“El cientificismo”, una conferencia de Mario Bunge

Sostenía Isaiah Berlin que los pensadores y los artistas podían dividirse en dos grandes grupos, de acuerdo con una particular interpretación del fragmento del poeta Arquíloco “muchas cosas sabe la zorra, pero el erizo sabe una sola, y grande”. Así, según Berlin, el grupo de los erizos estaría formado por aquellas personas convencidas de la existencia de un principio ordenador, unificador y sistematizador de la rica experiencia de la vida humana en general, y de sus múltiples manifestaciones sociales, políticas y culturales. En cambio, en la carpa de las zorras estarían todos los convencidos de la imposibilidad de reducir la casi infinita variedad de lo real existente a un único conjunto de categorías genéticas y explicativas. Berlin pensaba que gente tan distinguida como Platón, Hegel o Dostoievski eran grandes erizos, en tanto que catalogaba en el predio de las zorras a figuras no menos célebres, deL estilo de Aristóteles, Shakespeare y Goethe.
¿Qué hubiera pensado sir Isaiah de un tipo como Mario Bunge, por ejemplo? Sospecho que hubiese tenido que idear un nuevo taxón ad hoc, tal vez el de las zorras erizadas, o el de los erizos zorrunos, vaya usted a saber. Una nueva categoría, ésta, diseñada ex profeso para una figura tan multidimensional como la del profesor Bunge. “Muchas cosas sabe la zorra” sería un buen frontispicio arquiloquiano para la enciclopédica erudición y la muchedumbre de intereses y pasiones intelectuales de don Mario. Al mismo tiempo, “pero el erizo sabe una sola, y grande” es una proposición que uno podría grabar, con permiso del ilustre profesor porteño, en la cabecera de su propia cama.
Tratar de reseñar una conferencia de Mario Bunge es tarea tan ardua como intentar encajar los contenidos de la Enciclopedia Británica en las dimensiones de un cuento de Jorge Luis Borges. El profesor Bunge practica una modalidad de acrobacia intelectual que le permite abordar un sinfín de contenidos –“muchas cosas sabe la zorra”- de una forma sistemática, casi geométrica, encajando tales contenidos dispares en los perfiles perfectamente definidos –“pero el erizo sabe una sola, y grande”- de una soberbia urdimbre de ideas, conceptos, definiciones, teoremas, demostraciones e hipótesis.
El pasado 30 de abril el profesor Bunge impartió una charla titulada “cientificismo” en la Facultad de Derecho de la UNED. Bajo este epígrafe, el ilustre pensador argentino desplegó una vez más algunas de las ideas-fuerza de su pensamiento, recogidas en lo fundamental en su obra magna en ocho tomos Tratado de filosofía básica, y en una versión más dietética en su libro Ser, saber, hacer. En efecto, el profesor Bunge obsequió a los presentes, durante una hora aproximadamente, con una intervención en la que abordó de forma sucinta pero muy jugosa algunas de sus ideas sobre ontología (el estudio de existencia de las cosas), gnoseología y epistemología (el estudio del conocimiento humano), axiología (el estudio de los valores), praxiología (el estudio de la acción humana), ética (el estudio de los valores morales), economía, psicología social, sociología, criminología forense y neurociencia cognitiva.
Muchas cosas sabe la zorra. Pero don Mario, viejo erizo, abordó esta variedad casi amazónica de temas desde el común denominador del “cientificismo” (en realidad, y mejor dicho, “cientifismo”, como el propio ponente se encargó de aclarar). En boca de otros, este concepto podría merecer una severa sanción moral por parte de ciertas almas sensibles y acomplejadas. Pero don Mario es mucho don Mario, y su visión cientifista de la múltiple realidad humana emana de un pasmoso sentido común, musculado en un activismo académico y social de decenios, sostenido en una erudición portentosa y conducido por los rieles de una recta guía moral.
Una guía moral concretada en la ética del agatonismo, que el profesor Bunge resume en el precepto “goza de la vida y ayuda a vivir”, y que define como una combinación de egoísmo con altruísmo y de utilitarismo con deontologismo. Ni Kant, pues, ni Bentham, sino una combinación lineal de ambos.

