Last night I thought I kissed
the loneliness from out your belly button.
I thought I did, but later you sat up,
all bones and restless hands, and told me
there is a knot in your body that I cannot undo.
I never know what to say to these things.
“It’s okay.” “Come back to bed.”
“Please don’t go away again.”
Sometimes you are gone for days at a time
and it is all I can do not to call the police,
file a missing person’s report, even though
you are right there, still sleeping next to me
in bed. But your eyes are like an empty house
in winter: lights left on to scare away intruders.
Except in this case I am the intruder and you
are already locked up so tight that no one
could possibly jimmy their way in.
Last night I thought I gave you a reason
not to be so sad when I held your body like
a high note and we both trembled from the effort.
Some people, though, are sad against all reason,
all sensibility, all love. I know better now.
I know what to say to the things you admit to me
in the dark, all bones and restless hands.
“It’s okay.” “You can stay in bed.”
“Please come back to me again.”
Is there, really, a grand narrative? Is empirical-positivism the only means to establish truth? Are facts unerring?
We are at a point in history wherein grand narratives are now being questioned. Lyotard is one of the most prominent critics of the grand narratives of science. His attack on modernity has disengaged it from being the endpoint of history. Now, we see modernity simply as a phase and not as the end point of history.
Science may have been the handmaid to the advent of technology, but during postmodern times, science and technology no longer enjoy being a regime. We now find that science is challenged by subjectivity, individualism, and decentralization. We find this in the arts and humanities as well as in policy, governance, and trade. I find that this is an inevitable offshoot of globalization where there is an intermingling of cultures, civilizations, individuals, and religions.
There is, in fact, science. However, postmodernism does not necessarily lead to the its demise. Rather, it weakens its foundations and hegemony because it in fact unearths the falsifiability of science. It shows that grand narratives do not apply to all cases and instead makes the world a puzzle of different stories of knowledge.
The Politics of Science
Science can be likened to a social movement. There are dominant and powerful voices, there are counter-movements, there are the marginalized, and there are revolutions. In this light, scientific inquiry is a human activity.
Like any other human activity, there are groups and organizations that advocate for a particular movement. In the case of science, the dominant approach is that of the empirical-positivist school of thought. This is because the natural and physical sciences contend that scientific inquiry should have a logical movement that involves observation through the senses and a method of inquiry.
When pertaining to scientific inquiry in the causalities of naturally occurring phenomenon, the empirical-positivist approach is actually ideal. In fact, it is a reasonable way of producing knowledge. However, when it comes to social inquiry, then we have a problem.
People- even those belonging to the same race, religion, culture, and families- are individuals with unique behaviors and experiences. In this sense, we cannot have a control variable, an independent variable, and an independent variable if we are to follow the scientific method. Isolation may not be as useful because prior to a study, an individual participant will already have biases, opinions, and beliefs which will greatly affect the outcome of the study. In this sense, by picking the right set of data instead of randomizing a population, a researcher can actually somehow “manipulate” the results.
A better way of performing social inquiry, and that which counters the empirical-positivist approach is hermeneutics. Its focus on cultural relativity and language can be applied when inquiring into causes of human activity and experiences. It can explain the causality of social movements in a manner that cannot be explained by empirical-positivist approaches.
Q:Hi Pauline! The case study that you are planning is a very timely one. The OFW phenomenon you are talking about has really taken the Philippines by storm. I just had a few issues. First, I would like to ask something about the research questions. The question is: can you put all the research questions into one main question that would basically mirror the whole study? This is important since it would make sure that your study is coherent.
Hi Kuya Paul!
I actually mentioned the main research question in the post, though I only implied it and not directly phrased it as a question. My bad. My main question is “How can the OFW phenomenon be seen as a failure of government in a postcolonial perspective?” I will also answer your question in our Facebook group. Stay tuned!
Q:Hi Frances, good afternoon. Do you think your case study, "The OFW Phenomenon: A Poscolonial Filipino Ideology" can somewhat be connected to the question "Is there a culture of science and technology in the Philippines?". It has been argued in the handout that our dilemma on science rests on the problem of expertise and specialization- many people have the desire to earn a degree but is not willing to specialize in it but rather "strike anywhere" where there is money.
I’m working blind here because this research hasn’t started yet, but I’m pulling stuff from what I learned in Poli Econ and Comparative Politics (get these courses, they’re interesting).
I do think that the overseas phenomenon is an offshoot of a lack of a culture of science and technology. We do have courses in the natural and physical sciences, but the graduates are not nurtured in a way that they will be able to use their expertise for research and development. Unlike in Korea where research and development among the chaebols is very intensive and government-initiated, we do not have the same luxury. Research and Development (R&D) will actually create more jobs here both for graduates of the natural sciences as well as vocational courses. More jobs leads to less overseas workers.
If research and development will turn out successful, my theory is that with the jobs that R&D will provide, there will be a lesser need for people to go abroad for work. Assuming that the technology sector (or any other sector that benefits from R&D) becomes successful, we could export our products which will in turn be a big chunk that will replace OFW remittances.
Of course you need a systematical change for this to happen. South Korea did it in a matter of decades because of a highly efficient and selective bureaucracy in the form of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE). We need a more capable DOST in the lines of the MKE if we are to nurture a culture of Science and Technology.
Bottom line is that more education and jobs in R&D, less OFWs.
Hope that answers your question.
