The Rigor of "Interdisciplinary"
This special edition of The Journal on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics (JSCI), subtitled "Rigor and Inter-Disciplinary Communication¨ contains my arguing "rigor" assumes different meanings, each variety interacting with the others inside the framework "interdisciplinary", also causing problems, beginning with Descartes saying you know something by subdividing a whole. How do we re-assemble this Humpty-Dumpty to restore the 17th century natural philosophy tradition? We need know what "interdisciplinary" means to know the context of "rigor",* after definitions, etymology, and historical backdrop. "Rigor" ostensibly is the quality, strength, and intensity of exploring ourselves and the environment. However, upon closer inspection, we see it remarkably resembling the "dropdown" word "disciplinary" inside the general "interdisciplinary", forcing the question, "what is the distinction; why is it important?". While many higher education institutions (HEI) tout their "interdisciplinary" programmes, graduate students learn very quickly upon entering graduate school their mandate: narrow your focus. Closer inspection reveals "rigor" describing discipline's force, explicitly, the granularity of a field and the academician's response, i.e., generating quality knowledge. Not to be excluded is the the disciplinarian's ethos, her/his reflecting on core values driving the academic quest. Rigor can operate at odds with interdisciplinary; students in specialized areas can compromise learning further about a larger world. Perforce, humans realizing the Universal process internalize interdisciplinary, i.e., living it, "rigor" signifying honesty. Somewhat a sidebar illustrating rigor's corruption is the peer review process, demanding others "be rigorous" (publish or perish), and the dramatic and disconcerting rise of fake and predatory journals. "Rigorous" peer review can exclude knowledge development and corrupt knowledge quality. When we dig deeper into the shaded meanings of "interdisciplinary", discovering multitudinous problems with its subset "discipline" apparently overlapping "rigor", it becomes increasingly apparent these fit inside a philosophical system. How are a discipline's boundaries determined? How is "rigor" intended? If "rigor" means specificity, how specific is specific? A flaccid use of the term – itself non-rigorous – is a double-edged, granularity dissolving into oblivion, generality disappearing into the ether. Well, then, if "interdisciplinary" exists, what is its ontological status? Here, again, is required a philosophical system. However, we have a paradox, not unlike Russell's set encompassing all sets, "rigorous" describing "rigor". Perhaps you can understand why I usually quote the word. Now, the reader might be somewhat befuddled; I intend shaking out the "why" in a future paper and book on the philosophy underpinning all the above.
* I avoid using the American punctuation style because it is illogical.