Synergy. A History of Knowledge
The term synergy (from the Greek συνεργία, ›working together‹) is, in its most general sense, used to describe cooperative interactions and structure formations in nature, art, and society, which lead, or are supposed to lead, to a new quality. Inspired by Richard Buckminster Fuller’s work on synergetic planning and design as well as the synergetic model developed by the physicist Hermann Haken, concepts of synergy have emerged as a productive paradigm in interdisciplinary research and practice areas at the beginning of the 21st century. They gave new theoretical impulses to numerous disciplines such as psychology, neurosciences, linguistics, sociology, economy, and theology. Hence, the notion of synergy opens up new points of connection between the natural sciences, the humanities, and the arts. But how do such models intervene in the generation and structuring of knowledge and how might they contribute to innovation in our knowledge-based society in the long term? Focused by specific research tasks as well as our interdisciplinary Forum SynergieWissen the project aims to elaborate a general history of knowledge about synergy/synergetics. Insight in our current work gives the project’s Wiki-Plattform SynergieWissen.
1. Synergeia. Technology and Faith in the Slavia Orthodoxa
Tatjana Petzer begins her investigation from a historical perspective, taking the example of the Slavic-Orthodox cultural sphere in the early 20th century, which produced interdisciplinary concepts of synergy that were prefigured in religion. On the basis of the New Testament figure of the synergós and teachings on the interaction of divine and human energies, the project examines far-reaching technology and transformation models, which were developed in the general mood of crisis around the year 1900 – with the aim of attaining a »new humanity«.
2. Interpreting Nature. On the Theological Reception of Synergetics
Stephan Steiner’s research is devoted to a scientific-historical reconstruction of the current theological reception of synergetics, which has the task of clarifying the basic concept of nature. The search for mediation between religion and science – characteristic for 20th century’s debates – forms the background of this exchange. Its focus is the desideratum of a holistic understanding of nature. The prevailing gap between scientific and everyday experience – illustrated by the disjunction between science’s mathematized understanding of nature and »naïve« ethical, aesthetic or religious views of nature – appears increasingly problematic from such a perspective. Today, in Christian (Alexandre Ganoczy) as well as in Jewish contexts (Edgar Morin), synergetics composes a framework that allows for dealing with such multidimensional facets of nature. As a theory of interaction synergetics promises to sidestep the hostile antagonism of the dismembered notions of nature and, through a hermeneutical project, replace them with an interdisciplinary, multilayered description of reality. It is thus positioned to address the heterogeneous symbolizations of nature and to analyze their interwoven complexity.
3. Science and Prophecy in the Literature of the Russian Avant-Garde
(Anar Imanov, PhD-project 2010–2012)
The search for the synthesis of art, religion, and science in Russian modernity resulted in the development of new artistic methods that engendered a complex conception of the future. The dissertation seeks to comprehend this universalistic conception as it appears in Russian avant-garde literature, one that takes shape before the backdrop of changing knowledge- and science systems in modernity. Employing projective thinking and prophetic writing, such a conception mediates the organic and the material, phantasms and knowledge, faith and reason. With the aid of the poetic-scientific visions of Velimir Chlebnikov and other writings of the futurist movement, Anar Imanov analyses aesthetic schemes and literary objectives that, through the speech acts of prophecy, entangle literature with the scientific disciplines, as well as with scientific mythologem.