Methodology and noology: amazing prospects for library and information science

  • C. S. De Beer University of Pretoria
Keywords: Edgar Morin, methodology in library and information science, Michel Serres, noology, philosophy of research


Important work for Information Science and Information Services has been done by two internationally renowned intellectuals, Edgar Morin and Michel Serres. Their relevance relates to the fact that they both accept the challenge of the complex reality of the world. They work out ways to deal with the dynamics of these issues in the most significant way possible. They both have special methods of including information as central to their work, despite their disciplinary backgrounds and engagements. This fact gave me the freedom to expect from their work, given their enthusiasm about the central place of information in society and life, to provide significant insights to us in our own situation. We encounter the problem that our standard, accepted methods cannot really help us here. These methods are still based on a flat world assumption as are our policies, strategies and skills all of which are based on a deterministic approach and a cause-effect strategy. As such, it cannot give account of the words dynamic, restless and complex. This system is simply too movable and fluctuating. There are too many dimensions. We need more, even more than reason alone. We have to move beyond method, beyond mere rationality, in order to cope and get real access and develop understanding. We need to move into another dimension, and onto a totally new level, of reality and into a different dimension or mode of thought into another domain, the domain of ideas rather than problems. We have to start thinking differently. What I am trying to sketch and that is referred to here, in line with Edgar Morins suggestions, is noology, or the science of the knowing mind with its focus on the fullness and complexity of reality. The mode of thought that can effectively cope with this vast and complex challenge is what Michel Serres calls our multiple, connective intellection that can penetrate all the respective areas and establish links between them. If we are serious about these challenges and want to explore this restless dynamic system in its full complexity we can hardly do better than look in more detail at the work done by Edgar Morin and Michel Serres.
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