SAMPLE ARTICLE: JIS XXVI 2014: 1-28
THE PROMISE OF INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES:
RE – IMAGINING THE UNIVERSITY
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
The thesis of this essay is that interdisciplinary studies hold special promise in achieving new scientific-technological breakthroughs and mapping more effective socio-economic, political, and cultural modes of interaction enhancing human flourishing. Universities are crucial to this endeavor in their multiple roles of teaching, learning, research, and service, educating youth and adults for meaningful careers, life, and participatory citizenship in a democracy. Higher education is, thus, a major transmission belt for culture. In the Third Millennium, interdisciplinary approaches to learning suggest new methodologies that seek dialogue and integration of research findings across the disciplines to overcome the compartmentalization of knowledge which hinders new discoveries in the natural sciences and “connecting-the-dots” in the social and behavioral sciences, while humanities are key to understanding the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of human beings. Redeeming the culture and educating the Selfie generation require the integrated knowledge and insights of all disciplines.
THE CRISIS OF THE UNIVERSITY
At the dawn of the Third Millennium, the university confronts multiple challenges of relevance, structure, management, governance, funding, and public support. According to some, the contemporary secular university is increasingly irrelevant to real life (Sommerville 2006). Departmental compartmentalization of knowledge hinders new discoveries in the natural sciences and “connecting-the-dots” in the social and behavioral sciences, while humanities are relegated to irrelevance. Speech codes and “sensitivity training,” reflecting left-leaning ideological strictures of “political correctness,” undermine the university’s high calling as an institution expected to teach critical thinking, ethical discernment, and civility, and thus contribute to character formation and the uniquely human quest for meaning and truth. Greg Lukianoff contends that campus censorship of free speech constrains not only students and faculty, teaching the wrong lessons, but seeps into the wider culture as a reticence to address controversial issues facing society. To Lukianoff, this amounts to Unlearning Liberty (2014). Lukianoff bemoans that “our society tolerates and even encourages selective relativism, selective uptightness, and selective claims of offense, even when they are deployed in a transparently tactical way to score points in our seemingly endless culture wars” (2014: 254).
Science, technology, trade, and communications now drive all aspects of life in the global village, including higher education (Gruenwald 2011). There is increasing recognition of a crisis in the very conception of the role of a university. Should a university focus on training technical specialists for a high-tech global economy or emphasize a broad liberal arts curriculum? Critics point to the fragmentation of knowledge, the lack of a unifying center, and the fast pace of scientific-technological change which requires continuous upgrade of skills, leaving no room for the integration of knowledge or the education of the whole person. Yet, globalization presupposes a better knowledge of different cultures, socio-economic and political systems, and an understanding of the motivations, nature, and purposes of human beings. The classical Greek paideiaencompassed the education of body, mind, and soul, reflected in John Henry Newman’s iconic The Idea of a University (1852). Indeed, Newman’s ideal of the integration of all disciplines into a “wholeness of vision” and a “true enlargement of the mind” can inspire the rediscovery of the proper role of a university of educating the whole person. The conclusion follows that a university dedicated to open inquiry should foster greater intellectual diversity, cultural discernment, and character education for self-fulfillment and a more felicitous social life by renewing the dialogue between Athens (Enlightenment reason) and Jerusalem (religious faith).
RE-INVENTING THE UNIVERSITY
The proposition that science and technology now drive higher education in the U.S. and abroad may appear commonsense or axiomatic, but it fills the pages of many books and journals, including the Chronicle of Higher Education which reports on the increasing relevance and challenge of interdisciplinary research. While still a novelty, interdisciplinary research clusters and programs are being established across the U.S. Thus, the Tobin Project, a nonprofit that promotes “transformative research” on social problems, was established in 2005, led by David A. Moss, a professor at Harvard Business School. From its inception, the Tobin Project sought to bring scholars and policy makers together. Jeremy Suri, professor of public affairs and history at University of Texas-Austin, sums up the Project’s rationale: “You cannot run your research by traditional departments. These disciplines are old ways of organizing a world where the problems people are interested in don’t match the discipline” (McMurthrie 2013: A17).
Pilot interdisciplinary programs, attractive to students, are gaining credibility. Brown University is encouraging interdisciplinary graduate studies which help students broaden their knowledge and improve their marketability. As Vanessa Ryan, associate dean of the Graduate School, notes: “There may be a generational change . . . . Younger scholars recognize the value of being intellectually broad and having an intellectual range. This is something we want to support” (Patel 2014: A14). Virginia Tech Graduate School also promotes interdisciplinary graduate education, in part in response to employers who “like students who have successfully navigated new paths, read eclectic literature, solved different problems, and collaborated with different kinds of people” (Patel 2014: A14). Virginia Tech boasts 14 interdisciplinary programs, including sustainable nanotechnology, macromolecular science and engineering, and translational obesity research. The university recently created an individualized interdisciplinary Ph.D. Maura Borrego, director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Education at Virginia Tech, comments that student interest in interdisciplinary studies reflects not only concerns about job prospects, but also that: “They want to do something meaningful and are trying to fix big problems such as food or health care. Interdisciplinary approaches seem to be, to me, very problem-focused” (Patel 2014: A14).
A critical aspect looming over interdisciplinary studies in an era of limits is the question of funding. Thus, Brown’s pilot program is funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, which leaves open the question of continued funding for such programs. In this instance, the Foundation’s exemplary dedication to the liberal arts is articulated by VP Philip E. Lewis who remarks concerning the Brown program that it is “in the spirit of carrying liberal-arts education into the graduate level, and thinking of graduate studies as a broad educational enterprise in which you can acquire a set of competencies and outlooks and possibilities for the future” (Patel 2014: A14).
