Curiosity Between, Beyond, Across, Outside

Using the phrase “between, beyond, and across disciplines” is a common and quick way of describing the imperative of the transdisciplinarian in the literature on transdisciplinarity. “Outside” is also sometimes added and rightly so, as lines that demarcate matters of disciplinary concern must also inquired upon.

As revolutionary as they might sound, these terms position transdisciplinarity in relation to disciplines assumed stable. They can construct a tautology in the very same disciplinary boundaries the transdisciplinarian is challenging. Asking how we can not only destabilize disciplines, but how they have come to be seen as stable in the first place, is therefore a critical question.

That means trying to be a transdisciplinarian is ultimately iterative and frustrating. Transdisciplinarity is a moving target, and the measure of successful hits is murky. I will admit that sometimes I even wonder exactly what I mean when I say “transdiscipline.” Ultimately, transdisciplinarity seems to me to mark a spirit of inquiry, rather than a set of practices that can be prefigured, described, or taught.

It is for this reason that the tagline to this site begins with “curiosity.” The move toward transdisciplinarity will always include this because, I think, curiosity is the desire for experience beyond the experienced, and that includes wondering what experience itself is.

I hestitate to say that curiosity is, according to a more common understanding, the desire to know beyond the known, because knowledge is only one kind of experience. More expansive a concept, experience encompasses all kinds of relations in place and time that may lie between, beyond, across, and outside matters of disciplinary concern.

Curiosity about curiosity may be the most important talent at the disposal of the transdisciplinarian. If that recursion doesn’t frustrate you, maybe you’d make a good transdisciplinarian.