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2.1 Identification and guidelines

1. Definition

There is no satisfactory general definition for the concepts which it is intended that this section should include. The title envisaged for this section has at various times been "interdisciplinary concepts", "integrative concepts", "integrative, unitary, and transdisciplinary concepts", etc.

(a) Inclusion: By the above terms is meant concepts such as the following:

    (a) Concepts of systems, types of systems, and general properties of systems

    (b) Concepts of interdisciplinarity

    (c) Concepts of integration, unification and unity of knowledge

    (d) Concepts whose essential characteristic is to link together or structure other concepts into a larger whole

    (e) Concepts whose essential characteristic is to encompass or grasp complexity or the basically incomprehensible

    (f) Concepts of wholes, types of wholes, and general properties of wholes

    (g) Concepts that interrelate incommensurable domains vital to balanced (social) action and policy formulation

    (h) Concepts of unity, and types of unity

    (i) Modes of analysis in the light of the above concepts

The most general description that emerges is possibly one of concepts whose essential characteristic is to interrelate incommensurable (or in some way incompatible) concepts, modes of experience, or methods of study.

(b) Exclusion: Concepts such as the following are included (if at all) only to indicate limiting cases of interest: racial integration, cultural integration, personal integration, institutional integration, integration of communication and data systems, integration of production systems, and integration of behavioral systems.

2. Identification procedure

A preliminary list of subject headings relating to some aspect of integrative thinking was first established. This list was used and extended during the course of several systematic library and literature searches forming a bibliography (Section KY).

Summaries of various ranges of integrative, interdisciplinary and related concepts, in the form of books and articles, were located in this way and were used to build up files on individual concepts. The information finally present in each file was then used to establish the individual concept entries.

Although all statements used in building up concept descriptions are very closely based on existing published documents, no explicit link is established between statement and source documents. This was avoided because the editorial process of selection and restructuring of texts from different sources may have unintentionally distorted the meanings in the original contexts (particularly when the original statements did not constitute clear descriptions). Any such misinterpretation will be corrected in future editions.

A particular difficulty encountered was that libraries are currently unable to process interdisciplinary material in a satisfactory manner. Either the publication is treated under "general", which is by nature an underprivileged category mainly used for general reference books in which the notion of generality derives from the variety of unrelated materials included within the same volume and not from the nature of any concept which attempts to interlink such materials, possibly at a higher level of order. Or, as the chief cataloguer of one of the major libraries of the world explained, the practice is to scan such books on interdisciplinary and related approaches in order to identify the most predominant discipline, which is then used as the basis for classification. A key publication such as Interdisciplinarity; problems of teaching and research in universities. (Paris, OECD, 1972) would therefore not be retrievable under any interdisciplinary classification, but rather under some aspect of education. An equivalent situation occurs in bookshops, so that interdisciplinary questions may be dealt with in books anywhere in an entire collection.

3. Guidelines for patterning disagreement (Section KP)

In order to generate such an integrated multi-set grouping of operational statements it is of course vital to have a rich variety of source material on possible content. Such material was collected for an earlier paper (Anthony  Judge, Patterns of N-foldness, 1984) and tentatively ordered there according to the number of elements in the sets in question. As pointed out in that paper, this ordering permitted useful comparisons between sets in different schemes having an equal number of elements.

Such material can only be useful if care is taken to treat the morphological characteristics as independent of the special properties of the substrate with which a given set is particularly concerned. This point has been clearly made by René Thom in his study of morphogenesis (Modèles Mathématiques de la Morphogenèse, 1980).

The point is also made in relation to one of documents included in the material collected: "This study will develop the hypothesis that the "lattice logic" which de Nicolas perceives in the Rg Veda was grounded on a proto-science of number and tone. The numbers Rgvedic man cared about define alternate tunings for the musical scale. The hymns describe the numbers poetically, distinguish "sets" by classes of gods and demons, and portray tonal and arithmetical relations with graphic sexual invariances which became the focus of attention in Greek tuning theory. Because the poets limited themselves to integers, or natural numbers, and consistently used the smallest integers possible in every tonal context, they made it possible for us to rediscover their constructions by the methods of Pythagorean mathematical harmonics." (Ernest MClain, 1978, p.3)

Using equivalent sets from the source material as a guideline, a new set for the number in question was "generated" taking into account the constraints. Given the variety of emphases of sets of an equivalent number of elements, this process of generation necessarily involved non-logical operations, especially since the intention was to maximize the incompatibility between the elements in any given set. The results are given in Section KP. The only similar exercise detected is a doctoral thesis in philosophy (W Dalhberg, Ordnung, Sein und Bewustsein, 1984) which was composed directly onto a word processor (to facilitate experiments with alternative structures) using the poetic power of the German language to full effect.

Two interesting and related difficulties emerged in comparing equivalent items from the source material.

    (a) Clearly some sets are formulated at a higher level of abstraction than others. The problem was, using the constraints as guidelines, to generate elements of an equivalent set at an appropriate level of abstraction.

    (b) Clearly sets differ greatly in the nature of the elements, whether: stages, values, qualities, problems, methods, conditions, etc. Again the problem was to use the constraints to arrive at some neutral formulation of which the above might be considered aspects. In both cases the problem was to find appropriate words (whether general or neutral) to carry the incompatible qualities associated with each set.

For each set an underlying theme is common to each element. The incompatibility is embedded in the qualification on that theme.