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On Defining and Dignifying Disciplines

(Page only started; to be completed later.)

Are business and management real disciplines? Probably yes. Is computer science a real discipline? Probably yes. Is information systems a real discipline? Not so sure. There are many areas of research and practice in today's world for which it is not clear whether they constitute a real discipline or not. See below for worked-out examples.

How can we tell whether something is a real discipline or not? Here are some ways people have tried to do so, and problems with those ways:

Instead of merely trying to define a discipline perhaps we would do well to dignify it. That is, we try to identify what it's contribution is to the world, now and potentially in the future, and how it relates to other disciplines, especially its neighbours. Perhaps, rather than looking at institutions, activities, characteristics or history, we can look deeper, at something that underlies all these: what kinds of thing are meaningful to those working in the field. People will engage in activity that is meaningful, will be interested in characteristics that are meaningful, will build institutions so they can discuss and promote these meaningful things, and the history of what they do will reflect what remains meaningful throughout. Also, if something is truly meaningful, then that determines what its contribution is and can be. This gives it dignity. Then it has the confidence to relate to other disciplines, and engage in dialogue with them about issues of mutual interest, with give and take.

We might therefore try to delineate disciplines by reference to spheres of meaning. Dooyeweerd's aspects are spheres of meaning.


The Information Systems Discipline

For now see the discussion of this at the UKAIS 2009 conference. The paper will be hosted on
Steve Bishop's 'All of Life Redeemed' Website (Thanks, Steve).
This page is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Written on the Amiga and Protext.

Compiled by (c) 2006 Andrew Basden. But you may use this material subject to conditions.

Created: 25 July 2009 Last updated: