On transdisciplinary approach to the study of book culture

Possibilities of applying a transdisciplinary approach to the scientific study of book culture in a multidimensional perspective. Advantages of this approach and its directions of use in conjunction with disciplinary and interdisciplinary research.

Рубрика История и исторические личности
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 13.05.2018
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On transdisciplinary approach to the study of book culture

Since long ago book has been considered as a social product and cultural phenomenon that emerges, is being used and transferred within the process of cultural inheritance under conditions of ethnic, regional and local peculiarities of certain epoch as well as under external historical influence. Due to its intrinsic reliability book performs communication function through time i.e. passes information to next generations better than any other mean of communication.

Historical bibliognosts were likely those who first commenced to study book as a systemic object. They introduced a notion of «book history». E. Werdet is considered to be the first who gave the substantiation of that notion in his book «Histoire du livre en France depuis les temps les plus recules jusqu'en 1789» (Paris, 1861 - 1864) [1, c.48]. According to Russian bibliographer P. N. Berkov [1, c.47-79], the first scientists followed that trend weren't able to define the subject of their researches clearly and quite often reduced it to artificial merge of history of book publishing and history of book trade while general social background in the context of which book was being developed was studied by representatives of other sciences. Knowledge about book was developing in each country pursuant to regional peculiarities of humanitarian knowledge development. Book history tended towards the history of literature In Great Britain, while in Germany it was regarded as a constituent of the history of culture and French scientists studied it within the context of social history. One of the reasons of such different approaches was narrowness of the object of research so such notions as «book-business», «book culture» and «printed culture» were introduced later on.

«Book culture» notion was firstly introduced in 1960-s in research works on Old Russian culture for description of cultural integration i.e. use and distribution of books [7]. «Book culture» and «bookprinting craft» notions were being used as synonymous ones in 1970 - 80-s. Later on, «bookishness» and «book culture» notions have been amalgamated along with emphasizing attention on regeneration of culture i.e. intergenerational transfer of cultural items, values and norms [6, c.11]. Experts of other social and liberal arts that became gradually involved in researches on book culture strived to analyze it in philosophical, sociological, philological, historical and cultural as well as art-studying contexts. Eventually it became a common practice among bibliognosts to regard both printed matter domain (i.e. book publishing, typography, book trade and library science) and spiritual values of common culture as the constituents of book culture basis as the former represented its technical and tangible sides while the latter embodied cultural wealth depicted in and via books. Later on, scientists commenced detail studying of social aspect of book culture that encompassed process and results of readers' activity (i.e. reading). Then researches on book-mediated communication as a kind of social one became of special importance in the course of communication and information theories development.

Thus as a result of long-term studies performed by professionals of various disciplinary domains book culture appeared to be considered as one of the form of culture like musical, theatrical or artistic ones. At the same time large amount of accumulated non-synthesized or poorly synthesized scientific information could hardly be used to address wide range of issues that go beyond the limits of specific disciplinary domain. In such cases scientists traditionally resort to interdisciplinary studies but even with that approach the available data still remained hard to be assimilated in full as such studies are being performed only in one plane at the crossing of research fields. Transdisciplinary approach to researches may facilitate in solving that problem especially due to inherent transdisciplinarity of the book culture notion. With this approach several research fields could be encompassed so transdisciplinary studies ensure opportunity of addressing issues that originate from different scientific disciplines. The purpose of this article is to draw attention to promising nature of such approach in the context of post-modernist vision of the reality.

On the one hand, specialization of various academic disciplines is growing nowadays; knowledge becomes more and more esoteric and understandable only to professionals and experts in narrow disciplinary domains. Knowledge also becomes more and more formalized and anonymous as personality traits of a theory author are effaced. On the other hand, an opposite trend towards integration and integrity is evident. Fields of polydisciplinary researches of complex phenomena are arising where different academic disciplines come in contact, influence each other and become bridged by mutual cooperation. And while the former trend or rather vector of scientific knowledge development is routine and exists for centuries, the latter one displays new stage of science development in the course of a post-modernist project that sets aside all hierarchies of values and perceives integrity of mankind in the one and only value - human person. Thereby, cognition schemas of the early ХХІ are to be directed towards creation of comprehensive and unifying schemas and wholeness of perception of surrounding reality.

