Your arguments and language of expression is really good. You have the skill to narrate things brilliantly. But I want to clear myself. Western academic world is very vibrant one. It is funded by their corporate sector in a grand manner to collect and process various data from all over the world for their trade purpose.This large quantity of data inevitably produces theories.
You can observe this, at every five year period we can see a new theory emerging and dominating the entire thought in every field of knowledge and people are carried away by it. In the past few years we read a lot about thinkers like Claude levi strauss, Theodor W. Adorno, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida …Their theories were discussed with great enthusiasm for few years all over the world and suddenly they lost their importance. New theories arrived and replaced them.
So ultimately what is their result? They occupied our intellectual arena and exhausted our mental energy. We have our own peculiar cultural and social issues and we can think about them in our own way. We can create our own theories and find our own way out. This occasional western wave of ideas directly influences our brilliant young people and makes them just followers. This is what I mentioned in my brief note.
This is what t referred as apolitical approach. Just following a foreign thought and looking the world through it. To create a own idea and discuss it we need our own political ideology. Off course Jared Diamond has his own political ideology, we can call it as a simple western liberal thought. But following him definitely lacks political vision.
Anyway a good discussion. Thank you\\
Dear Kumaarasami Perumal,
My way of scientific writing is to imagine a person standing in front constantly raising questions and arguing on what I am about to write. I am thankful that you have just become one of them.
First, to make myself clear, there are no such classifications as foreign thought and Indian thought, at least that I know of. It can rather be classified as Eastern and Western way of thoughts. Western way of scientific thinking can be characterized by its is attitude of looking things at nuclear level and its character specificity, at the same time, Eastern way of thought can be briefed as one with a holistic vision, looking at things as a part of the whole, and one which appreciates the interconnectedness, for the lack of better word, of things. A scientific theory must be balanced with both Eastern and Western way of thought but early era of natural science failed this by being more Western thought oriented. Henceforth their theories when blown to a level of global scale failed utterly. This failure of completely Western thought oriented scientific theories gave way to Eastern way of thought in to the field of science, spawning new disciplines with similar attitudes. More we see theories with Eastern way of thinking coming up, more is the eastern way of life and philosophy being appreciated in the western world, and all over. So this is essentially the era of eastern way scientific thinking and Jared Diamond comes from this tradition, that his theories pay attention to various factors influencing his subject matter, in other words has holistic vision, and he found geography to be connecting thread for all these factors. One cannot address his theory as western solely because he is a westerner. In that way we have great number of western scholars arguing on behalf of our philosophy and way of thought and ironically facing criticisms from some of us for being holistic, therefore generalizing.
I didn’t know that by mentioning ‘apolitical’ you meant being unaware of politics behind science. This is a common allegation on western scientific community; personally I think Indian scientific arena is not much short of funds or required data as they are in scientific tendency, at least not awful enough to have not a single significant scientific theory proposed in past seventy years. Ours is still a country struggling to attain economic stability, worldwide we witness this phenomenon of theory making community accumulating on first world countries. Again not all the first world countries, but those which attained such a state not merely by industrial revolution but conventionally. Most Indians take up science just to make a living not with a passion. May be attaining such economic stability would bring new set of people to the field of science with potential to alter the current scene. Until then we must depend on these western scholars Influenced by Eastern way of thought to address our issues, instead of keeping mum waiting for an active scientific atmosphere.
And Indians are no way neglected in western scientific world, V.S. Ramacandran one of the foremost advocates Indian culture, philosophy and art is taken up to a great extent in the western scientific world. And your notion of “availability of facts inevitably giving raise to theories” is not convincing, it is rather, I think, “Scientific tendency inevitably giving raise to theory” and funding, of course, contributes to it. Unfortunately our brilliant minds have got no Indian role models to look up to and follow. Theoretician like V.S Ramachandran had to look up to westerners as his role models, now we’ve got him.
It is the public that loses interest in scientific theories after a couple of years. Most of the scientific theories you mentioned are still significant and some of them are still relevant in parts. Finally, science isn’t for one who gets mentally exhausted by overwhelming theories but one who is craving for fresh ideas.
I am proud and happy that you are working hard. These arguments about science, social perspectives and interpretations are quite stimulating. However, I must say that there is inter-disciplinary drive in all the arguments. For instance, If you want to say that science has no space for social concerns, such a science is a mere observation(neutral as you put it) There may be hidden drives and obvious as well. When we are enjoying a cosmic view through science, we constantly look for what we can work upon(Term it anthropocentric). There is an interesting genius in Diamond. However, we can go beyond, both as science lovers and people with social concerns.
This large spectrum presented by Diamond is also a content to be discussed. In the whole book, I enjoyed two elements. One is about domestication of plants and animals ( though a debatable chronology) I also liked the part where he is talking about the effective use of natural resources by the hunters and gatherers. A political interpretation of science is must these days. For instance, the first lesson of Biology starts with the theory of genesis. Whose belief is it? Whose science is it? The misconception of religion also has a political tone. Historically speaking, we have lot of scope to argue over science with its methodology and approach. Objectivity and skepticism are secondary for a social thinker, isn't it? Engage in a dialogue with all kinds of sciences. It will be good.
Your views on this, though mostly agreeable, contradict with mine on certain parts. You have mentioned that "If you want to say that science has no space for social concerns, such a science is a mere observation’ but I would rather put it this way ‘a theory which has no social concerns would merely be a scientific theory", that way still emphasizing that “scientific theory” is no place for social concern. But it when it is taken to level of practicality must surely confront them, which I have stated in the article pretty clearly as “A scientific article which is compromising on itself, of its content, has no value politically either, instead optimum must be reached outside article’s hypothesis, with the practicality”.
This process of taking a theory to practicality involves inter-disciplinary view points, as you have mentioned. But what my article(Defending Diamond) emphasizes is, in nutshell, scientific theory need not face social issues within in the confines of scientific debate, making a scientific theoretician free from being politically or culturally offended, but when someone takes his theories to practicality he/she must be open to political and cultural debate. It is basically the difference between say, Carl Marx and Stalin, Marx can be criticized scientifically but not politically whereas Stalin would have to face all kinds political criticisms.