“The trouble seems to be that it is no man’s business to understand the general patterns … “I do not know, indeed, whether one might in fact understand the crises of modern science so well as to have the power to do anything about them. I must, however, suggest that the petty illnesses of science-its super-abundance of literature, its manpower shortages, its increasing specialization, its tendency to deteriorate in quality-all these things are but symptoms of a general disease. That disease is partly understood by the historian, and might be understood better if it were any man’s professional province to do so. Even if we could not control the crisis that is almost upon us, there would at least be some satisfaction in understanding what was hitting us.” [My emphases]
Derek J. de Solla Price, (1964) Diseases of Science, in The Rise of Science in Relation to Society. Ed., Leonard M. Marsak, The Macmillan company, New York. (P. 144–45)
Because academics are paid to generate progress in their branch of knowledge, they don’t professionally bother about the problems that these bits of knowledge cause when put to use synergetically with other bits in the world. That is why specialists definitely cannot find ways to control the unabated force that humanity has become in the world.
As Buckminster Fuller has written in his Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth:
Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.
I edited the upper speech bubble, which read in the original: They do appear to be CONGRESS. I did not have to change the bottom one. “Normal” scientists have a similar mechanism of defense.
And again as Alfred North Whitehead was saying more diplomatically in 1948:
‘Effective knowledge is professionalized knowledge, supported by a restricted acquaintance with useful subjects subservient to it. This situation has its dangers. It produces minds in a groove. Each profession makes progress, but it is progress in its own groove. … Of course, no one is merely a mathematician, or merely a lawyer. People have lives outside their professions or their businesses. But the point is the restraint of serious thought within a groove. The remainder of life is treated superficially, with the imperfect categories of thought derived from one profession.”
Or Benjamin Lee Whorf in 1956:
“It needs but half an eye to see in these latter days that science, the Grand Revelator of modern Western culture, has reached, without having intended to, a frontier. Either it must bury its dead, close its ranks, and go forward into a landscape of increasing strangeness, replete with things shocking to a culture-trammeled understanding, or it must become, in Claude Houghton’s expressive phrase, the plagiarist of its own past.”
It is after coming across these pearls of wisdom about the limits of specialized science in my search for a Master’s program in the 70s after a first eclectic BA equivalency that I decided at the age of 35 to go to the university for a second general BA to become a “generalist”…while surreptitiously studying specialists… who seemed at the time to be the problem.
As a wannabe generalist, I manage to follow courses in as many different departments as I possibly could during this second BA. The most suitable for my purpose to become a generalist was a course in Environmental Sciences based on Joel de Rosney’s Le macroscope * — Vers une vision global, in which “The main theme is that the complex systems which govern our life should be looked at as a whole, rather than be taken apart into their constituents.”
This is the hoovering generalist that I haphazardly became after following three certificates of studies leading to a general BA, during which I have worked in as many different departments as I could. E.g., in one session, I was registered in five different departments: economy, psychology, mathematics, philosophy, administration.
I wasn’t there to study any of the subject matters presented to me in these courses. I was using these short sojourns in different specializations of knowledge as pretexts to explore from various perspectives the existential crisis into which I had assumed since the mid seventy we were all heading because of these short-sighted specializations. I really couldn’t openly mention this crisis I was studying though since even if I had a strong hunch about its evolutionary nature, as I will explain in my theory, I didn’t really know at the time what I was talking about, thus the surname “Gaudwin” given to me by my peers.
And it is after this second general BA, during which I have superficially looked at many sciences without never wanted to become efficient in any, that three of them, biology, psychology, and economy, more specifically directed me finally towards studying evolution at the Master level, but still as a generalist.
Here’s how these sciences are related to evolution: We became Homine while evolving in our body (Biology), Sapiens, in our mind (Psychology), and Modern Humans, in societies (economy). It is after having extracted this evolutionary pattern from my background of knowledge that I decided to enroll, at the age of 44, in the Master’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph, some ten years after my second general BA.
Since I was accepted in the program as an openly-declared “generalist” without having followed any formal courses in Sociology or Anthropology but sole on the basis of my proposition to find ways to use the knowledge that we have to counteract the calamities predicted by the Club of Rome, I have had the liberty to follow most of all the courses I wanted to in sociology and Anthropology while working on evolution with a zoologist.
