|Trans||Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften||15. Nr.||August 2004|
1.6. The Unifying Method of
the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences: The Method
Papst (indexicals - Centre of transdisciplinary cognitive
and state-system sciences, Graz, Austria)
The central characteristics of classical philosophy are the commitment to universality, the request to understand and to explain reality with its visible and invisible features, the request to understand what there is beyond the everyday visible world; in short: to get truth, the good and beauty. Because of the loss of the central characteristics of classical philosophy during the mutation process of philosophy during the 20th century the quest for a new paradigm of sciences emerged. The paradigm of transdisciplinarity was first formulated not by a philosopher, but by a quantum physicist, namely by Basarab Nicolescu. "The Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity" is written.(1) My search for a new paradigm started in the early 90ies of the last century and generated itself from my investigation of contemporary philosophy, which brought about its misleading features. Therefore, in this paper, firstly, I formulate the thesis of transdisciplinarity - ThTrans -, secondly, I focus on the relevance of disciplinary sciences for generating the paradigm of transdisciplinarity, thirdly, the question is asked whether or not the paradigm of transdisciplinarity does entail the central characteristics of classical philosophy. The answer will be: "yes"! Fourthly, because of its relevance the focus is on the creation of transdisciplinary research groups. The paper should be understood as an approach to the understanding and the justification of the paradigm of transdiscipliarity as the unifying paradigm of humanities, natural and social sciences.
With the beginning of the 21st century two key questions in particular have greatly puzzled scientists: (1) Can we still speak of a common basis of sciences within a dynamic research paradigm? If yes, the question arises, which one it is and how this basis can be articulated clearly. If no, the question arises whether or not there can still be spoken of sciences or simply of a plurality of certain short-term relevant everyday generalisations. And (2), what is the importance of the process of cognition itself for the creation of new reliable knowledge within the newly forming information societies to come up to a human faced world? These two key questions about the common basis of sciences and the importance of the process of cognition in the creation of new knowledge within the information societies(2) form the starting point for the investigation of the central characteristics of the paradigm of transdisciplinarity as the unifier or the Archemedian point of humanities, natural and social sciences. Against this background this paper aims at establishing the following thesis of transdisciplinarity:
Thesis of transdisciplinarity (ThTrans): The common basis of the sciences within a dynamic picture of the newly forming information societies is the paradigm of transdisciplinarity. This paradigm is committed to the central characteristics of classical philosophy and incorporates empirical sciences; it is essentially committed to an understanding of "the living nature"(3) and of the process of cognition as a precondition for generating cognition and creativity to come up to a human faced world with all its manifold features.
trans- comes from Latin and means beyond; in this sense science and research are carried out beyond disciplinary and interdisciplinary boundaries or limitations. Basarab Nicolescu has worked out an impressive methodological foundation of the paradigm of transdisciplinarity. The essential point is that transdisciplinarity is not just a new discipline but "the science and art of living nature", it covers all levels of the complex reality and as I would add: and all contexts of reality.(4)
It is still an immanent goal of the sciences to look for objectively valid truth, but it became necessary to leave the traditional linear configurations of truth, models and theories in favour of dynamical multidimensional models and theories in terms of structures or networks. Purely deductive methods of cognition based on universal abstract principles of cognition, such as e.g. purely logical-analytic methods were complemented if not sometimes even replaced by inductive and structuralistic methods of the systematisation of empirical facts. This process of the development of structuralistic and empirical inductive methods of the sciences has, since the beginning of the last century, led to a differentiation between and establishment of many specific disciplines, such as theory of sciences, linguistics, psychology, sociology and political sciences and cognitive sciences out of philosophy, the technical sciences out of the field of engineering etc., just to mention a few. Furthermore, manifold branches of applied sciences have developed, such as applied mathematics, applied physics etc.
