User:JREverest/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge/Seminar group 2/History

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Summary of our seminar talk[edit]

We tried to guess when Physics and English literature both became disciplines. Several dates came up : with the example of physics, some of us said 1905 because it was a time of revolutionary breakthroughs (with Einstein's theories of relativity for ex) Around that time emerged the branches of modern physics as we know them today : cosmology, particle physics, quantum physics, mechanics, geophysics... However, when students all shared their answers to the class, we realised that all of us came up with very different dates. Some placed physics up to 4th century BC. And it's true that Aristotle already questioned matter and the movement of planets and conducted experimentations. Other referred to 1752, the discovery of electricity by Franklin, or even Newton as the founder/the father of physics. For litterature, 1450, the invention of the press was a recurring answer amongst students.

These answers were not correct because we all talked about the history of these subjects, when they became relevant in society. It was all subjective. We then understood that in order to say that a subject became a discipline, we need to refer to more objective key points in history, for example when was the first examination for it, or when the first degree was given, or even if one carry on this discipline in one's life.

A discipline is defined as: "a branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education".

For this reason, we needed to consider key points in the history of a subject which are tied to its academic study.

After realizing that all of us gave extremely different answers regarding when physics and literature actually became disciplines, we tried to figure out how to define the point in time/ the line when a subject such as physics becomes a discipline rather than a simple area of research. Physics, for example, has existed as a subject, since the beginning of human life: men discovered fire using basic physics laws, men realized that the earth was round and turning on its axis and created electricity, but when along the line did physics become a discipline, rather than a simple topic of conversation or research?

The answer is different for each discipline, but the key point to refer to is the creation and growth of a social structure around the subject. An area of knowledge becomes a discipline when it is accepted, evaluated, and referred to as one definitive subject. Taking law as an example, we argued that in the United States, we could refer to the bar, an examination acting as a benchmark to becoming a lawyer. Hence, we could say that an area of knowledge becomes a discipline when starts being evaluated/ graded/ assessed.

But what about subjects that cannot be objectively evaluated, such as art, or music? Trying to answer this question, we figured out that artistic disciplines would become as such when again, a social structure would start to form around it. Taking visual arts as an example, we could say that it became a discipline as art started being appreciated, critiqued, exhibited and when museums started being built in order to display it.

Analysing the history of a subject or discipline helps us see why two disciplines clash nowadays, why both can have their own valid point of view on different issues. A history is often rich and complex: it takes years of evolution before arriving to the current paradigms, concepts and vocabulary in place within a discipline today. This builds up hard rigid groundings within a discipline that are often hard to break. We then see how history could play an issue in interdisciplinary work.

Law vs. Natural Science[edit]

Law emerged as a discipline to resolve disagreements and regulate behaviour. Laws are made to reflect the values of a society, hence as time passes laws change to demonstrate the shift in culture. On the other hand, natural science originated to understand natural phenomena and is based on empirical evidence from experimentation and observation. Asking a scientist and someone in law enforcement how they know something is true or valid will result in two very different answers. A scientist is likely to respond that something is true if there is objectively measurable data that is reliable and replicable. Whereas, someone in law enforcement will determine if something is true based on their own subjective observation, using inductive and deductive reasoning and often following their "gut feeling".

History of different disciplines[edit]

History and its hindrance to interdisciplinary[edit]

Each discipline has its own history. This might involve the traditional methodologies, values and other aspects of the discipline which upholds its integrity. However, these things might interfere with the ability of disciplines to interact and work together. A key reason for this might be that the history of the discipline has allowed its experts to develop certain schemas and expectations of the environments they work in, the nature of the problems involved in the discipline and the approach to problem-solving. Interdisciplinarity requires experts to move out of these familiar circumstances and this might lead to a struggle to apply their skillsets and knowledge to new contexts. An example of this would be the study Professor Nancy Nersessian conducted on system biologists (experts who mathematically model large-scale biological systems) and molecular biologists (have very little mathematical experience but are skilled in experimental manipulation). The system biologists would often require certain data from the molecular biologists for their mathematical models that would require months of experimentation or might not even be possible to cultivate. At the same time, the molecular biologists were unable to understand the importance of the data due to their lack of mathematical background which made it difficult for the system biologists to explain it to them. Hence, affecting the ability of the two disciplines to collaborate.

