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On modern science, human cognition and cultural diversity : an essay

  • The development of modern science has depended strongly on specific features of the cultures involved; however, its results are widely and transculturally accepted and applied. The science and technology of electricity, for example, emerged as a specific product of post-Renaissance Europe, rooted in the Greek philosophical tradition that encourages explanations of nature in theoretical terms. It did not evolve in China presumably because such encouragement was missing. The transcultural acceptance of modern science and technology is postulated to be due, in part, to the common biological dispositions underlying human cognition, with generalizable capabilities of abstract, symbolic and strategic thought. These faculties of the human mind are main prerequisites for dynamic cultural development and differentiation. They appear to have evolved up to a stage of hunters and gatherers perhaps some 100 000 years ago. However, the extent of the correspondence between some constructions of the human mind and the order of nature, as revealed by science, is a late insight of the last two centuries. Unless we subscribe to extreme forms of constructivism or historical relativism, we may take the success and the formal structure of science as indications of a close, intrinsic relation between the physical and the mental, between the order of nature and the structure of human cognition. At the metatheoretical level, however, modern science is consistent with philosophical and cultural diversity.

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Metadaten
Author:Alfred Gierer
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:b4360-100800
URL:http://edoc.bbaw.de/oa/articles/reWzceNyax8Ok/PDF/27bD6bWJkm5vE.pdf
Document Type:Working Paper
Language:English
Date of Publication (online):2006/10/31
Release Date:2006/10/31
Tag:China; Europe; Jesuits; cultural diversity; electricity; history; science
Source:Preprints / Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte ; 137
Institutes:BBAW / Veröffentlichungen von Akademiemitgliedern
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Wissenschaft, Allgemeines / 00 Informatik, Wissen, Systeme / 000 Informatik, Informationswissenschaft, allgemeine Werke