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close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession III: Biology, medicine, and the future of mankind
close this folderRestructuring a framework for assessment of science and technology as a driving power for social development: a biosociological approach
close this folderYuji Mori
View the documentI. Introduction - The darwinian and ned-darwinian systems
View the documentII. Sociobiology or biosociology? how to view humans and their society
View the documentIII. Three levels of production and consumption
View the documentIV. Needs
View the documentV. Science and technology as cultural phenomena
View the documentVI. The turning point of social development: space and time
View the documentNotes

VI. The turning point of social development: space and time

Let us start the discussion of the turning point of development from a comparison of neo-Darwinism and biosociology. According to neo-Darwinism, mutation occurs randomly. What provides the direction for notation is natural selection. In Imanishi's biosociology, on the other hand, living things must all change in the same way when the time for change arrives. It is in a sense true that this applies only to animal society, human society being different. What we must remember, however, is that coherence of theory and unity of ideas make demands originating in the nature of theories and ideas themselves.

Modern science and technology have brought into play enormous, high performance production power and have made high-speed transportation of goods and people, along with rapid communication, possible. This has planted the illusion that we can realize our thoughts any time and any place. This phenomenon has come into being, I think, as a result of the failures of huge social experiments. We can here recall the "experiment" of the American Viet Ham War and the huge social reorganization that took place in China during the Cultural Revolution, even if we disagree on an evaluation of the results.

At some time, a turning point in social development arrives. This has both historical and social characteristics, that is, the characteristics of space and time. The analytical perspective taken in regard to production, consumption, and needs pertains to the space characteristics of social development. I will thus now discuss time, then the problem of time and space.

The time that ticks by on a clock proceeds in the direction in which the universe is expanding. Although social time proceeds in the same direction as physical time, its passing is different. Historical time is of course measured by the clock. When we look from the present to the past, however, all of the past is, symbolically speaking, built into the present. The time built into the present-day structure of time is constructed in relation to the future; hence, it is not physical time, but social and physiological time.

In the Japanese language, there are two words which express future time: one expresses the future soon to arrive, the other the future quite a distance off. The subtle difference between the two seems to be suggestive of the kind of thinking about time that exists in Japanese society. Of course, this is merely feeling or emotion, but surely such feelings about the past or the time to come can be built into a theoretical framework. This is because in the hearts of the people who have effectively dealt with and controlled the turning points of social development or change in the past, whether they were aware of it or not, has been the ability to grasp the nature of the crisis. The point I wish to make here is not that we should marvel at the genius of the individual, but that we should question whether this is really something that cannot be the object of scientific inquiry.

As an example of this kind of research, one effective method could be to measure the degree of change in social conditions. We can think of this as resembling changes in material things. Water, for example, changes from a solid to a liquid and then to a gas. In this case, we can understand the change as a change in entropy. Needless to say, the decision on what indicators to use to express the conditions in the society depends on how the social system or change in social conditions are viewed. In this way, it becomes possible to grasp the turning points in social development when the time axis is indicated for changes in social conditions. This not only makes it possible to apply research to the past, but also, by following the passage of time, makes possible predictions of changes likely to take place in the future. In short, social change does not occur suddenly at one stroke; rather, despite the fact that it does not appear on the surface of society, social change shows signs of occurring before the change actually occurs.

We are required to consider two different goals in the case of social development. The first is to strengthen social organization and social order. The second, on the other hand, is to increase the amount of freedom, that is, to expand possibilities. Modern science and technology have brought about an increase in productivity through a high degree of organization of the production system; however, they have also made people no more than cogs in the production machinery. If this is the case, then, modern science and technology are working for the oppression of human beings. So long as an increase in material production and a decrease in work do not tie into the construction of a social system that increases social and human freedom, it is clear that modern science and technology, in their present forms, lack the power for social development.

In the preceding discussion I have done no more than point to a framework for thinking about social development. I will leave for another occasion the discussion of the measurement of changes in actual social conditions based on research. An indication of turning points in social development will also have to be postponed.