CHAPTER XIV

 

THE ROLE OF SCIENCE IN

SOCIAL PROGRESS

 

N. SHERMUKHAMEDOVA

 

 

We are not only at the end of the 21st century, but at the beginning of the third millenium. The 21st century will soon be history, but in spite of all misfortunes it was a serious step on the road of social progress. In its time progress penetrated each cell of the social programs and affected all areas of society. Considerable progress was achieved because of the rapid development of the various sciences important for modern society. The technical revolution which took place mostly in the second half of the 20th century not only became the most important factor in social progress, but changed the meaning and role of science in the life of society.

Over the centuries the development of science was completely dependent upon the development of industry. It was a true success of science when recommendations were put into practice. For example, people knew about electricity in the time of Aristotle, but only from the 18th century did this science begin to develop as one of the most important parts of the modern physics, because only at that time was it possible to connect the theory of electricity with practical usage.

Generally, practical needs and demands, first of all of industry, determined the path of development of science, which was conditioned by the needs and demands of industry. Now we see another picture: today the most important factor in social progress is not industry, but science. Today’s social industry depends upon the development of science, upon new technologies and so on.

Acceleration of scientific-technical progress plays a big role in social progress. Many qualitative changes in the technology of human civilization are taking place at the threshold of the 21st century. This constitutes an active process of the transition of society from the industrial era based on the machine technologies, to the post-industrial era based on the organization of the activity of international technologies.

Here we should emphasize the growing importance of information technologies in the development of the social environment. The President of our Republic, I.A. Karimov, emphasizes: "The 21st century will be a century of informational technologies, and our country will enter it with a well-organized base in order to play an active role in the sphere of science and technology, as well as in the area of education, culture and more open humans relations."1

The level of meaning and the role of science and technical revolution in our country is always growing, which shows the importance of the development of science and its meaning in social progress. Nowadays, State policy in the area of science in the Republic of Uzbekistan is directed to preserving and ensuring the development of its scientific-technical potential. Its efforts are concentrated on socio-economic tasks which remain at the forefront of Uzbekistan’s transition to a socially oriented market economy.

At the time of independence there were scientific schools, research groups, organizations and institutes which now are working on the most important concrete problems of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Today Uzbekistan has a strong scientific potential, supported by more than 150 scientific research institutes and universities, projects and technical organizations. Besides the governmental research organizations, many private scientific organizations have been formed which now compete with traditional research centers. Today we can see the successful effects of national and foreign funds. Scholars and specialists of Uzbekistan are carrying out fundamental and applied research in such promising fields of modern science as physics, mathematics, chemistry, philology, micro-electronics, machine-building, astronomy, archeology, biology, biochemistry, biophysics, history, geology, seismology and so on.

In Uzbekistan some state laws determine the working of science and technics. These have been adopted and put into action through various laws and directives regulating specific parts of scientific-technical activity. These include laws about "production and service"; "information"(1993); "inventions, useful models and industrial samples", "protection of the PC software and database copyright" (1994); "scientific breeding achievements" (1996); and "copyright and adjacent rights" (1996); as well as "the civil code of the Republic of Uzbekistan" (1997).

The national system of patents was formed and the country signed international agreements and contracts for the protection of industrial and intellectual property. Now there are provisions in the Republic regarding industrial property. More than 50 intergovernmental agreements about scientific-technical cooperation have been signed with foreign countries and some projects from this program have already been started by international funds.

These are first, but real, steps of our Republic’s integration into the international scientific-technical community. However, in spite of the above, some difficult problems confront scientific activity due to the economic and political reorganization of the country. The financing of the scientific-technical base of science is insufficient to create normal working conditions for scholars. The biggest problem on the road to the renovation of the technical base of the industry is now industrial funding.

The wear-out of the material-technical base of science leads to a reduction in the amount of scientific research and technological development which is damaging to the competitiveness and technological level of local industry. Over the years the scientific-technical achievement in creating new materials and high technological processes and in producing experimental samples of new technics has decreased. Co-operation between the branches and "factories" of science, which depended in large part on state orders, has grown weak. In spite of all the measures taken to save the scientific potential the number of specialists in the area of scientific research and technological elaborations has shrunk. Some of these specialists have moved to commercial organizations. The number of younger scholars also is shrinking. In this regard the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan has emphasized the problem of succession in scientific knowledge and its passage from one generation to the next.

This is a problem of connecting present day scholars and the scientific potential left by our great ancestors, such as Farabi, Beruny, Ibn Sina and other great scholars of Central Asia whose works are still useful. Of course, cooperation between Eastern and Western scholars has an important role in the process of stabilization. All this shows that continuity and cooperation are most important issues for the development of society and science, and for the deeper integration of the two.

