The Need of Sensitivity in Science: As the foundation of Cross-Cultural Science Education

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 1



—As the foundation of

Cross-Cultural Science Education—

“Science sets forth this formative process in all its detail and

necessity, exposing the mature configuration of everything which

has been reduced to a moment and property of Spirit. The goal is

Spirit’s insight into what knowing is. ”

[Hegel: Phenomenology Of Spirit. 1807.]

1. That what we usually think as “Science” is “Power Science”

and lacks Sensitivity.

The image of Powerful Science bulldozing through problems

and resistances to get things done is very strong in our mind.

And, therefore, it is hard to talk about “Sensitivity” as an

important element in Science.

Occasionally we do talk about beauty, poetry in science,

such as Fabre’s The Diary of Insects, and Einstein’s Cosmic

Vision. But, I am afraid, we tell such stories as “diversions”

from the main instructional materials. Perhaps we tell more jokes

of dubious value to entertain students more frequently than

telling about the “sensitive” tender elements in Science.

By and large we treat the sensitivity in Science as of

secondary importance. As a consequence, teaching practices of

Science tend to be that of imposing the Powerful Science on the

minds of students. We may not be conscious of us doing that. But

if we step back and look at our practices, it appears that we are

teaching Power side of Science almost exclusively and neglecting

I think it is unfortunate, for the creative thinking, the

sensitivity is essential. Even if the majority of human

population has to perform mechanical routines to make a living,

our children deserve an educational period where they are treated

with the delicacy of the Sensitive Science. For that reason, I

would try here a “scientific explanation” of

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 2

the Sensitivity, is a rational to stress the importance of it in

Science. I hope, my explanation is sufficiently general to

encourage Sensitivity in human life in general.

And, I have a feeling that what I meant by Sensitivity also

has some meaning to the Cross Cultural Education. Since I am not

familiar with the Cross Cultural Education that experts here are

engaged, I do not make a claim. Rather, I would like to ask you

if what I am going to discuss here has any relevance to the Cross

Cultural Education. I would be grateful if you kindly give me

back responses and reactions to what I said.

2. Where can Sensitivity be located in our Intelligence?

In order to introduce the Sensitivity, let me talk briefly

about “Science” in general. To save time, I present a simplified

archeological diagram here.

Science is a part of human intelligence to use the

faculties of our brain/mind.

(i) The first level of intelligence on the surface is Object

Recognition level. This is what Atomism does. We recognize

objects and identify them. We sometimes decide to ignore things

as well at this level.

(ii) The second level is Relation Recognition level. There we

think of relations between Objects. Statistical Correlations,

Causal linkages may be recognized and identified. Basically, the

relations recognized are of the “Linear” kind. [*See Subnote 1.]

(iii) The third level is Utility Recognition level. We sense what

we can do with the objects and relations we recognized.

(iv) The fourth level is Strategic Construction. This is often

referred to as “Problem Solving” intelligence. We take the

situation at hand as the starting point, and see the desired

state as the final point. If we find “The Means” to connect these

two points, we call it “The Solution” of the problem.

As such, the fourth level resembles the second level,

except that the “Connection” (Relation) is imposed by us. And,

often times, the task of finding the “means” to connect the two

points is accomplished by ignoring and cutting off relations that

existed. The image for this “problem

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 3

solving” is Alexander The Great cutting a knotted ball of string

with a sword in one blow. The sword is the imposed connection

cutting through all pre-existing relations. Unfortunately, this

happened too many times when a powerful dominant Culture met

In these 4 levels, there is no need of the Sensitivity.

Rather, we would think of the “Minimum” that is necessary for

what is desired. We deem that is “Efficient” and “Rational”

within the contexts considered.

For example, we recognize two towns on both sides of a

mountain. That is at the Object Recognition level. We see people

going back and forth between the two towns. This is the Relation

Recognition level of thinking. We see the Utility of the

exchanges. And we Bulldoze to make a Highway between them and

think that the problem is solved.

The “Science” in our ordinary sense is an organized and

formalized “knowledge” at the above 4 levels of intelligence. It

empowers people in that sense. Let me call this Power Science. It

lets us do things. But there are levels below this, if we dig

into our minds deeper.

(v) Although we seldom think any deeper than the Power Science

levels, we occasionally do “Think Twice”. We ask whether or not

the construction of the Highway was a good thing. Let me call

this 5th level intelligence as the “Reflective Level”.

We do have this intellectual capacity to “Think Twice”

about what we have done, and also sometimes what we are about to

do. That is where the Sensitivity comes in. Although we have the

Power to do and to get a certain thing that we desire, we ask

ourselves if doing so might not hurt someone. We exercise a care

to protect other’s safety, interests, wellbeing. This takes a

fair amount of imagination as to the situations that we are about

This requires thinking of the whole system of things in a

complex web of relations. It is different from the kind of

thinking of Power science which can be metaphored as that of

“Drawing a line from a point A to a point B”. For, in the complex

web of relations, there are lines from the point B to the other

point C, which in turn relates to other points. All linked in

that sense, the circle of the linkage most likely comes back to

the initial point A. That complicates the situation. A

straightforward thinking is only applicable

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 4

to linking nearby points. The whole circle of relation is not

“straightforward”, but rather “Non-Linear”. That makes thinking

[Linear/ Non-Linear distinction is explained in Subnote 1.]

But the strange thing is that Humans do have an intuitive

sense by which they can “Feel” the harmony or disharmony of the

whole system. Even in highly theoretical works, physicists often

came to “Feel” the whole thing and said it is a “Poetical

Beauty”, or “Poetical Unity”.

That is the “Care” that one exercises to understand the

whole of the cyclic relationships and the “Beauty” that one feels

about the whole are related.

I think it is highly desirable that children are given the

opportunity to experience the “Care” and “Beauty”. It requires

Sensitivity to experience it. But the Sensitivity cannot be

developed without experiencing it. I think this is a great

challenge of Science Education.

I would like to suggest that Science Education has to aim

at the caring level of intelligence. And I think it is possible

to lead students to that level by asking them to “Think Twice” as

often as possible. The Science Education has to contain exercises

for saying “I can do this But on the other hand…” Such exercises

are training for Sensitivity.

We might call this “The Sensitivity Science Education”, in

a contrast to the “Power Science Education” that we have been

And I hope that they enjoy seeing the “Beauty” attained

after many exercises of “Thinking Twice”.

3. The Sensitivity Science is a “Pragmatic” necessity for

Human Survival, and Cross Cultural Science Education is a

beautiful way of the Sensitivity Science Education.

In view of what we are doing nowadays to our Environment

and to our fellow Human beings, I would say that without

Sensitivity, we will not survive the 21st century. For the

sensitive eyes, the bad consequences of the Power Science are

visible almost everywhere. Even if we do not want to see them,

things such as Acid Rains descend

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 5

upon us. Incidences such as Chernobyl happens and force us to

know what we are doing to ourselves.

In the line-like thinking of Power Science, we do not see

the remote consequences of our actions. But the fruits of our

deeds loop around and come back on ourselves.

In that, I am not a Romantic Idealist to advocate the

Sensitivity Science. I have a “Pragmatic” concern about the

future of the World in which our children live or die. Either we

educate ourselves and change to become Caring Beings, or we

annihilate ourselves. It is not possible to evade the choice.

Fortunately, however, we have a marvelous educational

opportunity called Cross Cultural Education.

It gives very good opportunity to Think Twice about the

Power Science that our dominant Culture has been practicing up to

The Cross Cultural Education is one way of giving our

children the opportunity, and a beautiful way of doing the

Sensitivity Science Education. Here, remarkably, we have a

consistency of the means and the aim. We have the way of studying

which cal1s for Sensitivity. And we have the aim that is the

I look upon Cross Cultural Education to be not a “Tokenism”

to satisfy disgruntled minority races, or “Window Dressing” to

soothe the “Guilt” from the colonial oppressions and the racial

discrimination in the historical past. But I consider it as a

Golden Opportunity for every one to learn the way of Survival and

at the same time the way of constructing a beautifu1 Future.

Beyond that, I would like to stress here that this is not a

subject of “social studies”, but of “Science”.

I am not saying this because I am a scientist and wanted to

externalize the power of science. You must realize that I am a

“scientist” only in the Power Science. Among other things it was

the prejudice of the “Power Science” that used to say that Euro

Americans have the Science.

And, I have to learn Cross Cultural Science for my own

sake. And people here are great help to me. I wish I could go

back to school again and experience beautiful education that you

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 6

– – – – – – – –

I add one, perhaps, “Bad” example for the advocacy of Cross

Cultural Science Education. It is from General Relativity.

General Relativity can be viewed as an “art” of how to

connect a small local Linear way of thinking (analogous to making

a short sentence) to the next. The connections of many small

Linear descriptions (analogous to a whole “story” made of many

sentences) make up a Global Geometry which may be “Non-linear”.

General Relativity is concerned with the Whole of the Global

Connections. Needless to say, to make a comprehensible coherent

picture is not a trivial task. Some constructions are beautiful,

The “connected whole” is a “World View”. And among many

ways to make up the “connected whole(s)”, we can study how to

compare various ways of making “connected wholes”. In this sense,

General Relativity is interesting. It resembles “Cross Cultural”

However, as I said before, General Relativity is “perhaps a

bad example”. The trouble with this example from modern physics

is that it is by and large inaccessible to the general public.

There are “popular books” such as The Turning Point by F.

Capra etc. However, ordinary Science Education does not come

anywhere near to the “Way of Thinking” contained in those modern

developments in science. Schools, perhaps unconsciously, teach

the 300 year old physics and waste time in “beating the

established mechanical routines into blank minds of children”

under the name of Science Education. It so happens that the Old

Science also carries the Authoritarian Ideology of that

It also represents the “Alienated” mentality of the 19th

century European Intellectuals. [see] M. Berman. The

Reenchantment of The World.] That Science emerged in the 17th

century as a “Liberation of Thinking” is largely forgotten and

perverted, under the disguise of “Rigorous”, “Exact”, discipline.

Psychoanalysts ought to examine why so many scientists and

science teachers today still maintain the illusion of “rigorous,

exact science” as if they have never heard of the Uncertainty

Principle or Godel’s proof of Incompleteness of Mathematics.

Their quasi-religious belief may be within the Freedom of Belief

allowed by the Constitution, but the Authoritarian posture of

scientists talking down to the

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 7

public, as if they are the guardians of the Absolute Truth, is a

pedagogical disaster in barring the majority population from

access to the modern science.

That I have a considerable difficulty in talking about

fruits of the modern science in terms of “Ways of Thinking”

attests to the failure in Physics Education for which we

physicists are collectively responsible. We have spent Hundreds

of Billion Dollars of tax money, but we have not helped society

with cultural developments in terms of the Ways of Thinking. The

public money is used to edify a small group of specialists and

widen the gap of thinking inequality, not mentioning the North-
South disparity in science-technology and wealth. We ought to

think, for example, why we do not use science to make rudimental

water supply systems available to the poor half of Humanity. It

could be done at a fraction of the cost of sending a school

teacher to Space and getting killed in a Show of National

Superiority. I do not think it is excusable.

One very inexpensive way of introducing New Way of Thinking

to general public is to do Cross Cultural Science. Since most of

the “Sciences” from different cultures are accessible through

non-technical expressions, they are better suited for general

Education. (I fancy that “Hopi Relativity” is just as good in

conveying the main idea as General Relativity which is accessible

only through complicated mathematical manipulations.) That is to

say, we have discovered a mountain of treasures in the Native

Science. I recommend school teachers to seriously look into

Native Science and take advantages of the treasure.