Philosophy and its association to other disciplines[edit]

Philosophy was one of the first academic discipline created as it rose during Antiquity with Socrates sharing his point of view and knowledge to Plato who taught about his vision to Aristotle and so on. However, we can see that through its evolution other subjects became part of our lives and therefore were impacted by philosophy and its history. Hence, interdisciplinary made it grow and clash with other disciplines as well as its own. For example, Aristotle believed that for something to be alive it had to have a life force within itself. However, as time passed and biology and anatomy became important, Descartes proposed another definition of the living as the previous one clashed with these disciplines. He explained that living beings were like machines they had a certain organization which was proved by anatomy. These theories were established due to an interdisciplinary clash but as a result made philosophy expand and conflicted within itself with different approaches. Therefore, interdisciplinary work associated with philosophy can be a useful tool as well as an obstacle to a truthful judgement.

History of disciplines and Pyschology[edit]

How do we define a discipline? A discipline is an academic subject, such that can be taught or studied, that has been formally recognised by an institution or authoritative body, for example a university. There are a number of ways in which the origin of a discipline can be traced, for example when a subject was first taught, when academic literature was first published in the discipline or when the first professor in the discipline was first appointed. Once a discipline has been given a name, it can be considered established, as it will likely have been defined and/or discussed. When disciplines arose, ares of knowledge were separated into subjects, whereas before academia came under the umbrella term of philosophy, a term coined by ancient Greeks. At the time, philosophy included elements of subjects we now class as separate disciplines, such as maths, physics and also philosophy in itself. Some difficulties have arisen due to the categorisation of subjects, such as a divergence in the terms used to describe theories/ideas, processes, or the way in which they are described.

Psychology is a science which looks at the thought processes, emotions and behaviours of living beings. While it is widely regarded as a contemporary discipline, it also has roots in Ancient Greece, as all sciences do, because philosophers at the time sought to make sense of the world and its events, partly through investigating the human experience. However, the official origin of psychology was in 1879 when the first psychological laboratory was built in Leipzig for the scientist Wilhelm Wundt, who began to lecture in the new subject. This was followed a decade later by James Baldwin who began the first experimental laboratory in Toronto. Sigmund Freud also played a large role in the development of the discipline by moving from the study of the conscious experience into the unconscious.

Art History and its appearance as a discipline[edit]

Discipline comes from the word disciplina (instruction), discipulus (pupil) and discere (to learn), but it was first used in the 13th century in Middle English. This means that even though every discipline has precedents to that century (in this case, through the Roman authors Vitruvius and Pliny the Elder), they cannot formally be applied as such. Art History’s beginnings as a discipline, therefore, formally date back to the German neo-classicist Johann Joachim Winckelmann, who published in 1764 his work History of the Art of Antiquity, approaching the subject from a studious perspective. However, in the late 50’s, after World War II had been finalised, there was much discussion about the schooling’s quality, mainly focused on scientific discipline due to the war’s influence. John F. Kennedy’s election in 1962 meant his interest in balancing all disciplines (including and aiming for the arts) would be put into action, contributing to the emergence of Art being taught as a school subject. As an interdisciplinary study, Art History deals with an infinite amount of studies, such as Theology, Sociology and Anthropology through the social point of view; Biology and Chemistry as a way of scientifically analysing the works of art; and Physics and Architecture from a structural perspective.

History of architecture[edit]

Architecture has always been a subject of interest. Thinking of how to conceive/make/build the most isolating, practical and camouflaging house in Ancient times with bare materials. Thinking of how to conceive/make/build the most sumptuous, intricate and expensive-looking building... However, architecture was not a discipline.

  • became a studied subject
  • top schools created architecture department

1841 - UCL is first British university to appoint a chair of architecture, Thomas Leverton Donaldson, a founding member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). (UCL) 1868 - MIT is the first American university to offer architecture as an undergraduate program. 1st graduate in US is Nathan Ricker, 1st female graduate with architecture degree in North America is Mary Louisa Page in 1879. (“Illinois Architecture College of Fine and Applied Arts.)