Other universities endeavoring to expand interdisciplinary programs include North Carolina State University, University of Florida, and University of Notre Dame, with ambitious plans to add interdisciplinary faculty. This encouraging trend benefits from increased funding by the National Science Foundation for interdisciplinary research in such fields as sustainability, robotics, and materials processing. At NCSU, there are plans for new inter-disciplinary clusters on genetic engineering and society, innovation and design, and translational regenerative medicine (Mueller 2014: A8). Countering the perception of IS by some as a new fad and fashion (Menand 2010), Laura R. Severin, an English professor, defends NCSU’s proposed hiring of inter-disciplinary faculty, since: “Our whole structure that’s a thousand years old, of dividing people into departments and disciplines, is working at cross-purposes” when tackling “real-world problems” (Mueller 2014: A8). Predictably, faculty hiring and collaboration across disciplines may create tensions, at least initially, since academics, contrary to popular lore or their self-perception, are some of the most conservative folks around when it comes to university (re-)structuring. The outstanding question is: “How does one navigate across disciplines?” And, equally relevant, engendering existential Angst, “what will the budget look like?” This, of course, is the defining question of politics, including academic politics: “Who gets what, when, and how?” Yet, interdisciplinary studies are here to stay, and one may posit that they are the wave of the future. Why? Because life is inherently inter-disciplinary (Gruenwald 2013: 9)!
That interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to learning may, indeed, broaden intellectual horizons is admitted, though reluctantly, by academics trained as specialists. Thus, Fred Gould, an entomology professor at NCSU, initially scoffed at the suggestion by historians and anthropologists in his cluster on genetic engineering and its societal consequences that “technological progress could sometimes be dangerous, too” (Mueller 2014: A8). Yet Gould admits that: “I’ve held a certain worldview that they’re really challenging” (Mueller 2014: A8). This kind of questioning, probing, testing of assumptions, opening settled opinions to new information, facts, and alternative evaluations by enlarging the framework of inquiry is something that the contemporary university should encourage across the curriculum regarding all worldviews, secular or (quasi-)religious. It also defines the major promise of interdisciplinary studies and the ideal of a true university that fosters open-ended, free inquiry (Gruenwald 2011).
Equally challenging is the antiquated structure of the contemporary university. Critics point out that the American university is modeled on the nineteenth-century German research university. Anthony T. Kronman argues that the university’s research ideal “devalues the question of what living is for” (2007: 90). Kronman regrets as well the corrosive ideas of political correctness, diversity, multiculturalism, and the assumption that “values are merely expressions of power,” since they discourage the exploration of “the question of life’s purpose and meaning” (2007: 7). Most of all, Kronman faults our technological civilization, “with its vast powers of control,” but which cannot fill the spiritual void or provide answers concerning life’s meaning and value (2007: 229).
It may, thus, come as a surprise that the contemporary German university is re-inventing itself, thanks in part to–technology. The German university has a new task to help the economy’s transition to complete reliance on renewable energy by 2050 (Hockenos 2014: 12). Significantly, this ambitious socio-economic program focusing on green technology has infused German higher education with a new purpose, calling for interdisciplinary approaches requiring new courses, degrees, and departments, with collaborative academic and community involvement. The key notion, shared widely in Germany by all stakeholders, is sustainability. Thomas Schomerus, professor of environmental and energy law at Leuphana University, and director of its Institute of Sustainability Governance, confides that: “Sustainability means that everything is connected, so much so that dividing it up into traditional disciplines means losing the big picture” (Hockenos 2014: 12). Not surprisingly, German universities also face the challenges of overcoming “rigid departmentalization and turf wars.” Yet, the new focus on sustainability, which enjoys broad public support in Germany, necessitates research across disciplines and specializations where engineers have to talk to sociologists, while sociologists need to have an understanding of applied science. German academics note somewhat wistfully that, despite some budding trans-Atlantic collaborative efforts, the priorities in the U.S. are quite “different,” and hence that American universities “have to figure out their own way” (Hockenos 2014: 12).
To critics on both sides of the Atlantic, one may affirm that the major strength of American higher education is its great institutional diversity and an unmatched talent pool, combined with private-public funding, encouraging creativity and innovation. It is true that there is still too little cross-cultural learning that reaches beyond geographical, disciplinary, and denominational boundaries. Thomas Scheff (2014) points out that Linkøping University in Sweden has pioneered in forward-looking university restructuring since 1980 by re-organizing its research and teaching along thematic problem-solving, rather than strictly disciplinary, lines. That Israel provides its population with almost all the potable water by de-salinating sea-water is one of the best kept secrets, which other regions in the world, including California, may need to (re-)discover with some urgency.
That America remains the land of innovation is confirmed daily. Thus, interdisciplinary curricula are the fastest-growing segment of U.S. higher education, often featured as undergraduate Honors in the Liberal Arts or more advanced graduate seminars. The educational endeavor promoted by the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies has inspired many copy-cats. While most interdisciplinary journals try to connect two or three disciplines, the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies tries to connect all disciplines in dialogue, aspiring to a grand new synthesis, reconnecting once more knowledge, ethics and faith. Even critics agree that St. Thomas Aquinas fashioned a Grand New Synthesis for his Age, while a credible attempt at, and the prospect of, a grand new synthesis for our era is necessarily a collegial endeavor. Hence a focused thematic annual that combines the strengths of a peer-reviewed journal with the thematic focus of a book series.
Even more amazing, despite obstacles, institutional innovation is also taking place, spearheaded by such experiments as Cornell Tech on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. A collaborative effort between Cornell University and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, the new institution is dedicated to “technological innovation, academic experimentation, and the kind of serial flexibility those two principles require” (Wolfman-Arent 2014: A11). To keep pace with rapid technological change, and scientific-technological breakthroughs that no one may predict, surely not decades in advance, the new institution will have no fixed walls. Dan Huttenlocher, dean of Cornell Tech, envisions the new institution’s “open-plan” as conducive to collaboration between different groups of people. Even the campus IT infrastructure is designed to be open-ended as part of a so-called smart building, what Huttenlocher considers the “holy grail” of building management. The goal of Cornell Tech, according to Huttenlocher, is “an environment where everything can be repurposed” (Wolfman-Arent 2014: A11). Observers note that there is a kind of Zen at work in an open-ended planning process. The question still remains: Can the new applied-science institution accommodate an equally innovative liberal arts curriculum as well? Or, will the new institution be simply a mecca for techies or an academic equivalent of Google?
