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The critiques

There is nothing particularly new about criticizing either the objective methods or the societal uses of Western science; there have been critiques of science as far back as one wishes to go. It falls outside the scope of this chapter to say much about these earlier critiques, however. For our purposes, what is significant are the ways in which alternative scientific traditions have come to be rediscovered in recent years and applied to contemporary concerns. At least since the publication of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, the contemporary view of Western science has undergone what might be called a contextual revolution, as scientists and their discoveries have ever more come to be viewed in their historical and social contexts (for representative articles, see ref. 3, and for reviews, see ref. 12). Among anthropologists and other social scientists, as well as among philosophers and scientists themselves, the truth claims of Western science have been relativized (perhaps most dramatically and influentially in Feyerabend [21]), and for the past 15 years, it has become increasingly respectable to contrast Western science to other belief systems and ways of knowing [50]. Western science provides a kind of knowledge that works, but does it lead to wisdom or enlightenment? The relativization of science involves an enquiry into its underlying premises and motivations [46] and into its psychological and more personal, subjective meanings [93].

On the one hand, there has been a rediscovery of the various spiritual and holistic sciences and pseudo-sciences that have been based on different philosophical points of departure [18, 91]. Both alchemy and astrology, for example, have in recent decades come to be studied not merely by mystically minded initiates, but they have also been re-evaluated by historians and philosophers seeking to unravel the various crises of modern society [22]. There has also been a growing concern with the limited capacity of Western science to address moral and ethical issues and fulfil what might be considered the ideal of self-enlightenment that has often been traditionally associated with the pursuit of knowledge. In general, from the 1960s onward, there has been-a marked "return to cosmology" and a rather widespread questioning of the previously hegemonic world-view assumptions of Western science [92].

Particularly influential have been the re-examinations of the role that magic, religion, and alchemy played in the formation of modern, Western science [101, 30]. The historical record has come to be rewritten with increased emphasis given to figures like Paracelsus and Bruno, who had sought to give early modern science a far broader and more spiritual orientation than it ended up receiving. The hermetic and gnostic texts of the early modern period have come to be re-examined, and they have been seen to have played an important role in developing the more visionary, utopian sides of Western science [44]. Even Isaac Newton himself, the father of the mechanical philosophy, has been shown to have been a much more complicated personality than had earlier been imagined, as historians have investigated his alchemical research and his concern with Biblical cosmology.

Historians of later periods have also come to direct attention to the alternative undercurrents within Western science and philosophy. The history of Western science has, as it were, been broken up into distinct historical periods characterized by debates and even struggles between different approaches. Thus, Paracelsian medicine, Goethe's science of colours, and Whitehead's organicism have been reevaluated and shown to offer explanations and approaches to natural phenomena that challenge the dominant approaches of Western science. Particularly with the advent of feminism, there are many who actively work to show that Western science has been limited and biased in significant ways, and the critiques that have emerged have come to exert a substantial influence in several scientific fields [94]. What has been at work, according to feminist critics, is a particularly masculine way of conceptualizing reality, which has superimposed socially constructed patterns and relationships onto natural processes [41].

It may be helpful to group the critiques in three main thematic categories, corresponding to the three dimensions of Western science that I discussed above. On the one hand, there is what might be termed a philosophical or romantic critique, which has rediscovered the critical writings of poets and artists about the "single vision" of Western science, as well as reinterpreted the significance of mystical and occult traditions. Here attention is directed primarily at what I have called the philosophical or cosmological dimension of modern science, the worldview assumptions and methodological precepts that are seen as characteristic of modern science. A second category of critique can be labelled technological, taking its points of departure in the range of problems from environmental destruction to structural unemployment and military escalation - that have been associated with science and technology. In relation to the discussion above, this category of criticism focuses more on the technological uses - and misuses - of modern science than on the scientific research activity itself. Thirdly, there is the growing feminist critique of science that has emerged during the past 20 years, focusing on the gender biases at work in both the institutions and concepts of scientific research. The feminist critique is the most vocal, and probably the most significant, kind of criticism directed against what I have termed above the sociological dimension of science, the ways in which research is organized and institutionalized in modern societies. In reviewing the feminist critique, I will briefly mention some of the other critical voices within the sociology of science.

Within each category, we can further distinguish between what might be termed "internal" and "external" types of criticism, the first coming from within the scientific community and thus proposing alternatives that fall within the overall framework of scientific thought and behaviour, the second coming from outside the halls of science and thus much more open to and supportive of non-scientific even anti-scientific, paths to knowledge or wisdom.

The romantic critique

In this category, there are those who have sought inspiration in the alternative traditions of Western civilization, as well as in the spiritual approaches of non-Western traditions. Important sources have been the writings of Joseph Needham and his collaborators on the history of science in China and the works of S.H. Nasr on Islamic science. Both projects - and the further developments that they have encouraged- have shown, in impressive detail, how Western science of the modern era is based on the findings and the insights of non-Western scientific traditions. According to Needham, all the world's civilizations have contributed to modern science; it is a world science that needs to recognize the crucial importance of the contributions of the non-Western peoples for its development [60]. Needham has never sought an alternative to Western science; his ambition has rather been to correct the sense of omnipotence and omniscience, in short the scientism, that has been part of a certain philosophical interpretation of Western science [61].

For Nasr, Western science has narrowed what was a far richer and more spiritual scientific quest in the Islamic world [59]. Western science is, for Nasr and other spiritual critics, a pale reflection of what was, in other cultures, a more integrated social activity based on an attitude of harmonious contemplation rather than exploitation of Nature. In the 1960s, the works of Nasr and Needham, and of Frances Yates and others, on the mystical and magical roots of Western science helped inspire the international "counterculture" with its rather substantial interest in Eastern religions and other modes of consciousness. Also important were the explorations of magical and mystical traditions in the scholarly writings of Mircea Eliade [16] and the extremely popular books of Carlos Castaneda.

Theodore Roszak's Where the Wasteland Ends [78] is a good example of this genre of critique in combining a rejection of the mechanical universe with a resuscitation of romanticism. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's glorification of Nature and later William Blake's critique of the industrial spirit - as well as Goethe's holistic science - all contribute to Roszak's project. Romanticism, for Roszak, is not a lost historical tradition but a necessity for spiritual survival in a technological age; in Roszak's words, "romanticism is the struggle to save the reality of experience from evaporating into theoretical abstraction or disintegrating into the chaos of empirical fact.... Whatever we must leave behind of the Romantic style, we can scarcely afford to abandon its steady determination to integrate science into a greater vision of reality, to heal and make whole the dissociated mind of its culture" [78, pp. 256, 258]. The counter-culture of the 1960s, which had a profound influence on many literary intellectuals and artists, such as Roszak, can be seen as a kind of romantic renaissance, leading to the revival of occultism and mysticism that is such a noticeable presence in the world today. Much of what is left of this revival is degenerate in that it turns critique into sectarianism and a kind of escape from society; but, particularly in some of the so-called "new age" formulations of, e.g., Fritjof Capra [11], attempts are made to apply holistic and romantic approaches to physics and economics.

For the purposes of this chapter, the most significant contemporary versions of the romantic critique are those that have been directed against the (high) technological culture. Roszak himself has criticized the "cult of information" that has, through the widespread diffusion of computers in education, sought to promulgate a new data processing model of knowledge upon the Western societies, and increasingly upon the non-Western world as well [79]. For Roszak, the information revolution has imposed a new level of machine dependence in both education and scientific, even humanistic, research, and, even more seriously, information ideal tends to reduce human thinking to machine manipulation.

The romantic critique of Western science builds, of course, on a long legacy of thinkers; and, in their responses to the new advanced technologies, neoromantics such as Roszak and Langdon Winner have drawn on Lewis Mumford's ideas about the megamachine and "authoritarian technics," as well as Jacques Ellul's conception of an autonomous technology that has grown out of human and social control [17, 55, 99]. Other important sources of inspiration have been the critical social theorists and philosophers of the 1940s and 1950s Heidegger in Germany, Sartre in France, Marcuse in the United States - who tried to apply new philosophical approaches to the postwar technological society.