Positivism, Naturalism, and Anti-Naturalism
Knowledge and truth are established, revealed, and understood by a majority through the empirical-positivist epistemology that dominates the sciences today. As a consequence, all sciences are subject to the rigors of the natural sciences. This entails using the scientific method in the production of knowledge.
Human experience can be subjected to scientific inquiry. We experience emotions whose roots and causes can be found in the chemical products of hormones. We experience human behavior when we interact with others. These are human experiences that can be subjected to scientific inquiry, but scholars are better off knowing their limitations.
The use of the scientific knowledge assures that there is a logical order for the information to pass through. That much is true. In essence, empirical-positivism involves observability, objectivity, neutrality, and measurability. However, quantitative studies like those under empirical-positivism have their limitations. How do you measure power? How do you observe sexuality and discrimination? How do you become detached if you are a feminist scholar? Simple statistics cannot explain the causality of these phenomena. These questions attack empirical positivists at the core and foundation of their approach. It renders them useless to topics involving the humanities and inter-human relations.
I do not submit to the belief that human experience can be subjected to scientific methods of inquiry. I recognize that the scientific method is limited in interpreting human experience when it comes to events that are unmeasurable and demand a more hermeneutic approach.
Rationalism or Empiricism?
How does one “know?” This is perhaps one of the central questions in philosophy which has sparked many a debate regarding the production of knowledge.
Empiricism states that knowledge ought to come from human experience. It has to pass through the senses in order to be established as the truth. One ought to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel before it is established as truth and before it comes to reason. But what about ideational concepts? This is where rationalism takes its flight.
Rationalists argue that all humans are born with innate knowledge that facilitates our understanding of the world. How are we to act with principles and conscience if we cannot directly experience it through our senses? How about freedom and democracy? How did the ancients conceptualize freedom, democracy, and the order of a government and society if they haven’t experienced it prior? Rationalists argue that these concepts come from a priori knowledge.
This debate between empiricism and rationalism is akin to the proverbial chicken and egg, but one thing is certain. Both are reliable bases for the production of knowledge as both ultimately establish truths using the functions of human reason.
I think that the question and the debate between empiricism and rationalism is, not irrelevant, but of lesser importance. The more important question should be “is it THE truth? Is it the RIGHT and ABSOLUTE truth?” That is a challenge to rationalists and empiricists in postmodern times.
Is there a Culture of Science and Technology in the Philippines?
The Philippines is a country of irony. It is an English speaking country where even those who have not acquired formal and extensive education can speak a foreign language. It is a country where constitutionally speaking, there is no dominant religion. However, when entering government offices and buildings, one will notice religious emblems and even chapels. It is where celebrities are politicians and politicians are celebrities. Lastly and most importantly, it is a country bestowed with so many raw materials and opportunities and yet still remains Third World.
The reason why the Philippines remains in the bottom of the development scale is that very little resources and attention goes to research and development. One example is our agriculture sector- more specifically the rice growing industry.
It was the Philippines that introduced successful rice farming in other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam. With the International Rice Research Institute in Philippine soil, one could imagine that the country gets a first hand at the developments of sustainable rice farming.
However, the Philippines still imports a majority of its rice from its Southeast Asian neighbors. The teacher now becomes the benefactor of his student, but in this case, this is not to be taken in a positive note. The Philippine experience denotes a failure not only in the government but also in the culture of science.
To begin with, a career in science is not a very attractive future for the country’s youth. Researchers and scientists receive below competitive salaries, and the benefits are delayed. There is no abundance of equipment that would aid experimentation or nurture an inquisitive mind. Lastly, there is no public support for the cause of the knowledge warrior. This stems from the hesitance of opening religion, animism, and mysticism to the explanations of science. Politics also plays a major role among bureaucracies wherein agencies that need funding for their projects are put in the back seat in favor of agencies whose specialization benefit those involved in the decision-making process.
I find it sad to say that the absence of a culture of science in the Philippines is one of the main reasons why it is underdeveloped. Perhaps by reengineering the culture of backwardness, we will give birth to the long-awaited science and technology. I fervently hope to see that day come into fruition.
Is Science Masculine?
In answering this question, we better ask a tangential one: How do we define the masculine against the feminine?
Research defines the male mind as logical, objective, detached, and unemotional. In contrast, the female mind is defined as emotional, soft, fickle, and communicative.
When it comes to applying this to science, we see a stark difference between a masculine science and a feminist science, the dominant school of thought being the masculine science.
As naturalists would have it, science ought to be objective, unbiased, and based on hard, uneerring facts. But what happens when you delve into the subject matter of culture, racism, rape, the family relations, and power? This is where interpretation comes into the picture.
Interpreting these phenomena requires that the researcher understand the dynamics of what is being studied. In fact, being immersed in the field or the subject matter being studied gives the interpreter the more than enough data or knowledge that are needed.
This is where the debate ensues. A majority of natural science advocates see this as an act of compromise for the supposedly unbiased scientist. On the other hand, the small group of feminist scholars hold the ground that it is necessary to bring emotions into the study.
I do agree that science is masculine, but not because it ought to be. Science is masculine because of the dominant voices that say that it should be laden with characteristics befitting a man. However, I do contend that science, especially the humanities and the social sciences need to be feminine in order to bring an understanding to the causes of social phenomenon that cannot be explained simply by being so detached. Making science feminine is also necessary to make science more “human.”