  • 1st international architecture exhibition at La Biennale di Venizia ("History")
  • 1st journals dedicated to architecture: Architectural Record in 1891 , Architectural Forum (og: The Brickbuilder) 1892, Architectural Review (og: Architectural Review for the Artist and Craftsman) 1896 (“List of Architecture Magazines.”)

sources UCL. “About Us.” The Bartlett School of Architecture, 22 May 2019. “Illinois Architecture College of Fine and Applied Arts.” History | The Illinois School of Architecture. “History.” La Biennale Di Venezia, 21 July 2019. “List of Architecture Magazines.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Oct. 2019,

Architecture as a superdiscipline[edit]

Architecture poses the perfect example of a discipline which not only has interdisciplinary origins, but continues to exist between two disciplines.

Architecture is defined as the art and science of designing buildings and (some) non building structures. The term architecture is derived from the Greek words for chief and creator. Creation being a major interdisciplinary (super)concept, as the confluence between science and beauty, helps us understand the history of architecture using its etymology.

The Roman architect Vitruvius, considered by many to be the first disciplined architect, stated that a building (or built structure/creation) should satisfy the following principles:

  • Firmness (durability, structure)
  • Commodity (utility, purpose)
  • Delight (beauty, aesthetics)

The first two principles are tied to science as they consider the materials from which the structure is built, their properties, the understanding of the intended use of the structure and the laws of building themselves (physics). The final principle is a consideration of art and aesthetics. The Vitruvian man itself, a work of art created by Leonardo da Vinci, is a consideration of human anatomy by studying our proportions.

From the very beginning, architecture has always been an amalgamation of the arts and sciences, and continues as such now. The Beijing National Stadium (colloquially referred to as the Bird's Nest) takes aesthetic and structural influence from bird's nests and how they stay intact.

When did International Relations emerge as a discipline?[edit]

International relations emerged as a discipline after world war one and two, when liberalism was compared to realism to answer the question; How do we end all wars? During the cold war, discussion changed to how best nations could manage conflict, and thus another debate arose between realists and behaviourists. At the end of the cold war the discipline became more focused around different international perspectives, especially in regards to globalisation.

What significance does the history of International relations as a discipline have?[edit]

Relative to disciplines such as Physics or English literature, International relations is a new discipline, which has growing significance in our increasingly globalised and interconnected world. Since the start of the 20th century countries have become increasingly reliant on each other for security, food, money, information, technology and knowledge. International networks facilitate this, but studying these incredibly complex connections can help us to understand tensions or positive connections essential for a cooperative international community. Since globalisation had not began on such a scale until the 20th century, there was not the same need for the discipline of international relations. This demonstrates how quickly disciplines can arise and establish.

The emergence of 'paradigms' in optical physics[edit]

Kuhn explores the route to normal science in his work 'the structure of scientific revolutions'. He very explicitly distinguishes the period that preceded Newton's work on Optics from the one following it. Thomas S. Kuhn describes the progress of optical physics since the 18th century as a series of generally accepted theories that followed one another, called 'paradigms'. We are taught today that light can behave as a wave and as a particle, described as photons, I.e. small packets of energy. Plank developed this theory not even a century ago whilst before that, Einstein's theory that light only behaved as a transverse wave was the globally accepted theory. During the XVIII'th century, Newton developed a theory that illustrated light as small material corpuscles.

Kuhn refers to these 'scientific revolution' as 'paradigms of physical optics', and the transformation from one paradigm to another shapes modern science. However, before Newton's work, there were a huge number of competing theories referred to as 'schools of physics', each competing with varies theories, all of which contributed to the creation of Newton's theory. Under these circumstances, it was hard to develop any widely accepted theory because no-one could take any common belief for granted.

So why did it take a scientist like Newton to put aside competition and create a globally accepted theory that united previous works into one whole? What did it take to create the first paradigm in optical physics? And why did this change not occur before and not after? Whilst it would take a while to answer these questions, we now know when physics became a widely accepted discipline and why.

Money, Money, Money - A brief History[edit]

Why talk about money and it's emergence? The answer is pretty simple: money has shaped our lives over the past thousands of years, it has enabled us to break through the barriers of trade and build universal trust between people that do not know each other, complete strangers. But we haven't actually built trust between us, we haven't started to trust our values, our constitutions, our governments, we have simply started trusting this currency and all of the work that was put into it that backs it. Whilst this small contribution does not target any discipline, it is crucial to understand that many disciplines could not have existed without money: how could economics have emerged as a discipline if money didn't exist?

