indexicals - Centre for Philosophy, Theory of Science, and Philosophy of Art
The centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences was first founded as a private centre of research by Josephine Papst in the year 2000. At that time the centre of research had the name Centre Descartes – a tribute to the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes, one of the most relevant philosophers. He was concerned with the question, how to achieve reliable truth to avoid indoctrination based on the dogmas provided by the established institutions of political and social power, namely the monarchs and the Catholic Church. Dogmas or ideologies made socially effective were the sources of wars and state terror against individuals. This widely unknown Cartesian thesis still holds. With the method of the sceptical doubt Descartes proofed believes – including mathematical ones – to achieve the clear and distinct ideas or truth, and the only idea that passed this method was the self or I. The idea of the existence of the self or I is still the crucial question of the cognitive sciences, namely whether or not consciousness can be reduced to physical properties or at least be explained in terms of physical, chemical, neurophysiological or biological processes. However, despite of the change of the name the Cartesian approaches to reality and to the mind remained crucial within the centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences. For several reasons in October 2003 I changed the name of my private centre of research into indexicals – Centre for transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences.
I changed the name not because the works of René Descartes would have become less relevant for the investigation of reality and of consciousness, but rather to avoid misunderstandings. All over the world there have been established the different kinds of educational and academic institutions that are baptised after Descartes; and not only institutions but also streets, public monuments and so forth. Therefore, to avoid misunderstandings since October 1st, 2003 the name of my private centre of research is indexicals – Centre of transdisciplinary cognitive and state-system sciences.
The questions arise: “What does the name of the scientific centre mean?“
“What does it symbolize?“
What does indexicals mean? According to the model of signs worked out by Charles Sanders Peirce, indexicals are words such as ‚I‘, ‚now‘, ‚here‘, ‚this‘, ‚me‘, ‚you‘, the present tense, and others. Different to icons and symbols, indexicals do refer directly to the physical, social or mental reality. Peirce assumes a direct relation in cause, time, place, and person between indexicals and reality, which is structured causally, timely, in space, and personally. This is the semantic aspect of indexicals. Later on Bertrand Russell focused on the self-reflexive characteristics of the indexicals ‚I‘ and ‚that‘; he called them ego-centric particulars. This is the logical aspect of indexicals. René Descartes provided the ontological proof of the self, which all the physicalists and materialists since centuries in fact were not able to reject. Although there remain some open questions, the ontological aspect of the indexical ‚I‘ roots in the Cartesian assumptions. The ontological aspect based on the thesis of the irreducibility of the mental to the physical is the central one.1
Because of the characteristics of direct relations in cause, time, place, person, and the logical relation self-reflexitivity, indexicals are the essential elements for an understanding, a theory of consciousness and for an explanation of processes and structures which consciousness is involved in. In other words; for an appropriate understanding and a theory of reality with all its levels and in all its manifold features – physical, mental, symbolic and institutional realities – the fine-grained indexical approach is the appropriate method to grasp the complex reality: the physical, the mental, the social, the institutional, and the symbolic. It is the consequent realistic approach that does not limit scientific theories to some kinds of scientific ideologies of physical and statistical measurements, which then do enter the process of digital simulation to yield pictures of reality instead of appropriate and reliable justified theories.2 The consequent realistic approach to the complex reality is the bedrock of sciences, and such a scientific approach to reality possesses an imminent awareness of the limits of the particular methods used and arguments provided. In From the structure and signs to the perspective of beyondness or transdisciplinarity there can be found an introduction to the complexity of the issue in question.3
The following graph is an attempt to illustrate the problem of the loss of the central characteristics of the classical philosophy during the twentieth century, such that the essential aim and essential features of sciences disappeared, namely to contribute to a progress in favour of human societies and a living world.4 The connection between classical philosophy and the paradigm of transdisciplinarity is outlined in the graph below.
From classical philosophy to the new paradigm of transdisciplinarity –
the paradigm of transdisciplinary science and research
The question might appear: “How does the paradigm of transdisciplinarity come in?” But it is a somehow misleading one! Based on the fine-grained indexical approach to reality that takes care for all contexts of reality due to its immanent openness towards the particulars and the structures in progress within the particulars do occur – including self-reflexivity – the paradigm of transdisciplinarity or the perspective of beyondness reveals itself as a consequence of the consequent realistic indexical-structuaralist approach to reality. It is the approach to reality that generates the paradigm of transdisciplinarity or the perspective beyondness.5 Therefore, the paradigm of transdisciplinarity is a consequence of the consequent realistic indexical-structuralist approach to reality.
Our scientific association is committed to open mindedness and to the paradigm of transdisciplinarity and puts its capacities into the progress of this human faced paradigm of sciences, art, social life, and environmental development to come up to a world that is in fact worth to live in as gifted sacred human beings. And not as zombies in a devastated land.
In September 2004 the research centre changed its legal status from a private centre of research into a scientific association according to the Austrian “Vereinsgesetz 2002”.
© Josephine Papst Graz, January 2005
1 For an introduction and analyses of the ontological, semantic and logical aspects See my works: Papst, J.; Das Personalpronomen 'ich' in David Kaplans Semantik der direkten Bezugnahme; in: KONTROVERSEN , Vol. 2. 1991, pp.45-61. Papst, J.; Das Personalpronomen 'ich': Ein Beitrag zu seiner semantischen und ontologischen Bestimmung ; Masters thesis; University of Graz, December 1991. Papst, J.; Indexicality as the basis of the subsymbolic-reflexive structure of the mind ; Dissertation at the Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Mai 1996.
2The basic features of my consequent realism were lined out in my unpublished paper and talk Konsequenter Realismus: Das Prinzip der Wahrheit in Wissenschaft, Recht und Kunst given at the University of Munich (Germany), Department of Philosophy, Logic and Theory of Science on November 25, 2001. The argument for the importance of the consequent realism is formulated under the section 1.1. The slippery slope from NEO to NEONEO ; in: Papst, J.; Sciences and Education without Freedom of Science and Freedom of Conscience are not Sciences and Education at all ; forthcoming Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2005; for the abstract refer to http://www.edu2004.fatih.edu.tr
3 See Papst, J.; From the structure and signs to the perspective of beyondness or transdisciplinarity ; in: http://www.inst.at/trans/15Nr/01_6/papst_a_15.htm .
4 See Papst, J.; Transdisciplinarity: The Unifying Paradigm of Humanities, Natural and Social Sciences ;
5 Ibid; a book with detailed arguments and explications on these issues is in progress.