Marisa Marquina, Manuel Corroza, Antonia de Oñate y Juan Rodríguez, con Mario Bunge

Sentido común, desde luego. Pues el cientificismo no es sino la reivindicación del sentido común a la hora de abordar el estudio de la realidad, la preexistente a los seres humanos y la construida por éstos. Y el sentido común, en la gestión de nuestra propia ignorancia, pasa por la utilización del método científico; en realidad, de los métodos científicos. Partiendo del principio filosófico del realismo ontológico –esto es, existe una realidad externa al sujeto cosgnoscente- y de una epistemología aproximativa –podemos adquirir un conocimiento cada vez más cierto de la realidad exterior, aunque nunca será un conocimiento completo- el profesor Bunge aboga por la constitución de una metafísica científica, esto es, de la puesta a punto de un esfuerzo de identificación, clasificación y sistematización lógica de los conceptos que subyacen a toda formulación científica. Pues, como bien dice don Mario, “la investigación científica se desarrolla siempre en una matriz filosófica”. Nociones autoevidentes como “objeto” y “propiedades”, como “existencia” y “cambio”, como “sistema”, o “espacio” o “tiempo”, “vida” o “mente”, “individuo” y “sociedad”, “hecho” y “valor”, forman parte del utillaje elemental de la labor de las ciencias naturales y humanas. Y sin embargo, tales nociones son deudoras de un esfuerzo previo de clarificación filosófica. El cientificismo es, entonces, la actitud de sentido común en el abordaje de conocimiento aproximativo y cierto de una realidad que existe con independencia del sujeto cognoscente. Y esta actitud se aplica a una gran diversidad de objetos: desde la física de partículas a la distribución óptima de bienes y servicios en una sociedad desarrollada. La variedad de objetos de estudio conlleva la adecuación particular de la metodología de investigación, pero ésta será siempre científica –cientificismo, “el erizo sabe una sola cosa, y grande”- y por ello, racionalista y empirista.
Esta reivindicación del trabajo epistemico de los científicos va pareja con el rechazo de tres grandes corrientes de la filosofía del siglo XX, que, en opinión del pensador argentino, han resultado ser esfuerzos estériles: la hermenéutica (y su invocación de un acto mágico de comprensión intuitiva más allá de la razón), la fenomenología (y su entronización de la subjetividad del sujeto cognoscente como fuente legítima de conocimiento) y el existencialismo heideggeriano (y su colección de sinsentidos lingüísticos). Tampoco sale demasiado bien librado el positivismo lógico del Círculo de Viena que, de acuerdo con Bunge, contradijo sus pretensiones científicas con su epistemología puramente fenomenista.
Tan criticable como el fetichismo del lenguaje, que Bunge asocia también con la filosofía posmoderna francesa, es el fetichismo matemático, presente en la elaboración de modelos matemáticos apriorísticos sin validación empírica. Un vicio que, nos indica el profesor, se hace especialmente patente en la microeconomía neoclásica y su postulado de la decisión racional individual. Y en el particular bestiario de nuestro querido filósofo no puede faltar, en una especie de acto de justicia poética tratándose de un intelectual argentino, el psicoanálisis, una práctica pseudocientífica absolutamente infalsable en el sentido popperiano. O el marxismo, una filosofía que se desentendió en su momento de las novedades científicas más relevantes del siglo XX y que no ha conseguido articular un pensamiento verdaderamentre científico.
No obstante lo cual, Bunge muestra un empeño más que solvente en propiciar un locus indudablemente práctico a la filosofía a través de un decálogo de desafíos que la despierten de su ensoñación académica, que la liberen de su esclerosis escolástica y que la sacudan de su sopor autorreferencial y de su estancamiento (“la filosofía actual está estancada porque, con algunas excepciones, los filósofos sólo leen a otros filósofos”, Bunge dixit): la defensa de la investigación básica, la crítica de las pseudociencias y del posmodernismo, la puesta al día de la filosofía de la ciencia y de la técnica, la construcción de una metafísica científica, la potenciación de una filosofía exacta, el desarrollo de la filosofía práctica y el estímulo del enfoque científico de los problemas sociales son algunos de los trabajos herculanos que don Mario propone a este respecto.
¿Por qué queremos tanto a Mario Bunge, en definitiva? Sin duda, de lo expuesto más arriba uno puede extraer bastantes razones para sentir admiración por el viejo profesor. Pero quizás una de las más poderosas sea la claridad expositiva de su pensamiento y de sus propuestas teoricas, prácticas y éticas. La claridad es la cortesía del filósofo, decía Ortega, y en el caso de Mario Bunge, esta transparencia implica algo más que una cortesía. Implica un desafío. Bunge nos emplaza a no estar de acuerdo con él, casi nos provoca a disentir de sus puntos de vista. Y ahí reside la dimensión del desafío: cualquier alternativa a las formulaciones del pensamiento bungeano deberá tener, al menos, el mismo soporte argumental, lógico y racional que éstas.
Y eso no es fácil. No puede ser fácil.