For Kronman, a new high-tech institution, with built-in safeguards against technological obsolescence, would still only confirm his criticism that the contemporary research university fails to address the central questions humans ask regarding meaning, values, and purpose. The noted Spanish philosopher, Rafael Gambra (2014), expressed similar concerns regarding technological progressivism. As Gambra recalls, technological advances over the past five centuries have offered humanity a false sense of mastery, discounting traditional structures and assumptions that reconciled man and his world. While Kronman champions a Renaissance-turn to secular humanism as an antidote to technology, Gambra faults the modern preoccupation with technological and material progress for the loss of a sense of the eternal. Ultimately, then, both Kronman’s and Gambra’s analyses address the question of the limits of (post-)modern culture.
Crucially, what reductionist scientific methodology fails to address are the more subjective aspects of human self-understanding. In a nutshell, scientific reductionism, which brackets all values, misses the human being’s sense of the self, the transcendent, or the sacred. Even non-religious philosophers are re-discovering the notion of the sacred and the fact that human beings cannot be understood apart from an intuition of intangible realities. To Roger Scruton, the sacred stands “at the horizon of our world, looking out to that which is not of this world,” yet “looking into our world, so as to meet us face-to-face.” To understand the human world, Scruton insists, it takes uniquely human interaction and interpretation (Verstehen), rather than simple scientific measurement. Scruton’s foray into the emotional modalities engaged by music in its multi-tonal variations offers a new appreciation of the mystery of the self and the human quest for interpersonal connectivity, self-realization, and self-transcendence (2014: 140-74).
The chief dilemma of secular higher education is that it no longer concerns itself with the interpersonal aspects of the self, the sacred or transcendence. In brief, the secular university has succumbed to the post-modern temptation (Gruenwald 2011). Admittedly, the postmodern turn in the academy unbracketed the human being by rediscovering subjectivity, but, alas, po-mo made human subjectivity radically contingent in declaring that there are no objective truths, only texts read subjectively (and that “read us”), thus making all values equally valid and suspect at the same time, robbing both individuals and the entire culture of a normative Archimedes point necessary for decision-making and truly free choice. In a world shorn of absolutes, man himself becomes an orphan. The universe brims with absolutes, both in nature and human nature. Ironically, as William D. Gairdner concludes, in a post-modern era, “relativism has become our only absolute” (2009: x).
EDUCATION FOR THE SELFIE GENERATION
Given a secular university embedded in a postmodern culture of relativism, shorn of absolutes, how can students “find themselves,” and grow as individuals and social beings? The answer is: re-invigorating liberal arts education across the disciplines. Mark William Roche proposes that the enduring traits of liberal arts learning concern holistic education, including intellectual and moral competencies or character formation, the nurturing of community, and engagement with the great questions reflecting life’s enduring challenges concerning relevance, meaning, and purpose. Not the least, counsels Roche: “One of the virtues of a liberal arts education is the way in which it awakens or deepens curiosity and wonder” (2010: 50).
In answer to skeptics concerning the relevance and practicality of the liberal arts vs. vocational, technical or specialist training, Roche cites David Kearns, former Xerox CEO, that: “The only education that prepares us for changes is liberal education. In periods of change, narrow specialization condemns us to inflexibility–precisely what we do not need” (2010: 81). Ideally, the liberal arts prepare graduates to excel in critical thinking, creative problem-solving, the ability to express themselves clearly orally and in writing, collaborate with others across disciplines and specializations, and acquire both intellectual and moral virtues. Roche draws on studies that prove his point concerning intellectual and practical virtues esteemed by most employers, for example, that “90 percent of CEOs queried called the humanities essential to developing critical thinking, and 77 percent found the humanities critical to problem-solving skills” (2010: 80).
However, with most students today focused on college education as a path to a lucrative job or career, liberal arts may also need to be re-invented. This is happening across the U.S. as well. Thus, at Clark University, students are placed on project teams that address real problems. David P. Angel, Clark’s president, reflects on the ideal of a liberal arts education that develops in students critical thinking, good writing skills, and rigor of analysis, which “build-up the resilience of students and their creative problem-solving abilities.” Most of all, Angel outlines the larger scope for liberal arts education that “needs to evolve in a way that is responsive to the world that our students are going to graduate into . . . . the labor market and the economy, but also the global society that we’re moving into” (Chronicle, 4 July 2014: A14).
Sean M. Decatur, the new president of Kenyon College, also defends a liberal arts education that instills “critical thinking and adaptability to technological change” (Monaghan 2013: A28). As a trained chemist, Decatur is equally supportive of research programs in the natural sciences, while emphasizing that scientific literacy is essential, inter alia, for gauging the effect of technologies on poor populations as well as “growing and sustaining an informed work force.” Perhaps unexpected from a scientist is Decatur’s praise of liberal arts colleges that “disproportionately graduate future outstanding scientists” (Monaghan 2013: A28).
Still, the question remains how to educate the Selfie generation, putatively the most self-absorbed, if not narcissistic, college student population in recent memory? The answer is, once more, an integrated liberal arts curriculum tailor-made to engage the concerns of a generation of “over-sharers.” Across the U.S., interdisciplinary humanities seminars, film-studies courses, and history classes at community colleges, small elite institutions, and large research universities are the new wave of “me-centric courses” that address such classic topics as the meaning of life, concepts of the self, questions of freedom, ethics, and the good life–the perennial questions of philosophy and the liberal arts. As J. Bernard Machen, University of Florida’s president, tells students in a lecture: “Your time in college remains the single-best opportunity for you to explore who you are and your purpose in life” (Berrett 2014b: A21).
Critics note, however, that if the readings in the “me-courses” are not sufficiently demanding, they will probably fall short, especially since students “already receive plenty of training in being self-referential” (Berrett 2014b: A21). Yet, “me-courses” that enlarge the scope of inquiry from the individual to larger issues of community, democracy, human rights, science, other cultures and worldviews, show special promise of connecting the self to the world. As one instructor admits, “The process of shifting students’ focus from themselves to bigger ideas is not always smooth or direct” (Berrett 2014b: A23). Curiously, Melanie E. Trexler, a visiting assistant professor of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College, records the progression in students’ answers to the question, “what do you want for yourselves?” from “professional success and money” to “love, a support system, a community, or a sense of connection to something larger than themselves, like their country” (Berrett 2014b: A22).
