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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 of expertise.

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.








Mystic Light @ Andy Ilachinski