Here’s the schema that I presented to the late Nora Cebatorev as a proposition for an unspecialized Master of arts in sociology and anthropology:
NB This schema was not as elaborated at the time, but it was all their in principle.
Here’s how my mind definitively “evolved” into a “living macroscope” after my unspecialized Master degree in ZooAnthropoSociology complemented the general university formation acquired during my previous two general BA:
As you can see, this MA program, without my planning for it, happened to fit perfectly in an evolutionary curriculum without focusing on the science of evolution itself. However, something new and exciting was emerging in my macroscopic mind. You can see this undefined novelty, which I was the only one to perceive at the time and still now, appearing as a virtual triangle in the upper schema of my neocortex.
It only was when I wrote my major paper, Specialization of Knowledge: The leading cause of our failures as a species, in which I tried to synthesize everything I had learned at the university, that this “novelty” became concrete to me. Concrete only to me though, because I had not yet formulated the theory which I had unintentionally developed alone during all those years while pursuing my studies to become a generalist of science.
It is with this academic background that I then started to look for an institution to undertake a PhD to finalize my life work. I have tried for one year but to no avail. Even if my proposition was interesting it did not fit in any University’s department, because I was a non-specialized ignorant developing an original thesis, in no way similar to anything that had never been done in any University’s department…of the world: nobody knew what I was talking about, and neither did I, formally.
It was the beginning of the 90s, and no one seemed to me to be aware of the environmental mess into which we are presently heading, and neither was I. I knew something was coming. However, I didn’t know what it was and neither did I think it would be coming that fast. It is only later while working alone as a disabled individual, having been diagnosed with a ‘borderline personality disorder,” that I finally succeeded to see on what I should focus my theory, so it makes sense to the Academia and all honest mind of the world:
And don’t ask me to tell you what it is that I found to be wrong about science… If I tell you now, before I expose my theory showing how I came to my conclusions, it would be idiosyncratically understood by your using ad hoc theories and believes deeply buried in your personal epistemological background, which allow you to keep on functioning apparently sanely in this evolutionary mayhem created by an anthropocentric “human paradigm” which absolutely needs to be shifted.
Scientific theory do not spring on stage fully developed, with their range fully established and with their empirical credentials in hand. They may begin as the recommendation of an alternative kind of answer to traditional questions or from the recognition of new questions in need of an answer. They develop historically, often in ways unimagined by the originators. Questions having to do with the proper way to define a theory’s basic concepts, the nature of its empirical support, the best way to to formulate and interpret its explanations, the relation of its concepts and principles to other theories in other sciences, emerge from this development… (Introduction to the philosophy of science: a text by members of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Pittsburgh, Merrilee H. Salmon. Hackett Publishing, 1999 — Science — 458 pages )
My theory of “universal evolution” formulating the cause of our failures as a species will open different avenues to academic specialists allowing them to regain their roles of leaders while using their knowledge to find viable solutions for the various crises into which humans are mechanically and blindly going through at the moment.
It is this theory, hopefully understandable by all honest mind from 10 to 90, that I will develop in a PhD dissertation that I am presently ready to put on paper and eventually post in Medium and Quora… if only I succeed to attract but a few followers with this introductory paper…
God save our soles!
My family doctor was telling me that I should stop calling academics “idiots savants” if I want them to be supportive of my thesis. How can I as a “learned-ignorant” who went to many institutions of knowledge to intentionally become a generalist of science to find out from this standpoint what’s wrong with them specialists that they cannot use their knowledge to solve the problems created by progress? It is indeed hard for me not to define them as such because I have discovered that the real reason they can’t is that ”when you pay people not to see the truth they don’t see the truth…as I read once Michael Lewis saying about the Wall Street workers having caused the 2008 economic crisis.
It is indeed some for-profit business someway contributing to the heating up the earth which somehow pays academics not to see the fact that modern civilization is in danger because of the mass of profits that these business keep on accumulating at the detriment of everything else on earth.
Myself, after two general BA, one unspecialized MA in ZooAnthropoSocioly, and twenty years of postgraduate research in library and the Internet as a disabled individual, if I can finally formulate for all specialists our present existential problem in solvable evolutionary terms, it is because I have never been paid during all these years…I did it on my own, for the sake of a species in need to evolve composed of a bunch of you-must-know-what by now…here, I didn’t say it!
Of course, there must be some exceptions; but if there are, they all but “confirm the rule.”