In a generative “between”

An interdisciplinary seminar to debate about a founding object of our humanity

A humble “mutual strike” is needed to light a spark of truth in a communion of life. This idea is platonically resounding, yet, it was experienced on 27-28-29 January 2022 through the seminar Interdisciplinary dialogues about “between” promoted by the post-doctorate school of Sophia. The dense program included the speech by distinguished scholars and young researchers in a particularly lively debate involving several disciplinary fields as philosophy, law, psychology, economics, sociology, epistemology, pedagogy, theology according to different cultural matrixes from Europe to Latin America.

The program was developed thanks to the contribution of professors from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, the University of Lyon, of Pisa, of LUMSA, of Sassari, of Bologna, of Pernambuco (Brazil), the Foundation Fondazione Zancan of Padua. It considered establishing collaborative bonds with several universities and research institutions to weave different courses together and make them converge.

The “gaze” opened up in a play of fascinating references between one discipline and the other, expressed with different formal languages. Such look aimed at knowing in a novel way an enigmatic yet vital topic: the social relationship, which becomes more real when it is transformed by and in an impartiality that generates it and regenerates it deeply.

“Why does this subject of study require today such a broad gaze?” we ask Prof. Piero Coda, Director of the Post-doctorate School.

Dialoguing on the “between” starting from the approaches of different disciplines but within an epistemic place promoted by trans-disciplinarity offers the opportunity to enter – literally- “in medias res” in the current debate about the meaning and goal of knowledge. The fact that different knowledge accepts the existence and scientific plausibility of the concept of “between” is indicative of the ongoing anthropological and socio-cultural transition. One need to phenomenologically take note of this to express its expressive forms accordingly and the implications in the context of the knowledge of different disciplines. However, one also needs to share its consequences regarding the internal structure of disciplines as well as in their mutual relationship. As noted in various ways during the seminar, in this sense, one can even find a potential enigmatic “third” in the space described between the “between”. “Potential” because it is possible in and as an event “between” the realities that establish a relationship. Becoming more aware of that means acquiring a new significant awareness: the end of an era and the demanding announcement of a new one. The focus programmatically emphasized on “between”- despite the persistent, conspicuous or devious prevalence of a binary and ultimately individualist paradigm- and the presence of the principle of the “included third” in several forms (in a formal, ethical, communicative and ontological sense). These two aspects open the horizon to a new possible management of the new to pursue and imagine with responsibility and consistency.

“And what could be now the other possible research lines to pursue in order to take steps forward?”

The seminar proposes a commitment to work for a new episteme, which is able to reconcile humanistic and scientific knowledge, knowledge of faith and knowledge of reason. It is not about creating another knowledge. It is about experimenting and declining another knowledge, or better, a way to manage knowledge and the relationships between them that is different from the one adopted by modernity, which has in any case its unquestionable merits. Nevertheless, the success of such endeavor entails a proper consideration of the anthropological, ethical, spiritual quality to achieve it. Imaging and creating a new episteme require the performance of scholars able to exercise the best rigorous competence in their specific disciplinary field, fighting any drift of reductionism or syncretism of knowledge but also being able to deal with the subject of one’s study not just in the epistemic formality established by the method one is using, but also in the open and dialogic context of trans-disciplinarity. This way, it is possible to properly set outlooks, competences and results of the research carried out by the different knowledge.

This is the core of Sophia’s mission. Now, to achieve this ambitious goal acknowledging the principle of the “included third” is not enough- even if it is indeed diriment. We need to go further, since the “third”, as included, is by itself an opening to something further, something more, something new, to something and someone else. In a nutshell, the perspective of the “between” and the potential “third” leads to the shared generativity of knowledge. And this brings immediately to mind the promised made by Jesus: «Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you» (Luke 6:38). The measure we use, it will be measured to us. It does not say what is given and what is received because when you genuinely give and receive there is no need to and it is not possible to nominate a “third” in what occurs. In fact, one accepts who he/she is, beyond oneself and the other from oneself. This by experiencing the wonder of becoming a welcoming womb that welcomes and generates what is greater than it. There is much to continue the research with passion and enthusiasm.