In present day conditions the problem of succession between generations in reviving and developing the spirit of the nation and its liberation from dogmatic and bureaucratic methods of managing plays the main role. Here the main focus of attention has been the revival of national self-awareness. First of all, important steps were directed to changing the mentality of people from dogmatic to liberal horizons. This is a duty of all nations. This process is led by the philanthropic fund "Oltin meros", which means "Golden legacy", which was formed under the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, I.A. Karimov.

Without exaggeration we can say that the changes taking place in Uzbekistan are fundamental and will change radically the destiny of the nations of our Republic. I.A. Karimov thinks that all reforms carried out in the country on the way to social progress must include spiritual training of the young, respect for the rich cultural legacy, historical traditions and general human values, in the spirit of love of the Motherland and devotion to the ideals of independence. It is very important to train youth and future generations in the perduring national and common values developed by our ancestors over a period of thousands of years. This focuses on the regeneration, development and formation of the whole nation and its historical memory, engaging everyone in the rich history and culture of our people. Discovering and teaching the golden legacy of our ancestors to today’s scholars is an essential contribution to the social progress of our country as, in turn, it increases knowledge of our predecessors.

In our Republic for more than 50 years an Academy of Science has functioned along with many research institutes as its branches, as well as higher special educational institutions which work successfully on many actual problems of fundamental, applied and human sciences. Our scientific schools are widely known beyond the bounds of the Central Asia and the CIS. First of all, there are the representatives of mathematical schools with such members of the Academy as T.A. Sarimsakov, C.A. Sirajdinov; and of the scientific school of Uzbek physics, such as S.A. Azimov, U.A. Afirov and P.K. Khabibullaev. The works of members of Academy, A.S. Sadicov on the chemistry of natural combinations and Y.K. Turaculov on genetics are well known. Geologists of our Republic who made an outstanding contribution to the discovery and industrial exploitation of huge supplies of raw materials, have been led by the head of the Academy, V.X. Abdullaev. In biology and zoology the works of academicians T.Z. Zakhidov and A.T. Tulaganov are well known. An original scientific school led by academician Y. Gulamov in the area of human social sciences has made important contributions to archeology. There is the school of the founder of scientific philosophy in our Republic, I.M. Muminov. The works of famous scholars in language and literature, Abdulla Kodiriy, Oybeck, Gafur Gulamov and others, are well known far beyond our country.

The spiritual values of the holy "Koran" have particular meaning. For the first time this book has been translated into the Uzbek language. The works of Uzbek literary scientists are published far beyond the bounds of our country and spread broadly in the world. In recent years more and more attention has been given to the study and theoretic ordering of thousands of manuscripts kept in the institute of Orientalism and other storehouses of our country. They have great value for the full and deep study of the scientific teaching and conception of our ancestors.

In this stage in history contacts and collaboration among all scholars of the world community have a great influence on social progress. That is why the skillful combination of the spiritual-moral values of peoples of different countries and continents, along with general humane and national values now receive more attention. An account of the role of science in social progress must include not only the higher significance of science, but also its use in the hands of inhuman scholars, statesmen and military leaders, from which come global problems, pollution of the environment and the spread of weapons. If we do not give social direction to present science and technology and resolve global and regional problems of scientific-technical progress by united efforts they can have fatal influence on the environment, health and the genetic future of humanity. Undoubtedly, the present progress in science and technology is contradictory in character, but progress in one area, first of all in the economic sphere, can lead to progress in other spheres.

The problem of more effective use of scientific research persists. The degree of research and the development of advanced scientific technologies support the economic reforms in our country. There is a certain gap between actual and legal rights in the creation, transformation and use of intellectual property and other results of scientific-technical activity. Difficulties in scientific development in our country are closely linked with the transitional period which Uzbekistan has been going through. This is, of course, to be expected. However, any scholar who has been abroad surely knows that the myths in our country about the prosperity of foreign science are not all correct. Only those projects and programs are well financed that promise quick and large profit.

Traditionally it is agreed to support science, but for a society it is above all important how science serves social functions. These can be divided into three parts:

 

1. the cultural-world outlook,

2. spontaneous-productive forces, and

3. social forces.

 

These functions are developed only in conditions of social progress, for the cultural-world outlook for science can improve only if we first overcome the conflict between the scientific and religious world-outlooks. The connection between science and technology through the applied scientific disciplines must be brought to a productive state. When the number of people connected with scientific progress reaches a definite mass, when related social groups have developed, and the scientific world outlook becomes predominant, science will begin to be a social force. The scientific idea of social progress is now indissociable from the development of science.

