- 24.1 A New Stage in the Globalization of Knowledge
- 24.2 The Disciplinary Integration and Spread of Knowledge in the Age of Classical Science and European Imperialism
- 24.3 The Disintegration of Knowledge and the Globalization of Science in the Age of the Great Wars
- 24.4 Modes of Reflection on Globalized Science in the Age of Liberalization
- 24.5 The Persistence of the “Classical Image of Science”
- 24.6 The Formation of Socioepistemic Complexes and the Onset of Socioepistemic Evolution
- 24.7 The Perspectives of Social Studies of Science and of Historical Epistemology
- 24.8 Pathways to Socioepistemic Evolution
- 24.9 Nuclear Physics and the Emergence of Big Science
- 24.10 High-Energy Physics as an Example of Impartial
- 24.11 Climate and Energy Challenges and the Quest for Socioepistemic Evolution
- 24.12 Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering as Pathways to Socioepistemic Evolution
- 24.13 Global Health as a Challenge to Sociocultural Evolution
- 24.14 Toward a Global Knowledge Infrastructure
- 24.15 Science as a Medium of Reflection for a Globalized World
24.1 A New Stage in the Globalization of Knowledge
Science may take on completely different forms in various cultural and historical contexts, but all of these forms of the human
The staying power of science and its relative stability are based on its roots in technology with which humanity reproduces its social systems. By contrast, science’s lack of endurance and relative fragility lie in its dependency on the motivations prevailing in any given society. This fragility has been reduced more and more in recent centuries as science has gone from a voluntary occupation of small groups of
Since the early modern period, the range of science has expanded dramatically, not so much because an alleged
Knowledge is globalized when it is in principle globally available and accessible. The globalization of knowledge today has reached a new stage: it has
First, we recapitulate the historical emergence of
These global challenges are then formulated as the emergence of
Evidently, globalization processes in science differ from discipline to discipline. While global big science takes place in cost- and labor-intensive research fields in the natural sciences and partly in the life sciences, the globalization of behavioral and social sciences are a result of the empirical turn and the confluence of national traditions. The globalization of knowledge is clearly not a one-way process of intended transmission, as the previous Parts have shown for other time periods. Also in modern science, knowledge becomes global both by processes of
24.2 The Disciplinary Integration and Spread of Knowledge in the Age of Classical Science and European Imperialism
Rather, the existing scientific disciplines represent historically contingent
The role of contingency in knowledge integration becomes evident, however, when looking at the origin of
In the core disciplines of the natural sciences as they emerged between the early modern period and the late nineteenth century, a handful of concepts structured a vast array of scientific knowledge.
In retrospect, such
Historically, the formulation of the
It is particularly evident in historical attempts to provide an explicit philosophical synthesis of scientific knowledge. An outstanding example of the role of
It was a common feature of knowledge integration in the period of classical science, between the early modern period and the late nineteenth century, that
By the nineteenth century a differentiated
24.3 The Disintegration of Knowledge and the Globalization of Science in the Age of the Great Wars
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, reflection on science tends to be separated into four branches: a philosophical-normative branch, a historical-descriptive branch, a political-pragmatic branch and the reflection taking place within science itself. The result was a split of rationality, largely separating science from a reflection referring to its contents as well as to its contexts and its societal conditions.22 However, such a separation could obviously not be absolute and was challenged by alternative interpretations of science as well as by often ideologically motivated attempts at its alternative systematization and organization.23
The very possibility of scientific progress continued, in any case, to depend on processes of knowledge integration and
Such processes of reconceptualization typically involved rearrangements on all levels, institutional as well as cognitive, including the refocusing of traditional research activities induced by the discovery of a new common thread, connecting hitherto separate problems. Also typical was the interaction of heuristic programs, which aim at knowledge integration, and traditional structures of knowledge, be they cognitive or social, which are
Science in the twentieth century was characterized by an acceleration of scientific activity, by increasing specialization and professionalization, as well as by an ensuing
More generally, during
The period after
The launch of the first artificial satellite “Sputnik 1” by the Soviet Union in 1957 led to massive investments into science and education by the Western nations to catch up with the
Yet the network of scientific knowledge continued to unfold its own, unpredictable
