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close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession II: Technology generation and transfer - Transformation alternatives
close this folderPhilosophy (concepts) of scientific and technological development
close this folderVladimir Slambuk
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentI. Development and underdevelopment
View the documentII. Definition of some basic terms
View the documentIII. Existing philosophies of scientific-technological development
View the documentIV. Self-reliance
View the documentBibliography

II. Definition of some basic terms

There can be no doubt that today's science, and even technology (which is the applied form of science), is becoming a direct productive force. This nevertheless does not mean that there is a generally accepted view on what science and technology are.

The differences regarding science and technology, as well as their role in the development of society, depend largely on different theoretical approaches to the subject, on different visions of development, and on the role of individual social groups and classes. I maintain that science is a conscious social activity which has the task of creating a systematized body of knowledge, which is achieved through description and explanation of social and natural phenomena. The task of science, therefore, is to establish regularities (social and natural), or at least to point out the facts which may help explain certain phenomena. The new knowledge thus gained has to be verifiable and in accordance with reality; briefly, it has to help establish objective truths.

Technology is yet another term which can be explained in different ways. In my opinion, the most acceptable definition sees technology as a multitude of techniques and modes which are the outcome of scientific discoveries, which enable people to use nature in an organized manner, and which help them manage social processes.

It was necessary to formally define science and technology since all too often in different scientific, expert, and lay discussions certain properties are attached to technology which it does not have. There is a fairly widespread view which seeks justification in the entire Judaeo-Christian culture: that technology and its development represent a peculiar feature of western civilization. Arguments offered in this connection attempt to prove that this peculiarity of that culture is the reason for its "prevalence." Social and economic "achievements" of the West are mainly linked to the ability of that culture to develop scientific knowledge and technological solutions. Furthermore, this ability is alleged to secure the continued superiority of western culture, and thus its own future progress and that of the rest of the world.

In my view, such arguments are not compatible either with the evidence which history offers, or with the actual creative potential of humanity today. Such insistence on technological "super characteristics" of western civilization tends to overlook real contradictions of the modern world; more important still, it obscures certain solutions and roads to development which do exist. In this respect, the gathering organized by the United Nations University and Belgrade University should indicate the scope and possibilities of the modern world to overcome the inequalities, contradictions, and exploitation which are inherent in the concept of science and technology as developed by the West.