Science and Civilisation in China; and it is impossible to summarise those results here. Suffice it to say that they are voluminous and cover the entire pre-modern range of natural sciences and technologies, from mathematics, through engineering and chemistry, to medicine and pharmacology. let us, then, pass on to the later sections of Mr Blue's paper and his oral presentation.
As noted by Prof. Hassan on the previous day, not only the Chinese but also the Indian and the Islamic cultural areas knew long periods of scientific-technological flourishing in the pre-modern era. In fact, "the level of science and technology,... in almost all fields, was much higher for the first fifteen centuries of our era in Asia than in the relatively backward areas of Northern and Western Europe". Consider only a few examples out of many: Chinese and Arabic algebra were world front-runners throughout the Middle Ages. Likewise, production of cast-iron was widespread in China for a millennium and a half before it was so in Europe; and for an equal period of time the Chinese were studying sunspots before Europeans even knew they existed. In the field of medicine, protein-hormones and steroid hormones were produced in the seventeenth century, while smallpox innoculation was practiced on a wide scale since the tenth century.
Such advances did not remain confined within the borders of China; and many techniques, for example, were transmitted from China to the West. The three famous inventions which Francis Bacon considered to have most revolutionised the world all came originally from China. Gunpowder had great effects on the social structure of Europe in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, for cannons could destroy the strongholds of the feudal lords; the magnetic compass had tremendous effects on navigation, world trade and the opening of world markets; while the introduction of paper and printing opened new intellectual horizons for European societies. Cast-iron came in the cluster of inventions that travelled across the Old World in the fourteenth century, again with revolutionising effects. Related to this was the transmission of the metallurgical blowing engines, one of the most important mechanical antecedents of the modern steam engine. Finally, the stern-post rudder was another borrowed invention which contributed to the growth of early capitalist society.
The transmission of techniques is easily demonstrated, but the situation is more complex in the realm of scientific theory. "When talking about the mediaeval sciences, it is often claimed that non-European sciences were not really scientific because they did not have theory"; they have for this reason been called simply 'an accumulation of techniques'. "This opinion is perhaps based on the fact that theory was much less diffusible across civilizations than concrete techniques were." Joseph Needham argues that the reason for this is that "mediaeval theories were basically ethnic-bound. The basic categories of mediaeval sciences were formulated in narrow cultural terms understandable [in general] only to people in [one] particular culture and not transferable from one civilisation to another: e.g. in China there were basic categories such as Yin and Yang." Nevertheless, it is important to realise that "within mediaeval science (not only Chinese, but also Indian, Islamic and European) there were highly sophisticated bodies of theory: but it was mediaeval, not modern theory".
Many of the techniques which did not come from Asia into Northern and Western Europe were important "not only for helping to revolutionise production in mediaeval Europe... [but] also for bringing about the rise of modern science itself. Modern science took over many theories and many of the techniques from the traditional sciences, and many of its problems were formulated in terms of traditional ideas. It was by synthesising ideas from the various traditions-Islamic, Indian, Chinese, European, etc - that the Europeans in the Renaissance and thereafter were especially able to come to a synthesis which joined mathematics to an interest in nature and thus produced modern science. It is often admitted in conventional thinking that modem science owed very much to the traditional sciences of the ancient Greeks, e.g. to the Euclidean model of geometric proof, the Ptolemaic and Aristarchan analysis of planetary motion, etc. If we accept this, however, it is apparent that the qualitative leap which marked the birth of modern science involved much more than a 'renaissance' of indigenous 'European' elements. In the rise of modern science the Indian numerals, for example, represented a technical innovation without which the work of Galileo would be difficult to imagine. From India also came the conviction of the theoretical possibility of perpetual motion, transformed but evident in Newton's first law. Within mathematics itself, Descartes' synthesis of two formerly distinct disciplines - algebra and geometry - was certainly based on important contributions by mediaeval Islamic algebraists. In medicine a circulation-mindedness which was ultimately Chinese can be seen in William Harvey's holistic approach to anatomy and physiology.... Also from China came the crucial knowledge of magnetism, one of the most important problematics inspiring and informing the outlooks of many modern scientists, including Gilbert, Kepler and even Newton himself ".
