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Science and Modernity : Ravi Sinha

Guest post by RAVI SINHA

Science and modernity are widely considered among the most celebrated features of contemporary human civilization. Increasingly they are taken as the defining elements that distinguish our times from the times gone by. At such a sweeping level, there can be many other ways to characterize the contemporary. One can, for example, refer to capitalism, market, globalization, democracy or nation-states. One can also include various critiques of capitalism and the widespread resistance to its hegemonic and imperialistic avatars among the characteristic features of our times. Such characterizations, however, belong to a layer of historical reality that is more systemic than civilizational. Science and modernity, especially when taken as a correlated pair, characterize our times at a deeper level. They have, so to speak, seeped into the subterranean layers of contemporary historical reality.

On the face of it, such an assertion would appear to be far removed from the actual state of affairs in the real world. It would be rare, for example, to find a person whose beliefs and practices are fully consistent with established precepts of science. Such a search would be a fruitless endeavour, more or less, in any society on the planet. A similar anomaly is apparent in the case of modernity too. One can safely say that an overwhelming majority of humans in the contemporary world does not live by the canons or conventions of modernity. While few may be completely untouched by the laws and institutions of a modern polity or by the processes and pressures of a modern economy, most live by traditions and practices that do not sit well with basic attributes of modernity. Continue reading Science and Modernity : Ravi Sinha