Pierre Levy – The Future Scientific Revolution in Humanities and Social Sciences (Extrato do texto)

Texto escolhido para atividade interdiciplinar envolvendo estudo de textos filosóficos em língua estrangeira.

Texto em inglês nº 2

Text extracted from the article.  Philosopher: Pierre Levy (2009).

From Social Computing to Reflexive Collective Intelligence: The IEML Research Program

The Future Scientific Revolution in Humanities and Social Sciences

As a growing proportion of human interaction, communication and memory use the medium of cyberspace, it becomes in principle feasible to ground interdisciplinary research in social sciences and humanities in a common body of digital data. But as different disciplines and even different schools in the same disciplines have incompatible theoretical frameworks, the new opportunities offered by the extension of cyberspace for the study of human or cultural phenomena are not yet fully exploited.

Between the 16th and 20th centuries, the natural sciences acquired a unique and infinite physical space [?], equipped with a system of universal coordinates and units of measurement. The observational instruments in the natural sciences today are very elaborate in their engineering, and undergo constant progress. The symbolic and conceptual instruments of natural sciences is highly formalized, logically coherent, and largely shared within the scientific community. Mathematicians have their sets, relations, numbers, and functions. Physicists have their mass, energy, and particles. Chemists have their elements, molecules and reactions. Biologists have their biomolecules, DNA, and their intracellular and intercellular pathways of exchange. The theories may abound and diverge, but the language, just like the system of coordinates and measures, remains common to them all, enabling dialogue, controlled testing and an articulated accumulation of discoveries. In terms of knowledge management, we can say that natural sciences have been successful in making a significant portion of their knowledge explicit, so that it could be shared and thus offering mutual enrichment.

By contrast, the humanities and social sciences do not share a cultural space that is unique, infinite, coordinated and measurable. The disciplines are fragmented. Within those disciplines, conflicts between paradigms often limit fruitful dialogue. It is sometimes even difficult to agree on the nature of the disagreements. The observational instruments are not well developed in terms of engineering. Except in certain highly formalized sub-disciplines, the calculability, predictive capacity, and testability of the theories are weak. The main consequences of this situation is that the greater part of the considerable knowledge accumulated by the community of researchers in the humanities and social sciences remains “implicit”. That is to say, in terms of knowledge management, the knowledge and expertise accumulated by the humanities are difficult to share in contexts that differ from the initial environment in which they emerged. And yet, the resolution for the difficult problems confronting contemporary humanity demand the effective collaboration of all cultural sciences.

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