The applied sciences in particular have finally led to the breakthrough of the extremely numerous technical achievements in science and in everyday life. In relation to the tendencies of research strategies the 20th century thus seems to show a picture of the sciences differentiating themselves into specific sciences. In this way more than 8000 single disciplines have come into existence. The dominance initially is clearly with disciplinary sciences and research, since due the rapid increase of empirical data within the individual disciplines new specific disciplines have also been created, which were then able to clearly differentiate and remove themselves from the less specialised disciplines with increasing speed. With the degree of specialisation, however, the limitation of the scope of methods, explanation models and solutions frequently grew. In particular for the solution, explanation and prediction of complex processes of the different fields of reality, the solution capacities of the individual specific disciplines - no matter how successful they were within their limited range proved to be insufficient. Initially it was the problems of the natural sciences that broke the boundaries of over-narrow disciplinary research, then the problems of the explanation of cognitive processes soon followed. These were not only meant to explain their own capacity of cognition but also the actions of single persons as well as the behaviour of social groupings, subsocieties and societies. The classical assumption - according to which the methods of the studying the weather and methods of examining cognitive processes and the social behaviour of groups mutually excluded each other - proved to be wrong in the middle of the last century and led to the breakthrough of the research paradigm of interdisciplinarity. Examples of this are the development in the exploration of complex dynamic multidimensional systems - familiar under the term chaotic systems - artificial intelligence research and the exploration of consciousness and of intelligent behaviour or acting. This development led to an increase of interdisciplinary research strategies, such as it is, for instance, shaped by the cognitive sciences.
Nevertheless, disciplinary science and research is not obsolete or insignificant since it is that kind of science that provides sciences with a considerable quantity of data, results and theories. Yet, there are limits of such disciplinary research, especially when it is no longer able to relate its own precise data, results, and theories to each other; something that is a fundamental component of more complex theories. Thus, the question about an adequate explanation of human behaviour was originally within the disciplinary paradigm a merely philosophical question about what we can know, do and hope for.(5) It is, however, notable that philosophy proper understood itself to be the discipline with universal methods, such that it could ground its results in objectively valid rational principles of cognition.
With the increase of the findings of empirical research in social and consciousness research the claim of philosophy to be a universal science could no longer be maintained. It was typical of the sciences of the 20th century to respond to questions of human behaviour and consciousness with empirical answers or at least answers that could be traced back to empirical facts. This led to a splitting up into many new empirical special disciplines, which later helped an empirically founded cooperation between the single technical disciplines to reestablish itself. The relevance of disciplinary research, therefore, lies in the fact that it provides science with data and specific explanations that could not otherwise be dealt with.
The boundaries of disciplinary research are reached where relevant special explanations cannot be related to each other without resulting in an incoherent or even mistaken explanation. Mistaken explanations might become causally influential on societies when they are used, because they are taken to be granted, and in this sense cause serious damage on societies. The question of the coherence of models to a special multifaceted problem could thus only be solved by using a method not bound to the narrow disciplinary paradigm. An example of such a problem with many aspects is that of the cognition itself and the somehow unity of consciousness and acting - individually, commonly or politically. Thus, a good example for the development from disciplinary science towards interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and their dynamic interrelations could be seen in the case of the unity of grasping or understanding, knowledge and acting.
Three subtheses on the unity of cognition - scientific knowledge and acting
Subthesis 1: As far as an explanation of what consciousness and adequate human behaviour in a particular situation are or could be is concerned, up to now all the answers of disciplinary science and research have proved to be insufficient. In particular consciousness, knowledge and acting could not be explained within one theory and not even through theories coherently complementing each other which originated from the respective special disciplines. Cognition and acting could only be recorded and described as a phenomenon to be investigated on different levels and knowledge and acting could not in this way be coherently related to each other. Subthesis 1, thus, says that, for methodical reasons, disciplinary research was not able to recognise and to explain the unity of consciousness, cognition and acting since it limits itself too much to investigations at one level without noticing the contradictions that arise if theories of the respective other levels are linked with its own respective theories.
Subthesis 2: In a particular concrete situation determined by time, place and a person, cognition and acting (especially when based on an existentialist human position in the world, on knowledge, expectations and good faith) coincide and precondition each other. In this sense cognition and acting are to be considered at one level, where cognition and acting form a unity within a complex dynamic structure of processes which mutually influence each other. Subthesis 2 says that cognition and acting are to be understood as a structured dynamic process due to its complex multidimensional quality. Again: Subthesis 1 says that, for methodical reasons, a dynamic multidimensional explanation structure for the unity of cognition and acting within disciplinary special research is neither sufficient nor achievable. Therefore, subthesis 2 cannot be formulated within a disciplinary paradigm. Subthesis 2 is already the result of interdisciplinary research or philosophy that takes also empirical data seriously without getting lost in them.