Why was China, for example, able to maintain a long scientific-technological vitality? And why did she subsequently not generate modern science? In considering such questions, the approach adopted by Needham has been "to investigate thoroughly the Chinese technico-scientific tradition, while consistently granting ultimate determinancy to social and economic conditions". Thus, "in Needham's view, the Chinese form of centralized, bureaucratic feudalism was much more conducive to innovation than either the loosely knit system of the Roman empire or the fragmented system of European baronial feudalism. For one thing, the position of the direct producers was not so precarious in China as in Europe; and consequently, on the level of ideology, disdain for manual labour (and, hence, for technical ability) was not so all-pervasive as under the Roman Empire." Later on, of course, the constitution of modern science was linked with the rise of capitalism in Europe; and "it would seem to be the relative strength of China's bureaucratic feudalism which ultimately, and despite a long period of scientific superiority and technical innovation, hindered the emergence of modem science in China".
Having introduced the concepts of 'traditional' and 'modern' science, Mr Blue went on to consider their significance; he began by dismissing a frequent way of distinguishing the two. There have been various attempts to portray modern science as being defined by specific procedures such as controlled experimentation, empirical induction or systematic prediction. The history of science, however, shows that none of these is sufficient for defining modern science, because all three were practiced within traditional Asian sciences. What, on the other hand, those sciences did not have was "first of all, an organic link between mathematics and natural knowledge; and secondly, a procedure for testing fundamental categories of thought. The various traditional sciences exhibited a typically regional quality in their basic categories; and they were also characterized by the fact that these basic categories were not testable. Modern science, on the other hand, frames its experimental results in terms of quantified hypotheses which are intended to validate or invalidate the theories employed at any given moment. In this sense, modern science is characterized, first of all, by quantification; and secondly, by its methodology of experimentation, which is aimed specifically at testing basic theories. The methodology of modern science, however, is not completely opposed to the methodology of the traditional sciences. It is, rather, a more productive approach to studying Nature, a more thorough approach to discovering and controlling natural processes. In this sense, the birth of modern science has been called 'the discovery of the process of discovery itself', i.e. the conscious and systematic appropriation of the method pursued, blindly yet steadily, by the various regional scientific traditions. But, in contrast to the regional traditions, modern science exhibits a tendency to become increasingly 'ecumenical' (or universal, if you will) in so far as: (1) its quantified methodology of controlled experimentation upon Nature can be understood, practiced and developed by all peoples; and (2) the processes of Nature encountered by all people can be analysed and harnessed for human benefit by means of this methodology."
There is, however, a problem here, since the ecumenical potential of modern science was not at all fulfilled with the birth of modern science. According to Mr Blue, modern science has for a long time remained marked by particularly European experiences, European processes of production and European ideas. "This is the problem of the temporal disparity between the emergence of modern scientific methodology and the realization of its ecumenical potential."
"At successive points in time different fields of study in Europe lost their traditional character as they were successfully subjected to modern methodology. For some time thereafter, however, the traditional sciences of non-European civilizations would continue (and in some cases still continue) to develop at their own pace and to preserve an important body of knowledge and technique not yet included in the focus of distinctively modern science. To the extent that such a situation prevailed, any given modern science could only successfully examine those problems which had already been incorporated into European experience and to such an extent modern science retained a regional character." If we consider the Chinese case, it can be seen that there was a moment (in Needham's terminology, the 'transcurrent point') at which any European science surpassed the level of a corresponding traditional Chinese science and that there was a necessarily later moment (the 'fusion point') at which all of the knowledge and ability to control Nature contained in the Chinese tradition was incorporated into a modern, ecumenical science. In the fields of mathematics, astronomy and physics, for example, the European knowledge surpassed Chinese traditional knowledge within the lifetime of Galileo, or about 1610. Because the two traditions, the European and the Chinese, were fairly similar, it did not take long for the Chinese achievement to be incorporated into the structure of modern science, of what was becoming ecumenical science. The fusion point was around 1640. In the case of botany, however, the transcurrent point occurred only at some time between 1700 and 1780; but the entire traditional Chinese material on botany was not successfully incorporated into the structure of modern science until around 1900. If, in turn, one considers the state of medicine and judges according to therapeutic success, then the transcurrent point can be placed a bit before 1900, but not much earlier; and at present there has not yet been a complete synthesis of the Chinese indigenous tradition and the Western modern tradition.