On the other hand, this kind of connection has a reverse influence. If the aim of classical science consists in developing knowledge and methods, the institutional aim is, first of all, such "external factors" as the political, military, economic and governmental. In the works of scholars these begin to predominate over scientific problems in the forms of scientific organizations and the preparation of specialists. As the social scientific role is strengthened, the style of science becomes insufficient for opening the mind to truth. The social, economic, political goals become the leading part of research in a process which subordinates scientific research to certain "ends" or goals. The number of scientific factors becomes fewer, which the social means grow so that the main role in the direction of science is played by economic, military, medical and ecological concerns. This has the following symptoms:

 

- the formation of special state authorities for the direction of science;

- the creation of non-governmental organizations interested in the development of new knowledge; and

- the professionalization of science leading to a situation in which scholar-professionals cannot always do what they like, but must work according to the plans laid out for them.

 

In this way a functional scientific crisis arises The first symptom of this crisis is in its cognitive dimension. The main cognitive function of science is to achieve a new fundamental knowledge as a basis for applied knowledge, and in the end as a basis for the social functions of science. But fundamental science is adding knowledge faster than the applied sciences can render it practically useful. This leads to an excess of fundamental knowledge to which society calls a "halt". The mechanism for stopping this is the social-psychological mood of society, "pointing out that science has many embezzlers". Modern society has become prevalently pragmatic, which makes the explorations of very expensive science insecure. This is particularly evident in the ecological consciousness.

The development of crisis symptoms in science influences the social progress. The scientific community can be divided into two parts: in the first knowledge, values and goals are realized by stimulus, more or less in accord with the system of the "internal" norm of science. In the second part, scholars who made their scientific discoveries on the basis of the cognitive norms of science add to them values and goals that are "external" as regards science or even hostile to scientific methods (obtaining declarations by colleagues and society, affirmations of oneself and of vital values, and so on).

It is clear that the socio-scientific functions are important in the function of spontaneous productive and social forces. The social functions of science concern:

1. "States" — strengthening the defensive power of the country and raising its prestige in the world;

2. "Society" — production of new knowledge, and the acceleration of technical progress; and

3. "Elites" — businessmen.

 

The "state" function of science is little by little retreating to a secondary level behind the "society" functions which reflect the interests of the whole society and the political and economic elite who profit and are becoming more important. The successful achievement of long-time priority goals of any state, including Uzbekistan, include first of all such factors as national security, economic development, national health, internal stabilization and lowering of social tensions, international authority and influence upon the conditions of the reconstruction of the structure of the economy. All these require the resolution of a number of economic and scientific-technological tasks.

The resolution of such problems depends above all on new and rapidly changing technology. Gaining access to advanced technology is the most important factor in providing for national security and raising the level of the national economy. The strength of a country in the scientific and technological sphere assures its position in the world market and at the same time raises its defence capability, just as defects in quality can be compensated by high technology which shortens the length of time and other quantitative factors for development. The level of development of science and technology determines the effectiveness of economic activity, and helps the spiritual and political culture of the population of a country defend persons and society and overcome unsuitable natural and humanly dangerous factors. Most of all, the national scientific potential in large part determines the place of a country in the world market, and its ability to resolve its own problems. Of course, national security cannot be guaranteed only by means of mind over politics in the area of science and technics, but neither can national security be guaranteed without it.

It is becoming clear, that the economic and military security of a state without highly qualified personnel is impossible; technological security is impossible without scientific workers. In the 1980s it became clear that the place and role of any country in the international division of labor depended, first of all, upon the quality of the training of specialists and the conditions that the country or socio-economic system creates for the development of the scientific potential of scholars.

At the present time, science, technology and education stand in the first place among the factors in developing a nation. This is connected with the transition to a post-industrial stage of development and an information society. The strategy of industrially developing countries must be based on the development of scientific potential .

Another very important function of science is to improve the educational system. This is especially important in high schools which have the largest number of teachers and students. Teachers who do not want to be researchers will not be good teachers, because they lack current knowledge. Most of all, science as a school for thinking is an important element in the educational system. Science creates in society an intellectual atmosphere and gives it such problems as: are there other intellects in the Universe? If science is necessary for any society, it is a permanent necessity in order for societies to develop dynamically.

In sum, social progress and the development of science, though not identical, are interconnected. Sometimes they can move independently of each other, but development of society without the work of science will have a destructive future generations.

 

NOTE

 

1. I.A. Karimov, Uzbekistan along the Road of the Deepening Economical Reforms (Tashkent, "Uzbekistan", 1995), p. 3.