EMERGENT VALUES OF MODERN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN AN AFRICAN CONTEXT: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
THEOPHILUS OTSELU OGBHEMHE
DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS MORAL
AND PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES
KIRKWALL GRAMMAR SCHOOL
KIRKWALL, ORKNEY. SCOTLAND
My paper is a brief exploration of the values of modern science and technology in an African context.
To start with, the overall importance of modern science and technology is everywhere no longer in question today. Rather, the general concern now is with the issue of how best to integrate science within diverse cultures without sacrificing or compromising natural human rights, dignity and values. Consequently, it seems imperative at this time when the African continent is beset by a multitude of problems (socio-political, cultural and economical), that we ascertain what possible values modern science and technology have for Africa as a culturally unique environment. What, in other words, is or ought to be the African interest in modern science and technology? This question forms the broad framework for other questions relating to this paper.
A graduate schoolteacher of mine once wrote on the margin of one of my papers; “sometimes all that glitter is gold”. By this, he meant that upon detailed analysis, there exist a brighter side to most of the ideas I set out to rubbish in the paper. I cannot help getting this feeling whenever I read works aimed at exposing the so-called “enormous dangers and woes” science and technology has bequeathed on Africa. Part of my purpose in writing this paper is to expose and share with you some of what I take as misdirected criticisms against modern science and technology, aimed at discrediting them in the face of searching for what is germane in todays Africa. But I must confess at the outset that there is a problem about making this accusation, for as far as I can tell, there exist a myriad of such criticisms. All the same, I shall try to show with an exposition of the prospects of modern science and technology in an African context, what African nations have gained and stand to gain in the scientific culture.
Accordingly, I shall divide my paper into three parts. Part I will detail the major contributions and benefits of modern science and technology to the development of nations. We will see how scientific discoveries have made immense contributions to virtually every sphere of human endeavor. Part II will deal with the major criticisms leveled against modern science and technology, which concerned scholars have given as reasons why African nations should have nothing to do with modern science and technology. Finally, in part III, I will argue that the solution to the African predicament lies within the confines and domain of modern science and technology.
Science has become the most effective means of fixing our most stable beliefs, programmes of activities and improving continually our developmental project. Thus it is the pivot of national development policies worldwide both in the industrialized and in the industrializing societies. With it, these societies hope to be able to harness and dominate physical nature with ease. The confidence is that the result would be unlimited progress in the abundant procurement of economic goods and social services for the improvement of human existence. For these and similar reasons, the conclusion that modern science, technology and industrialism are everywhere irresistible has been drawn as inevitable. As Bertrand Russell puts it, “Throughout the world, therefore, science and industrialism must be accepted as irresistible and our hope for mankind must be...
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