24.4 Modes of Reflection on Globalized Science in the Age of Liberalization
The great pitfalls of science in the twentieth century had made it abundantly clear that scientific
The period after the 1970s was characterized by a number of factors. These include the following: the disintegration of the
It had become clear, in particular, that political, economic or military decisions, but also the market and public opinion, could affect the pathway of scientific developments with long-term consequences. Also, the continued existence of traditional societies still living in the pre-industrial age suggested that the development of human societies is not necessarily linked to an accelerating development of technology, and not at all with the emergence and cultivation of science. Obviously, science was only one of many possible forms of expressing human culture, a realization that suggested approaches to science studies which no longer accept unidirectional concepts of modernity and even doubt the role of science as a privileged form of knowledge.31
On a political level, the development of science in democratic societies is exposed to a feedback loop in which it is confronted with the expectations, anxieties and constraints of public opinion. Public and private funding of science in democratic societies requires justification for the investments that may affect the direction of the development or even impose severe limitations on it. At the borderlines between science and society, public images of science are generated, often amalgamated with religious or ideological components that modulate their interaction. For the non-expert public, it has often been difficult to distinguish between science and
With the Bayh Dole Act from 1980, for instance, a uniform patent policy was introduced in the US that enables universities and non-profit organizations to register patents for inventions made in federally funded research projects. The intention was to encourage universities to more strongly engage in
Competition is affecting science in the form of the demand to cope with economic globalization, as illustrated by Europe’s Lisbon strategy aiming at Europe becoming “the most competitive and dynamic, knowledge-based economy in the world … .” In addition, competition takes on the form of a governance mode increasingly used in
This encouragement of international competitiveness strengthens globalized models of science and education even more, in particular as they still harbor much of the lore of the Western Enlightenment. But the ensuing globalization of knowledge tends to replace reflection with competitiveness and to downplay the role of specific contexts and local knowledge in favor of supposedly universalist principles of science. Yet it is through this perspective that most societies have come to view their problems, often disregarding the potential inherent in their own particular traditions or else in the opportunities for changing those principles, opportunities that sometimes only come with a decoupling from global trends and adapting
Science has become, in any case, a medium through which societies of a globalized world reflect upon themselves, albeit often in an indirect or haphazard and sometimes even fatal way. Much of the inner workings of present societies, their economies, their political systems, their cultural traditions and mindsets, and even their mechanisms of biological reproduction, have themselves become the object of science, sometimes with immediate self-regulatory consequences. However, often the most relevant knowledge for a society’s future is not generated by its academic institutions, for instance regarding fundamental economic decisions or health care; and if it is available, it is not being implemented because of the incapability of the political system to absorb this knowledge. Nevertheless, scientific knowledge has become an almost unavoidable component of any intellectual attempt to come to terms with human society on a global scale. This becomes particularly evident in attempts to ban, use or even modify science for ideological purposes, as were undertaken under the Nazi regime in Germany or in Soviet Russia. While it has been possible to abuse science for crimes against humanity, it has not been possible to simply abandon science or substitute it with an alternative. The role of scientific knowledge for a society’s self-reflection is also clear from the inflation of scientific expertise on issues such as global warming, nuclear policy,
Looking back at past images of science, implying expectations for future
24.5 The Persistence of the “Classical Image of Science”
At present, the system is challenged by several developments that are becoming increasingly dramatic. There is, first of all, the problem of size, both of science itself (in terms of manpower, resources, organization and industrial application) and of the quantity of publications it generates. The tremendous growth of science has been too large for commercial publishers to cope with, forcing certain fields into self-organizing open-access online publication initiatives.35 The natural and most wide-spread response to this challenge of size is, however, to strengthen the values underlying the classical system of science with the help of an increasingly extended institutional scaffolding, built with the purpose of reinforcing these values by imposing externally controllable criteria. But this externalization of
