Cover image for Toward a global science : mining civilizational knowledge
Title:
Toward a global science : mining civilizational knowledge
Author:
Goonatilake, Susantha.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xii, 314 pages ; 25 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780253333889

9780253211828
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library Q127.A65 G66 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Asian science such as mathematics, Chinese printing, gunpowder and the compass, all contributed to the development of European science. During the last few centuries, however, scientific contributions with Asian roots have diminished and been marginalized and deligitimised. Yet the center of the world economy today is shifting to Asia with shifts in science and technology bound to follow. Toward a Global Science is driven by the proposition that pre-Renaissance acquisition of Asian knowledge did not exhaust Asian civilizationÕs potential contribution. There are many useful elements to modern science still lying hidden in Asian civilizational stores waiting to be Òmined.Ó The author gives details of recent contributions from South Asian medicine, mathematics, and psychology and explores how South Asian inputs can be useful in navigating the philosophical and ethical problems raised by two dominant technologies of the future, namely biotechnology and information technology. As an illustrative example, it describes how a fruitful marriage of one technologyÑvirtual realityÑwith South Asian philosophy can enliven both the technology as well as philosophy. It also examines how Asian positions could be used to feed some key contemporary philosophical discussions on science. Using a model of the civilizational construction of science, the book views science without Eurocentric blinders. It documents how science was built initially by transfers from non-European civilizations and why the given historiography of science has to be rethought. Throughout the book the author gives examples of Òparallels and antecedentsÓ between East and West in science and estimates the potential reservoir of Asian knowledge in each field. The book also deals with the many knotty problems in recovering science from past traditions. The author distinguishes between his secular efforts from religious and other attempts that claim the equivalence of all knowledge systems.


Summary

"... an insightful study of how some of the premodern scientific results and insights may serve us well in the modern world. Unlike some other books of this genre, this is not the frustrated reaction of a Third World scholar to the successes and accomplishments of Western science, nor a naive cry for recognition, nor the expression of craving for commendation from the West. Rather, this is a balanced and intelligent view of science and history with a no-nonsense approach to ancient science and wisdom, and it reveals serious scholarship and reflection. Highly recommended." --Choice

"This study maps the depth and scope of the historical connections between Asia and Europe across the sciences, from mathematics to psychology and philosophy of science.... The outcome is a profoundly engaging work that confirms Susantha Goonatilake as one of the most creative and innovative scholars of science." --Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague

Discard your Eurocentric scientific blinders! Mathematics, printing, gunpowder, and the compass were all developed in Asia--but for centuries the West has marginalized scientific contributions with Asian roots. This study emphasizes the many modern scientific contributions still lying hidden and un-mined in Asian civilizational stores. The author details recent advances from South Asian medicine, mathematics, and psychology and explores how Asian discoveries and strategies can be useful in navigating philosophical and ethical problems raised by future technologies.


Author Notes

Susantha Goonatilake is Senior consultant for the United Nations on science and technology and with the New School for Social Research, New York and Vidyartha Center for Science and Society, Colombo. He has taught in several universities and research institutes in Asia, Europe and America. He is the author of Aborted Discovery: Science and Creativity in the Third World; Crippled Minds: An Exploration into Colonial Culture, Evolution of Information: Lineages in Genes, Culture and Artefact; Technological Independence: The Asian Experience, Technology Assessment; and Merged Evolution: The Long Term Implications of Information Technology and Biotechnology.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

We have entered an age of multiculturalism and global consciousness. This has had two impacts: respect and recognition of cultural diversity, and exploration of how this diversity may be utilized for the further enrichment of the human family. Goonatilake tries to accomplish this latter goal. The subtitle implies the central thesis: human civilization embodies vast treasures of knowledge and wisdom that are yet to be fully tapped. The author offers an interesting presentation of the history of science, with considerable emphasis on the little (universally) known contributions of non-Western cultures to scientific knowledge. His book is a plea to recognize those contributions. Equally, it is an insightful study of how some of the premodern scientific results and insights may serve us well in the modern world. Unlike some other books of this genre, this is not the frustrated reaction of a Third World scholar to the successes and accomplishments of Western science, nor a naive cry for recognition, nor the expression of craving for commendation from the West. Rather, this is a balanced and intelligent view of science and history with a no-nonsense approach to ancient science and wisdom, and it reveals serious scholarship and reflection. Highly recommended. All levels. V. V. Raman Rochester Institute of Technology


Choice Review

We have entered an age of multiculturalism and global consciousness. This has had two impacts: respect and recognition of cultural diversity, and exploration of how this diversity may be utilized for the further enrichment of the human family. Goonatilake tries to accomplish this latter goal. The subtitle implies the central thesis: human civilization embodies vast treasures of knowledge and wisdom that are yet to be fully tapped. The author offers an interesting presentation of the history of science, with considerable emphasis on the little (universally) known contributions of non-Western cultures to scientific knowledge. His book is a plea to recognize those contributions. Equally, it is an insightful study of how some of the premodern scientific results and insights may serve us well in the modern world. Unlike some other books of this genre, this is not the frustrated reaction of a Third World scholar to the successes and accomplishments of Western science, nor a naive cry for recognition, nor the expression of craving for commendation from the West. Rather, this is a balanced and intelligent view of science and history with a no-nonsense approach to ancient science and wisdom, and it reveals serious scholarship and reflection. Highly recommended. All levels. V. V. Raman Rochester Institute of Technology


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