Science, society, technology and holistic modes of thought

Baughan, Hugh Simpson (1999-12)

Thesis (M.Phil.)--Stellenbosch University, 1999.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This work involves a study of different conceptions of knowledge as are found in a mechanisticnaturalistic view of science, particularly from within Western intellectual culture, and how such conceptions affect the ways we regard science and society in relation. It attempts to draw out some implications for the limits of those conceptions when seen from a holistic stance, and presents modes of thought more adequate to address and better understand human reality. In particular, technology and technology education remain indebted to Western and mechanisticnaturalistic assumptions about man and society. Suggestions are made as to how holistic modes of thought might be used to make sense of technology as human practice, and how South African technology education policy might be framed so as to be more in tune with human values. Chapter one reviews some of the historical sources of the mechanistic-naturalistic conception of science, particularly as an objective, universal, and rational process. It attempts to make explicit some of the basic assumptions of such a view (both scientific and philosophical), to highlight its general influence in Western intellectual culture, and to point out the broad contradiction in thought it implies: namely, that the scientific view supposes a universe of purposeless matter, while to the human mind is attributed aim and intents. Chapter two maps out some of the social implications for the mechanistic-naturalistic stance, notably in how science and society are conceived to relate. It treats some contemporary opinions in support of the view that science is largely extra-cultural in its processes, and analyzes the various social norms that make up the project of science. It addresses as well the view of science first as knowledge production, indebted to various social exchanges for its continued existence, and then as a matter of professional expertise for the solution of social problems. Chapter three attempts to offer holistic-like modes of thought that may serve to enrich an overly enthusiastic adoption of a mechanistic world view and its assumptions about what constitutes reason. It highlights some current developments within science that call into question prior notions of mechanistic explanation. It presents as well two approaches to understanding, based on self-organizing systems and the view of man as a self-interpreting creature, that provide for a richer grasp of the human reality beyond the limits of an only mechanistic-naturalistic rendering. Chapter four analyzes technology as an instance of intelligence, seen from the world view of the machine. It provides an alternative depiction of technology viewed from the standpoint of selforganization and interpretation. Both provide a handle on the meaningful human practice of technology. Technology education policy involves an analysis of outcomes from the technology learning area, pointing out the ways in which they remain indebted to mechanistic-naturalistic conceptions. Ideas based on self-organizing systems and meaningful interpretation serve to frame differently an approach to technology education that is more attentive to human values. The conclusion offers a set of holistic-like ideas and principles, used throughout the whole of the work, and which make up part of a general conception of holistic modes of thought.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie werk behels die studie van verskillende konsepsies/begrippe van kennis soos gevind in 'n meganisties - naturalistiese kyk op wetenskap, in die besonder vanuit 'n Westerse intellektuele kultuur, en hoe sodanige konsepsies die wyse beinvloed waarin wetenskap en gemeenskap in verhouding betrag word. Dit poog om implikasies aan te dui vir die grense van daardie konsepsies wanneer vanaf' n holistiese hoek betrag, en bied denkwyses wat meer voldoende is om menslike realiteit aan te spreek en te verstaan. In die besonder bly tegnologie en tegnologie-onderrig veel verskuldig aan Westerse en meganisties - naturalistiese aannames rakende die mens en samelewing. Voorstelle hoe holistiese denkwyses gebruik kan word om sin te maak van die tegnologie as menslike bedryf, en hoe die Suid-Afrikaanse tegnologie-onderrig-beleid omskryfkan word om beter by menslike waardes aan te pas, word aan die hand gedoen. In hoofstuk 1 word sommige van die historiese bronne van die meganisties-naturalistiese begrip van wetenskap, in die besonder as 'n objektiewe, universele en rasionele proses, in oenskou geneem. Die skrywer poog om sommige v. d. basiese aannames van so 'n blik (beide wetenskaplik en filosofies) duidelik te maak, die algemene invloed op Westerse intellektuele kultuur uit te lig, en om die bree teenstelling in denke aan te dui wat dit impliseer nl. dat die wetenskaplike uitkyk 'n heelal van doellose materie veronderstel terwyl daar aan die menslike verstand doel en voornemens toegeskryf word. Sommige v. d. maatskaplike implikasies vir die meganisties-naturalistiese standpunt word in hoofstuk 2 gegee, insonderheid hoe wetenskap en samelewing met mekaar in verband sou staan. Sommige kontemporere opinies ten gunste van die siening dat wetenskap grotendeels buitekultureel is in sy prosesse,word behandel. Verskeie sosiale norme wat die projek van wetenskap uitmaak, word ontIeed. Die siening van wetenskap as eerstens 'n voortbringing van kennis wat veel verskuldig is aan verskeie maatskaplike wisselwerkings nodig vir sy voortgesette bestaan, word aangespreek en tweed ens as 'n saak van professionele kundigheid vir die oplos van maatskaplike probleme. In hoofstuk drie word holisties-gelyke denkwyses aangebied wat kan dien tot die verryking van 'n oor-entoesiastiese aanvaarding van 'n meganistiese wereldsiening en aannames rakende die samestelling van die rede (verstand). Somrnige huidige ontwikkelinge binne die wetenskap wat vroeere begrippe van die meganistiese verduideliking in twyfel trek, word uitgelig. Twee benaderings tot verstaan, nl die gegrond op self-organiserende stelsels en die siening v. d. mens as 'n self-verklarende skepsel word aangebied om 'n ryker begrip v. d. menslike realitiet anderkant die grense van 'n eng meganisties-naturalistiese weergawe te bied. Tegnologie as 'n voorbeeld van intelligensie,gesien as 'n wereldsiening v. d. masjien word in hoofstuk 4 ontIeed. 'n Alternatiewe uitbeelding van tegnologie, gesien as self-organisasie en interpretasie word verskaf Beide sienings verskaf' n greep op die betekenisvolle menslike tegnologiebedryf Tegnologieonderrig-beleid betrek 'n ontIeding van uitkomste v. d. tegnologie leerarea en dui op die maniere waarop hulle veel verskuldig bly aan die meganisties-naturalistiese begrippe. Idees gegrond op self-organiserende stelsels en betekenisvolle vertolkings bied 'n ander benadering tot tegnologieonderrig wat meer afgestem is op menslike waardes. Die slot bied 'n stel holistiesgelyke idees en beginsels wat dwarsdeur die werk gebruik is en 'n deel vorm van' n algemene begrip van holistiese denkwyses.

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