Towards a Nationally Pertinent System of Knowledge, Science, and Technology

Towards a Nationally Pertinent System of Knowledge, Science, and Technology

Jose Aguilar (Universidad de Los Andes, Venezuela; & Prometeo Researcher, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, Ecuador) and Oswaldo Terán (Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8336-5.ch002
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This chapter describes an autochthonous system of Knowledge, Science, and Technology (KST): its actors, policies, strategies, and instruments. It is proposed to create it via a continuous reflection-action process. Such a system is aimed at promoting an autonomous nation, and will strongly rest on culturally free KST, beyond its actual conception (as universally valid, and neutral) in the Western Society. We argue that since the culture, problems and needs of the western nations are different from those of the non-western nations, such as Latinamerica, Africa or the Muslim World, the use of western KST in non-western societies without an appropriate reflection about national and local pertinence, generates dependence on KST that has very limited local societal benefits, and prevents developing an autonomous and pertinent KST system – non-western societies can only superficially capture the creations of the western society. To overcome this, we suggest that non-western nations must generate an autochthonous KST system.
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The dominant actual meaning and societal role of Knowledge, Science and Technology in general (KST), and of both Free Knowledge, Science and Technology (Free KST, or FKST, which is promoted by, e.g., the Copyleft licenses), and proprietary Knowledge, Science and Technology (or PKST, e.g., that promoted by Copyrights), are creations of the dominant Western Society1, and are understood as universally valid, and thus neutral. This allows defining the worldwide dominant western models of KST, which are the western KST, western FKST and western PKST).

Given that western KST has been created for a (western) society, whose culture and other particular characteristics are different from non-western or peripheral regions and nations, such as Latinamerica, Africa, Asia or the Muslim World, their use in non-western or peripheral societies, without an appropriate reflection about national and local pertinence of such KST, generates dependence (at different levels: economic, political, social, cultural, etc.) on western KST, which has local limited societal benefits. We do not neglect that these non-western or peripheral regions partially share elements of the western world, but they are culturally different and are not leaders in relation to the creation of KST in the world, but rather followers of the western KST and way of life. In this sense they are peripheral, since they are marginal to a dominant western, which imposes them a certain way of life, and a form of KST.

Thus, the western KST promotes a foreign and not pertinent global social model in detriment of the local/autochthonous social model and culture, preventing and precluding the development of an autonomous KST system. A reason for this is that non-western societies can only superficially capture the creations of the western society, viewing from their perspective only the instrumental and passive features, which are easily imitable, while missing its fundamental aspects. Among the aspects missed when coping the western KST are its creative and endogenous character, since western KST appears as a consequence of the western needs and culture, which differ from those in other regions of the world – each region has its own particular local environment, needs and culture –. The most immediate and easiest aspect of KST to be copied is its instrumental use, reduced sometimes to its vacuous employment. This is a use without any local meaning, but considered good by the non-autonomous actors (actors who imitate western KST), because actual western KST is fashionable, so it is imitated in order to get actualized, and because of the illusion that coping the west KST keeps the non western or peripheral nation “modern”, “advanced”. Despite of all this, we are not rejecting the fact that some peripheral cultures and societies share in some degree common aspects with western culture and society, and thus western KST has some degree of pertinence with western culture and society. However, such pertinence must be determined and used as a criterion when copying western KST.

This peripheral KST also has some expressions of FKST and PKST (no good copies of the corresponding western FKST and PKST), as well as certain degree of autochthonous KST. Peripheral KST of diverse regions or nations in the world have some relevant common characteristics despite of the differences among such regions or nations. We will centre our attention in such common characteristics, but will describe some particularities specific for the Latinamerican region.

From the point of view of this paper, a common culture defines a Nation. In this sense, the Latinamerican region defines a Nation conformed by several countries (they share a common culture), most of them appearing after the split, into several countries, of the American Spanish Empire in the 19 century. The other country included in this Nation is Brazil, a country coming from the American Portuguese Empire, which also shares the Latinamerican culture. In this chapter we will be using with the same meaning, and indistinctly, the terms national and regional to refer to that which is particular to a Nation (the term regional highlight the fact that the Nation is placed in a certain place, and undergoes some particular situation, in the world).

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