Metaphysics of Science and the Closedness of Development in Davari's Thought

Philosophical Investigations 17 (44):787-806 (2023)
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Introduction Reza Davari Ardakni, the Iranian contemporary philosopher, distinguishes development from Western modernity; in that it considers modernity as natural and organic changes that Europe has gone through, but sees development as a planned design for implementing modernity in other countries. As a result, the closedness of development concerns only the developing countries, not Western modern ones. Davari emphasizes that the Western modernity has a universality that pertains to a unique reason and a unified world. The only way of thinking in this world is a philosophical thought based on human self-centered reason, and given the pervasiveness of Western civilization. Therefore, Davari does not consider Westernization as mere imitation of Western customs and methods, but rather as a way of existence in the world. Westernization is a subjective view of the world and beings. Westernization is not optional, enabling non-Western people to avoid it. According to the Westernization scenario, the world today is entirely Westernized, and Davari considers Westernization as the inevitable fate of the people of this era, seeing two alternatives for them, both of which ultimately lead to the same destination, which is to embrace development; either they seize the power of science and technology and join the process of global modernization and participate in it, or they become subdued by this process and accept it without participation. Davari regards the first type of Westernization as active and the second type as passive. Problematique Therefore, underdevelopment is not a concept of the ancient world, nor even of a world between the ancient and the modern, or on the threshold of modernization. Underdevelopment is a condition of suspension and timelessness and being exposed to modernization. To escape the paradox of underdevelopment, which is the inevitable historical fate of non-modernized societies, Davari sees no way out other than embracing development. In other words, Westernized societies, which have become confused due to modernization, have no escape route other than turning to development. Therefore, some critics of Davari accuse the theory of Westernization of being a theoretical rupture. M. T. Tabatabaei, by rejecting the theoretical rupture in the theory of Westernization, believes that in the argument of Davari, we are only faced with a shift from a philosophical to an intellectual level. Tabatabaei, by avoiding providing a philosophical response to the critics of the theoretical rupture, believes that the introduction of active Westernization and collaboration in science and technology as a solution to escape from underdevelopment conditions, is only a shift from a philosophical level to an intellectual level and does not involve a rupture. Therefore, it seems that the philosophical issue of how or the possibility of escaping from underdevelopment conditions is still an open non answered problem. In this study, seeking a philosophical answer to this problem, an attempt has been made to summarize Davari's definitions of development, underdevelopment, participation in the world of science, and the role of humanities and social sciences in development, using his writings and speeches. It is proposed that a way to escape from the clesedness of development based on Davari's views, is to make use of analytical method with emphasizing on concepts and theories of the philosophy and metaphysics of science. Argument According to Davari, the social and human sciences that are responsible for development planning in underdeveloped societies must consider the characteristics of underdevelopment in order to facilitate the transition to more favorable conditions. Davari identifies the following conditions for successful development: 1) replacing tradition with science as the organizing and coordinating principle in society, 2) recognizing the universality of philosophy and science of the Western modernity and the impossibility of blindly imitation and adopting it, 3) inevitability of actively engaging and interacting with development, 4) recognizing the internal dynamics of scientific progress and avoiding authoritarian control, and 5) promoting free participation in the scientific paradigms. Therefore, Davari suggests the following steps towards development: 1) recognizing and understanding the problems of society and the local ecosystem, 2) understanding the philosophical and cultural foundations of Western civilization, 3) understanding the historical context and paradigms of science, 4) understanding the philosophical and metaphysical foundations of science, 5) recognizing the intellectual and philosophical capacities of our own community, and 6) reflecting our own philosophical and metaphysical assumptions in the scientific world in a way that is compatible with scientific methods. Given the motivations for change in science at both the global and national levels, including the emergence of heterodox or indigenous sciences, and the inevitable nature of development, Davari points to the possibility of a path between absolute rejecting or accepting the mainstream social and human sciences. However, this path is challenging and contingent upon the aforementioned conditions and steps of transition. Conclusion It is necessary to seek this path within the realm of the philosophy and metaphysics of science, particularly in the origins and foundations of the social and human sciences. Research in the metaphysics and philosophy of the social sciences provides the opportunity for active scientific engagement in the scientific paradigms and a reconsideration of the foundations of science, allowing for different philosophical foundations while are compatible with scientific methods. Successfully finding a path between absolute rejecting or accepting the existing social sciences will lead to an internal transformation within the field of science and, in fact, will advance the boundaries of knowledge. Therefore, it is possible, while adhering to the conditions of transition and actively participating in the world of science and technology, and accepting the unity of modernity and avoiding selectivity and imitation, to search for a way to overcome the closedness of development through a reconsideration of the philosophical and metaphysical foundations of science, while recognizing our own intellectual heritage and critically assessing Western science and technology.

Author's Profile

S. Mohammad Reza Amiri Tehrani
Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies


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