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Susantha Goonatilake

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US Address


20/1 Joseph Frazer Rd; Colombo 5 Sri Lanka



Center for the Study of Social Change New School for Social Research 80, 5th Avenue, 5th Floor New York, NY 10011


Tel/fax 94-1-587945





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Background Information

Dr. Susantha Goonatilake was first trained in electrical engineering in Sri Lanka, Germany and Britain and later in sociology in Sri Lanka and Britain (Ph.D.Sociology) ; M.A.(Sociology); B.A (Sociology); A.M.I.E.E. (London); B.Sc. (Engineering).

Among Dr. Susantha Goonatilake's books are Anthropologizing Sri Lanka: A Civilizational Misadventure (Indiana University Press, 2001); Foreign funded NGOs in Sri Lanka and the Death of Civil Society (forthcoming); ; Toward a Global Science: Mining Civilizational Knowledge (Indiana University Press 1999, Sage India 2000); Merged Evolution: the Long Term Implications of Information Technology and Biotechnology (Gordon & Breach. New York, London 1999); Technological Independence: the Asian Experience (ed. the United Nations University, Tokyo 1993); Evolution of Information: Lineages in Genes, Culture and Artefact (Pinter Publishers, London, and PBS Publishers, New Delhi 1992); Aborted Discovery: Science and Creativity in the Third World (Zed Press London 1984); Crippled Minds: an Exploration into Colonial Culture (Vikas Publishers, New Delhi 1982); Food as a Human Right (ed The United Nations University, Tokyo 1982); and Jiritsu Suru Ajia No Kagaku-Dai San Sekai Ishiki Karano Kaiho (A Free Asian Science -Towards Liberation of the Third World Mind - Japanese translation of writings on non-European knowledge systems Ochanomizu Shobo Publishers; Tokyo 1990).

Dr. Susantha Goonatilake has taught or researched among others at the University of Exeter, University of Sussex, UK; Columbia University; New York; New School for Social Research, New York; Institute of Developing Economies, Tokyo; University of Philippines, Manila; University of Trondheim, Norway; University of Linkoping, Sweden and the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. He has worked at the UN. He has also being a senior consultant for all the UN organs dealing with knowledge and science and technology issues (such as UNU, UNESCO, UNDP, ILO, FAO, ESCAP, APDA, etc).

Dr. Susantha Goonatilake is a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a former General President of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science.


Coming Intellectual Shifts to Asia: The Indic Possibilities

The new century will be marked by several dramatic changes that will leave their effect on knowledge, science and technology. One would be the shift of the centers of gravity of the world in economic and political terms away from its present Eurocentric moorings to Asia, a process that will occur amidst pervasive globalization. Another set of changes is in the science and technology field, primarily with a shift to information technology and biotechnology, both of which are heavily culture-impregnated. These changes will deeply influence geopolitical relations in science and technology.

The paper documents the shift to Asia and the role of Asian civilizational knowledge in the manufacture of aspects of modern science in the last decade or two. The examples taken are from the fields of medicine, psychology, cognitive sciences, Artificial Intelligence (AI), mathematics and physics. The paper also explores some speculative future possibilities in Asian inputs including in social theory for new technologies. It suggests the use of Asian metaphors in theory construction and gives some estimates of future potentials in the field as well as a rough estimate of the current Asian civilizational knowledge pool.

(NOTE: An earlier version of this paper was read as the opening address at the “Eighth East-West Philosophers Conference” Hawaii January 2000. A version appears in a forthcoming issue of Philosophy East and West . A detailed treatment of this area is covered in my Towards a Global Science: Mining Civilizational Knowledge Indiana University Press 1999.)

Read the entire paper in PDF format (80K, 25 pp.)