Modernity and the uncertain quest
In 1963, C.P. Snow  wrote an essay on the "two cultures," calling attention to the differences that exist between scientists and literary intellectuals, deploring the lack of communication and understanding between them, and making a strong plea for the emergence of a more integrated culture in which the humanities and the sciences would contribute equally and grow through mutual interaction. However important the differences and lack of communication between Snow's "two cultures" which may indeed have increased as a function of the growing impact of scientific methods and activities on all societies - they have been overshadowed by the even more profound and disturbing material differences between the rich and the poor nations of the world. Indeed, Snow made reference to these glaring inequalities and attributed their existence in part to the inability of the West, with its divided culture, to grasp their magnitude and to understand the need for urgent and profound structural transformations of a social, economic, political, and cultural character.
It is obvious that the end of the twentieth century and a great part of the new one will be dominated by the growing gulf between the industrialized and the developing countries, in so far as one can speak of "two civilizations" rather than of several worlds. The concept of the third world emerged as both a third element and a buffer more or less manipulated by and manipulative of the two rival blocs, communism and capitalism, that confronted each other after the Second World War. Now that communism has admitted defeat, the notion of the third world is all the more meaningless in that most of the former communist countries have created a new category, that of industrialized countries that have become in their turn newly developing countries. Moreover, developing countries do not constitute a homogeneous category, and the need to distinguish various levels of development and even underdevelopment is more pertinent than ever.
The world is still divided into two civilizations that interact strongly, although the interaction is one-sided: the second civilization is dependent and deeply affected by the first and lacks the capacity of influencing it to the same degree. The first civilization is based on the growth of science as the main knowledge-generating activity, the rapid evolution of science-related technologies, the incorporation of these technologies into productive and social processes, and on the emergence of new forms of working and living deeply influenced by the Weltanschauung of modern science and science-related technologies. The second civilization is characterized by the lack of a capacity to generate scientific knowledge on a large scale and by a passive acceptance of scientific results generated in the first; by a technological base that comprises a substantive component of traditional technologies and a veneer of imported ones; by a productive system whose modern segment is dependent on the expansion of production in Western industrialized nations and on the absorption of imported technology and whose traditional segment vegetates and is based on an often stagnant traditional technological infrastructure; and by the coexistence of disjointed and even contradictory cultures.
The first civilization, corresponding to the developed, or highly industrialized, countries, has an endogenous scientific and technological base. This base is still present, in spite of its current difficulties and disruptions, in the former communist countries of eastern Europe, and one of the most important agreements signed in 1992 between the United States, the European Community, and Japan was intended to help these countries to keep this base alive. This comes down to helping somebody not to sink when he or she already knows how to swim. The second civilization is not swimming, but struggling to stay afloat, with the exception of a handful of countries that have recently succeeded in catching up with some of the best swimmers in the first civilization. The great majority of the countries in the second civilization are not only lagging behind but lack, above all, most of the basic ingredients - in terms of resources, institutions, manpower, and cultural background - indispensable if they are to benefit from scientific knowledge and new technological innovations. The historical reasons for this situation deserve to be carefully studied in these countries by local scholars and should be made a part of science studies and research programmes, which would help policy makers and society at large become more aware of the internal and external conditions that have jeopardized - and still jeopardize the development, if not the emergence, of a scientific and technological capacity. It is hoped this sourcebook will contribute to a better understanding and thus a greater mastery of all these conditions.
Development is an uncertain quest in which the seekers rely heavily on science and technology. The quest is uncertain not only because there is no prior guarantee of success (nor that it will be lasting), but above all because it raises questions about the price of modernity: the benefits that a country can expect to derive from it, in political, economic, social, and cultural terms, as well as the sacrifices that it is prepared to make on its behalf. Development is not a neutral process with no impact on the social structures that are involved; science and technology do not always bring about improvements to those areas that they affect. In short, despite what was promised by the rationalism of the Enlightenment and even more by the positivism of the nineteenth century, scientific and technical progress does not necessarily coincide with social or moral progress.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, economic progress has meant upheavals. Schumpeter agreed with Marx at least in this regard, and stressed the "revolutionary character" of industrial capitalism, which leads to the obsolescence, destruction, and renewal of economic and social structures. This is what is involved in innovation, and now that innovation is worshipped as the driving force of international competitiveness, it is important to recognize that it always has a price attached: technical change is accompanied by social change. As Schumpeter rightly said, "No matter how many more stagecoaches you have, you will not thereby acquire railways," and he emphasized that economic growth is a process of change that is constantly revolutionizing economic institutions from within, destroying the parts that are out-of-date and creating new ones in their place. What happens is not that more stagecoaches are added to the existing stock, but they are replaced with railways in a process of "creative destruction" .
Economic development has growth (i.e. a sustained increase in national income) as a corollary, but growth in quantitative terms does not necessarily mean development. From the start of the Industrial Revolution, and especially since the pace of technical change has quickened thanks to the growing cross-fertilization of science and technology, people in the industrialized countries have been pondering the gap between wisdom and strength. The issue of how to bridge that gap is constantly raised by modernity, and the economic implications naturally have philosophical dimensions. There has to be choice at least regarding the importance attached to tradition, to its structures, hierarchies, codes and rites, as against rationalization, with its constraints, order and disorder, its capacity to transform and destroy. As Alain Touraine  has pointed out, scientific and technical thinking threatens to reduce human beings to purely instrumental rationality, while attacks on rationality from the viewpoint of particular faiths, traditions, or communities threaten to retard or even prevent any change by searching for compensations for the present in a mythical past. To bring together the economic vision and the cultural one involves the same difficulties as making a bridge between the particular and the universal, or between facts and values.
The developing world has forced the industrialized countries to recognize not only that their cultures are extremely diverse, but that that diversity is perfectly legitimate. Both sides have learned, too, that development cannot take place without dialogue between cultural heritage and instrumental rationality, even if the two cannot be entirely reconciled. In the upheavals marking the end of the twentieth century, especially after the collapse of totalitarian ideologies and regimes, the whole world is in quest of new paths and alternatives leading to a better social order. And just as the developing countries are having to take on board some of the aspects of modernity that they used to criticize, so the industrialized countries are having to restore some aspects of tradition that they used to challenge. No society, clearly, can ever again impose its own values or development model on any other. Science and technology can contribute a great deal to development, but they cannot do everything, and above all they do not offer a ready-made solution to the problem of values that is raised by the clash between tradition and modernity. Modern societies have realized that they can no longer place their trust in progress as people thought in the Enlightenment. But while nobody can believe any longer that growth necessarily brings with it greater democracy and happiness, everybody knows now that development requires growth and a certain degree of rationality: not any longer confidently relying on technical or administrative efficiency alone, but rather on an awareness and a mastery of the consequences of scientific and technical change.