A long time ago, humans had no money and would trade with each other everything that was required to live. With the emergence of kingdoms, cities started to rise from the ground and we started to gather together and live closer to each other. These changes enabled the progress of what we call today specialization. People would specialize in producing wheat, making fur coats or raising horses for example. We would trade with each other, but quickly came to realize all the problems associated with barter. How many kg of wheat do you trade for a fur coat? And how many coats for a horse? Not only was it impossible to remember all the conversion rates in our head, but what would happen if you wanted a coat and the coat maker wouldn't want any wheat? You would have to find someone else to trade your wheat with, then go back to the coat maker and trade something else. We needed a solution. We invented money.

Historians have tried to trace back the emergence of money but have come to the realization that various types of money emerged in various places at various times. This is because the invention of money did not require any scientific or industrial revolution. It did not need a technological breakout to emerge like Artificial Intelligence does today. Money was no such revolution, it was a psychological one, one that had to happen in everyone's head at the same time. As stated by Yuval Noah Harari, "it involved the creation of a new inter-subjective reality that exists solely in people's shared imagination".[1] What we often seem to forget today is that money isn't real, it doesn't just involve bank accounts, coins and checks, it involves anything that we are willing to trade with each other and are willing to use in units of constant value.

A couple examples: for thousands of years, cowry shells were by indigenous used as money in Africa, Asia and Oceania.[2] Today, prisoners all over the world still use cigarettes as a means of exchange, which are much more widely accepted as real money, since prisoner's aren't able to get out and use money in the short run. Money is a system, a system that only requires one fuel to work: trust. People have to trust that the medium of exchange, for example shells or cigarettes, would have the same value all over the country or province, even if they wait. Hence, money is probably the most efficient and greatest system of trust ever invented by humankind.

Emergence of Discipline of Biology[edit]

After discussing when disciplines themselves arose in our seminar, I researched one of my primary disciplines - Biology. Described as the study of life and a natural science, there are many subdivisions within the field of Biology.

Modern biology as we know it arrived arose as an idea in the 19th Century, yet emerged from traditional medicine and natural philosophy.

During the seminar, we seemed to agree that the emergence of a discipline was defined by when it was first studied in educational institutions such as a University. However, after research into the discipline of Biology, it is difficult to pinpoint this, and therefore the start of the discipline, as sciences related to the field of modern biology have been studied for centuries - such as the fields of natural philosophy (studied in ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia), medicine (can be traced back to prehistoric routes) and botany (dated to 10,000 years ago).

Despite this, if we research the foundations of modern biology (discoveries which tie all biological disciplines together) we can assume that the start of the discipline of Biology as we know it was when the last foundation was discovered. These foundations include; cell theory, evolution, genetics, homeostasis and energy.

The last of these foundations to be discovered was homeostasis. The theory of regulation of an internal environment was first made by Claude Bernard in 1865 - whereas the term, 'homeostasis' was created by Walter Bradford Cannon in 1926.

We can therefore argue that the emergence of the discipline of modern Biology was during the period of 1865-1926.

Interdisciplinary Behavioural Change and Mental Health Reform[edit]

Template:Missing information

This article represents a multi-level interdisciplinary approach and proposal for restructuring the current mental health system with a goal to better address the psychological and behavioural issues which permeate society today (project ongoing*). Of specific note, four common issues facing such an interdisciplinary approach shall be covered:

  1. The history of philosophical and psychological approaches to mental health
  2. Alternate theories of ‘truth’
  3. Relevant evidence gathering and
  4. The disparate balance of power afforded to certain disciplines over others

Ultimately, through a more thorough understanding of the issues at play, as well as an exploration of more innovative approaches to these problems (specifically in the related fields of psychology, philosophy of mind, and phenomenology), the aim of this article and its successive inquiries is to encourage better communication and collaboration across departmental lines so that we might achieve a comprehensive and actionable theory for reform.



While theories of the mind go back to ancient philosophy, the distinct discipline of psychology we know today emerged only in the mid-to-late 1800s, with experimental psychology building upon historical concepts of the psyche (Citation needed). This relative youth, coupled with the seemingly endless need to refute notions which call into question the validity of psychology as a ‘true science’, has led practitioners to diminish or abandon more thorough lines of psychopathological inquiry in favour of methodologies which rely exclusively on scientific empiricism.