Are we, then, witnessing a renaissance of Newman’s ideal of a true university reflecting the unity of knowledge, the interconnection of all disciplines, and liberal education as a “wholeness of vision” and a “true enlargement of the mind?” According to Nicholas Lemann, for the modern research university to become relevant once again, and perhaps find its soul, it needs to encourage “more cooperation across disciplines,” which “could generate new intellectual ferment” that, in turn, “could produce both research breakthroughs and a richer, more interconnected curriculum” (2014: B10). Yet, Newman’s ideal of a university educating the whole person presupposed the essential role of theology in university teaching concerning first principles and absolute Being, and cautioned that, absent theology, other disciplines would usurp theology’s role.
Once upon a time, the awe and wonder of religion provided an assumed center to education–a belief in truth and ultimate meaning. Hence, the crisis of liberal education is directly related to the loss of theology (Hittinger 1999). In our time, Pope St. John Paul II restated Newman’s vision of educating the whole person in Ex corde Ecclesiae (1990), Fides et Ratio (1998), and other works. John Paul called for the integration of knowledge, dialogue between faith and reason, an emphasis on ethics and the dignity of the person, and a theological perspective for achieving these goals (1990: 7, 15-20).
It is only unclear how the secular postmodern university that discounts all values and truths as equally subjective, and that brackets God and notions of ultimate meaning and transcendence, can possibly guide the Selfie generation (or anyone else) beyond self-centeredness and self-absorption toward a rediscovery of their higher selves capable of (re-)connecting with other selves in a truly human community? Perhaps the secular postmodern university needs to become once more counter-cultural, questioning reductionist ideological presuppositions that preclude a comprehensive understanding of both nature and human nature.
A promising approach, commended by Mary Poplin in her study, Is Reality Secular? (2014), is to test the assumptions of four global worldviews–material naturalism, secular humanism, pantheism, and Judeo-Christianity. Concerning each worldview, the relevant question that needs answering is an obvious one: Is it true? Critics may object that truth, like beauty, is a subjective, cultural product, that is, “in the eye of the beholder.” Yet, C. S. Lewis defined truth as “correspondence to reality,” known across cultures as the Tao or the Way (1996a: 30). Happily, “to be real,” especially to be understood and appreciated, is a central concern of youth in their formative years, which resonates also in popular culture. One need only tune-in to Johnny Cash’s inimitable I Walk the Line (1956), a story of rebelliousness aspiring to redemption, of losing oneself and finding oneself, told via music and a melodious, heart-warming, somewhat nostalgic, yet up-beat, song. For this consummate song-writer-musician, life imitated art, while his art echoed a turbulent life in search of transcendence.
One might add more variations to Poplin’s four global worldviews. Thus, David Noebel’s comprehensive Understanding the Times (2006) examines in-depth six worldviews–Christianity, Islam, Secular Humanism, Marxism-Leninism, Cosmic Humanism (New Age), and Post-Modernism. Among syncretic worldviews, techno-utopianism may appeal to many in a high-tech era (Gruenwald 2013). The critical components in each worldview are the underlying assumptions. One does not have to be a religious believer to recognize that worldviews encompass and structure an individual’s understanding of reality.
What may be less well understood is that worldviews may not be clearly articulated or even obvious to those who hold them. To emphasize their significance, Poplin indicates that worldviews function like “operating systems of the mind.” As Poplin puts it: “Worldviews are like operating systems of a computer except that they are in our minds, which are far more powerful and efficient than modern computers” (2014: 26). Poplin suggests that there are five characteristics shared by all worldviews, but the most significant and consequential is that “all worldviews begin with faith, a metaphysical belief that cannot be verified using scientific methods” (2014: 30). Given the fact that none of the worldviews is more progressive or modern, Poplin concludes that: “The only real question is, are one or more of these an adequate description of reality?” (2014: 31).
Perhaps the most challenging worldviews are those widely shared in a culture. In a post-industrial era, techno-utopianism may be the most seductive worldview that can attract not only atheistic transhumanists like Ray Kurzweil (1999), but also techno-theologians like Philip Hefner (2003). The techno-utopian worldview may appeal also to the Selfie generation enamored by technology, especially its applications in communication devices that offer connectivity and a certain sense of immediacy that mimic interpersonal relations. Genetic engineering is already on the horizon promising to expand human capabilities. Yet, critics like Francis Fukuyama (2002) caution regarding gentech’s much-vaunted prospects for radical enhancements.
For techno-theologians like Hefner, gentech can empower humanity to achieve transcendence and unification with God. But this beguiling thesis is based on two erroneous assumptions: (1) that human nature is in flux, that is, constantly changing; and hence (2) that gentech can enhance human nature’s evolution toward transcendence and its final merging with God. Techno-utopians thus repeat an ancient Gnostic error of immanentizing the eschaton. Contrary to utopians from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Kurzweil, and Hefner, human nature has not changed at all. History contradicts the thesis of a changing human nature, given all the violence and wars which continue to this day. Prisons are still full of murderers, thieves, burglars, rapists, child molesters, and other law breakers. Human nature remains a bundle of possibilities for both good and evil. Men and women are capable of love, charity, and good deeds, and remain equally capable and willing in exercising the baser aspects of their nature: self-centeredness, indulgence, greed, avarice, jealousy, sexual aberrations, arrogance, selfishness, fleshly lusts. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis relates that fleshly lusts are the least of sins. The biggest sins or “the worst pleasures” are all spiritual, such as arrogance, back-biting, envy, hatred, etc. (1996b: 95).
It is true that God created men and women in His image and likeness as living souls (Gen 2: 7). But God created man out of the dust (matter), then breathed the gift of life into man, and imprinted an immortal soul. Man is thus a dual-unity: body or flesh (“natural man,” includes the intellect) and an immaterial soul (includes free will and conscience). When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, and ate from the Tree of Knowledge to become like gods, they severed humanity’s spiritual umbilical cord to God. According to Scripture, the erring pair were thereupon expelled from Eden lest they eat from the Tree of Life as well and become immortal sinners. From a Christian standpoint, the entire history of the human race can be understood as a story of redemption foreordained by God. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross paid the price for the transgression of original sin, so that all who believe in Him may be saved (John 3: 16).
