Basarab Nicolescu: "Transdisciplinarity as Methodological Framework for Going Beyond the Science-Religion Debate"

In the first part of my talk I discuss what I call “the war of definitions.” I present the definition introduced by Jean Piaget in 1970 and I compare it with the two definitions existing in our time: the one proposed by Michael Gibbons and Helga Nowotny and the one proposed by myself in Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity (SUNY Press, New York, 2002). I show that the challenge of this war of definitions—“beyond disciplines”—precisely signifies the complex unity of the Subject and the Object.

The meaning “beyond disciplines” leads us to an immense space of new knowledge, which includes the outcome of the science-religion debate. Transdisciplinarity is defined via its methodology. I will analyze, in the second part of my talk, the following three axioms of the methodology of transdisciplinarity:

i. The ontological axiom: There are, in Nature and society and in our knowledge of Nature and society, different levels of Reality of the Subject and, correspondingly, different levels of the Object.
ii. The logical axiom: The passage from one level of Reality to another is insured by the logic of the included middle.
iii. The epistemological axiom: The structure of the totality of levels of Reality is a complex structure: every level is what it is because all the levels exist at the same time.

The first two get their experimental evidence from quantum physics, but they go well beyond exact sciences. The last one has its source not only in quantum physics but also in a variety of other exact and human sciences. All three are in agreement with traditional thinking, present on the earth from the beginning of historical times and they offer the framework of unification of exact and human sciences.

I will show how this methodology leads to the ternary partition {Subject, Object, Hidden Third}, which is, of course, different from the modern binary partition{Subject vs. Object}. This methodology also leads to a new form of hermeneutics—transdisciplinary hermeneutics. I conclude by exploring the way in which transdisciplinary hermeneutics can offer a firm and rigorous background for going beyond the science-religion dialogue.

4 June 2007

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