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Some Characteristic Aspects of Modern Science

history, communist, social, prehistory and scientific

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SOME CHARACTERISTIC ASPECTS OF MODERN SCIENCE (An essay in philosophical analysis) We are witnessing in our time an unprecedented interest in the investi gation of the position of science in social life and its rapidly growing importance in human progress. Philosophers, naturalists, sociologists and writers of many countries have contributed to this subject a considerable number of articles, pamphlets, and substantial monographs. Nevertheless, the study of science and of the multifarious ways in which it is connected with other social processes is actually just beginning.

We cannot rest content with this situation. Under the communist system, where science is becoming a direct productive force, the investigation of the processes of scientific inquiry is of particular importance—not only from the theoretical but especially from the practical standpoint. It becomes imperative to understand fully the process of scientific development in order to derive the full benefit of rational long-range planning in the national economy, in education, and in the ideological realm, and in order to promote scientific and technological progress.

How can a radical solution of these problems be achieved? We will not attempt a full answer to this question, but only comment on a fact of particular import in the contemporary state of affairs. Inasmuch as science itself is becoming the object of scientific investigation, it is natural that definite attitudes and methods of approach should have developed. These attitudes and methods have proved to be inadequate, however. In order to achieve results in determining the new traits and tendencies of scientific progress, the need arises for new ideas and outlooks which go beyond the traditional conceptions. It is here that, in our view, it can prove most fruitful to apply to the theory of science (natural science included) the propositions of Marx and Engels on the prehistory and history of mankind.

The founders of Marxism introduced into sociology the concept of the socioeconomic structure and considered the historical process as a succession of such structures, placing social evolution in a broader context.

The period from the inception of the first human community in the distant primitive ages to the construction of world communism constitutes, according to Marx and Engels, simply a prelude to true history, a prehistorical hiatus. This period constitutes, fundamentally, a transition from the biological to the social, a maturing of society into a new form of motion of matter, and a passing of the world into a new stage of evolution. The victory of the communist system announces the end of the prehistory and the beginning of the true history of mankind, which will rid itself forever of the remnants of animal behavior and will find stable forms of social organization. Thus, the revolutionary movement from capitalism to communism does not merely mean that one structure is replaced by another of a higher order, but also implies a much more profound and sublime change.

In working out their thesis on prehistory and history, Marx and Engels proposed a number of criteria by means of which these periods can be distinguished. Before communism, society evolves in a spontaneous manner. In communist times, people consciously, and thus with increasing success, control this process. Prehistory is the domain where stark necessity rules, where man's productivity is governed by need. The emergence into history constitutes the step into freedom, where people will have maximum leisure and opportunity to cultivate their natural gifts, and where the development of man's potentialities will be an end in itself. These criteria certainly require further elaboration. But something else is of interest to us: the universality of the distinctive traits characterizing pre communist and communist times. Each of these traits manifests itself throughout the period to which it belongs, i. e. , throughout prehistory, or history.

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