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How Can We Enter in Dialogue? Transdisciplinary Methodology of the Dialogue Between People, Cultures, and Spiritualities
1  International Center for Transdisciplinary Research (CIRET), Paris, France



Can we really dialogue? Each person has his/her prejudices, his/her convictions, his/her subconscious representations. When two people try to communicate there is inevitably a confrontation: representation against representation, subconscious against subconscious. As this confrontation is subconscious, it often degenerates into conflict.

Language is the vehicle of these subconscious representations. We use the same words, but their meaning can be radically different. We are manipulated by our own representations. The dialogue is strictly impossible in the absence of a methodology of dialogue. We can only monologue. It is impossible to be at the place of the other.

The same considerations apply in the case of nations, cultures, religions and spiritualities: interest against interest, representation against representation, dogma against dogma, hidden spiritual assumptions against hidden spiritual assumptions. This situation is aggravated by the large number of languages ​​(more than 6000), which display each its own systems of representations and values. A completely accurate translation from one language to another is impossible.

This is also aggravated by the contemporary immense means of destruction and the continuing destruction of the environment. The inevitable conflicts could lead, for the first time in the history of mankind, at the disappearance of the human species.

A new model of civilization is necessary, the keystone is the dialogue between human beings, nations, cultures and religions for the survival of humanity.

Methodology of transdisciplinarity

The meaning “beyond disciplines”, implied by the Latin word “trans”, leads us to an immense space of new knowledge.

A remarkable achievement of transdisciplinarity is, of course, the formulation of the methodology of transdisciplinarity, accepted and applied by a significant number of researchers in many countries of the world. The axiomatic character of the methodology of transdisciplinarity is an important aspect. We have to limit the number of axioms to a minimum number. After many years of research, I have arrived at the following three axioms of the methodology of transdisciplinarity [1]:

  1. The ontological axiom: There are, in nature and in our knowledge of nature, different levels of Reality of the Object and, correspondingly, different levels of Reality of the Subject.
  2. The logical axiom: The passage from one level of Reality to another is insured by the logic of the included middle.
  3. The epistemological axiom: The structure of the totality of levels of Reality is a complex structure: every level is what it is because all the levels exist at the same time.

The above three axioms give a precise and rigorous definition of transdisciplinarity. I will describe in my talk the essentials of them.

In the transdisciplinary approach, the Subject and the Object are immersed in the Hidden Third, which mediates the interaction between Subject and Object. We have to distinguish between physical information and spiritual information.

The transdisciplinary Subject and its levels, the transdisciplinary Object and its levels, and the Hidden Third define the transdisciplinary Reality or trans-Reality.

The Hidden Third, in its relationship with the levels of Reality, is fundamental for the understanding of unus mundus described by cosmodernity. Reality is simultaneously a single and a multiple One. If one remains confined to the Hidden Third, then the unity is undifferentiated, symmetric, situated in the non-time. If one remains confined to the levels of Reality, there are only differences, asymmetries, located in time. To simultaneously consider the levels of Reality and the Hidden Third one introduces a breaking in the symmetry of unus mundus. In fact, the levels of Reality are generated precisely by this breaking of symmetry introduced by time.

In the transdisciplinary approach, the Hidden Third appears as the source of knowledge but, in its turn, needs the Subject in order to know the world: the Subject, the Object and the Hidden Third are inter-related.

Cultures, religions, spiritualities and technoscience

Cultures, religions and spiritualities are not concerned, as academic disciplines are, with fragments of levels of Reality only: they simultaneously involve one or several levels of Reality of the object, one or several levels of Reality of the Subject and the non-resistance zone of the Hidden Third. Technoscience is entirely situated in the zone of the Object, while cultures and religions cross all three terms: the Object, the Subject and the Hidden Third. This asymmetry demonstrates a difficulty of their dialogue: this dialogue can occur only when technoscience converses towards values, i.e. when the techno-scientific culture becomes a true culture [2]. It is precisely this conversion that transdisciplinarity is able to perform. This dialogue is methodologically possible, because the Hidden Third crosses all levels of Reality.

Technoscience is in a quite paradoxical situation. In itself, it is blind to values. However, when it enters into dialogue with cultures and religions, it becomes the best mediator of the reconciliation of different cultures and different religions.

The only way to avoid the dead end of homo religiosus versus homo economicus debate is to adopt transdisciplinary hermeneutics [3]. Transdisciplinary hermeneutics is a natural outcome of transdisciplinary methodology. Transdisciplinary hermeneutics is able to identify the common germ of homo religiosus and of homo economicus, which can be called homo sui transcendentalis.


The irreducible mystery of the world coexists with the wonders discovered by reason. The unknown enters every pore of the known, but without the known, the unknown would be a hollow word. Every human being on this Earth recognizes his/her face in any other human being, independent of his/her particular religious or philosophical beliefs, and all humanity recognizes itself in the infinite Otherness.

A new spirituality, free of dogmas is already potentially present on our planet. There are exemplary signs and arguments for its birth—from quantum physics to theatre, literature and art [4]. We are at the threshold of a true new renaissance which asks for a new, cosmodern consciousness.


  1. Nicolescu, B. Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity, Voss, K-C. (Trans.); State University of New York (SUNY) Press: New York, USA, 2002. The first edition appeared in French in 1996.
  2. Nicolescu, B. Toward a Methodological Foundation of the Dialogue between the Technoscientific and Spiritual Cultures. In Differentiation and Integration of Worldviews; Moreva, L. Ed.; Eidos: Sankt Petersburg, Russia, 2004; pp. 139–152.
  3. Nicolescu, B. Transdisciplinarity as Methodological Framework for Going beyond the Science and Religion Debate. Transdisciplinarity in Science and Religion 2007, 2, 35–60.
  4. Nicolescu, B. 2014. From Modernity to Cosmodernity – Science, Culture, and Spirituality; State University of New York (SUNY) Press: New York, USA, 2014.
Keywords: dialogue; interdisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity.