The philosophies of anti-development have largely turned on the metaphor of violence. The violence of technology, the violence of science, the violence of reason, the violence of the market. The starting premise of most of anti-development has been the correlation between the ideologies of these phenomena – science, reason, the market, and their collective exclusion of experience. The question of science itself has been charted through the question of technology. These connections have permeated western as well as nationalist and postcolonial critiques of mainstream development, with violence being seen as constitutive of scientific knowledge rather than simply an effect of scientific practice or policy. This position is, of course, built by challenging the premises of scientific knowledge as objective, value-neutral, verifiable, and unified. Visvanathan, Shiva, and others challenging these premises of scientific knowledge, suggest that an exclusionary violence is constitutive of such knowledge that activates a subject-object dichotomy although its claims to objectivity are shown up to be false in its imperialising tendencies; further, that it works with a systematisation ‘wherein science becomes an organiser of other mentalities, [affecting] … the domains of work, education, sex, and even memory.’
Like Shiva, Visvanathan marks western science as dualistic, as imbued with a knowledge-power nexus, and as vivisectionist. Shiva makes a strong proposal for choosing pre-existing alternative knowledges as against reductionist modern science, which she defines through her identification of the ontological and epistemological assumptions of reductionism, traced to Descartes; Visvanathan, however, claims a reluctance to a simple return, looking, rather, for an ‘escape from the dualism of Luddism versus progress’ (2003: 172). He refers to the ‘chaos’, ‘play’, or uncertainty that science traditionally allows but that gets disallowed once it enters the text. For Visvanathan, the scientific self is one without shadows, cut off from the moral one, as well as from the playful, spiritual, anarchic self of its initial imagination. The scientific community is merely an ‘epistemologically efficacious’ one that has no internal filters to exercise ‘ethical restraint’, to confront the ‘perpetual obsolescence that science and markets impose on a community’ (2002: 43).