Alex Koutsouris: Critical realism and the problem of interdisciplinaritywith reference to agriculture and agronomic higher education

The current unsustainable worldwide situation (and the search for a sustainable future) challenges, among others, our understandings of agricultural development. Therefore, new paradigms concerning development and science emerge with emphasis on systemic approaches. Especially in science and education various forms of cross-disciplinarity are debated with most of them claiming that inter- or trans-disciplinarity involve the tight co-ordination among disciplinary parts allowing, in turn, for the discovery of overarching conceptual framework. Such a thesis is examined through the lenses of critical realism. The latter through its differentiated and stratified ontology, implying methodological pluralism, considers the claim for the development of an overarching synthesis unifying theories, concepts and methods to be problematic. Instead, it maintains that the integrative part of the research process consists of integration of knowledge about a complex phenomenon. In parallel, it forcefully criticises the dominant paradigm of (agricultural) science and education; its adoption implies the transformation of both fields.Dr. of History of Science
Critique to the scientific enterprise is identified usually with the Catholic Church. Science has come out of this conflict as a free enterprise. Bacon’s New Atlantis gave the image of the ideal state which guaranteed the production of citizens appropriate for this great undertaking. No other critique reached the level of a conflict.
Towards the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th, right after the great Newtonian success, the Italian philosopher Giambatista Vico dares to express his disagreement with the New Philosophy and the ethos it demanded from its participants. With the hope that one can learn from a critique to our present Republic of letters, I try to reconstruct the characteristics of the Republic Vico envisaged for the learned. For this I make use of his two major works, The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico and On the Study Methods of Our Time.