Another dimension of the
However, it has meanwhile become a widespread experience that the interdisciplinary nature of most worthwhile scientific problems makes it necessary to employ resources for tackling them which are usually not readily available as part of the established institutional framework of science or that such problems require reflections on social, cultural and ethical contexts, traditionally reserved to the sphere of applied science. Successfully mastering problems of basic science hence often includes wrestling with issues of
One of the most salient features of the present historical moment is that the institutional structures of science are permanently challenged by the research process they are supposed to channel, just as most major projects of basic research are permanently forced to reinvent the conditions for their realizability. In addition, they should also be able to reflect their economic, societal and moral contexts, as well as their relationships with other research endeavors. This contrasts with the more or less clear separation of levels of reflection within the
After the great pitfalls of science in the twentieth century, from the production of poison gas via the involvement of science in the Holocaust to the development of
The interlocking of cognitive, social, cultural and moral dimensions in intricate situations that is becoming the hallmark of science in the twenty-first century is no doubt an additional challenge of complexity but also an opportunity for science to regain intellectual and moral autonomy.37 Clearly this opportunity can only be used if the freedom of self-organization of science, which is at the roots of its innovative potential, is strengthened rather than weakened by further layers of hierarchical control; if problem choice can be accompanied by reflection instead of being enforced by formalized career patterns; if the necessary reality checks of intellectual ventures are not taken as a pretext for a confinement of science to economically profitable applications; if the social and institutional structures of science encourage intellectual mobility and recruitment from all strata and all parts of a global society rather than the defense of local prebends; and if the new ways of access to scientific information are not blocked by its transformation into a commodity.
This necessity, however, is in conflict with the internal pressure generated by the competition within the worldwide academic system to produce more and ever more specialized results, in general inaccessible not only to a wider public, but also to scientists from other disciplines.
24.6 The Formation of Socioepistemic Complexes and the Onset of Socioepistemic Evolution
As for the second, extrinsic process concerning the role of knowledge in other globalization processes—whether political, economic or cultural—it is evidently the case that any flow of scientific knowledge that comes to be associated with the international policy of individual states or with multinational actors, such as NATO, IBM, UNESCO, Al-Qaeda (e.g., by funding or espionage), unavoidably takes on a global character.
A critical link between intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of the globalization of scientific knowledge is found in the media and types of communication in science, which are the currency of an epistemic economy. Another critical link is the mechanisms of effective
One important result of the interaction between intrinsic and extrinsic processes of the globalization of knowledge in the long twentieth century, that is in the period between ca. 1870 and today, is the emergence of
The mitigation and handling of global challenges to humanity are inherently connected, both to the
It is evident that no simplistic rationalistic-technocratic model of
It is thus a further consequence of the interaction between intrinsic and extrinsic processes of the globalization of scientific knowledge that
As a consequence, such an evolutionary developmental process is an interactive
24.7 The Perspectives of Social Studies of Science and of Historical Epistemology
Also, the transformation of the academic world is conceived not so much in terms of a globalization of knowledge with its own
For our discussion here, however, it is less relevant whether a clear separation of the spheres of academia and society has ever existed in the past
Clearly, the ever increasing differentiation of science is counterbalanced by overarching knowledge integration and unification processes as in the convergence, at least with regard to certain problems, of physics and chemistry, and chemistry and biology. However, the potential of such unifications as a countervailing force to
More generally, it has turned out to be difficult, given the past success of seemingly universalist principles in science and their implementations, to take into account the possibility that different contexts may necessitate different ways of