(However, I would caution the teachers to pay proper respect in

exchange, lest be accused of stealing the last and the most

precious treasures of the Natives after taking everything away

from them. One way of expressing respect is to invite Native

Scientists and let them speak, rather than giving an

“Interpretation” to students as if that is genuine Native

Science. And if possible, let students learn from the way the

Natives live with the “Science in their actual life, rather than

substituting an “intellectualized version” for it.)

– – – – – – – –

My story here was perhaps tedious and technical and it was

from the background of the Power Science. But I hope it is of

Thank you for your patient listening.

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 8

[Subnote 1. On Linearity.

“Linear” means “line-like”. When relations between pairs of

two quantities, such as “Input and Output” plotted on a graph

paper appear like lines, the relations are called Linear.

Most relations in Reality, however, are not Linear. Why,

then, do we favor Linearity? The most theories in science are

Linear ones. Economists use Linearized models; Political

Scientists and Politicians talk and think in Linear Language. We

usually think Linear, such as if something is good, then more of

it is better. It is not rare that sick people take more pills,

thinking that the more pills he or she takes, the faster the cure

is, then ends up with an Overdose. Or a man who makes hundred

thousand dollars a year thinking that he would be a twice bigger

man if he could make $200,000 etc.

But, the worship of Linearity is not just silly

superstition in numbers. There is a definite advantage in

Linearity. I cite an example.

Suppose a psychologist or social scientist is faced with an

unknown entity or system named, say, G. How will the scientist go

about knowing what G is?

The first principle of Science is the Principle of “Do

something and see what will happen”.

So the scientist does something, which in psychologist’s

jargon is called “Stimulus”. Sociologists might call it “Input”.

Something happens in Response (X) to the Stimulus (x), or Output

corresponding to the Input. By this, the scientist gets a data

(X) = {G} (x) or x → X

Of course this one data point is not enough for the

scientist to claim “Knowledge” on the entity. The scientists have

to try more Inputs and get Outputs. But if the entity (or system)

is Linear, it is easier to know what Response would be for any

Stimulus. For example, the Linear Entity G would produce a

Response 2X for Stimulus 2x, and 3X for 3x, and so on, i.e.;

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 9

What is more, provided the Entity (System) G is Linear, the

scientist can predict what the Response (Output) would be for an

arbitrary combination of various kinds of Stimulus, say like

(3X + 2Y – Z) = {G} (3x + 2y – z).

This predictability is an enormous savings in the cost of

the research to construct the Knowledge about the Entity (System)

Having this sense of Linearity in mind, one looks into

texts in Physics, Engineering, Economics, etc. One would find

that the majority of Theories are about Linear entities or linear

systems. Texts in Psychology, Sociology, Political Science,

Anthropology etc. are not explicit in what they mean by

“knowledge”. But when they do imply “knowledge”, they are usually

an implicit assumption of Linearity.

Most economic-politico-social policy recommendations from

the Power Science are of the Patch-work type which in effect says

“Granting that all other things stay constant, do x to get the

result X”. This is only justifiable on Linearity Assumption. The

characteristic of Linear Thinking is that it neglects all

complications. It only sees the starting point (the problem as

the initial state) and the desired end point, and finds the means

to connect the two points. It is like drawing a line between two

points without looking at other points around. Perhaps, it is

analogous to shooting an arrow at a target. As such, the

concentration of attention is necessary and it is not a bad thing

In real systems, however, when one thing is changed, all

others change. There would always be the second, third, fourth

order effects, like the ripples created by a stone dropped in a

lake. Linear Assumption is simple and convenient, but it is a bad

“superstition”, if it is worshiped as The Best Science. Yet the

Insensitivity of the Power Science neglects the higher order

Another trick of the Power Science is that, when the

uncertainties in the higher order effects are visible, it goes

for “Short Term” projections and makes decisions on that basis.

It is hoped that the higher order effects would not manifest in a

short time scale taken as the reference frame of the thinking.

Unfortunately, the neglected higher order effects do not

disappear; they “disappear” only in the short-term thinking.

