The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


The Unifying Method of the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences: The Method of Transdisciplinarity

Predrag Cicovacki (College of the Holy Cross, Department of Philosophy; Worcester, USA)
Transdisciplinarity as an Interactive Method: A Critical Reflection on the Three Pillars of Transdisciplinarity

Basarab Nicolescu has often claimed that "the three pillars of transdisciplinarity - levels of Reality, the logic of included middle, and complexity - determine the methodology of transdisciplinary research." While Nicolescu has to be applauded for initiating a powerful new movement which corresponds to the needs of our fragmented world, his three pillars of transdisciplinarity deserve and invite further thoughts and development. Why are there three pillars, rather than two or four? Why these particular pillars, rather than some others?

My paper will critically address these questions and proposes the following answers. At the heart of the transdisciplinary approach to reality there is an interactive element which overcomes the traditional subject - object separation. This interactive element can be further elaborated in terms of transdisciplinary ontology, transdisciplinary logic, transdisciplinary epistemology, and transdisciplinary theory of values. Transdisciplinary ontology stands for the first pillar mentioned by Nicolescu - the levels of Reality. Transdisciplinary logic accepts the logic of included middle, but also demands an appropriate revisions of the two remaining principles of Aristotelian logic: the law of non-contradiction, and the principle of sufficient reason. The third pillar proposed by Nicolescu - complexity - is vague. What it really is all about is a need for a different epistemological approach to reality, and this approach may be provided by a new transdisciplinary epistemology. Finally, Nicolescu himself has often emphasized the value aspect of transdisciplinarity, e.g., that transdisciplinarity is a way of self-transformation, oriented towards the knowledge of the self, the unity of knowledge, and the creation of a new art of living. For this reason the author of this essay argues that transdisciplinarity requires the forth pillar as well, a new transdisciplinary theory of values.