Subthesis 3: For the explanation of the unity of cognition and acting each form of ontological and methodical reductionism fails, such as materialistic and naturalistic reductions, various theories and models of that kind including certain functionalistic models of consciousness and acting - since most of them are essentially deterministic models - are unable to describe and to explain the complex dynamic structure of mental processes in all their features as they are possible for human beings and cannot take into consideration the essentially existentialistic aspect human beings do exemplify.(6)
The result of these three subtheses may be briefly summarised as follows: Within the limits of disciplinary research the question about the unity of cognition, understanding and acting can neither be explained nor understood. A disciplinary theory of cognition, understanding and acting covers only one level at a time, it yields descriptions and explanations within a probably blind model; so that it must consider cognition and acting as somehow different to an extent that it cannot create any reasonable coherent relation. The fact that cognition and acting represent a dynamic complex process for which the description and explanations of the disciplinary approaches failed was ultimately the reason for the rejection of reductionistic approaches to the issue in question.
With the rapid development of interdisciplinary research, however, its difficulties and limits soon became visible and led to the questions: What are the limits of interdisciplinary research? And, what then?(7)
Transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary sciences and research originate from disciplinary approaches, in which initially cooperation took place implicitly between individual disciplines because of apparently unsolvable questions, mistakes in well established theories and of problems, and in which an exchange of information, knowledge, new insights and methods took place. This unplanned implicit scientific cooperation developed into explicit scientific cooperation. Because of this process of increased scientific cooperation at first interdisciplinary sciences were generated and new forms of interdisciplinary research are still being created. Against the background of this development the riddle of the apparently foundationless sciences and aimless sciences emerged. This was and is what sciences are mainly reproached for, that they cannot show direct purpose-oriented utility. The riddle of the aimless sciences has not yet been a point in this paper, although the search for truth(8) is still regarded as the immanent objective of the sciences. And in this sense scientific truth is the basic element for coming up to freedom in society and an open society; the prerequisite of human faces and creativity.
It has not yet been mentioned that within the current sciences this is not a matter of course. The stating of an objective presupposes that there are reliable foundations at least in the form of methods that make the achievement of the objective possible.
Based on the assumptions above the starting question of this paper about a common and unifying basis of the sciences can be answered with "yes"; it is the immanent features of sciences: it is truth, the good and beauty. Now, what are the characteristics of the paradigm of transdisciplinarity that could fulfil this immanent commitment of sciences? although a precise justification is still not worked out. However, in this paper the thesis of transdisciplinarity - ThTrans - is taken as a principle. And this principle is open to objections.
As an approach to the justification of the importance of a unifying basis of sciences in terms of the paradigm of transdisciplinarity, the question is focused on, for what reason a reliable methodological foundation of the sciences and their immanent targets is of high relevance. Without a reliable basis and immanent targets neither scientific nor human cooperation in its genuine sense would be possible, and thus no form of adequate scientific activity. Crises and doubts in science are a positive indication that it is exactly these targets that have been looked for, after the traditional methods of the sciences, especially of the basic sciences - such as e.g. mathematics (Russell, Whitehead, Gödel), physics (Einstein, Heisenberg) and philosophy (Russell) - at the beginning of the 20th century had discovered their own contradictions and shortcomings. In this respect basically two aspects are relevant:
1st aspect: What is the correlation between classical philosophy and the paradigm transdisciplinarity?
Classical philosophy is characterised by its commitment to universality. It was the science beyond all the disciplinary restrictions and limits and philosophy represented the common basis for all sciences. Philosophy was able to maintain this status until at least the end of the 19th century, i.e. until - as already mentioned - the crises in mathematics, physics and philosophy and until the specialisation of the sciences into many empirical sciences started. Therefore, the question arises: Why did philosophy perform the mutation from the universal basic science to a narrow discipline during the 20th century? To express it clearly: philosophy became an armchair discipline for quibbling and only for quibbling. So, in the Anglo-Austrian-American tradition philosophy became the science of science in its analytical form respectively reduced to it. Likewise the question does arise: For what reason was philosophy not able to keep its classical universalist character and core features during the period of empirical specialisation, of the differentiation into the individual sciences and their modifications towards interdisciplinary research. Especially with respect to the core of classical philosophy; namely that of understanding reality in all its features and of explanation, description and modelling of mind and matter. Philosophy has lost adequacy and efficiency of explanation in opposition to the empirically founded explanations, models and theories.
