Title: Science, Philosophy and Sustainability: the end of the Cartesian World
Publisher: EarthScan from ROUTLEDGE
Publication Year: 2015
JRC N°: JRC89133
ISBN: 978-1-13779640-9 (print)
978-1-315-75790-2 (ebook)
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC89133
Type: Books
Abstract: It appears to be a truth universally acknowledged in the scientific and policy communities that the way to deal with of our many global challenges is to develop and deploy more (and faster) of the sort of science and technology that has now been relabelled as “innovation research”. This would be science that has high capital investment, centralised control of funding and quality, exclusive expertise, and a reductionism that is philosophical as well as methodological. We call that ‘Cartesian’, after the vision of René Descartes that the only route to knowledge and wisdom lay in the mathematical analysis of a world stripped of its qualities and intrinsic energies. Our approach is to consider new ways in which science can sustain our planet and enrich our lives. The key for science to remain a legitimate and trustworthy source of knowledge is that society will have to engage in the collective processes of knowledge co-production, which does not only include science, but also other knowledges.Science and technology have been the basis of progress and economic growth, and the instruments whereby humanity exercises its control, or in Descartes own words, humans as masters and possessors of Nature. This worldview can be ascribed to the Cartesian dream and to the modern secular state, i.e. prediction and control over a disenchanted nature through rational management and governance. This resulted from two parallel developments: the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the two English revolutions, together with the ‘scientific’ (‘Copernican’) revolution. Since then the Cartesian worldview has been foundational for most scientific endeavour and it has empowered a political, administrative and techno‐scientific elite to promote a particular conception of the human condition.. Is the Cartesian ideal of certainty, prediction and control still defensible or appropriate? Is it possible to fully substitute human potential for action with techno‐scientific silver bullets? First, the current ideas on innovation, especially as represented in European policies, as a way to build the most competitive region of the planet and not least to deliver a remedy for all human and environment problems are grounded in this worldview and dream. However, the transformation process from modern science and technology to innovation occurs in parallel to the growing crisis of credibility and legitimacy of a knowledge system grounded on the Cartesian ideal of prediction and control. Indeed, we have signs showing that this perspective needs thorough interrogation. Second, we should reflect on the effects of the techno‐scientific worldview on our democratic institutions. This book explores the promises of some contemporary scientific endeavours and the techno-scientific vision in order to ascertain their plausibility. The invited authors will illustrate the argument with relevant cases that have been promoted as essential for the well-being of humanity, and have today become the object of debate in an economy of ever‐growing promises.. The book’s case studies and argument are intended to engage readers in a deep reflection on the need to move beyond some of the Cartesian ideals, and find new ways in which the scientific endeavour can sustain humanity and the planet today, when collective knowledge is distributed, widely accessible and used in previously unimaginable ways. Indeed, the book will argue that the great intellectual and practical challenge today is to devise a governance system with an effective commitment to knowledge creation in a plural society.
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