In brief, transcendence, understood as salvation, has nothing to do with technology, because it is a spiritual phenomenon involving man’s soul, free will, and conscience. As Scripture has it, when it comes to transcendence, the flesh “profiteth nothing.” In fact, the conflict between the flesh (the natural man) and the spirit or soul of man weaves like Ariadne’s thread through both the Old and the New Testaments. Scripture states clearly that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor 15: 50), and that salvation is by faith, so that no man should boast (Rom 3: 27-28). The perennial conflict between the flesh and the spirit afflicted even the Apostles. Paradigmatic is St. Paul’s testimony: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom 7: 19). Martin Luther called man’s predicament a weakness of the will. In Psalm 51, David thus prayed to God: “Renew a right spirit within me.” Matthew 26: 41 and Mark 14: 38 confirm the Biblical admonition that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
In sum, no man can achieve salvation by physical, material or technological means, that is, by human effort alone. Man only needs a change of heart to repent of sins, ask for forgiveness, and submit his ego to Christ Who is merciful and freely grants redemption and salvation to all who call on His name. Albert Einstein, not known for his religious proclivities, remarked that it is not the uranium but the human heart that needs to be purified.
REDEEMING THE CULTURE
Paradoxically, education for the Selfie generation involves more than simply renewing a truly integrated, interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum. It also requires redeeming the culture. Namely, the prospect of restoring the Selfie generation’s narcissistic self to an integrated self where the id (instinctual drives) and the ego (the “I”) are in harmony, guided by the superego (soul or conscience), also presupposes redeeming a culture of narcissism, self-indulgence, materialism, secularism, and nihilism. To critics, both liberal and conservative, it is clear by now that a postmodern culture of narcissism, buttressed by a commercialized ethos of limitless consumption, appeals to man’s instinctual drives. This culture of immediate gratification is re-enforced by an entertainment industry that glorifies excesses of sex and violence, where even commercial ads and popular music “in your face” teach the wrong lessons of lack of respect for self and others. Thus, the movie and television industry keeps churning out pulp, despite the fact that the public prefers more wholesome entertainment and appreciates cinematographic art that tells stories with morally and spiritually uplifting content. Surprising to some, Christian-themed movies, enjoying a renaissance, are box-office successes (Baehr 2011).
Charles Murray (2013) contends that America may be coming apart along class, rather than racial, lines. In Murray’s view, the decline of marriage, the work ethic, respect for the law, and religious observance affect more the poor than the rich. But this seems to unnecessarily stigmatize the poor in America–all those millions who may not have prestigious college degrees, but nonetheless show up at work every day, support their families, some even holding two jobs so that their children and grandchildren may go to college and hope for an easier and happy life. America still remains the land of promise for millions of immigrants drawn to these shores. It is not an exaggeration to state that immigrants–mostly poor, not college educated–built America. Perhaps this, too, needs to be acknowledged to inspire each new generation in search of its self and potential contribution to society.
One can agree with Murray’s prescription that what America needs is to strengthen the traditional bonds of civil society by returning to the original foundations that have sustained America’s experiment in liberal democracy–the family, vocation, community, and faith. Yet, the bitter fruits of postmodern culture devoid of normative standards–emotional imbalance, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, infidelity, lack of trust, broken marriages, and broken selves that can lead to violence or suicide–now afflict all classes and races in America, undermining families and communities, and deconstructing civil society. Other factors may also affect people, regardless of income level, race or gender, and contribute to alienation and anomie, in a culture that praises overachievers, celebrates youth, and disdains old age. Who would expect that an accomplished artist like Robin Williams, acclaimed for his wit and humor, as well as his ability to portray complex characters on the silver screen, could possibly suffer from severe depression that led to his premature end? A humble and generous man who made millions laugh, who had that rare gift not only to find humor in everyday circumstances but also to laugh at himself, was crying on the inside. It is a pity that no one heard his silent cry.
Lest one think that college-age youth cannot possibly suffer from emotional imbalance, let alone depression, Simon Williams, among others, cautions regarding a largely silent mental health epidemic on the nation’s campuses. Williams draws on a 2012 survey by the American College Health Association that indicates that nearly one-third of students felt “so depressed that it was difficult to function,” and almost half felt “overwhelming anxiety” (2014: A56). Williams recommends early diagnosis and intervention via screening and stress-management programs such as meditation sessions that would “encourage students to reflect on their self-concept and emotional self-awareness” (2014: A56). Still, the question remains, how does one mend a broken self, and perchance restore a culture?
MENDING THE BROKEN SELF
Interdisciplinary studies show special promise in illuminating the central concern of the Selfie generation and, indeed, of (post-)modern man: how to mend the broken self and restore families, communities, the nation, and the world.1 Contributors to this volume seek to integrate literature, philosophy, and theology with social science analysis in exploring complex relationships between the self and society. While not invoking theology, Scheff’s (2014) essay is notable for exploring the automated or everyday self that most take for granted, but that emerges via the phenomenon of role-taking and mirroring. Scheff’s analysis confirms the proposition central to the liberal arts in general, and humanities in particular, that literature mirrors the human soul and the vast range of experiences, attitudes, and emotions that define a human being. Scheff’s thesis is intriguing that literature may provide unexpected insights into human emotional and mental processes that science has yet to discover and confirm.
That the self is more complex than it appears within a reductionist methodology may be gleaned from the failure of Freudian psychoanalysis to account for the multifaceted mental, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of Homo sapiens. Certainly, the human aspiration and need for meaning, value, and purpose reach far beyond material or physical wants, and engage both the intellect and the emotions in quest of transcendence (Gruenwald 1997). What the Selfie, and each and every, generation of humans needs is to find the touchstones of transcendence.
Indeed, Logotherapy (Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy) offers just such a therapy via meaning to bolster the self even in the face of the most trying circumstances such as the Holocaust. Viktor E. Frankl, founder of Logotherapy, and a survivor of Auschwitz, concludes based on his personal experiences and interviews with Holocaust survivors that those who could envision some overarching purpose or meaning in life, even when confronting cruelty and savagery, were more likely to survive, with fewer emotional scars, than fellow inmates who saw in inhumane treatment and trying circumstances only desperation and meaninglessness. That the human spirit can reach upward and find a glimmer of hope, meaning, and purpose, even in the depths of suffering in Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet Gulag, or the Chinese laogai, is attested to by other writers and former prisoners like Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn and Harry Wu. Michael F. Shaughnessy sums up Frankl’s thesis that:
Meaning can be found through three types of values: (1) experiential–those realized through receptive being in the world; (2) creative–those realized through direct action in the world; and (3) attitudinal–those whose actualization is dependent only upon the person’s consciousness and is possible even when the expression of experiential and creative values in blocked (1989: 181).
That Homo sapiens is the relational being par excellence is reflected by the universal need of humans for emotional support and connectedness, and the resulting alienation and anomie when those needs go unmet. The Internet, social media, and the plethora of electronic communication devices that even children now prefer to their favorite toys, and that no teenager can do without, reflect the essential human need and aspiration to be connected with other humans. Frankl aptly diagnosed the age-old quest for intimacy, intensified and made more urgent by the impersonal climate of (post-)industrial society where:
Even more people obviously suffer from a sense of loneliness–the loneliness of the “lonely crowd.” Understandably, the intense wish emerges to compensate for the lack of warmth–to compensate for it with closeness. People cry for intimacy. And this cry for intimacy is so urgent that intimacy is sought at any expense, on any level, ironically even on an impersonal level, namely, on the level of merely sensual intimacy. The cry for intimacy then is converted into the invitation “please touch.” And from sensual intimacy it is only one step to sexual promiscuity (1978: 72-73).
It should be obvious that the Selfie generation’s dilemmas are universal and panhuman, reaching across time and space. In fact, every generation needs to “find itself,” a shorthand for a proper balance between “I” and “Thou,” self and society. This balancing act is a quintessentially human characteristic and endeavor of personal growth and successful socialization, not reducible to scientific measurement or high-tech decoding. Yet, scientific investigation, conjoined with the breadth and depth of the liberal arts, can yield new insights and suggest potential remedies. The most fruitful methodology, then, is an interdisciplinary approach seeking greater understanding (Verstehen).
Already in the 1970s, a new school of psychoanalysis emerged in response to the crippled self of narcissistic psychopathology and behavior disorders. Representatives of this Chicago School of Psychoanalysis like Otto F. Kernberg (1975) and Heinz Kohut (1977) sought remedies to borderline conditions and pathological narcissism by focusing on the rebuilding of the disintegrated self. They tried to distinguish clearly between normal and pathological narcissism, that is, between the “libidinal investment of the self” and the imbalance in intrapsychic structures (Kernberg 1975: 315).
It is Kohut, however, who developed a cogent new paradigm to explain the broken self–the prevailing psychological disorder of modern man. The result was a suggestive new school of thought: the psychology of the self. Kohut’s major thesis is that it is not the frustration of libido, the id, or drive fixations, but rather the “feebleness of the self,” or an “unresponded-to-self,” that leads to abnormalities in both the id and ego areas of the human personality (1977: 81-82). Instead of the Oedipus complex, Kohut posited the empathic responses of the parents as the key to the psychic development of the child. Kohut saw modern man’s malady of a disintegrated self as a direct result of the absence of empathic responses of the parents toward the child (1977: 74).
Unexpectedly perhaps, Kohut’s analysis and findings are confirmed by contemporary researchers exploring how children form their identities. Thus, Patricia Bauer’s psychology lab at Emory university found that: “Storytelling and narrative, namely, the autobiographical stories that make up memory, are essential to the way children form their identities,” in that: “We begin to learn who we are through the stories our parents tell us and the stories we tell together” (Peterson 2014: B10). In brief, sophisticated scientific research by Bauer and Robyn Fivush confirms Kohut’s thesis that “the stories our parents tell affect how we develop as individuals,” in effect, “our stories become our selves” (Peterson 2014: B10-11).
As Kohut emphasized, narcissistic personality disorders derive from empathic failures to the emerging self in early childhood, and not from drive conflicts as such (1977: 122). The restoration of the self is possible only via the reconstruction of a matrix of self objects that Kohut regards as essential for man’s psychological survival (in Goldberg1980: 478). At the center of this restoration of the self is the basic human need for “mirroring acceptance, the merger with ideals, the sustaining presence of others like us, throughout our lives” (in Goldberg 1980: 494-95). To his credit, Kohut turned the attention of psychoanalysis from the classical Freudian notion of Guilty Man, who lives by the pleasure principle, to self psychology’s concern with Tragic Man, whose major preoccupation it to “express the pattern of his nuclear self” (1977: 132-32). Notably, Kohut designates the bipolar self, illustrated by the tension arc between ambitions and ideals, and the corresponding aspect of man in quest of a nuclear self, as Tragic Man, since “man’s failures overshadow his successes” (1977: 133).
One may recognize in the Kohutian typology of Guilty Man the disturbed human being or Primal Man dominated by the “Myth of Id” (Gruenwald 1981-82), and in Tragic Man the Aristotelian ideal of Rational Man, which held sway in antiquity (note the very term for a genre: classical Greek tragedies). But, while the Kohutian psychology of the self revolutionized Freudian psychoanalysis by placing both the id and the ego into the larger configuration of the nuclear self, it could not explain the oceanic feeling associated with religious experience nor, indeed, the ethical and spiritual dimensions of human existence. In Judeo-Christian perspective, the dissonance in the spiritual sphere leads to the devaluation of Primal Man to Guilty Man, and of Rational Man to Tragic Man.
Yet, the reconciliation of the myths of antiquity and (post-)modernity is possible within a larger conceptual framework reflecting the complexity of multi-dimensional man guided by the transcendent Judeo-Christian ethic. The Judeo-Christian conception of man as a living soul accommodates (albeit in inverse rank order) Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs–from physical to spiritual–and confirms Kohut’s postulate that self-esteem, rather than an unrestrained libido, is essential for the full psychological development and the optimal integration of the human personality. The key to this reconciliation is the integration of the libido, ego, and the nuclear self into the larger architecture of the human personality conceived of as a rational, sentient, ethical, teleological, and transcendental complex whole (Gruenwald 2007).