The question arises whether the loss of the commitment to universality of classical philosophy could become cured; for instance, by sciences within the paradigm of transdisciplinarity. First, the classical questions of human beings in a living world do matter and are taken seriously, second, the mass of empirical data and information from the individual subdisciplines can be taken into account and could become correlated within a structural framework, and third, which provides a unifying basis for all sciences.
The following graph is an attempt to illustrate the problem of the loss of the central characteristics of the classical philosophy and of the historical connection between classical philosophy and the paradigm of transdisciplinarity:
Graph 1 - From philosophy to the new paradigm of transdisciplinarity - the paradigm of transdisciplinary science and research
2nd aspect: How can the paradigm of transdisciplinarity meet the needs of providing sciences with a unifying or universal basis?
Within an adequate structural dynamic modelling of reality all aspects and phenomena of the complex reality with its dynamic multidimensional network-like structure are taken into account by differentiating between the various contexts of reality - although ontologically it is still unclear what there status is - which correlate, interact and/or communicate with each other. The various contexts of reality are: natural, artificial, symbolic and/or virtual and modal contexts.(9) None of the traditional scientific methods including those of philosophy would be able to even outline such a complex dynamic model of reality with all its features, i.e. a complex dynamic model that both contains: the contexts of reality as well as the dynamic multidimensional network-like structure with the existing correlations between the contexts of the entire reality. In a scientific modelling of reality as little should be lost as in reality itself. Therefore, the request is to look for a paradigm and for methodologies which can help to bring about a breakthrough in the targets described by making it methodologically possible to fully cover and reconstruct the contexts of the dynamic reality by differentiating between them.
The paradigm of transdisciplinarity converges insofar with classical philosophy as the perspective from the outside or from beyond the visible is very similar to that of classical philosophy - in days when it still had one. Both perspectives are beyond all empirical boundaries and take the empirical serious, however, in former times the availability of empirical data was limited. With respect to the scope of both perspectives, it is essential that they both include the visible and invisible. In contrast to the mutated version of the 20th century philosophy within the paradigm of transdisciplinarity sciences take into account and include the results of empirical research. The dynamics of the research paradigm of transdisciplinarity is based on the fact, that it can take a perspective of transdisciplinarity and from this perspective it takes into account the methods as well as the results of disciplinary and interdisciplinary research depending on its relevance for concrete scientific and research questions and problems. The paradigm of transdisciplinarity, therefore, is distinct from disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in that it is not a new discipline, but keeps the perspective of transdisciplinarity beyond all sciences in favour of generating a science for a human faced world.
Thus, within the paradigm of transdisciplinarity the questions of what we can know, do and hope for can be asked anew. In this sense the paradigm of transdisciplinarity - in contrast to the 20th century mutated philosophy - is based on the empirical and non-empirical and on philosophy, and in accordance with the classical philosophy it takes the perspective from beyond of these sciences. In this sense the paradigm of transdisciplinarity with its transdisciplinary perspective is a universal one. With regard to a certain problem it relates the various contexts or levels of reality in an appropriate and concrete way. The most important: the living natural world forms the bedrock of the paradigm of transdicsciplinarity.
At least the justification of the thesis of transdisciplinarity will have to have of two parts. (i) It is to show that the paradigm of transdisciplinarity provides a unifying basis for all sciences in terms of an Archimedean point and the availability of the appropriate fine-grained methodologies. (ii) It is to show that the paradigm of transdisciplinarity has the capacity to include the process of cognition itself, namely self-reflexivity, in a way such that it can explain not only the objective features of cognitive processes but also the subjective features and aspects and the purely private features as parts of reality in all their occurrences. Therefore, it is to show that the two parts of the justification of the ThTrans can be realised and fulfilled.
In the following there will simply be formulated necessary and not sufficient conditions for the fulfilment of the two parts of the justification of the ThTrans.The first part can be fulfilled within the paradigm of transdisciplinarity in that it establishes the perspective of transdisciplinary - against the background of the differentiation of the different levels of reality -, which is beyond all disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches of the sciences. It is the process of generating an Archimedean point. Above all this also means that this perspective of transdisciplinary goes beyond visible reality with all its different levels and that in this way it forms a common basis for all sciences. The second part of the justification of the paradigm of transdisciplinarity is introduced by the question of how such a perspective can ever be taken if it cannot be achieved through the usual empirical and logico-analytical methods, since the perspective of transdisciplinary as an Archimedean point of all sciences lies beyond them. As a consequence the perspective of transdisciplinary can only become generated on our own cognitive achievements and be justified by them. Within the dynamic multidimensional structure of the cognitive processes the perspective of transdisciplinary can thus be generated, which for its own creation includes the process of cognition. Therefore, the perspective of transdisciplinary is grounded in the sphere of the objective, the intersubjetive, the subjective and the private, which, however, in favour of an objective transdisciplinary perspective, is extended to the Archimedean point of cognition.
The perspective of transdisciplinary is generated through its own cognitive processes. Thus, it can be excluded that the perspective of transdisciplinarity is simply the product of a certain controlled linear learning process. The perspective of transdisciplinarity arises exclusively from a person's or a researcher's own consequent dealing with reality - with the different contexts or levels of reality - on the basis of the request for truth and understanding, the good and beauty. This simply means that a researcher can achieve the perspective of transdisciplinarity only on the basis of her or his own consequent scientific work. Here, just one serious problem will be mentioned: Can the perspective of transdisciplinarity become grasped only individually? If so, how could it become communicated or useful within sciences and societies?
Crucial questions within the paradigm of transdisciplinary research
Because of the core characteristic of the perspective of transdisciplinarity as the unifying approach with its openness towards the appropriate methods for all disciplinary and interdisciplinary sciences, the paradigm of transdisciplinarity could have the capacity to provide adequate answers to certain so far unsolved complex problems and questions. This is because the perspective of transdisciplinarity perspective includes its own dynamic cognitive processes. In this sense transdisciplinary research and science claim to be able to provide appropriate answers to the most elementary and most complex questions. To mention just a few, for instance:
The answer to the starting question whether or not the paradigm of transdisciplinarity does entail the central characteristics of classical philosophy is: "yes"! - It is the case that the paradigm of transdisciplinarity does entail the central characteristics of classical philosophy. In practice this is still to realise to become reality.
How could scientific research groups within the paradigm of transdisciplinarity become organised, such that research work according to that paradigm could become generated? Already all the changes in the organisation from disciplinary to interdisciplinary research brought dynamics into the scientific community. The newly emerging dynamic structures of scientific cooperation(10) led to a lasting change of the style of communication among scientists, away from a strongly hierarchical organisation and approaching a more open minded structure of competence. Here the competence of the individual researchers and not the research administrtion seems to be in the foreground - the administrativ component of research is considered to be secondary, although all the forms still exist. Whether or not on the basis of the emergence of the implicitly unplanned dynamic formation of research communities - effective interdisciplinary research groups that are effective because of their high innovative potential - can be created for future research through planning is an open question, since a planned structure essentially lacks the innovative element of a genuinely generated research group.
From a historical point of view revolutionary new insights have very rarely arisen from officially planned research cooperation. For example, the pioneering chaos research in the middle of the previous century did not come into existence through planned official educational science, but through the scientific work of rather poorly equipped young scientists in some tiny, provisional spare room of the university. An investigation of the phenomenon of mass science in relation to its creative innovative potential is still lacking, in particular because the scientific society is not keen on investigating itself and there is nobody else but the scientific society itself who could carry out a not only quantitative but also qualitative empirical investigation of the phenomenon of discount science and scientific crime.(11) The expression discount research and science, relevant for current research, is for many reasons not yet in common use since the sciences still like to consider themselves as being the untouchable highest level of social action, without having acknowledged that science as a mass phenomenon - similar to the ideologies of former times - has lost its immanent foundations and objectives so that the sciences can no longer seriously claim their originally acquired traditional social rank for themselves. Nevertheless in the following an attempt is made to describe on an abstract level models for optimal transdisciplinary research programmes and the creation of research groups.
