Contemporary natural philosophy and philosophies—Part 1
Schroeder, Marcin J.
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From the Philosophies program , one of the main aims of the journal is to help establish a new unity in diversity in human knowledge, which would include both “Wissen” (i.e., “Wissenschaft”) and “sc ̄ıre” (i.e., “science”). As is known, “Wissenshaft” (the pursuit of knowledge, learning, and scholarship) is a broader concept of knowledge than “science”, as it involves all kinds of knowledge, including philosophy, and not exclusively knowledge in the form of directly testable explanations and predictions. The broader notion of scholarship incorporates an understanding and articulation of the role of the learner and the process of the growth of knowledge and its development, rather than only the final product and its verification and validation. In other words, it is a form of knowledge that is inclusive of both short-term and long-term perspectives; it is local and global, critical and hypothetical (speculative), breaking new ground. This new synthesis or rather re-integration of knowledge is expected to resonate with basic human value systems, including cultural values. Since knowledge tends to spontaneously fragment while it grows, Philosophies takes existing diversity as a resource and a starting point for a new synthesis. The idea of broad, inclusive knowledge is in fact not so new. From the beginning, natural philosophy included all contemporary knowledge about nature. Newton was a natural philosopher, as were Bohr, Einstein, Prigogine, Weizsäcker, and Wheeler—to name but a few. Today, the unifying picture of the natural/physical world is sorely missing among the isolated silos of particular scientific domains, each with its own specific ontologies, methodologies, and epistemologies. From the profound need for connected and common knowledge, new trends towards synthesis have emerged in the last decades. One major theme is complexity science, especially when applied to biology or medicine, which helps us to grasp the importance of connectedness between present-day disparate pieces of knowledge—frameworks, theories, approaches, etc. Related to this is the emergence of network science, which studies structures of nodes (actors) and edges as connections between them. In an adage ascribed to Einstein, but also some others such as Hawkins, it has been recognized that problems are solved not in the framework in which they appear but rather in a new framework, at the next level of abstraction.
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