Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. August 2006

1.1. Transmodernität und das Paradigma der Transdisziplinarität
Herausgeberin | Editor | Éditeur: Josephine Papst (indexicals - Zentrum für transdisziplinäre Kognitions- und Staatswissenschaften, Graz, Austria)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Report: Transdisciplinarity in Progress - Transmodernity and the Paradigm of Transdisciplinarity

Josephine Papst (indexicals - Centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences, Graz, AUSTRIA)


The topic of our conference was an experimental challenge: To get the time in. This means to be aware of the time we live in. What is the contemporary subject? Is it the transmodern subject? I characterise the transmodern subject as follows: It is the subject that criticises the state she or he is in so as to reproduce herself or himself exactly in the manner she or he is criticising; it is a self-reproductive process. It is the subject without properties who claims to have properties. There is no self, there does not exist a self or an I. Subjects or persons are some state of affairs or self-reproductive processes who do function somehow and who have to function according to ...? Who knows?

To give at least an idea of the aim of our conference, namely to focus on the essential relevance of the self or the I, not only in philosophical contexts but also in arts and in everyday life, I quote the motto chosen for our conference:

The dimension discovered
I strongly believe that all the mysteries of the world are within reach of my hand, of my sensibility or of my inquisitive powers. They are right here, inside my house, in the surrounding pathways and in the corners of my garden. I have my own piece of sky and my parcel of air. My quota of light and colours.

(Manfred Max-Neef; From the outside looking in - Experiences in ‘Barefoot Economics’, p. 159.)


Josephine PAPST (indexicals - Centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences, Graz, AUSTRIA) opened the conference with her lecture GENUINE INTENTIONS, THE SELF, AND FOLLOWING A RULE. The starting question was: What are intentions? Different to the use of this concept within common languages, where it means simply to act according to plans or to pursue an aim, there exists another meaning that comes from philosophy. Based on the ontological difference between the physical that is extended and has a shape, size and so forth, the mental is not extended, it has no physical shape, size and so forth. The mental has intentional content according to Franz Brentano. That your thoughts do have content is due to the intentional feature of the mental. Ontologically the feature of the mental is its intentionality. Only in analytic or armchair philosophy intentionality became defined as the semantic notion of languages in terms of ‘aboutness’, in the way John Searle defined intentionality. The latter purely semantic definition of indexicality does not allow genuine intentions, because languages are common means. Together with the additional thesis of analytic philosophy, namely that the mind can become completely investigated in term of an investigation of languages, the philosophical bedrock of the transmodern subject is established.

Against this background the following questions were focused on:

What are genuine intentions?
Why are genuine intentions essential for the identity of a person over time?
What does "identity of a person over time" mean?
Why the self cannot be a fiction of grammar?
Why the identity of a person over time cannot be replaced by some kind of survival of a person over time?
Why ontologically the mental cannot be reduced to languages or information processing?
Why is the use of languages of the various kinds - natural languages, formal languages, music, colours and lines and so forth - not reducible to information processing?
What is genuinely human?

To explain the core issue two paradoxes were be formulated: The benign Eckermann-paradox and the malign Smith-paradox. The latter exemplifies the situation of the destroyed transmodern subject.


Manfred Max-Neef (Transdisciplinary Economist, Alternative Nobelprize 1983 in Economics, Valdivia, Chile) changed the topic of his lecture The negation of identity as a condition for neo-classical economics into the topic THOUGHTS THAT MATTER WITHOUT TITLE. The reason for that was that the issue addressed is not easy to get to due to its manifold aspect. On the one hand he based his lecture on personal experiences, and on the other hand he draws our attention to identity as a fundamental need of human beings. Grounded in that Manfred Max-Neef distinguished four levels of identity:

  1. Eigenwelt;
  2. Mitwelt;
  3. Umwelt; and
  4. Cosmos.

All of them are of relevance, although difficult to be precise about. The lecture was an experimental approach to the topic of our conference, which approached the question with respect to our contemporary civilisation: "How have we acquired this harmful identity?"

The ROUND TABLE I: "DOES THE IDENTITY OF A PERSON OVER TIME STILL MATTER?" was able to bring our confusion about the topic to a culmination of a high degree of inspiration for further work. The question of the Round Table I was:

What seems to be contemporarily relevant in the very different parts of the world and globally, and in the different societies - in everyday life including the demands for entertainment in some societies, in sciences, in basic laws, in economics, in politics, in arts, and in literature?
An increase in ...?
An increase in what?
An increase in humanity and in an improvement of the human conditions sub species eternitatis?
Or what?

An increase of the various kinds of power structures within and between the manifold societies over individuals in favour of an increase of economic growth? The acceptance of the identity of a person over time who has a self and resists to give it up is a very serious problem for such societies. Scientifically, sociologically, legally, and politically the elimination of the identity of a person over time and the self in favour of some kinds of a survival is very productive and innovative. Why not to contribute to it?

Is there a way to resist?
Is there a way to increase humanity in its genuine sense, i.e. self-reliable and genuinely creative human beings based on good faith?


Basarab Nicolescu (Theoretical physicist at CNRS, University Paris VI, Member of the Romanian Academy, President of the International Center for Transdisciplinary Research and Studies (CIRET), Paris, France) focused in his lecture on THE CHALLENGE OF TRANSDISCIPLINARITY: FROM POSTMODERNITY TO COSMODERNITY, firstly, on the notion and the history of transdisciplinarity, and secondly, he proposed a schema for the classification of "Modernity", "Postmodernity", and "Transmodernity". The work he referred to was written by Rosa Maria Rodrigues Magda in 1998. The features that enter the classification are: The conception of reality, temporality, reason, public and private, spirit and body, masculine and feminine, progress and future, and some concepts in between. For transmodernity Basarab Nicolescu pointed to the "New Principle of Relativity". The new concepts he provided are: "heterarchical". What is fundamental itself is the movement. Against this background he takes "cosmos" and adds "modernity", such that the outcome of "cosmos + modernity" = "cosmodernity".


During the ROUND TABLE II: THE IDENTITY OF A PERSON OVER TIME IN COSMODERN TIMES we came up to the conclusion that there is a great gap between the different approaches to the notion modernity, postmodernity, and whatever might be put beyond that, that are used and formulated in literature, in theory of literature and the arts, and in theories of human culture, which come up with timetables of human cultures or with "epoch- making" classifications.


Participants of the Round Tables in alphabetical order were Florian Gessler (Composer, indexicals, Graz, Austria ), Manfred Max-Neef, Hans Mikosch (Physical Chemist, Technical University of Vienna, Austria), Basarab Nicolescu, Josephine Papst, Thomas Pilz (Architect, i ndex i cals, Graz, Austria), Thomas Rothschild (German Studies, University of Stuttgart, Germany), and the audience.

Responsible for the documentation of the conference was Harald Paier - Mathematician, index icals, Vienna, AUSTRIA.

© Josephine Papst (indexicals - Centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences, Graz, AUSTRIA)

1.1. Transmodernität und das Paradigma der Transdisziplinarität

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For quotation purposes:
Josephine Papst (indexicals - Centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences, Graz, AUSTRIA): Report: Transdisciplinarity in Progress - Transmodernity and the Paradigm of Transdisciplinarity. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW:

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