A caution should be sounded at this point in regard to what Needham calls the "ecumenisation" or universalization of science; such terms are by no means meant to imply that science will cease at a particular moment in time. Science will, of course, continue; and ecumenisation simply designates the situation in which "regional barriers to scientific advance are overcome".
It can be noted that in regard to its traditional science and technology, "the Chinese case had several aspects which facilitated study. First of all, Chinese civilization has fairly continuous historical records throwing light on scientific and technological activity. Also, China did not have to undergo any long period of direct colonialisation, and, hence, there was no long period of direct suppression of indigenous traditions." Countries which do not exhibit these rather favourable conditions will nevertheless be able to find a considerable body of traditional technical and perhaps scientific knowledge - even if literary sources are not available. "It is instructive here to look at the Chinese experience since liberation in 1949, in order to see the way the field of medicine, for example, was handled. As in other civilizations around the world, traditional medicine is a very rich field in China. With liberation and with the alignment of political structures to the needs of the people, it was soon found that the written tradition in China was only the tip of the iceberg": as a matter of fact, there was a great deal of traditional medical and pharmaceutical knowledge - scattered and dispersed among the people. "This knowledge had not previously been systematised; it had remained scattered and confined" within the context of traditional social structures and relations "as clan secrets, family secrets, guild secrets. Nevertheless,... by establishing a constructive three-way relationship between traditional practitioners, modern scientists and the masses of the people, in such a way that practitioners both of modem science and of traditional science would aim at serving the basic interests of the people, it was possible to systematize, develop and consciously integrate the traditional scientific knowledge which was still alive....
"At the present time one of the important problems which faces countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America is that of the relationship to be established between modem science and the traditional sciences of these nations. If we formulate this problem in the terms described above, several scenarios might theoretically be distinguished for the short term in regard to those living regional traditions not yet incorporated into modem ecumenical science. The first is the situation in which the dissemination of modern science would be obstructed for any number of reasons while the regional science of the locality continued in its purely traditional form. The second is the situation in which a modem science (still to some extent Western-regional) is successfully disseminated while the regional scientific tradition is ignored,... or suppressed. The third situation is one in which conditions allow modem science to be successfully disseminated while the regional science is fostered, gathered, thoroughly collated and analysed by modem methodology. A variant of the third case is the situation in which both modern science and the regional science of a different locality are successfully introduced while the indigenous regional science is fostered. In the first case, many of the ecumenical advances already made by modern science would remain unavailable to the population in question, and there would be wastage of time and energy as the regional science attempted to deal with problems at its own pace alone. In the second case, modern scientific methodology would face problems without the benefit of useful insights available in the regional science and technology, and there would likewise be waste of time, energy and also money in dealing with problems for which such insights would be valid. The third case would be the optimal one of ecumenisation as well as for heightening the nation's ability to deal with the natural environment efficiently."
Dr Nakaoka Tetsuro's paper was entitled Science and technology in the history of modern Japan - Imitation or endogenous creativity?; and in it he showed concretely how imitation and endogenous creativity had gone hand in hand in the development of science and technology in Japan.