Transdisciplinary strategies of researches tend to be more often introduced into practice of the current post-nonclassical stage of science development. These strategies are considered as an attempt of making the disciplines «transcendental» and thus to address hyperspecialization - the process that leads to dramatic increase of fragmentation and disintegration of knowledge. Transdisciplinarity is proposed as the basis of the modern practice of knowledge transformation, searching for constructive solution of problems and involving scientists into solving problems of real world. It embodies research strategy that crosses boundaries of disciplines and develops wholistic vision.

Transdisciplinarity as a notion was initially used by scientific centres in francophone community. It was introduced in 1970 by Jean Piaget who presented one of the first elucidations of this notion: «Finally at the stage of interdisciplinary relationships we are moving to their higher level the transdisciplinary one where not only close interaction between research areas is feasible but also deeper interconnections between them and surmounting of persistent disciplinary barriers» [11]. Propagation of that way of research management boosts scientists to establish International Centre of Transdisciplinary Researches in 1987 that adopted Charter of Transdisciplinarity at its first congress [8]. According to one of the modern leaders of transdisciplinary movement Romanian physicist Basarab Nicolescu, this type of research strategy is based on the following three methodological postulates [9; 10]:

1) Recognition of the fact that there exist three levels of reality. Each discipline studies only some fragment of reality and only one of its levels. Transdisciplinary strategy strives to understand dynamics of process at several levels of reality simultaneously, thus it transgresses boundaries of specific disciplines and creates universal pattern of the process and its wholistic view. Transdisciplinarity is not antagonistic to interdisciplinarity but instead complements it as it consolidates different fragments of reality into overall picture.

2) Logic of the third included. Transdisciplinarity doesn't oppose but integrates and conjugates on the basis of complementation principle even those phenomena that could be concerned as opposite ones. It accepts possibility of interjacent value as opposed to binary Aristotelian logic that opposes true and false within one and the same relation and one and the same time (according to formal and logical identity law).

3) Complexity. Transdisciplinarity strives to perceive reality in its full complexity. Epistemology of complexity is inseparably connected with pragmatics of complexity: scientific knowledge is permanently transformed under the influence of practical, technical, political and cultural innovations. Modelling of complexity becomes a key method thereupon. The only possible way to access realm of complex systems is to create models of such systems. Postulate of objectivity is substituted for postulate of projectivity. Process of complex world discovering is substituted for technique of implementation of conceptual phenomena and designing of desirable ones.

Transdisciplinary researches provide for creative approach to problem solving. Being based on fundamental statements of specific disciplines, wholistic vision of reality and on attempts of capturing reality in its universal patterns, these researches enable scientists to cope with complexity of the world. Synthetic nature of transdisciplinarity approach ensures possibility of establishing links between natural sciences, humanities and social sciences as well as between art, literature, poetry and other domains of spiritual experience. Transdisciplinarity promotes approximation towards understanding of vivid and direct human experience in natural and social world as person is not just a reasonably operating actor but a lot of nonrational or even irrational factors are involved in human behavior where not only brain works but also feelings rage and not only will rules but also passions and emotions plays their role.

Transdisciplinary approach enables scientists to make specific disciplines more ecological i.e. to consider them within the broad context that encompasses cultural and social background, always taking into account environment in which they originate, generate problem definitions, lose their flexibility and indurate or quite the contrary progress rapidly being permanently renewed.

