Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: May 20, 2021, 6:42 a.m. Humanist 35.28 - interdisciplinary?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 28.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
                Submit to:

        Date: 2021-05-19 15:25:46+00:00
        From: Dino Buzzetti <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.26: interdisciplinary?

Dear Willard,

I would rather say that digital humanities is a meta-discipline,
something like mathematics in respect of other disciplines that
apply mathematical methods. Accordingly, like mathematics,
which is a discipline in its own right, also digital humanities
are a discipline in their own right.

But then, what about interdisciplinarity, which is, as you say, an
obvious fact, but not so obvious in its demonstration ? If you agree,
as I do, that the separation of the so-called "two cultures" is nonsense
you have to admit that any discipline is part of a system consisting in
the Unity of Knowledge and you have to refer to system theory and
second-order cybernetics to account for the interdisciplinary relations
among the disciplines. Disciplinary, or scientific, knowledge is a
reflexive domain which includes the observer actively in the system
and takes into account the context of any situation. And such an
awareness of the context is always included in the context itself.
(I am here almost literally quoting from Louis Kauffman. 2016.
“Cybernetics, Reflexivity and Second-Order Science.” Constructivist 
Foundations 11 (3):489-497.)

Now a system is made out of sub-systems and a discipline like the
digital humanities may be seen as a sub-system including the other
discipline, or disciplines, it is occasionally related to. Such an
interdisciplinary sub-system may be described—adapting a famous
definition by Heinz von Foerster—as the observed relation between 
that system and its act of observing itself. 

Since, again in my opinion, the digital humanities are not merely
the application of tools to a given case, but more properly the
design and implementation of adequate tools for the application of
an established model to the case under scrutiny, their unavoidable
interdisciplinary features imply a full awareness of the disciplinary
context involved in finding the answer to the occasional research

Yours,        -dino buzzetti

On Wed, 19 May 2021 at 08:02, Humanist <> wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 26.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                                 Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                 Submit to:
>         Date: 2021-05-19 05:48:03+00:00
>         From: Willard McCarty <>
>         Subject: interdisciplinary?
> Here's a question that may seem to have a painfully obvious answer, but
> I'd say it doesn't. I'm happy to be contradicted!
> What evidence can be adduced to demonstrate that digital humanities is
> in practice interdisciplinary?
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty,
> Professor emeritus, King's College London;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

Dino Buzzetti
Formerly: Department of Philosophy, University of Bologna
Currently: Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII, Bologna

Unsubscribe at:
List posts to:
List info and archives at at:
Listmember interface at:
Subscribe at: