Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Uexküll, Theoretical Biology and the “Two-Cultures” of Interdisciplinary Science (an idea from 2012, to be further explored)


Uexkuell is interested in how multivariate sense qualities combine to create the objectivity of the object, even while realizing that such objectivities are embedded and defined by its umlaut, the natural environment and interlaced worlds whereby the different qualities of the object interact. He is aware that the study of epistemology requires differentiation between the subjective and objective measurements that are unavoidably entangled, and this stems from his own interest in the potential range of certainty/uncertainty measures when determining both the quantitative and qualitative content of knowledge forms within the interdisciplinary framing and particular preoccupations of physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology.  He turns to Kant as starting point to his arguments on the reflexivity and intersubjectivity of knowledge through the concept of space-time as a departure point for discussing the nature of the transmission of epistemic paths and ontologies. One can somewhat suggest that Uexkuell’s interpretation of phenomena, movements, lines, forces, intension, extension, the inner and the outer, influence latter day philosophers such as Serres and Deleuze in their discussion of the nature of scientific knowledge, and the connection of the nature of such knowledge to other areas of epistemic building. In addition, his contribution to phenomenology in the arguments he has built around apperception and sense-qualities have been too-long neglected.  Uexkuell’s discourse on the phenomenal qualities can be discussed in comparison with Husserl’s earlier works on phenomenology derived from his observation of the physical and mathematical sciences, especially in the discussion of the subjectivity of the phenomenology of empirical sciences and the problems of emphasizing causality in knowledge forms. What I would like to discuss here would be:
1.     How an understanding of Uexkuell’s discussion of surrounding worlds, appearance worlds, and quality circles, among others, can provide the backdrop for looking into the commonality and differences between the historico-epistemic timelines of the two different scientific fields of the biological and physical sciences.
2.     Why content qualities and order qualities as espoused by Uexkuell is important in thinking about the ontology of knowledge construction, while considering the problems of ‘promiscuous’ interdisciplinarity in the intermingling of possibly ‘incompatible’ knowledge forms and looking into whether such a problem is intractable or if useful and approximate solutions exist. One may tentatively argue that the ‘successful’ combination of these different qualities represents a ‘symmetrical’ and ‘well-fitted’ interdisciplinarity.
3.     The connection between the ideas in Uexkuell’s Theoretical Biology to certain foundational issues relating to the mathematical ontologies of physics and the ‘signs’ under which quasi-classical quantum theory and modern quantum theory that exist in tandem inhabit, and the problematics involved in trying to define causality. This third part is of specific interest to me as I am interested in the notion of speculation in scientific knowledge and the linguistic differences involved in speculative interpretation and analysis in biological, and physical sciences; as well as the differences in approaches and interpretive turn of observations/evidence. Uexkuell’s discussion of empiricism and observation-measurement can possibly shed light into some of the questions on a priori mental models that bring about particular axioms and assumptions, and one’s subscription or sympathy towards a particular interpretation or analysis.