Defining the Dialogue between Sciences: A View on Transdisciplinary Perspective in the Human Sciences

Giorgia Rimondi, Marco Veronese
Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline  •  Volume 21  •  2018  •  pp. 255-268

The authors argue that interdisciplinarity, together with the more recent concept of transdisciplinarity, can be seen as a coherent attempt not so much to reassemble the fragmented structure into a whole, as to create a fruitful collaboration and integration among different disciplines that takes into account their specificity.

At the threshold of the Modern Age, a series of paradigm shifts in Western thought caused its fragmentation into a variety of academic subdisciplines. Such diversification can be considered the result of epistemological shifts and changes in the division of intellectual labor.

Which semantic horizons can this new approach open, and on which theoretical foundations could a dialogue between disciplines be produced? The growing importance of this problem is evidenced by the emergence, during the last decades, of philosophical reflections on the interactions among different research fields.

The paper aims to contribute to the contemporary discussion of the need to overcome boundaries between disciplines. Consequently, it has both a methodological and theoretical impact, since all branches of knowledge aspiring to go beyond their traditional theoretical boundaries would benefit from a coherent theoretical perspective which tries to reconceptualize the transfer of knowledge from one field to another.

The possibility of transdisciplinarity in modern science finds its theoretical premise in M. Foucault’s seminal work on the organization of knowledge, The Order of Things, which hinted at the existence of gaps in the grid of knowledge, leading, as a result, to the possibility of creating transdisciplinary connections.

The authors’ critical discussion of transdisciplinarity aims to revive the French epistemological tradition that in the last decades has often been rejected by researchers as not being rigorous nor analytical. This choice is motivated by the belief that, despite such evident defects, at its bottom lies a genuine theoretical intention that does not take for granted the possibility of transcending the usual division of intellectual work. In addition, the authors offer a brief account of the Russian conception of transdisciplinarity, relatively little studied in the West, which is presumed to integrate and solve the difficulties of other similar models.

transdisciplinarity, critical epistemology, philosophy of boundaries, status of humanities, Michel Foucault, Russian school of transdisciplinarity
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