Fuente: http://www.escepticos.es/node/3564

Advertisements

Mario Bunge: “Ciencias sociales con números”

“Governing Boom/Bust communities”, interesting research project at University of Alberta

Overview
Rapid growth and decay of rural communities has been a hallmark of Western Canadian development for decades. This is not necessarily problematic, and it may not be desirable to impose a rigid sustainability paradigm, but in many cases it has interfered with communities achieving desired outcomes and has resulted in environmental degradation. The link between these boom-bust patterns of change and the management of natural resource development is often strong, and is often presented as natural. We suggest that there are more resilient paths of development, even with a strong emphasis on natural resource development as a means of economic generation. Our central concept is governance, the taking of collectively binding decisions in networks of governmental and other actors; governance is understood as the result of the previous steps in governance; rules and roles emerge in this evolution, and influence the way new actors can find a role, and new policies, laws or plans will be implemented, or not.
Using a framework based upon evolutionary governance theory, which integrates theory from governance studies, institutional economics, environmental planning, legal studies, natural resource management, and development studies perspectives, we aim at a comparative study of towns in Alberta and British Columbia different phases of the boom and bust cycle. We intend to discern the impact of different governance policies and practices on the development pathways of small towns which are tied to resource industries. This can help to delineate interventions options which could be implemented to improve the patterns of future growth and development, as well as to improve how communities deal with downturns in their local economies. This research can lead to a larger theory of boom and bust and possible ways to tempering these cycles; such theory is not only of significant academic interest, but also of practical interest, as it can inspire governments at all levels, particularly municipal governments ,to consider governance options in a different, more nuanced way, that employs a diversity of policy tools to enhance both resilience and sustainability despite being tied to resource economies. Currently, there is a common reliance on rather generic ‘best practices’ or policy transfer from elsewhere. This however can be problematic as it does not necessarily reflect the local governance context well or the specific challenges facing the communities.
Without prescribing any formula for sustainable development, we believe it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of the options available for sustainable development, and for tempering boom/bust cycles. This can be achieved by analyzing pathways of governance including the present and absent forms of innovation in these paths and the spaces available for intervention in a given governance path, with its actors, institutions, power relations, and forms of knowledge.
Impact
A strong reliance on one natural resource can make governance paths more rigid and less susceptible to a deliberate intervention towards a more diversified future. For an understanding of possible tempering mechanisms, it is important to grasp the reduction of policy formation and implementation options that can take place when one industry or one company restructures governance, inserting forms of expertise, affecting power relations, influencing laws, policies, plans, and a selection process of like-minded people in politics and as residents. Not only does this undermine checks and balances, but also it can instill a degree of immunity against expertise and innovations that deviate from the worldview permeating the industry or company. Our hypothesis in this regard is that such immunity has two negative effects: the rigidity mentioned, and a neglect of environmental quality and community assets which could be used later in a new phase. Thus, resilience and reinvention options are threatened.
The impact of this study on academia can be the establishing of new linkages between disciplines in the analysis of boom and bust, and more broadly of sustainability planning and policy. More specifically it can help in the elaboration and testing of an evolutionary theory of governance in which these linkages are codified and stabilized. Policy-wise, the research can be valuable in increasing reflexivity with local governments regarding their steering options, regarding the cultivation and safeguarding of resilience.
The Team
The topic of boom and bust is not unique, but the approach is distinctive, by means of an interdisciplinary team, using the method explained below, and using an evolutionary governance theoretical perspective. At the same time, there are enough linkages with other existing perspectives and theories to maintain a place in mainstream academic discourse, and to borrow and possibly exert influence there (we mention post- modern public policy, institutional economics, environmental policy analysis, planning theory, public administration). The team consists of people with proven expertise in complementary fields: Lars Hallstrom [rural development, policy analysis], Monica Gruezmacher [natural resource management, development studies], Kristof Van Assche (governance & planning), Leith Deacon (environmental planning & policy), Kevin Jones (public administration, regional policy), Robert Summers (planning, institutional economics), Michael Granzow (cultural geography, sociology).

