The 20th century may very well come to be considered
the “age of hyper-specialization.” Through the increasing division of labor—both
economic and intellectual—humans have certainly made enormous progress. We see the
acceleration of specialization not only in industry, but in higher education as
well. Does hyper-specialization, however, with its intensification of complexity
and multiplication of information, also produce significant problems? Does it—and
must it—lead to disintegration, a fracturing of knowledge, of culture, and of the
soul? What impact has hyper-specialization had on education? And what are its implications
for that which goes by the name of “science and religion dialogue”?
The challenge of the 21st century will be to integrate or synthesize the outcomes
of the exponential growth in human knowledge into meaningful wholes It’s not that
specialization needs to be overcome; it’s that individuals, communities, and civilization
in general will need to develop the complementary means by which to appropriate
and take the measure of all particular expertise. We must regain our ability, a
facility, an adeptness at taking the whole into our most profound concern.
One approach to a possible synthesis has been commonly known as the "science and
religion dialogue." But does the science and religion dialogue really provide the
much-needed intellectual and spiritual synthesis, the antidote to the sorely lacking
unity of knowledge? Does such a dialogue really get us to the whole story of the
whole cosmos for the whole person? Does it go far enough?
Perhaps we need to
consider an even richer vein in a quest for synthesis. A transdisciplinary
approach to the unity of knowledge respects the various disciplines and their methodologies,
even as it looks for a means for developing a rigorous higher-order appropriation
of the knowledge that comes from them. It is the synthetic or integral complement
to (not a replacement of) the analytic methodologies of the various sciences. It
strategically considers the natural, social, and human sciences, philosophical perspectives,
and even religious insights in multi-pronged approaches to theoretical and practical problems. It takes up questions that transcend the boundaries of any given body
Join us this year for the 8th annual Metanexus conference in Philadelphia, June
2-6, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania to pursue the really big questions
of life, the cosmos, and humanity. Among the attendees will be more than 250 representatives
of the Metanexus Global Network of multidisciplinary Local Societies from 40 countries
around the world.