Here the question about disciplinary specialisation of the individual researcher and the participating research groups is relevant. Also of major importance is the ability to leave the narrow limits of one's own discipline, in order to be able to take a perspective from the outside, from beyond limited borderline to grasp the perspective of transdisciplinarity (12) with regard to the concrete formulation of the problem and to recognise the relevance of results from one or more specific disciplines. This is a condition for a successful transdisciplinary cooperation, since the ability for problem orientation - in theories and practices - without narrow disciplinary limits is to be seen as a generative or constructive element. Under these preconditions a common core is created as a starting point for the solution of a research question that lies beyond a particular discipline and interdisciplinary approaches. The perspective of transdisciplinarity and basic methodologies, such as mathematics, as the unifying basis that precedes the formulation of the research question, the possible common core and both possible domains, therefore, form the key of transdisciplinary cooperation.
Therefore, there are in fact insufficient and/or unnecessary interdisciplinary research groups, but not insufficient and/or unnecessary transdisciplinary research groups, but only quasi-insufficient and/or quasi-unnecessary interdisciplinary research groups. However, due to the dynamic structure of the network-like transdisciplinary research groups there are also quasi-optimal, quasi-suboptimal and quasiquasi-insufficient and/or quasiquasi-unnecessary transdisciplinary research groups. A quasi-optimal research group, therefore, is one that externally pretends to fulfil the criteria of an optimal research group, but in reality does not fulfil them. A quasi-optimal research group thus creates an artificial semantic context which does not correspond to the actual reality and in this way an ideology and not a scientifically acceptable transdisciplinary research work in a relevant sense. The following graphs do represent the various kinds of the possible formation of transdisciplinary research groups.
The optimal transdisciplinary research group
Graph 2 - The optimal transdisciplinary research group
The optimal transdisciplinary research group is characterised by the basic element of the perspective of transdisciplinarity and the shared common domains regarding a particular scientific question or problem; the groups are cooperating for the solution of the problem and do share all domains: the core, the domain of cooperation and the domain of the know-how.
The suboptimal transdisciplinary research group
Graph 3 - The suboptimal transdisciplinary research group
Similarly to the optimal research group, the suboptimal transdisciplinary research group is characterised by the basic element of a perspective of transdisciplinarity and regarding a particular scientific question or problem. It has a common domain of cooperation and know-how, however, no common core. The suboptimal transdisciplinary research group can, due to the dynamic development of scientific cooperation, represent a phase of development of an optimal transdisciplinary research group. The research groups working together in the solution of the scientific problem do not share all domains: There is no core, but a domain of cooperation and a domain of know-how, there is still, however, the common basic element, namely that of the perspective of transdisciplinarity.
Other forms of quasi-insufficient or/and quasi-unnecessary transdisciplinary research groups
Graph 4 - The quasi-insufficient or/and quasi-unnecessary transdisciplinary research groups
The quasi-insufficient or/and quasi-unnecessary transdisciplinary research groups are also like the optimal and the suboptimal transdisciplinary research groups characterised by the basic element of the perspective of transdisciplinarity, but unfortunately it is not clear which domain they have and what the particular scientific question or problem should be they are concerned with. Against the background of the dynamic structure of scientific cooperation the quasi-insufficient or/and quasi unnecessary transdisciplinary groups of research represent the point of chaotic formation of transdisciplinary research groups, which either leads to their dissolution or to a qualified optimal transdisciplinary research group. Consequently, the quasi-insufficient or/and quasi-unnecessary transdisciplinary research groups can, apart from the transdisciplinary perspective, have something dynamically chaotic, an aspect of a common domain of cooperation or of the know-how or a common core. Whatever happens at this stage, there is always the common basic element of the perspective of transdisciplinarity. This are the ways human communities might generate something of interest besides the solution of well-defined questions and research problems.(13)
Whether a transdisciplinary research group is composed optimally or suboptimally or not, or whether it is quasi-insufficient or/and quasi-unnecessary respectively, can be evaluated on the basis of the domains they share or do not share.
It can be assumed that the optimal transdisciplinary research group which has a common core and in which the contributions of the individual domains are distributed proportionately, shows the highest degree of innovation. Here it can, of course, be seen that e.g. a quasi-unnecessary transdisciplinary research group can also achieve the same degree of innovation if a group or a single researcher works extremely innovatively, but in this case the respective innovative achievement has not come into being through scientific cooperation in the relevant sense and the transdisciplinary group of research is quasi-unnecessary. It can without a loss of innovation be reduced to the innovative group or the individual innovative researcher.
