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October 14, 2009

The importance of transdisciplinarity for communication ethics

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines — news_editor @ 5:17 pm


Robert Beckett argues that transdisciplinarity can support the integration of communication ethics practice with many other disciplines, by providing a theoretical basis for each


Transdisciplinarity is an important theory for communication ethics, both situating the lifeworld study of communication-morality as essential and connecting it to a new physics of time-based multi-dimensionality. One of the difficulties for any discipline is justifying itself outside its own boundaries. While these boundaries are dynamic and wide in communication ethics, this may also reduce the possibility of agreement over the natural limits to the discipline and therefore its unique justification. Transdisciplinarity may support the integration of communication ethics practice with many other disciplines, by providing a theoretical basis for each, a justification situated in new understandings of multi-dimensional physical realities and in the time-distorting potentiality of information communication technologies.


In 2002, the Romanian physicist Basarab Nicolescu, published, The manifesto of transdisciplinarity (translated by Karen-Claire Voss, New York Press). More recently, the field of transdisciplinarity has gained serious recognition at a World Knowledge Dialogue event, held in Switzerland in 2008 and attended by such luminaries as A.O. Wilson and Edgar Morin, (see http://www.wkdialogue.ch/index.html) and via the International Center for Transdisciplinary Research (see http://basarab.nicolescu.perso.sfr.fr/ciret/indexen.html). Last year also, a more diverse collection of essays was published, edited by Nicolescu, Transdisciplinarity: Theory and practice (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press Inc.).


There are several key formulations in transdisciplinarity that tie-in closely with communication ethics. These include:


 a) Transdisciplinarity is linked to the identification of complexity in both natural and social sciences. It recognises how a postmodern multi-modal knowledge construct helps provide a measure of integration within and between the sciences using a theory of physics.


b) This integration is achieved by recognizing the two great revolutions of the 20th century, the quantum revolution and the computer revolution. In recognising that new levels of reality exist, signified by recognition of the quantum domain and that computing supports amazing new capabilities to track our universe, transdisciplinarity, identifies a new dimension of human reality which communication scholars will recognise. Nicolescu calls it computer space-time (CST), a human domain of light-speed capability that is already used to evaluate, revise, create and reassess all human knowledge.


c) Linked to the new CST capabilities is the acceptance by physicists of ‘new levels of reality’ and the significant insight for communication and ethics of a revised, yet simple logic. Scholars who have looked into the logic/dialogic of classical knowledge will not be surprised that the limits of Aristotelian classical logic contained in the standard three laws (Law of Identity , Law of Non-Contradiction, Law of Excluded Middle) can be revised, based on the new quantum evaluation of complex physical reality.


Particularly for logic, this revision relates to the ‘excluded middle’, where Nicolescu, refers to Stéphane Lupasco, who, in the 1970s, conceived that a binary logic which depended on the separation of logical entities did not account for the relatedness of objects. Lupasco denied the ‘excluded middle’ and, instead. replaced it with an ‘included middle’ or tiers inclus (T-state) enabling a both/and category for logic, replacing the either/or option of ‘exclusion’.

 

d) For transdisciplinarity and for other disciplines, the recognition of a T-state re-balances logical objects in human knowledge by a ‘third-state’ - the interrelational, thereby providing an actual logic of change, explaining dynamic equilibrium and disequilibrium, while initiating a fundamental re-integration of human knowledge across the sciences through examination of ancient (il)logical structures. Under the transdisciplinary perspective, the relational dimension of all energy in the universe suggests a more subtle appreciation of connections using a new ‘modal logic’ and even a reintegration of ’science’ with the ’sacred’ by showing their interrelation.


e) For communication ethics, the transdisciplinary revision supports both dialectical suspicion of certainty, and integrates the natural and social sciences using in a multi-modal logic founded in postmodern physical reality. The suggestion here is that communication ethics, perhaps the most concise general theoretical conception in the social sciences, linked via the massive/complex capabilities of CST, can now be founded in a equally profound understanding held in the natural sciences, the quantum revolution. Together, each has a power which apart they lack. A transdisciplinary communication ethics is capable of being linked with other disciplines via a shared view of physical reality and a new modal logic; a logic that suits the open, interpretive and moral requirements of communication ethics and, in fact, of transdisciplinarity.


On a personal note, the theory of transdisciplinarity is supported by the method of 5D sense making that this author has published since 2001. 5D provides a simple method for communication ethics, and any other subject including transdisciplinarity, that enhances their common integration via a simple numerical patterning of key knowledge, aiming to signal the often sublimated theories and assumptions in text, and supporting the move to interactive (on and off line) knowledge examination via the use of visual mapping of data in real time.

 

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