Source: http://www.crsc.ualberta.ca/What%20We%20Do/GoverningBoomBustCommunities.aspx

Polish-German Border Towns: Models of Transnationalism?

Border towns 1.JPG

Funded by the British Academy this project investigates the transformations of public space in interface areas of the German-Polish ‘twin towns’ of Frankfurt-Slubice, Guben-Gubin and Görlitz-Zgorzelec along the Oder-Neisse border. Despite modest populations, the border towns have major symbolic value for two nations attempting to write a new chapter in a modern history marked by war, trauma and deep resentments. The eastward expansion of the EU has propelled the towns from the margins to the heart of Europe. Cultural and socio-economic divisions nevertheless run deep. With the opening of the borders in 2007 changing physical realities are dramatically impacting possibilities of transnational interactions. This project offers the first comparative study of the border towns and specifically the role of spatial settings in cross-border exchange. This allows for a more contextual account of the relationship between social practice and place in German-Polish twin towns and sheds light on how communities use urban environments to cope with legacies of conflict and ongoing ethno-national difference.

Principal Investigator: Dr Maximilian Sternberg

Associated researcher: Lefkos Kyriacou

Photographer: Matthias Schumann (www.monofoto.de)

“Assembling for Development…” and “Globalization: capitalism and its alternatives”, by Leslie Sklair

First published in 1989, this book focuses upon the phenomenon of export-led industrialisation fuelled by foreign investment and technology. He concentrates on Mexico, where US companies have been taking advantage of inexpensive labour to establish “maquila” factories that assemble US parts for export. Through this detailed study of the maquila industry, Sklair charts the progress from the political imperialism of colonial days to the economic imperialism of today.

The book is the result of his research In the 1980s he carried out field research on the developmental impacts of foreign investment in Ireland, Egypt and (more intensively) China and Mexico. These works provided the material basis for Sociology of the Global System (published 1991, second updated edition in 1995, translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Persian and Korean). A third edition completely revised and updated, of this book, Globalization: capitalism and its alternatives, was published by OUP in 2002, and Portuguese, Arabic and Chinese translations are forthcoming. His book The Transnational Capitalist Class (2001) is now in Chinese.

In this book, Leslie Sklair focuses on alternatives to global capitalism, arguing strongly that there are other futures that retain and encourage the positive aspects of globalization, whilst identifying what is wrong with capitalism. The book continues to offer a concise and illuminating treatment of globalization for all students and academics in understanding how the global system works.* Updated and refocused to consider global capitalism within the context of alternative futures, which encourage the positive aspects of globalization and identify the negative aspects of capitalism* The negative aspects of capitalist globalization are explored in a new critique and the class polarization crisis and the crisis of ecological unsustainability are considered* The book also presents a new analysis of a long-term alternative to global capitalism: the globalization of human rights* Very accessibly written, this book deals with a huge subject in a concise and illuminating way for a student readership.

Bellow are the content of this book. I´m particularly interested in the 8. Capitalist Globalization in Communist and Postcommunist Societies

1. Introduction

2. Thinking about the Global

3. From Development to Globalization

4. Transnational Corporations and Capitalist Globalization

5. Transnational Practices: Corporations, Class, and Consumerism

6. Transnational Practices in the Third World

7. The Culture-Ideology of Consumerism

8. Capitalist Globalization in Communist and Postcommunist Societies

9. Capitalist Globalization in China

10. Challenges to Capitalist Globalization

11. From Capitalist to Socialist Globalization through the Transformation of Human RightsIndex

Professor Leslie Sklair: Key researcher in Global Studies

Leslie Sklair is Professor Emeritus in Sociology at LSE. He received his PhD from LSE, and his thesis, Sociology of Progress, was published by Routledge in 1970 and was then translated into German. In 1973 he published Organized Knowledge: Sociological View of Science and Technology (which was translated into Spanish). In the 1980s he carried out field research on the developmental impacts of foreign investment in Ireland, Egypt and (more intensively) China and Mexico. He published Assembling for Development: the Maquila Industry in Mexico and the United States in 1989, with a second updated edition in 1993. These works provided the material basis for Sociology of the Global System (published 1991, second updated edition in 1995, translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Persian and Korean). A third edition completely revised and updated, of this book, Globalization: capitalism and its alternatives, was published by OUP in 2002, and Portuguese, Arabic and Chinese translations are forthcoming. His book The Transnational Capitalist Class (2001) is now in Chinese.

Professor Sklair was a consultant to the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations in New York (1987-88); the ILO in Geneva (1993); the US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (1991); and the UN Economic Commission on Latin America in Mexico City (1992). He was a Visiting Research Fellow: at the Center for US-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego (1986-87; 1990); the Centre of Asian Studies, Hong Kong University (1994); and the School of Sociology, University of New South Wales, Sydney (1995). In addition, he held Visiting Professorships at the Department of Sociology in New York University (Spring 1993); and University of Hong Kong (1994). New School University in New York (2002) , University of Southern California (2004) and Strathclyde University (2005-2008). He has lectured at universities and at conferences in the UK, Europe, North, Central and South America, Egypt, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Australia and Jamaica.

Professor Sklair is currently the President of the Global Studies Association and also on the International Advisory Board of the ESRC funded major project ‘Cities in Conflict,’ based at Cambridge University.

Professor Sklair’s current research project, “Iconic architecture and capitalist globalization”, builds on his previous work on “Globalization and the FORTUNE Global 500”, which was partly based on interviews with major corporations around the world within a theoretical framework that recasts the relationship between global capitalism, classes, consumerism and the state. The architecture project focuses on how the transnational capitalist class uses iconic architecture.

Source: London School of Economics

ourouHe is on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Review of International Political Economy, Social Forces, and Global Networks, and served as Vice-president (Sociology) of the Global Studies Association.

Gdansk, from shipbuilding city to outsourcing city.

I stumbled across this article on Gdansk local economy. It is worth mentioning how the city is becoming a center of outsourcing as well as other Polish cities over the last decade. I do believe that this model of development requires more deep research from social science point of view. I just want to quote the said by the major of the city on how this “boom” is “rebranding the city”:

“This is absolutely rebranding the city,” said Paweł Adamowicz, mayor of Gdansk. “It is hugely important. We lack the finance, the capital of western cities. But we offer something extra, something competitive. We offer our brains, our intelligence.”

Mr Adamowicz said the outsourcing industry accounts for as much as 30 per cent of the city’s economy, and is its fastest growing.

The question is: is outsourcing a step forward or back for local economies? In this other article it is said that Goldman Sachs expands operations in Poland as a growing IT hub. The reasons are openly stated: “affordable labor force” (low salaries), “tax incentives” (basically not paying for the operations) and “large IT graduate pool” (young demographic structure people willing to get low salaries).

Poland is a growing IT hub for financial institutions in Europe due to its affordable labor force, tax incentives and large IT graduate pool, according to a report from Rule Financial, the U.K.-based investment banking consultancy acquired last year by German technology company GFT Group.
Wages are lower in Poland than in many other major economies in the European Union. UBS Group AG, Bank of New York Mellon Corp.