Critical Approach to Transdisciplinarity The definition and the
practice of 'thought' has always been altered parallel to what is
contextually based on in it's history. This is one of the reasons
different readings of history exist.
At the very beginning of the 21st century we are the witnesses of
the urgent and inevitable changing of re-theorising 'thought' and
From the very beginning of the history of
thought till producing and observing the theories has been altering
its form as well as its essence.
The specialisation of the various sub-disciplines under the general
idea of thought has been formed with all these alterations.
The transformation of the disciplines is perceptible from the ancient
procedure of producing all the subdivisions of knowledge together
by one philosopher, rather than with the enlightenment dividing
all the fields of science in terms of proficiency, later on during
the 19th and 20th century having more and more fields, than the
idea of the 'interdisciplinarity' and 'multidisciplinarity' (among
all these processes the ideologies) and now the urgent need of the
'transdisciplinarity'. In the first World Congress of Transdisciplinarity,
(Convento da Arrabida, Portugal, November 2-6. 1994) the keystone
of the transdisciplinarity is defined as 'semantic and practical
unification of the meanings that traverse and lay beyond different
disciplines'*1. In the same congress,
it is emphasised that 'in comparison with interdisciplinarity and
multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity is multirefererential and
multidimensional. Whilst taking account of the various approaches
to time and history, transdisciplinarity does not exclude a transhistorical
Paraphrasing Ron Burnett, the interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity
remain linked to the framework of disciplinary research unlike transdisciplinarity,
however transdisciplinary research has 'immediate links to a particular
set of subjects or disciplines'*3.
This link which constitutes the bridge between the gulf of the disciplines
was created during the history of 'thought' and separates the multidisciplinarity
and interdisciplinarity from the transdisciplinarity. According
to Edgar Morin*4 'it's not enough to
value the links between experiences, disciplines, creativity and
ideas. One has to develop methods, strategies and practices that
will transform those links to the real connections'*5
Transdisciplinary research is becoming increasingly important as
the result of the growth of research concentrated throughout its
vast arena. The technological advances within media and the World
Wide Web have had a profound impact on the way in which our culture
views knowledge and locates and sustains change at this level. This
has led to a massive change in communications and distribution systems,
which have, in turn 'affected the definitions and explanations that
we make of the disciplines that do research, that create and sustain
the technology they invent and try to explain.'*6
Consequently, these 'networks of communication' have changed the
way we perceive information, redefining our cultural models, our
notions of time and space and our ability to integrate media and
images into every aspect of our daily lives. All of these changes
have had a profound impact on the arts and our understanding of
borders of the disciplines become more metaphorical with the transition
of some other factors. It is commonly believed that an artwork acquires
its meaning from the artist and the observer as well as from its
own self image, but in today's understanding of art it is inseparable
from its sponsor, curator, exhibitor or art critic. These contributions
to the art works are not just influential in presenting or understanding
the artwork but also from the very beginning point of its creation
process they are impacted on the idea and the meaning that it has.
Thus the curator or art critic becomes a part of the artwork as
well as or even more than the artist does. There cannot be such
a severe line drawn between the artist and the curator in terms
of producing the artwork. Bruce Ferguson defines the curatorship
as a job and emphasises that 'everyone can be a curator in contemporary
If the validity of this statement is to be believed then it must
equally apply to the possibility of everyone being an artist. 'Producing'
is the key word here in the concept of the transdisciplinarity.
As long as the artistic process relies on the idea of the work more
than constructing it then the process of curation itself must be
counted as an artwork.
Art criticism is also another process of the production and reproduction
of art. Then art becomes an instrument of social science rather
than an aesthetic phenomenon. In this process the function of the
artist, curator, critic and observer transforms and the process
itself transforms into transdisciplinary research. In this process
the 'artist' does not lose his/her identity but his location of
being privileged subject, instead s/he undertakes a higher responsibility
in the context of the art.
There is this connection between the curator and the editor as well
as the artist and the author. The editor engineers the structure
of the book. This process need not be defined as merely ordering
the pre-existing essays, instead, this is the process of producing
the work, co-production with other authors from other disciplines
that also transform their writings into their instruments which
cooperate in a totality. In this co-operation the 'author' as well
as the artist are not lost but re-exist in the concept of co-production.
The necessity of this co-production has emerged within scientific
and technological progress. Since the Enlightenment, the idea of
division between every little field of knowledge has created borders
as well as proficiency within the disciplines. In the era of the
21st century where transdisciplinarity is the foremost discipline
linking these disparate ideas, it is necessary to recognise the
urgency of their formulation. In order to question our recent approaches
to all-encompassing disciplines we must allow these disciplines
to co-converse up until the point of the transdisciplinary. In other
words multidisciplinary issues within social sciences such as the
fusion of technology with media have made it necessary for us to
expand as well as contract our socio-psychological experience within
every disciplinary field. The continual shift of our understanding
of the disciplinary causes us to re-evaluate all that has come before.
Instead of fragmenting the disciplines as in the past we must now
assimilate the vast genres with in these interrelated disciplines.
In order to do this we must realise that each sub-genre includes
concise detailed analyses of the information within its own discipline.
As Ron Burnett concludes in his essay on transdisciplinarity and
the social sciences: 'ů..this desire for convergence is also a recognition
of diversity and difference. It will only be possible to move from
specialised and closed approaches to these phenomena if we recognise
that their relatedness allows us to select what needs to come together
while celebrating separateness, locality and community.
the same way, our major disciplines have long ago ceased to be effective
as separate, have in fact searched for ways of coming together '*8