The environmental critique

In the United States, Jeremy Rifkin has published a number of books (and held countless public meetings over the past 10 years) to oppose the technological applications of genetic manipulation. Rifkin has combined the romanticism of the counter-culture - with its poetic imagination and its distrust of modern technology - with a second category of criticism, which can be labelled environmentalism. While Roszak has questioned the information ideal of knowledge as a fundamental challenge to earlier conceptions of human thinking, Rifkin has seen the new biotechnological "products" as a challenge to earlier conceptions of Nature. "Two futures beckon us," according to Rifkin. "We can choose to engineer the life of the planet, creating a second nature in our image, or we can choose to participate with the rest of the living kingdom. Two futures, two choices. An engineering approach or an ecological approach" [73, p. 252].

What is at issue among environmental, or ecological, critics of Western science is not so much the power and control embodied in Western science and technology as the anthropocentrism and species reductionism of much of Western science. Ecology, as both science and philosophy, has been presented as an alternative way of approaching Nature and of managing the various crises of pollution, overpopulation climatic change, etc What ecology offers for its proponents is a systemic view of Nature, derived as much from field biology as from cybernetics [100, 65]. Nature is seen not in a reductionist way, in terms of its component parts, but in its interrelations and underlying patterns. Particularly in some of the newer formulations of the Green parties and groups, a so-called "deep ecology" of empathy for all living things has challenged many practices of mainstream Western science, such as animal experiments, genetic manipulation, and nuclear power. The alternative is a "kinder" science that draws on the organismic and even animistic philosophies of the past while making use of the feedback and systemic understandings of computer science [14]. An influential source of inspiration is Gregory Bateson, whose attempts to delineate the "ecology of mind" among both the Balinese and contemporary Western scientists, has provided insights for biologists, anthropologists, and psychologists.

In Norway, the philosopher Arne Naess has, under the influence of environmentalism, developed a new kind of ecological philosophy, based on the idea of species egalitarianism. Naess and the Australian Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, and the American anarchist Murray Bookchin, have been among those who have sought to take the environmental critique of Western science to what might be called a new metaphysical level [90, 9]. Also significant in this domain is the propagation of the so-called Gaia hypothesis [42], by which the Earth and its inhabitants are seen as part of one overall process of life. In our terms, they have criticized the philosophical dimension of Western science, while most environmental activists have criticized the particular technological uses or applications of Western science. Animal rights and the preservation of virgin natural regions are concerns that require a new attitude to Nature, a non-exploitative worldview that, in many ways, is similar to pre-modern and non-Western attitudes (for a critical review, cf. ref. 10). For many deep ecologists, American Indians and other "primitive" peoples offer alternative modes of interacting with the natural environment, both practically and cognitively. And, as we shall see, the rediscovery of more "ecological" traditions is also becoming significant within environmental movements in developing countries.

The environmental critique is not alone in opposing the uses to which modern sciences are put. After the Second World War, and the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many scientists and ordinary citizens took to the streets to protest the new destructive weapons and try to "ban the bomb." The British philosopher Bertrand Russell was for many years a leader in the international efforts to oppose the increasing militarization of science and technology and the consolidation of what, in the United States, was labelled a "military-industrial complex." The criticism of military technology remains significant in the 1990s; it reminds us of the fact that modern science is by no means a universally positive phenomenon. Compared with the other social and environmental problems that are, in part, caused by science and technology, military escalation has proven to be one of the most difficult to counteract. Indeed, many argue that science and technology are so thoroughly connected with military or aggressive intentions that only a moratorium on research or a slowing down of the rate of innovation would make a significant impact on world peace. On the other hand, the critique of military research has stimulated the development of science itself by spawning a number of peace research institutes around the world and thus generating a kind of "internal" process of reform or conversion of at least some portion of modern science from military and aggressive purposes to more idealistic or peaceful objectives.

The feminist critique

A third category of critique is associated with feminism and has come to exercise an ever growing influence on scientists, particularly women scientists, throughout the world, but perhaps especially in the United States. At issue here are both what is called the "gender bias" of Western science, as reflected in the concepts, theories, and even experimental methods of many sciences, and the overall philosophical or epistemological criteria that are used to validate scientific findings [27]. On the one hand, feminists claim that Western science portrays and investigates Nature in particularly aggressive and exploitative ways, following Francis Bacon in articulating a "masculine" conception of science and using a particularly sexist kind of rhetoric to portray both the natural world and technical artefacts [32]; on the other hand, Western science as such is seen as following a particular masculine form of logic, being competitive rather than dialogic, monopolistic rather than pluralistic, individualistic rather than collective [41]. The feminist critique thus becomes both epistemological and sociological and supports attempts to develop a social epistemology whereby the verification of truth claims is seen as dependent on the social contexts in which scientific results are produced or "manufactured." In this way, feminism has both fostered and been enriched by the more general social theorizing of science that has been growing among sociologists and philosophers in recent years.

In this social theorizing or sociological critique, attention has been focused on the professional or institutional systems of modern science. Science and technology have been criticized for their hierarchical or authoritarian social relations, with a small number of leaders or managers dominating the majority of scientific workers [25]. Science has been seen in terms of its production organization or labour process, and, particularly in the 1970s, when Marxism regained popularity within many academic fields, science and technology came to be criticized in class terms. It was the relations of science and technology to capitalist corporations that were questioned and challenged. In the 1990s, much of this sociological criticism has disappeared, while feminism has taken over and focused the critique on the particular sphere of gender relations.

The critiques of Western science are, of course, not limited to romanticism, environmentalism, and feminism, but the three categories do indicate both the range and the variety of contemporary critical voices. What might have been seen as conventional wisdom among philosophers and scientists themselves some 30 years ago - a more or less common "scientistic" belief that the methods, institutions, and technological applications of modern science were superior to other modes of knowledge production - has come increasingly to be challenged. These critiques have fostered a growing relativism or agnosticism among sociologists of science, who have increasingly come to see science as merely one form of social activity among others. For Latour and Woolgar [40], science is seen as a way of life rather than a path to truth, and for Mulkay [54], science is a kind of language game, constructing concepts and "discourses" like any other literary activity. The dominant sociological view of science today is that of social constructivism, whose practitioners are not so critical of Western science or anxious to provide alternative ways of producing knowledge as they are sceptical of its aims and social implications. The feminist and sociological critics seek to expand the scientific enterprise into something more pluralistic and variegated: sciences instead of Science [13].

The search for alternatives

It is as part of the efforts to achieve independence from foreign domination that non-Western intellectual traditions will be considered. Here it is possible to delineate two main approaches: a traditionalist approach, which has sought to revive the pre-colonial past in a more or less unadulterated form, and an integrative approach, which has sought to combine elements of indigenous traditions in one or another developmental framework. In all of the liberation struggles in the so-called third world, there has been a tension between the two approaches, and in most developing countries there continue to be conflicts over the most appropriate way to develop "non-Western" ways of doing science.

The communist model of development, first put into practice in the Soviet Union and then in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and, to varying degrees, in several African countries, tended to follow and promulgate a weak integrative approach: traditional techniques in medicine, agriculture, and small-scale industry have been tolerated only when they could be combined with Western approaches in the aim of producing a new "socialist" or "people's" science of some kind. Although patterns of development varied from country to country, the standard procedure was to build up formal systems of science and technology based on Western approaches, while allowing some informal systems of training, diffusion, and service in non-Western approaches. The dichotomy has roughly corresponded to the division between the urban and rural economies. The general ideology of socialist development has been modernist, depicting Western science and technology as intrinsically progressive, and traditional belief systems as belonging to a pre-modern past [5, 6].

In many of the non-communist developing countries, the scientistic value system associated with Western science has more explicitly been distinguished from the practice; certain elements of Western philosophy, religion, and belief have been characterized as "colonial mentality" or "Westernization," and attempts have been made to foster and encourage indigenous religions and belief systems. At the same time, the natural and engineering sciences have been developed along Western lines, since most of the leading scientists in developing countries were, at least until independence, educated in Western countries. Usually, non-Western philosophy and art have been encouraged alongside the Western sciences, which has meant that even though the formal systems are modelled on the West, the actual research and education are influenced in many ways by non-Western culture and beliefs. In a very real sense, all science in non-Western countries is non-Western science, since the institutional traditions and cultural patterns are different from those that produced Western science. At the same time, however, the official ambition in almost all non-Western countries has been to copy Western models and apply Western modes of knowledge production [34, 88, 71].


The assimilation of Western science can be seen, somewhat schematically, to have gone through a number of phases since the end of the Second World War. In a first phase that lasted in most countries at least until the second half of the 1960s, there was little concern with developing alternatives to Western science on either the sociological or technological level; it was usually only the Western philosophy that was challenged and countered by reinterpretations of traditional belief systems. In Africa, the attempts of Nkrumah, Senghor, and others to formulate an indigenous African philosophy involved both the reinvention of African tradition and also the conscious application of selected elements of that tradition to contemporary political and social projects: "Africanization" [47]. Such use of the past has been criticized for its irrationality and its confusion of philosophy with myth; for Paulin Hountondji, for example, African philosophy is based on "the myth of primitive unanimity, with its suggestion that in 'primitive societies' - that is to say, non-Western societies - everybody always agrees with everybody else.... African philosophy does exist, . . . but in a new sense, as a literature produced by Africans and dealing with philosophical problems" [28, p. 63].

For our purposes, the attempts to develop African philosophy and revive traditional non-Western religion are interesting in seeking to provide a different cultural framework for the development of science, not a different science. It is also important to note that they are the result, for the most part, of interaction with Western critical traditions; the Western-trained leaders and cultural spokesmen of the newly independent countries of the third world have applied or at least made use of certain tools of Western cultural criticism in seeking to foster the traditions of their own peoples. In Africa, the rediscovery of the past was inspired by Western anthropology [53]. Those who came to formulate African philosophy were influenced especially by the works of the anthropologist Lévy-Bruhl, and they were affected more generally by the cultural relativism that was a rather common feature of European philosophy and sociology between the First and Second world wars.

While some leaders of newly emerging countries thus sought to develop alternatives to what we have called the philosophical dimension of Western science, the articulators of socialist development strategies sought to impose a different agenda for putting science to use. The writings of Franz Fanon, which had a major influence in third world intellectual circles during the first period of independence, can be taken as representative of this socialist position. For Fanon in Algeria, much like Mao in China, Nehru in India, and Castro in Cuba, traditional approaches to knowledge were part of the pre-colonial, undeveloped, and backward society; the starting point was the observation that traditional society had been "thrown into confusion" by the experience of colonization. In his view, the liberation struggle in Algeria had helped solve the problem by taking sides for modern medicine. "Witchcraft, maraboutism (already considerably discredited as a result of the propaganda carried on by the intellectuals), belief in the djinn, all things that seemed to be part of the very being of the Algerian, were swept away by the action and practice initiated by the Revolution.... The notions about 'native psychology' or of the 'basic personality' are shown to be vain. The people who take their destiny into their own hands assimilate the most modern forms of technology at an extraordinary rate" [20, pp. 124, 126].

What liberation and independence provided was thus not a return to tradition but a different way to use Western knowledge, not only to benefit the previous elites and colonial rulers, but to "serve the people," as Mao put it in China. It is certainly no accident that it was Western-trained medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, and scientists who were among the leaders in most of the third world struggles for independence. They were modernists who had imbibed the teachings of Marxism and European positivism and who saw their revolutions, among other things, as a crucial step toward assimilating Western science and technology into their "underdeveloped" societies. Marx, in the nineteenth century, had of course been a critic of capitalism and its commodity fetishism, but his criticism had not been directed toward science and technology; indeed, central to his critique was the belief that capitalism could not make satisfactory use of the new productive forces that it had unleashed on the world. It was rather the task of the working class to put the revolutionary discoveries of modern science to more effective and widespread use. In the twentieth century, first in Russia and then in the colonies, Marxism was disseminated to other groups of oppressed peoples, but its attitude to science and technology was not particularly affected in the process. The revolutionary movements that came to power after the Second World War, many of which explicitly identified themselves as Marxist, were thus propagators of Western science and technology, although traditional methods in medicine and agriculture were tolerated as long as they "worked."

Anti-imperialist movements

A second wave of opposition to Western science began to take shape as part of the widespread questioning of Western-style development that emerged in the anti-imperialist movements of the 1960s. What was at issue was not primarily the Western science and technology that was central to development but the orientation to the imperialist centre, the dominance that the imperialist countries continued to exercise over the newly independent countries of the third world. In order to continue the struggle beyond independence to a true national liberation, it was necessary among other things to take the pre-colonial past much more seriously and to question some of the Marxian and positivist assumptions that had hitherto guided the development of science and technology.

The Vietnam War brought these issues to a head. The United States, now seen as the dominant imperialist power, mobilized a massive destructive force in order to keep North and South Vietnam as separate nations. In response, the Vietnamese mobilized their indigenous skills and traditional knowledge and, in the process, came to stand for a new kind of popular approach to science and technology and military resistance. Mao in China had also come to launch his Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, closing the universities and sending students to the countryside to learn from the people rather than from the "bourgeois" professors who were still supposedly in power in the cities. Where the Vietnamese people were forced to defend themselves by rediscovering methods of guerrilla warfare, the Chinese people were forced to take part in a massive and, it must be said, largely disastrous social experiment. For both countries, the experiments produced a great deal of suffering, wasted effort, and human and natural destruction; and yet they were none the less innovative attempts to impose a new social order of knowledge on large human populations. To speak in Karl Popper's terms, they were massive social experiments, which failed to falsify Western science. Indeed, in both countries, the enthusiasm for Western science and technology has, if anything, been greater after the revolutionary experiments than before [31]. In their time, however, both efforts provided models, at least at the rhetorical level, for other countries to emulate, and contributed to a more general search for alternative or appropriate approaches to science and technology [15, 89].

In the 1970s, appropriate technology - by which was usually meant the creative combination in particular contexts of traditional and modern techniques to meet the problems at hand - developed into a multifaceted movement. In our terms, appropriate technology addressed or challenged the technological dimension of Western science and sought to break the link that had been formed already in the early modern period between the development of science and the development of practical techniques. Appropriate technologists argued for a return to an artisanal technology, a technical ideal that focuses on the craftsman rather than the scientist as the main source of innovation. Appropriate technology tended to be seen as a process of development from below, a non-scientific, locally based technical activity that made better use of the available human and natural resources than a technology development from above, directed by scientific experts with little awareness of local conditions and capabilities.

Appropriate technology had difficulty in meeting the challenges of the new advanced technologies of micro-electronics and biotechnology that began to appear in the international market-place in the late 1970s. These technologies were based on the latest scientific understanding and thus seemed to imply a re-Westernization; appropriate technology, in the course of the 1980s, tended to be marginalized, and now serves not so much as a real alternative to Western science and technology as a nostalgic memory. Part of the problem is that the alternatives quickly grew too specific. Rather than develop a comprehensive set of appropriate technologies and encourage each country to ransack its own traditions and find those ideas and approaches that seemed most fruitful to develop further, all too many appropriate technology enthusiasts wanted to develop immediate solutions, technical fixes to contemporary problems. The units that still survive are primarily those that have sought to stimulate appropriate processes for technological development and training rather than appropriate products. But what was also stimulated was a much more thorough historical reconnaissance than had ever been encouraged before [1, 24, 64].

Particularly important were the efforts made to reinterpret the precolonial scientific traditions. In Latin America, as part of the effort to save the tropical rain forests from extinction, the ethnobotanies of the Amerindians were rediscovered, and, by now, research institutes have been established to carry out agricultural programmes based on the revitalized traditional knowledges [69]. In China, acupuncture and herbal medicine have not only become fully legitimate parts of medical science and treatment but they have been transferred to the rest of the world as a visibly non-Western way to treat - and understand - the human animal. In Africa and central America, the pre-colonial astronomical and cosmological theories have been rediscovered, and some of the mysteries of modern astrophysics are beginning to receive different kinds of explanations when they are filtered through the non-Western paradigmatic and cosmological frameworks.

These ethnosciences have not merely been of interest to scientists; particularly in the Islamic world, they have given support to full-fledged traditionalist movements, which in countries like Iran and Pakistan have tried to develop more or less complete non-Western scientific institutions. Indeed, with the Iranian revolution in 1979, the search for alternatives to Western science can be said to have moved into a third and still unfolding phase. More polarized and explicitly conflictual, the new more fundamentalist tendencies in the anti-Western debate seek to revive a comprehensive alternative at once cosmological, technological, and sociological.

Fundamentalism and the return to tradition

In a recent book, Ziauddin Sardar, a spokesman for Islamic science, has identified four streams of thought among those who would develop an alternative to Western science in the Middle East [84]. One, which he identifies with the Persian scholar S.H. Nasr, is criticized for its reduction of Islamic science to what I have called the philosophical dimension; but even more seriously for Sardar is the tendency that he finds in Nasr's writings to equate Islamic science with a general, occultist interest in "gnosis." All too many spokesmen for Islamic science, according to Sardar, weaken their criticism by not satisfactorily specifying the alternative. Their position becomes merely another restatement of the old debate between religious experience and scientific knowledge that merely seeks to replace one belief system with another.

A second group? composed primarily of people who are both Muslims and scientists, and often leaders within their own countries' scientific establishments, is one that continues to pursue business as usual. The critiques of Western science that have been promulgated over the past two or three decades are simply brushed aside, according to Sardar, and the scientists in Islamic countries continue to live schizophrenic lives, Western scientists by day, practicing Muslims by night.

Abdus Salam, one of the leading physicists of the Arab world, can be taken as a representative of this position [80]. His view is that science is universal, but, all too often, Muslims and people in developing countries are excluded from contributing to and participating in its development: "There truly is no disconsonance between Islam and modern science.... What gives one hope is that there are Muslim scientists working principally (though not exclusively) in developed countries who have registered the highest attainments in sciences. This implies that it is basically environmental factors in our societies which need to be corrected" [80, pp. 323, 348].

The third and fourth groups identified by Sardar are, in many respects, more interesting for the purposes of this chapter. They involve those who would establish a new metaphysical starting point for scientific enquiry that would have far-reaching consequences for the actual pursuit of scientific research. If I follow Sardar's argument, the difference is one of degree; the one group would alter the relations between scientific fields, the selection of problems, the depth of moral and religious reflection attached to scientific research; while the other group, to which Sardar himself belongs and which he calls the Ijmali position, would seek to create an entire new science, in which the very "facts" of nature would be different, derived solely from the ethical, value, and conceptual parameters of Islam [84, p. 155].

Islamic science, as perhaps the most ambitious ethnoscience tradition, has thus already spawned internal dissension and, judging from Sardar's treatment of his adversaries, a rather large amount of aggression in an enterprise that claims to be based entirely on a love of God, or Allah, the "one and only God." Indeed, in comparison with his first book, Science, Technology and Development in the Muslim World [83], the programme of Islamic science appears to have increased in rhetoric but lost something in practical achievement and focus. Indeed, in this respect the attempt to develop an Islamic science seems to be repeating much of the same process that the attempt to develop a "science for the people" went through in the early 1970s. In both cases, a critical identification of problems leads to an overly ambitious formulation of an alternative that has proved impossible to realize in practice. While the alternative becomes ever more extreme and absolute in terms of rhetoric, it thus fails to solve the particular problems that were initially attributed to Western science.

The four schools of thought that Sardar delineates can be taken as representative of the different alternative approaches to Western science that have developed, albeit in very different ways in different countries, during the past decade, as fundamentalist religious movements have exercised a growing political influence. On the one hand, there is what might be called a spiritualist position: the particular alternative teachings are not as important as the general ambition to counter materialism and "material" Western science with a revival of spirit, occultism, and religious faith. On the other hand, there are the realists, who continue to practice Western science while professing a set of moral values, as it were, on the side. Science and values continue to be separate spheres of existence for this second group, which still seems to include most of those who actually work as scientists and engineers in most developing countries.

It is among students that one might expect the strongest resonance for the other two, somewhat newer, schools of thought; and, as such, there seems to be a significant generational dimension to the ethnoscientific enterprise. The one, the critical school, sees the development of alternatives by taking the Western tradition seriously, pointing to its weaknesses, both methodologically and practically, and seeing a new ethnoscience as an explicit combination of Western and non-Western approaches. The other, more dogmatic, orientation sees the alternative, Islamic science as a self-enclosed activity that in some way can separate its own ethnoscience from others. In the next section, I look at how this tension between critical and dogmatic approaches has played itself out in India. The tension between a critical assimilation of Western science and a dogmatic reconstruction of non-Western tradition can be expected to increase in importance as today's students grow into the scientific cadres of many developing countries.

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