In psychology, for instance, we often still witness a rather artificial separation between studies focused on the individual under more or less universalist perspectives, from studies of the social, cultural and psychological context of individuals and collectives. Similarly, in economic studies, the role of distinct historical pathways and cultural settings still tends to be neglected in favor of simplified assumptions about a more or less bounded rationality.43 The humanities are just beginning to avail themselves of the possibilities to overcome traditional disciplinary boundaries in favor of integrated accounts bringing together their sophisticated reflective traditions with the wealth of data that is now becoming available and, due to the progess of
The globalization of modern science involves various types of knowledge. In addition to the
The globalization of modern science affects them in different ways. Different fields of science rely, for instance, in different ways on language skills: in general the humanities depend on it more than do the natural sciences. Consequently, the spread of scientific knowledge may become affected by the worldwide distribution of linguistic competence in the
It may thus appear that the transfer of scientific knowledge to diverse environments almost unavoidably leads to a splintering, which may even risk endangering its coherence, in a way similar to the splitting of a language as a consequence of the spreading and separation of its speakers.45 But similar to the case of a
24.8 Pathways to Socioepistemic Evolution
24.9 Nuclear Physics and the Emergence of Big Science
This case shows a particular pathway along which a by-product of
Also, the enormous quantities of radioactive materials remain with us in any case: the global stockpile of highly enriched uranium is about 1800 metric tons IPFM 2007, 7 and each year about 10,000 metric tons of spent fuel are discharged from
Since the knowledge they produce can no longer be eradicated or even confined, it can only be controlled if further knowledge is developed, for instance, about political mechanisms, about possibilities for
In fact, only control by means of
24.10 High-Energy Physics as an Example of Impartial
In spite of the enormous investment in this institution, the significance of its ongoing knowledge output for fundamental physics, its role as a driver of
In view of the impartiality of
24.11 Climate and Energy Challenges and the Quest for Socioepistemic Evolution
In the case of the
Some argue that what is needed is a huge concentrated
24.12 Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering as Pathways to Socioepistemic Evolution
24.13 Global Health as a Challenge to Sociocultural Evolution
The challenges of the major
Such neglect begins to take its toll. In the case of tuberculosis, the knowledge for diagnosing and vaccination is about a century old and has not been substantially augmented since this time. While knowledge about how to treat this
The examples discussed so far have illustrated that the great challenges of humanity confront us with a structural deficit of knowledge. The existing modes of knowledge production and dissemination will probably be insufficient to cope with these problems. While
24.14 Toward a Global Knowledge Infrastructure
The Web offers a completely new way of representing knowledge. Information provided by single individuals can have an unprecedented worldwide impact. As Wikipedia and other projects illustrate, the Web allows for an equally unprecedented cooperative scalability, enabling the cooperation of thousands of individuals on the production of knowledge. The Web offers nearly
However, the Web is also characterized by the fact that hardly any of these potentials are actually realized in its present implementation. There are even risks that it will degenerate more and more into a platform where information is advertised and commercialized, rather than being made openly available and effectively interlinked with other information. Visions such as those of the
The Web as a new
24.15 Science as a Medium of Reflection for a Globalized World
A more widespread acceptance of a
Hints at such a development are evident in the new forms of organizing knowledge emerging in the context of the Web, illustrating how this new medium may transform science in future globalization processes. Remarkably, some of the most effective forms of organizing knowledge on the Web actually go back to traditions preceding the establishment of the disciplines, such as the encyclopedia tradition revived by Wikipedia or the cosmographic tradition, organizing knowledge according to space, revived by Google Earth and other geographic information systems. But in spite of this rather old-fashioned appearance, their
The parallelism between today’s
In our period, the grand challenges are instead represented by the problems encountered in the aftermath of the great civilizatory ventures (and their pitfalls) initiated in the early modern period. Today’s challenges no longer concern just the local fate of
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See Harris 1968; Asad 1973; Kuklick 1991. The close relationship between colonialism and the emerging field of anthropology (ethnology) is also discernable during the eighteenth century. For the emergence of ethnography during the exploration and colonization of eighteenth-century Russia, see Vermeulen 2008; Vermeulen 2012.
For a global history of rationality in which the split of rationality from other human faculties plays a central role, see Vietta 2012.
See the case of the Superconducting Super Collider which was terminated for economic and political reasons in 1993 Riordan 2000.