Furthermore, transdisciplinary research groups - due to the dynamic structuring process - might go through or can go through all phases of the models described. The movement from the optimal to the quasi-unnecessary and again back to the optimal is, therefore, a positive constructive process of cognition.(14)
This dynamic essentially lies in the structure of the dynamic processes of the consciousness of the individual researchers and is an essential characteristics of creative processes. Apart from that, in this sense creative processes within the research groups can only retrospectively be described as such. Doubts and failures must be seen as basically constructive elements of the dynamics of research and research groups to come up to cognition or to scientific insight of importance. If this constructive element is eliminated the optimal transdisciplinary research group turns into a quasi-optimal, a quasi-suboptimal, a quasiquasi-insufficient and/or quasiquasi-unnecessary research group. This means that the research group will make a great effort to pretend to be like this or like that, which can lead to a loss of its entire innovative potential if the static state that has been created in this way is to be maintained over a longer period of time.
Finally, transdisciplinary research is that of the varying affinity of the individual disciplines. The affinity of the individual disciplines with each other in relation to a particular research question or problem is also a process and not something static. Therefore, as a measure of evaluation, dynamic processes are to be evaluated as more innovative than static conditions of the mutual affinity of the individual disciplines.
Because of its crucial characteristics transdisciplinary research is the new paradigm of research - it seems so - which could provide sciences and society beyond the boundaries of all disciplinary research with a unifying basis in terms of an Archimedean point, namely with that of the perspective of transdisciplinary and transtheoretical structures, such as from mathematics and geometry.
© Josephine Papst (indexicals - Centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences, Graz, Austria)
(1) Nicolescu, Basarab; La Transdisciplinarité, Manifeste, Éditions du Rocher, Paris, 1996. In the meantime there is also a translation into English available; Nicolescu, Basarab; Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity, translated by Karen-Clair Voss, Albany, State University of New York Press, 2002. I am very grateful to Karen-Claire Voss for the clarification of the concept of transdisciplinarity: for the discussion with her during the conference in Vienna and her paper Transdisciplinarity and the Quest for a Tomorrow she gave there. I am very grateful to Basarab Nicolescu whom I met during the conference Perspectives on University Education in the 21st century, Fatih University, Istanbul - Turkey -, May 27 - 29, 2004 for the discussions and clarification of particular questions of his approach.
(2) In this paper the problems of information societies, the essential characteristic of which is that of globalisation cannot be covered, as little as the various aspects of globalisation that essentially concern all forms of national, international and transnational cooperation as well as of scientific cooperation in particular. Here, I would like to give a reference to Paul Ghils; International Relations and its Languages: A Transdisciplinary Perspective, paper given at the conference The Unifying Aspects of Cultures; Vienna, 7. - 9. November 2003. For the publication see this volume.
(3) Nicolescu, Basarab; Levels of Complexity and Levels of Reality: Nature as Trans-Nature, in: Pullman, Bernard (ed.); The Emergence of Complexity in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, Proceedings of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, pp. 393-410. Here quoted p. 409.
(4) It would need another work to present the framework of the contexts of reality and how they are a relevant part together with the framework of levels of reality, so it will follow.
(5) These questions were explicitly asked by Immanuel Kant.
(6) Certain different types of functionalists will refuse to accept this assertion, although they cannot simply dismiss it nor disprove it. So far no single functionalistic model has been able to fully get the aspect of the existentialistic fundamental position of persons, although this precondition must be considered to be the basis for the essentially subjective perspective of a person. It would, however, go beyond the scope of this paper to discuss the problems of functionalism.
(7) Here, once more, I would like to highlight the pioneers who published on these questions and their works: Nicolescu, Basarab; La Transdisciplinarité, Manifeste, Éditions du Rocher, Paris, 1996. Arber, Werner (Hrsg.); Inter- und Transdisziplinarität. Warum? - Wie? Verlag Paul Haupt, Bern, Stuttgart, Vienna, 1993, (= Schriftenreihe Institut Kurt Bosch, Bd. 2).
(8) This goal is a very difficult one, but nevertheless it is the core of sciences. To give up an objective realist view would mean to give up humanity. It is the of subjective views and good faith.
