Cover of Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking by Stephen Jay Kline
Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking
Stephen Jay Kline

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1995
356 pages.
$67.50

Cloth ISBN: 9780804724098

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Our current intellectual system provides us with a far more complete and accurate understanding of nature and ourselves than was available in any previous society. This gain in understanding has arisen from two sources: the use of the 'scientific method', and the breaking up of our intellectual enterprise into increasingly narrower disciplines and research programs. However, we have failed to keep these narrow specialities connected to the intellectual enterprise as a whole. The author demonstrates that this causes a number of difficulties. We have no viewpoint from which we can understand the relationships between the disciplines and lack a forum for adjudicating situations where different disciplines give conflicting answers to the same problem. We seriously underestimate the differences in methodology and in the nature of principles in the various branches of science. This provocative and wide-ranging book provides a detailed analysis and possible solutions for dealing with this problem.

"This very valuable book presents a stunning case for the necessity of multidisciplinary studies. It demonstrates, through impressive quantitative and logical argument, that reductionist paradigms are insufficient to tackle the compelling questions raised by highly complex systems—much less to solve most of the problems facing today's college students."

—Bryan Pfaffenberger, University of Virginia

"This very important book provides a careful look at the inadequacies of our present approach to understanding and learning. There has been an explosion of work focusing on complexity, but Kline does what most of this work does not do: he both identifies the deficiencies of reductionism and provides a structure for moving toward complexity."

—Don E. Kash, George Mason University

"Refreshingly bold in his approach, the author is not merely concerned with the "advantages" or "attractiveness" of multidisciplinary approaches to contemporary problems. Rather, he argues in a robust manner for the necessity of multidisciplinary discourse. . . . The book is written in an accessible style that is far from dry and, without sliding into flippancy, pithy humour is evident throughout."

Patrick J. J. Phillips