(Further information needed)

Philosophy of Mind[edit]

Philosophy of Mind is a branch of philosophy that deals with “the nature of mental phenomena … especially … the relation of the mind to the body and to the rest of the physical world” (Encyclopedia Britannica). The mind-body problem, the ‘hard problem of consciousness’, thought, feeling, perception, and the phenomenal experience are just a few domains studied within the field, along with complementary notions of free will and causation. In the interest of brevity, this article shall focus on applied and practical domains which hold the greatest weight in our inquiry, namely, phenomenology (for further information on the history of philosophy of mind, see (Information needed)).


On its own, phenomenology may be considered either as a method or a philosophical movement. For our purposes, the phenomenological method is of most import; however, it is useful to note the divergence of its two primary approaches, namely, that of “descriptive” and “interpretive” phenomenology. The following sections shall briefly describe those approaches before relating their methods to our interdisciplinary model for mental health reform.

Descriptive Phenomenology[edit]

Descriptive phenomenology, so named by Edmund Husserl (who may be considered the “founder” of the philosophical school), “seeks to describe the essence of experiences” via a method of “bracketing,” whereby the philosopher must “disconnect” from their everyday life and “suspend disbelief” in order to assess a phenomenon without undue influence from their previously held convictions or daily life (Gill, 2014, p. 6).

Interpretive Phenomenology[edit]

Contrasting Husserl’s descriptive approach is Martin Heidegger’s “interpretive” phenomenology, which, rather than describing the essence of experience, seeks to explore the very “human experience of being” (p. 7). Perhaps most relevant to the social considerations of our model, Heidegger suggests that individuals are “always already in an environing world” (1988, p. 164); rather, everyone exists in an environment which is conditioned both culturally and historically (p. 8), of which they cannot escape or ignore. As such, one’s experience is always contextualized by one’s background, culture, traditions, and understandings (p. 8), which, in turn, denies the validity of Husserl’s concept of bracketing.

The Phenomenological Method[edit]

There are roughly five phenomenological interpretive typologies:

  1. Patricia Sanders’ phenomenology for organizational research,
  2. Amedeo Giorgi's descriptive phenomenological method,
  3. Max Van Manen’s hermeneutic phenomenology,
  4. Patricia Benner’s interpretive phenomenology, and
  5. Johnathan Smith’s Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

A brief overview of the main points from each form is summarized in Table 1. (Insert Table 1 ~ Source: Gill, M. 2014, 'The Possibilities of Phenomenology for Organizational Research')

Alternate Theories of Truth[edit]

(Information needed)

  • Hard vs. soft science
  • Qualitative vs. quantitative

Evidence Gathering[edit]

(Information needed)

Unequal Balance of Powers[edit]

(Information needed)

  • Government funding
  • Grants
  • Social expectation
  • Stigma and misunderstanding
  • Robert A. Dahl ~ Power and operationalisation

Relation to Clinical Practice[edit]

(Information needed)

  • Language of diagnosis (relate back to Dahl)
  • Active role of patient
  • Shifting away from the DSM-5
  • Ability of the methods to distinguish more nuanced information
  • Consider studies from: Englander, Englebert, Fuchs, Stanghellini, Westin
  • Consider Patricia Churchland’s Neurophilosophy

Interdisciplinary Implementation[edit]

(Information needed)

  • Utilising the Behavioural Change Wheel in order to address all levels of society necessary for the success of such transitions
  • Integrate Churchland’s paradigmatic model and the phenomenological method
  • UCL Centre for Behaviour Change
  • HBCP Human Behaviour Change Project
  • Aggregate phenomenological testimonies to build validity

Broader Applications and Implications[edit]

(Information needed)

  • Sociojudiciary system
  • Questions of free-will and responsibility
  • Retributive justice
  • Mental health in prisons (note cost); potential for prison reform
  • Increasing empathy
  • Decreasing stigma/increasing awareness and acceptance
  • Changing the language we use; advertising/notable endorsements/phenomenological testimonies

ucl. ac. uk/behaviour-change/research

britannica . com/topic/philosophy-of-mind

doi. org/10.1177/1094428113518348

  1. Yuval Noah Harari - Sapiens, a brief history of humankind - Part three - the unification of humankind