Transdisciplinary strategies enable us to perform researches that strike the borders of various disciplines, to go beyond the boundaries of specific scientific domains and to transfer cognitive schemas from one disciplinary domain into another. With the «book culture» notion being used in research practice modern scientists are able to perform similar transdisciplinary researches in the realm of book. This is important as book culture is a nonlinear dynamic system. It features nonlinearity, complexity, self-organization, emergentness and innovation that make it hard to be studied within the context of one discipline or even within the frame of intersection of several disciplines. Historical and bibliological direction of researches has been already recognized institutionally in the second half of the XIXth century. Then in the XXth century object and functional direction was being developed in bibliological context concurrently with historical approaches and pattern of further development of nonclassical science prodded scientists to introduce interdisciplinary researches to be implemented. Thus; for example, culturological traditions appeared that was focused on book study within the general cultural context and specifically in its cultural and memorial, semiotic or communicative forms. At the same time sociological, pedagogical and psychological researches also became popular. It is not accidental that one of the most active popularizer of «book culture» notion Russian academician V. I. Vasilyev [2; 3] complained of prevailing of core researches being performed from one of the following standpoints: bibliographical, philosophical, sociological, technocratic, culturological or study of art [4, c.32].

An established complex of knowledge pertaining to book culture has been formed in humanitarian tradition nowadays. This complex encompasses context, historical forms, communications, creators, propagators and bearers of book culture. Fields of researches have been determined within its frames and various methodologies have been approved. All that enables scientists to use research matrices (acc. to T. Kuhn [5]) developed in some disciplinary domains into other domains to make researches more effective. This effect becomes distinctly apparent in historical domain. At the same time assemblage of disciplinary and interdisciplinary surveys still cannot respond to substantial range of important issues. Some of them are e.g., role the book plays at one or another historical stage of human society development, level of book repertoire compliance with demands of personality or society in a specific historico-cultural environment, correlation between book-related and scholary practices of scientific knowledge transfer.

Telling illustration of transdisciplinary approach effectiveness are researches of role the book plays in the process of modernization of society. Modernization in this context means general transition from traditional society to industrial one where book-mediated communication becomes the first kind of mass social communication that is capable not only to form new modern type of personality but also to influence on social and material aspects of existence of society. To perform such kind of studies researcher has to apply not only historical matrix itself, but also bibliological, librarianship, bibliographical, economical, culturological, sociological, pedagogical ones. He also needs to import basic concepts from social communication theory, information theory, elitism, history of technology, psychology etc.

Emphasizing attention to transdisciplinarity nature of «book culture» notion scientists got a chance to study scientific problems at fundamentally different level. In addition to designing of conventional classical model, new opportunities are opened up for development of structuralistic, axiological, network models etc. To make such researches effective it is necessary to ensure that every academic discipline included into transdisciplinary complex is at the same time open-ended and closed. It should be open-ended in regard to new cognitive schemas imported from allied and more distant academic disciplines that represent heuristic significance for it. It should be also prepared for cooperation with other academic disciplines in order to implement common research projects. The academic discipline should be closed as it has to strive for retain its own specific subject and perspective of investigation; develop its own research methods and strategies. From that point of view bibliology that is a comprehensive academic discipline reflects and captures functioning of various fundamental and applied knowledge fixed in the form of book in the society at specific stage. Thus it is open for contacts with other disciplines. And at the same time the book as subject of research enables closedness of that science to be retained.

Thus use of «book culture» notion enables researches to be performed on the basis of wholistic vision of reality. This transition from disciplinarity to transdisciplinarity is a conversion from parallel analysis to meaningful dialog and implementation of joint projects. It is wholistic trend intrinsic to transdisciplinarity that will define the pattern of science of the future where integration of academic disciplines will augment and ability of scientists to think nonlinearly and wholistically, to synthesize and contextualize knowledge will be of special value. This trend by no means denies potentialities of classical disciplinary researches.


transdisciplinary book culture

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3. Васильев В.И. История книжной культуры: теоретико-методологические аспекты / В.И. Васильев. - Москва: Наука, 2004. - 112 с.

4. Васильев В.И. Библиография и книжная культура: эволюция взаимосвязей / В.И. Васильев,

М.А. Ермолаева // Библиография. - 2010. - №6. - С. 29-34.

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7. Слуховский М.И. Из истории книжной культуры России: старорусская книга в международных культурных связях / М.И. Слуховский. - Москва: Просвещение, 1964. - 243 с.

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