Saturday, October 02, 2010

Conceptual Integration and Education

"Conceptual integration -- also known as vertical integration -- refers to the principle that the various disciplines within the behavioral and social sciences should make themselves mutually consistent with what is known in the natural sciences as well" (Cosmides, et al. from the Introduction of "The Adaptive Mind, 4).

And, I would add, the humanities as well.

"A conceptually integrated theory is one framed so that it is compatible with data and theory from other relevant fields" (4).

We see this in physics, chemistry and biology, where chemistry, for example, is compatible with, but not reducible to, the laws of physics. Psychology would similarly be compatible with, but not reducible to, the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology/evolution, and the social/humane sciences and the humanities compatible with, but not reducible to, the laws of physics, chemsitry, biology, and psychology.

However, psychology, the social sciences, and the humanities are not fully conceptually integrated -- except in the theories of a handful of scholars. This is damaging to the creation of knowledge in those fields, and it is damaging to students who major in those fields.

Education is overdue for renaissance and reform. Anything short of full conceptual integration of all fields of study will be a failure.
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