Paradise and Dominatia: Science and the Developing World

Courtesy Reuters

With European industrial civilization comes European science. It is a package deal. The question whether a culture thus superseded or repressed had its own form of science has become purely academic: the process of economic growth and social development is entirely predicated on the "rational materialism" of post-Renaissance Europe and its North American colonies. This fact may well be deplored, but can scarcely be denied. The very word technology, denoting a practical technique that has been studied and transformed in the light of scientific rationality, betrays our values and intentions as it displaces the crafts from town and village, from workshop and field, throughout the world.

Nevertheless, European science, both intellectually and practically, diffuses very slowly and unevenly into the culture of a developing country. This is not because it is firmly resisted by alternative metaphysical systems to which it seems antagonistic, but because the actual agents of diffusion are weak and uncoordinated. In Western Europe and the United States, scientific knowledge is a natural product as well as a fuel of the advanced industrialized society; in a country such as Paradisia-the pseudonym conceals no particular country, but refers perhaps to a whole class of medium-sized states such as Ghana or Iran, Korea or Peru-it is a foreign import, an exotic plant that has not yet established and seeded itself in new soil.

Modern science comes into Paradisia, from distant Europe or the United States, along three distinct channels. In the first instance, historically speaking, it came through the academic channel, into schools, colleges, and universities. Whether these institutions are hundreds of years old or are quite modern is irrelevant; the natural sciences were not introduced into the academic curriculum in Western countries until the nineteenth century, and did not play a very large part in formal education until quite recently. Paradisia took its time in following the lead of the powerful metropolitan country-shall we call it Dominatia?-in whose political or at least cultural sphere of influence it then lay

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