Dr Nakaoka noted that at the UNU conference in Kyoto (November 1978) there had been both an obvious discrepancy and an underlying similarity in the ways Japanese speakers and those from other Asian countries looked at Japan's industrialization. The Japanese stressed the "shortcomings of Japan's rapid industrialisation, focusing on destructive effects of science and technology, such as water and air pollution, disturbance of the ecological system, destruction of traditional culture, etc.... Science and technology were generally considered exogenous, and were opposed to the value of endogenous traditional elements." The speakers from other Asian countries, on the other hand, saw science and technology as instruments for social change. "They looked for new models of social change which were not constrained by replication of Western experience, but dependent on the diffusion of science and technology among the masses for the eradication of poverty, ignorance, disease, superstition and the hegemony of oligarchic groups." They were "interested in how Japan had been able to assimilate exogenous Western science and technology so rapidly; how these forces had been utilised for Japanese industry; and how Japan had diffused modern science among the masses". Despite the differences between the two approaches, however, they both shared the view that science and technology had been exogenous to Japan, that they had been 'borrowed' and imported.
Are self-reliance and imitation really two opposite poles? Precisely this point must be questioned if we are to understand fully the relationship between endogenous creativity and imitation. It would seem that people who want to speed up their industrialization have, rather, to reconcile the two. The question then is: "How [can a society] react to exogenous influences and... develop potential endogenous abilities?" That the two do, in fact, go together has been shown repeatedly throughout history. As will be seen, the Japanese experience itself bears this out: Japan failed when trying simply to import knowledge, without taking into account Japanese conditions. And even Europe had borrowed and integrated, for "in the early part of this millennium Europe learned much from the highly advanced science and technology of the Arabic, Indian and Chinese cultural areas. This process included abundant examples of imitation and borrowing.... But, once rooted in European culture, these exogenous elements triggered off the energy latent in the European domestic conditions, and Europe began to develop rapidly."
Let us return to Japan's industrialization and consider it more closely, starting in the middle of the nineteenth century. "On this subject we have an excellent pioneering work by Dr Tsurumi Kazuko... Dr Tsurumi rejects the view which considers science and technology as entities independent of the culture of any particular society. Each culture has its own traditional ways of knowing and of making.... This means that there will be a conflict between all borrowed technology and the indigenous culture of the borrowing country, which cannot be overcome until the technology has become integrated into the culture." Dr Tsurumi investigated the conflicts between the indigenous iron-manufacturing technology and imported Western technology during the Meiji period in Japan. "This approach strongly recommends itself as a method of techno-sociology. Comparing the various conflicts brought about by the importation of technology into some countries, we can expect to find many keys to understanding the relationship between technology and social culture." However, in comparing China and Japan, Dr Tsurumi always seems to consider self-reliance favourably as a positive value and to refer to imitation in negative terms. Yet it would be impossible for developing countries to achieve industrialization without any imitation or borrowing of technology.
Naturally, however, imitation is not enough, as the Japanese experience shows. In 1875 the Meiji government launched the first modern iron manufacturing factory in Kamaishi, under the supervision of a British engineer. For twenty years small furnaces had operated there, also built according to a foreign design, but without foreign engineers; these had fallen into financial difficulties, but technically they had been successful. The government nevertheless ignored this traditional technology and turned completely to British methods. The results were disastrous. After a hundred days they ran out of charcoal. After a while production was resumed using coke, but this resulted in congelation of the iron and coke in the furnaces, and so the entire plant had to be closed down.
Technological and historical research points to the following three causes of the failure. There was a large gap between the modernity of the technology upon which the new furnace was based and the old-fashioned way of producing charcoal; the location of the furnaces and the total transportation system were not well suited for supplying raw materials rapidly, and the design of the furnace itself was fundamentally defective. Furthermore, the operation was run by foreigners who failed to take the characteristics of Japanese domestic iron ore and coal into consideration. So a fourth and decisive cause for the failure should also be added, viz. the Government's worship of the West. This initial failure to establish a modern iron industry in Japan demonstrates clearly the dangers of importing technology without paying attention to indigenous conditions, and it likewise shows the advantage of domestic technology - namely, its prior integration with indigenous conditions.
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