The Center Leo Apostel (CLEA) is a transdisciplinary, interfaculty research center at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). CLEA’s mission is to bridge the different scientific, social and cultural disciplines. It was founded in 1995 under the impulse of the Belgian philosopher Leo Apostel (1925-1995). He formulated the goal of CLEA as the integration of the different disciplines into a coherent worldview, so as to counteract the current fragmentation into ever more specialized approaches. Next to worldviews, our research addresses fundamental interdisciplinary issues, including complexity, systems, evolution, quantum entanglement, cognition, artscience and well-being.
We call our research philosophy "thinking beyond boundaries". Thanks to this philosophy, CLEA has attracted and trained a large number of talented researchers from the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and engineering, representing countries from across the globe. CLEA is now internationally recognized as a unique, transdisciplinary research center with a steady output of high-level, innovative publications.
The traditional scientific worldview tries to explain all phenomena by reducing them to static objects moved by external forces. This Newtonian perspective cannot explain emergent, adaptive phenomena such as goal-directedness, life, mind, society or consciousness. To integrate these phenomena within a unified science, we need to replace the traditional object-based ontology by a process-based one that is here called ‘relational agency’. In this seminar, Francis Heylighen will sketch the history of both relational and object-based worldviews and introduce the basic concepts of the relational agency model.
The Simultaneous Policy campaign (SIMPOL) is a real-life example of a goal-directed entity that has evolved spontaneously from networks of nations and corporations. John Bunzl and Jochen Beckers will explain how SIMPOL is able to drive nations to simultaneously implement solutions to global problems such as climate change.
Studies of interdisciplinarity generally make a distinction between theory and practice as the two modes of interdisciplinarity. The former wants to find better conceptualizations of problems, the latter focuses on efficient communication and the implementation of solutions. In this talk, Tomas Veloz will take a step back to this traditional view and will propose that interdisciplinarity is not only a powerful way to solve problems, but also to conceive human life in a more embracing way.