Transdisciplinary Responses to Global Challenges

University of Vienna, Austria
University of Vienna, Austria

Call for papers until 28 February 2014 to EMCSR Symposia

EMCSR 2014 is scheduled for 22-25 April 2014 and will take place in Vienna hosted by the University of Vienna. The theme is Civilization at the Crossroads: Response and Responsibility of the Systems Sciences. The term “systems sciences” is meant to denote every scientific endeavor that deals with systems and connects to the term “systems”; thus it includes disciplines such as systems engineering or systems thinking and systems philosophy. (

Symposia Topic: "Responses to Global Challenges"
Promoted by Søren Brier and Liqian Zhou, Dept. of International Business Communication, Copenhagen Business School

Past approaches, including modernistic and post-modernistic ones, have partly failed to deal with the global challenges, as the nature of modernistic approaches most often consist in various forms of  subject area specific reductionisms attempting to reduce complexity to simpler forms and models; be it physical elements (mechanism), or computational of informational elements (pan-computationalism or pan-informationalism) bypassing subjectively and intersubjectively based meaningful experience To the dilemma of modernisms attempts to reduce our complex world by erasing the diversity of reality, the answer of postmodernism has been to construct “little narratives” with no demand of coherence or truth giving up on basic claims of science. Past approaches have thus in different ways created gaps between nature and culture as well as between different cultures including many conflicts between humans and environment,  between different cultures  as well as paradigms, world views and meaning horizons, in the attempts to globalize by integrating the local views through universal reductions.

Because the technologies of information and communication makes freely flowing information disseminate globally, the problem is not primarily technological and quantitatively but how to organize transdisciplinary as well as transcultural frameworks of interpretive power. For instance the CIA and FBI had all the necessary data to prevent the terrorist of 9/11, but their organizing capabilities were unable to establish the necessary power of interpretation of their data.

An objective, probabilistically founded concept of information as “information processing paradigm” as  we see it in traditional cybernetics, systems and information science is no longer enough, because information is not only something digital in physical carriers, but also a difference that makes a difference for living embodied experiential and cultural systems.

This is why technical information or discourse analysis alone cannot bridge nature and culture. We need to find ways to integrate third-person and first-person views with technology through combining systems theory  and cybernetics with more phenomenological, hermeneutical as wells a semiotic and linguistic interpretive frameworks by enlarging the scope of reality to include not only  physical things and objective information, but develop transdisciplinary frameworks capable of integrating physical, biological, perceptual, experiential cognitive, linguistic and cultural-social communicative systems without reducing one to the other. We therefore welcome work that attempts to build such framework(s).  See

In the references below we give some recent examples of such work.


Brenner, J.E., 2008, Logic in Reality, Dordrecht: Springer.

Brenner, J. E. 2008. The Logic of Transdisciplinarity. Page 155 – 163 In Nicolescu, B. (ed.) Transdisciplinarity. Theory and Practice,

Brenner, J. E. 2009. Prolegomenon to a Logic for the Information Society. triple-c 7(1), 38- 73.

Brier, S. 2008. Cybersemiotics: Why Information Is Not Enough. Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. PP. 544. Paperback and Kindle 2013.

Brier, S. 2013. Cybersemiotics: a new foundation for transdisciplinary theory of consciousness, cognition, meaning and communication, in Liz Swan (Ed.)(2012). Origins of Mind, Springer book series in Biosemiotics, Berlin, New York: Springer.

Brier, S. 2013. Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication and the Interaction Between Nature and Culture, Integral Review: A transdisciplinary and transcultural journal, Volume 9, No. 2, 220-263  

Brier, S. 2013. Transdisciplinary view of Information theory seen from a Cybersemiotics point of view, in Ibekwe-San Juan, F. and Dousa. T.  Fundamental notions of information, communication and knowledge: Its effects on scientific research and inter-disciplinarity, New York: Springer.

Cowley SJ, Major JC, Steffensen SV, & Dinis A. (2010). Signifying Bodies: Biosemiosis, Interaction and Health. Braga, Portugal: Faculty of Philosophy of Braga, Portuguese Catholic University.

Hofkirchner , W. 2010. Twenty questions About a Unified Theory of Information. A Short Exploration into Information from a Complex Systems View. Litchfield Park: Emergent Publications,

Hofkirchner, W.2013. Emergent Information. A Unified Theory of Information Framework.  World Scientific Book Series in Information Studies, vol. 3. World Scientific, New Jersey etc., 292

Latour, B. 2004. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. New York:  Harvard University Press.

Latour, B. 2007. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor Network Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mingers, J. 2013. Prefiguring Floridi’s Theory of Semantic Information. TripleC - Cognition, Communication, Co-operation, 11 (2). ISSN 1726-670X.

Mingers, J. 1995. Self-Producing Systems: Implications and Applications of Autopoiesis. Springer, Dordrecht, 268 pp. ISBN 9780306447976.

Nicolescu, B. 2008. Transdisciplinarity - Theory and Practice (Ed.), Hampton Press, Cresskill, NJ, USA.

Nicolescu, B.  2002. Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity, State University of New York (SUNY) Press, New York, translated from the French by Karen-Claire Voss.