Within this context, art and religion emerge as essential guideposts for the realization of the full human potential. Mildred Lachman-Chapin re-affirmed Kohut’s thesis that art and creativity can help narcissistically injured people by building ego strength and restoring or developing cohesion of the self (1979: 7-8). Peter Berger contends that modernity is characterized by “homeless-ness,” and that human alienation and anomie result from the loss of individual identity and anchoring of the self in a transcendental order provided by religious tradition (1977: 61). In Daniel Bell’s concise summary:
The primordial elements that provide men with common identification and affective reciprocity–family, synagogue and church, community–have become attenuated, and people have lost the capacity to maintain sustained relations with each other in both time and place. To say, then, that “God is dead” is, in effect, to say that the social bonds have snapped and that society is dead (1976: 155).
Kohut seemed to subscribe to the maxim that only what is rational can be truly scientific (1977: 306). Hence his emphasis on the rational/scientific aspect of the method of empathy/introspection deployed in the psychology of the self, and the concomitant shunning away from familiar emotive con-notations. Moreover, Kohut couched his major finding of the individual’s need for acceptance, care, and love in the technical language of mirroring and idealizable self-objects (1977: 272; Goldberg 1980: 478).
In contrast, Albert Schweitzer affirmed outright the rationality of both ethics and love, the two major aspects in his philosophy of reverence for life. In Schweitzer’s view, “only what is ethical is truly rational” (1950: 328). Schweitzer went even further to claim that the spiritual-ethical dimension in man is the carrier of the metaphysical essence. The conclusion follows that only what is spiritual/transcendental/metaphysical can be truly ethical. Significantly, Schweitzer’s concepts of ethics and love are not merely romantic, sentimental, abstract, lifeless, passive notions. On the contrary, they demand active engagement as an ethics of responsibility and “world-and-life-affirmation” (1950: xv). Schweitzer’s activist ethics, based on “sincerity towards oneself,” complements his “will to live” (1950: 315, 341). Schweitzer concludes with the Biblical injunction that a “change of heart” is the necessary precondition for real social and political change (1950: 341). In Eugene O’Neill’s play, “The Great God Brown “ (1926), cited by Kohut: “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue” (1977: 287).
The logical, if not causal, linkage between physics and metaphysics via science-rationality-ethics-spirituality lends credence to Einstein’s dictum that God does not play dice with the universe. It is a basic reassurance for man this side of Paradise that his psyche and mind are anchored in a real world rather than a counterfeit universe of mere appearances. Yet, it may turn out that what man needs is not so much self-realization as self-transcendence. As Einstein reflected: “The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self” (1934: 245). According to Frankl:
What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life; but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms–Logos is deeper than logic (1967: 187-88).
Arnold Goldberg (1980) expressed the hope that psychoanalysis might develop into a more encompassing psychology of meaning. It is precisely the acquisition of meaning by the integrated self which caps the Kohutian psychology of the self (1977: 138-39). At the same time, Kohut averred that the self remains unknowable in its essence (1977: 311). Hence, one may conjecture that the meaning acquired by such a self is also necessarily incomplete.
Even the Scriptures indicate that, in this world, man knows only imperfectly, and that it is only in his glorified state, following Resurrection, that man shall know as he is known by his Creator. Thus, Paul admonished that: “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (I Cor 13: 12). The realization of limits on the self, world, science, and man’s very capacity to comprehend this phenomenal world would only free man from a will-o’-the-wisp rainbow chase after Absolute Knowledge to a fruitful pursuit of excellence and growth of all his faculties, institutions, and relationships. Bell’s analysis of hubris is still relevant today:
Behind the chiliasm of modern man is the megalomania of self-infinitization. In consequence, the modern hubris is the refusal to accept limits, the insistence on continually reaching out; and the modern world proposes a destiny that is always beyond: beyond morality, beyond tragedy, beyond culture (1976: 49-50).
With a restored self-esteem, man could become other-directed rather than self-centered. Thinking may constitute the humanity of man, and wisdom the proper end of man. Yet, understanding, love, and faith are even more essential for both his physical and spiritual survival. Ethical consciousness, rooted in religious faith, represents the essential catalyst or bridge in re-channeling the primordial impulse of the id into human, aesthetic, and ethical orientation and behavior. The central question and major challenge today remains whether the Nietzschean Superman–alias Narcissus–can metamorphose into the empathic and caring physician, philosopher, poet, musician, moralist, believer, and theologian-saint of Lambaréné? In the final analysis, (post-)modernity confronts the classic Tolstoyan question: What do men live by? By self-love, love of power, ambition, fame, fortune, position, and material goods, or by love of others? And, Tolstoy’s query is but an echo of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Einstein himself conceded that:
If one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus Christ taught it, of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity (1934: 170).
Einstein’s musings, expressed mostly in personal letters, are by now legendary, but still puzzling. While claiming no religious affiliation or even faith in a personal God, he recognized the inspiration behind the human quest for ultimate meaning and purpose. What Einstein valued most was not intelligence per se but rather the peculiar human faculty of imagination, awe, and wonder, which undergirds both science and religious experience. This forms the backdrop for Einstein’s oft-quoted remark that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Perhaps most humbling for a science genius was his perception of the complexity and marvelous rational order of God’s Creation, expressed in a maxim: the greatest miracle is that the universe is comprehensible at all. Einstein regretted in particular the popular association of his famous theory of relativity in physics (based on mathematics, not empirical observation or proof) with what became a misleading cultural fetish of post-modernity–that everything is relative.
THE CHALLENGE OF INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
In sum, the triumph of science and technology in the twentieth century flattened humanity’s moral and spiritual cosmological horizon (Gruenwald 2005). Already Daniel Bell pointed out that the contemporary crisis of civilization reflects a lack of a transcendentally grounded ethic, a public philosophy, and a sustaining religious faith. Higher education that shapes the nation’s future leaders in business, education, mass media (news and entertainment), and government is a major transmission belt for culture. Thus, a thoughtful effort to redeem the culture requires re-envisioning the university. The challenge and promise of interdisciplinary studies at the dawn of the Third Millennium is to coax the postmodern university to re-dedicate itself to free inquiry as the quest for truth, and recover what Newman considered its essential paideia–exploring the great circle of knowledge for a “wholeness of vision” and a “true enlargement of the mind” in educating the whole person (body, mind and soul).
