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Ganeri, Jonardon (2013) 'Well-Ordered Science and Indian Epistemic Cultures.' Isis, 104 (2). pp. 348-359.

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Abstract

This essay defends the view that “modern science,” as with modernity in general, is a polycentered phenomenon, something that appears in different forms at different times and places. It begins with two ideas about the nature of rational scientific inquiry: Karin Knorr Cetina's idea of “epistemic cultures,” and Philip Kitcher's idea of science as “a system of public knowledge,” such knowledge as would be deemed worthwhile by an ideal conversation among the whole public under conditions of mutual engagement. This account of the nature of scientific practice provides us with a new perspective from which to understand key elements in the philosophical project of Jaina logicians in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries c.e. Jaina theory seems exceptionally well targeted onto two of the key constituents in the ideal conversation—the classification of all human points of view and the representation of end states of the deliberative process. The Buddhist theory of the Kathāvatthu contributes to Indian epistemic culture in a different way: by supplying a detailed theory of how human dialogical standpoints can be revised in the ideal conversation, an account of the phenomenon Kitcher labels “tutoring.” Thus science in India has its own history, one that should be studied in comparison and contrast with the history of science in Europe. In answer to Joseph Needham, it was not ‘modern science’ which failed to develop in India or China but rather non-well-ordered science, science as unconstrained by social value and democratic consent. What I argue is that this is not a deficit in the civilisational histories of these countries, but a virtue.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions
ISSN: 00211753
Copyright Statement: ©2013 by The History of Science Society. This is the published version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1086/670953
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2013 08:45
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/17224

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