(9) Basarab Nicolescu makes a distinction between levels of reality. This topic will be investigated in another work. Also the question about the contexts of reality.
(10) Here, I cannot go deeper into models of cooperation. It can be assumed, however, that implicitly emerging cooperation must be structurally differentiated from explicitly planned cooperation, since explicitly planned cooperation lacks the innovative element of the genuine dynamic instantiation, which is an immanent element of genuine competence-cooperation. Explicitly planned models of cooperation with purely bureaucratically attested competencies in democratic societies are very similar in type to those of former authoritarian societies. A planned structure of cooperation imposed from outside has a paralysing impact on the development of generative processes within a genuinely cooperative group. I, myself, experienced this very often on my own.
(11) It is noticeable that in continental-European countries in particular the qualitative empirical social science of science itself is considerably behind or does not even exist in an adequate form. Frederick Grinnel's investigation is very informative for the American region. Grinnell, Frederick; The Scientific Attitude; 2nd edition, The Guilford Press, 1992. The second edition was made possible by the fact that in 1989 scientific deception was discussed in the US-American House of Representatives for the first time and investigated. Qualitative sociopsychological investigations are also taking their time coming in the Continental-European region, such as those like the ones edited in a collective volume by Willian R. Shadish and Steve Fuller for the USA. Shadish, William and Fuller, Steve; The Social Psychology of Science; The Guilford Press, New York, London, 1994. With respect to the situation in Austria see my publication The problem of systematic manipulation in Austrian institutions of science and law, http://gewi.uni-graz.at/~jpapst . See also Freedom of Sciences and Freedom of Conscience within Sciences; Symposium on the occasion of the "University Law 2002" in Vienna on June 15, 2004; see http://www.tuwien.ac.at/pr/kalender/doc_events/Symposium_040615.pdf. also the Conference in Vienna on June 15, 2004;
(12) The nature of transdisciplinary perspectives will be described later within the investigation of transdisciplinary knowledge. with regard to a concrete scientific questions. The transdisciplinary perspective is that from "outside" a certain system in relation to a concrete scientific problem within a certain system by including the entity of reality or all its aspects, i.e. all its contexts or levels. The archemedian point with the consequent realistic commitment.
(13) There are also destructive, dystopic and criminal research groups. However, this should not be the issue of this paper, although the shift from the optimal research group into one of this features is possible.
(14) In continental·European countries, in particular, one can observe that scientists have great difficulties in evaluating these constructive dynamics. They occasionally expend more energy on the denial of justified doubts than on constructive solutions.
Arber, Werner (Hrsg.); Inter- und Transdisziplinarität. Warum? - Wie? Verlag Paul Haupt, Bern, Stuttgart, Wien, 1993, (= Schriftenreihe lnstitut Kurt Bosch, Bd. 2).
Ghils, Paul; International Relations and its Languages: A Transdisciplinary Perspective, paper given at the conference The Unifying Aspects of Cultures, in the section The Unifying Method of the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences: The Method of Transdisciplinarity, Vienna, 7. - 9. Nov. 2003.
Grinnell, Frederick; The Scientific Attitude; 2nd edition, The Guilford Press, 1992.
Nicolescu, Basarab; Levels of Complexity and Levels of Reality: Nature as Trans-Nature, in: Pullman, Bernard (ed.); The Emergence of Complexity in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, Proceedings of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Nicolescu, Basarab; La Transdisciplinarité, Manifeste, Éditions du Rocher, Paris, 1996.
Nicolescu, Basarab; Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity, translated by Karen-Clair Voss, Albany, State University of New York Press, 2002.
Papst, Josephine; The problem of systematic manipulation in Austrian institutions of science and law, 2000, http://gewi.uni-graz.at/~jpapst .
Shadish, William and Fuller, Steve; The Social Psychology of Science; The Guilford Press, New York, London, 1994.
Voss, Caren-Claire; Transdisciplinarity and the Quest for a Tomorrow, paper given at the conference The Unifying Aspects of Cultures, in the section The Unifying Method of the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences: The Method of Transdisciplinarity, Vienna, 7. - 9. Nov. 2003.
1.6. The Unifying Method of the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences: The Method of Transdisciplinarity
Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections
Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu 15 Nr.