Remarkably, the natural sciences have turned to interdisciplinary engagement by the inner logic of discovery more than deliberate design. The National Academy of Sciences’ Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (2004) confirmed the need for interdisciplinary approaches as the most relevant methodology for addressing major dilemmas confronting humanity in the twenty-first century. By now, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Association of American Universities also encourage interdisciplinary research. But, the greatest need for interdisciplinary integration (“connecting-the-dots” or thinking “out of the box”) is in the social sciences and humanities, which explore complex human interactions and designs for living, including socio-psychological, economic, political, cultural, and spiritual dimensions in an increasingly interconnected world. The bourgeoning science-ethics-religion dialogue, explored in this Journal, reflects the growing realization of the interdependence of all phenomena.
Yet many in academe still consider interdisciplinary studies as a fad or fashion. This is undoubtedly due in great part to the fact that academics are trained overwhelmingly in universities that continue the compartmentalization of knowledge along disciplines and departments, each vying for attention, if not pre-eminence, in teaching, research, funding, economic impact, social relevance, ranking, prestige, etc. The result is an increasing fragmentation of knowledge and lack of insight concerning the interconnections and the unity underlying the phenomenal world. How to break the impasse? For one, foundations, including Mellon, MacArthur, Templeton, et al, could facilitate the re-vitalization of teaching, learning, research, and service by making critical resources such as the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies freely available to both practitioners and skeptics regarding the potential of the liberal arts and interdisciplinary approaches to transform the university, and make it relevant to students and society in the twenty-first century.
The major challenge remains, then, the search for, and elucidation of, interconnections between disciplines, fields, and sub-fields while addressing specific problem areas not reducible to a single methodological approach or encompassed by a single discipline. A most promising development is growing student interest in interdisciplinary studies. Students in particular are drawn to integrative approaches that generate original ideas, reflected by double majors that produce dynamic thinkers (Chronicle, 29 March 2013: A20). What attracts students most to interdisciplinary studies is the prospect of clarifying the interrelationships among various fields that show the relevance of theory to practice and real life. Academics admit that knowledge-transfer is “notoriously difficult to teach” (Berrett 2014a: A3). Yet, it is possible to teach students knowledge-transfer skills drawing on their prior knowledge, using ideas from a source text to interpret other texts, and fostering meta-cognition or “stepping back to assess their thinking” (Berrett 2014a: A4).
Meta-cognition is arguably the most difficult of the desirable skills, but one that can be taught by comparing worldviews or what Allen F. Repko and colleagues call “perspective-taking,” the intellectual capacity to consider a subject of inquiry from “alternate viewpoints, including disciplinary ones, in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding” (2014: 50-51). Thus, David Ward (2014) outlines a suggestive methodology for interdisciplinary studies from a Judeo-Christian perspective that recognizes the critical role of assumptions underlying all wordviews. Yet, the major aspiration and promise of interdisciplinary research remains open-ended inquiry, seeking new insights across disciplines, and trying to synthesize such insights for a more comprehensive understanding of substantive issues. In brief, in interdisciplinary research, substantive subject matter should dictate the appropriate methodology(ies), and not the other way around. To limit beforehand which disciplines are allowed a place at the table defeats the very purpose of interdisciplinary inquiry.
That interdisciplinary approaches are most fruitful as open-ended inquiry is confirmed by William Dennison’s “Response to Ward” (2014) concerning the interface between methodological and substantive issues. Dennison notes correctly that prior assumptions go into each stage of Ward’s 7-stage process, but questions the Oxford paradigm’s implied goal of changing the world for the better. Does Ward’s paradigm dovetail with a secular humanist approach in contrast to Dennison’s that acknowledges the Biblical injunction to help the poor, the widow, the orphan, and alleviate suffering? Yet Ward is also aware of the crucial role of presuppositions characterizing worldviews, and draws on the Bible’s stewardship mandate for man to care for God’s creation, to alleviate suffering, seek greater social justice and, thus, a better world, while cognizant of sin and man’s fallen nature.
Readers of this Journal will appreciate that Ward and Dennison may not be that far apart. There is a crucial distinction between working in the Lord’s vineyard seeking a better world as believers or non-believers vs. attempting to drive humanity toward a utopia on earth which results in its opposite–dystopia, totalitarianism, dictatorship (Gruenwald 2013). The Ward-Dennison difference in perspective or emphasis recalls Augustine’s distinction between the two cities–the “City of Man” and the “City of God.” However, even Augustine insisted that religious believers possess a dual citizenship since they belong to both cities (Speck 1996). It follows that believers and non-believers can work side-by-side in the temporal sphere to further the common good. Christians in particular who hope to reflect “Kingdom” activities in their life and work need to remember St. Paul’s three cardinal virtues: faith, hope, and charity (I Cor 13: 13).
Charity toward all, including those with whom one may disagree, is a Christ-like calling, known in common parlance as “civility.” This, too, is a journey. Perhaps C. S. Lewis expressed it best that: “It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge” (1996b: 10). But this does not mean that we are at sea when it comes to the moral ought or the Tao. In fact, Lewis posits a “law of human nature” peculiar to man that he “does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things,” a law, furthermore, that he “can disobey if he chooses” (1996b: 18). For Lewis, the conviction that man is a moral being is supported by two facts:
First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in (1996b: 21).
Lewis’ insights concerning the human condition are a splendid subject matter explored by the liberal arts that can energize and empower interdisciplinary inquiry, kindling the natural curiosity of young and old across cultures (Gruenwald 2002). Modeled by the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, the aspiration to re-imagine the contemporary university’s calling as a “wholeness of vision,” a “true enlargement of the mind,” and the “education of the whole person” can equip humanity in its teleological quest for self-realization and self-transcendence. Providentially, as this essay proposes–building the Journal series as an inspirational resource for interdisciplinary curricula–man is the missing link in the science-religion dialogue (Gruenwald 1994). In Eastern Orthodoxy, man is understood as a dual-unity (flesh-spirit), while Jewish thought offers a proverbial image of man as a canopy stretched between earth and heaven. But the universal understanding of man is that of a creature in search of meaning, value, and purpose.
1. This section on the psychology of the self draws on my essay, “The Myth of Id,” in Political Psychology (1981-82), still pertinent, and even more relevant, today.
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Oskar Gruenwald, IIR-ICSA Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.