Archive for February 12th, 2010

Feb 12 2010

Cycles of science

One of the very common ways we humans learn things, from infanthood on, is an “engineering mindset”: we first break things down into enough component parts that we can gain a measure of understanding about the parts and how they work, then the cycle moves to the phase of putting the pieces back together to see what they now make (which is never quite the same as what it was, of course), then testing and studying and learning from the more complex concept. Physical, mental, emotional, even philosophical learnings can all follow this path of knowledge acquisition (not the only path available, but the one we’re discussing here).

Since the explosion of scientific progress from the Renaissance onward, it seems as if scientists have been engaged on a nice little run of reductionist scientific methods. This is not being criticized in and of itself; as anyone can see, we’ve exponentially increased our knowledge and understanding of ourselves and the world and universe we inhabit, in numerous different knowledge areas. My theory is that we are at or incredibly near the point where in order to make further large leaps in greater understanding we need a long period of interdisciplinary scientific explorations, where multi-discipline groups aren’t just allowed but actively encouraged, and a trend of larger-picture learnings is actively sought (and funded).

I think there are already the first signs of this trend now visible in some of the scientifically and technologically innovative research fields. I hope the rest of the 21st century brings the start of the synergistic renaissance. What do you think?

6 responses so far