People have to pay for them eventually. A funny thing about this

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science 10

is “scientific”. That is the Power Science; it provides an

edifying cover not only for the negligence, arrogance, and

insensitivity, but for the stupidity. I would think that the

Native Science which thinks on a long-term scale would be good

“medicine” for the Power Science.

Non-linear entities or systems are that which cannot be

treated by Linear Theory. That is the definition. Non-linear

entities and systems are nasty, for they defy the simple

“predictability” of the kind illustrated above.

Non-linear systems are “Unpredictable”, which means there

is no possibility of doing the “science” which usually means

“predicting power”. Of course, we can do a modified sense of

“science”. In fact, non-linear physics is now getting

fashionable, where things like “Catastrophe Phenomena” are

What is so-called “Ecology” in biology and geology is

largely confined to Linear cases. Some Biologists and Geologists

are aware that Nature is Non-linear and Catastrophic Instability

— such as mass extinction — is expected. But the prejudice

(or rather “superstition”) of majority of the scientists

demanding “Predictability” for “science” on some emotional ground

does not make the study of Non-Linearity in Nature popular.

As to knowledge in social and Humane areas, their implicit

Linear “Rhetoric” are yet to be recognized. “Causal Relation” is

often nothing more than a Linearized Expression. As a

consequence, people do not know they are assuming Linearity.

Hence, Linear Thinking is prevalent.

I do not think the “Linguistic Philosophers” are even aware

of Non-linearity, except perhaps in Logical Paradoxes. (The

“Paradox of Self-Reference” has a “loop structure” and as such it

is Non-linear. “Circular Argument” is also Non-linear. They

reject it. But interestingly the most “definitions” in sciences

are “circular”. Newton’s Laws of Motion and Darwin’s famous

statement “Survival of the Fittest” are well known examples.

Perhaps, because of these bad cases, philosophers do not like

Non-Linearity, But, their dislike prevents them from serious

studies of Non-Linearity. This is unfortunate.)

However, the Philosophy of Dialectics is a Non-linear one. [See

Thorn cited below] But I doubt Dialecticians themselves such as

Marx — are aware of the Non-linearity.

Sensitivity and Cross Culture Science

As to Mathematics of Non-Linearity, see Rene Thom: Structural

Stability and Morphogenesis. Benjamin. 1972. (Thom also had an

interesting thing to say about Math Education, Science 1972.)

Also, there are several texts on Non-Linear Physics. What

is called “Solution” is an unusually stable wave produced by Non-
Linearity. It is to be noted that “Stability” can be a

manifestation of Non-linearity. Non-linearity is not always

unstable and catastrophic. I suspect almost all biological and

social systems (such as human life) is “stable” because of Non-
linearity. They “die”, however, because of the Non-linearity that

maintained them to be stable for a while (quasi-stable).

The escalation of Nuclear Arms race which goes in a

“vicious circle” is an example of bad Non-linear Dynamics. On the

other hand, the “positive enforcement” effects in Education etc.

are also Non-linear Dynamics.

These examples show that Non-Linearity is important and

interesting. But here again, it is too technical to be taught

directly in schools. I would appreciate very much if you could

suggest to me some ways of bringing “awareness” of Non-Linearity

into school science education. Interestingly “Sensitivity” is a

highly Non-Linear Phenomenon. I wish some psychologists would

write about “Non-Linear Dynamics of Mind”. Hegel came close to

doing that, but his intellectual snobbism is too much for popular

reading. Perhaps, Native Science might have good stories to tell

Oct.18, ’87. S. Kounosu Phys. Dept. U. of L.

The Sensitivity Science is a "Pragmatic" necessity for Human Survival, and Cross
Cultural Science Education is a beautiful way of the Sensitivity Science Education.
In view of what we are doing nowadays to our Environment and to our fellow Human
beings, I would say that without Sensitivity, we will not survive the 21st century. I am not
a Romantic Idealist to advocate the Sensitivity Science. I have a "Pragmatic" concern
about the future of the World in which our children live or die. Either we educate
ourselves and change to become Caring Beings, or we annihilate ourselves. It is not
possible to evade the choice.