Para Limes

The Nature of Science

The Nature of Science

The nature of science is changing.

Its focus is shifting from parts and pieces to coherent wholes. This new way of science befits the grand challenges that confront humanity and that are characterized by problems of enormous complexity and seemingly impenetrable webs of cause and effect. The umbrella name for this new way of science is complexity science.

Science is about defining a problem and finding a way to solve it using the methods of science. Scientific questions distinguish themselves from other questions in that they can be addressed by the methods of science, while the other questions cannot, or not yet because the scientific methods to address them still need to be developed. In fact, the questions that can be addressed by scientific methods are only a small subset of the questions that are generated every day in the minds of the billions of people that inhabit our earth. Looking at it that way it is remarkable how much science and its applications have achieved for the wellbeing of humanity and how much promise they hold for much more to come. At the same time, many of the grand challenges that humanity faces are born out of applications of the answers to scientific questions.

One could say that in the pursuit of the twin objectives of training the younger generation and responding to societal priorities, science left some fundamental questions inadequately addressed, and many others unasked. That may be because most scientific questions are asked and addressed within the narrowly defined contexts of disciplines and specializations, while some of the questions most relevant to humanity lurk in the undefined areas between disciplines. One could also say that scientific questions are largely defined within the isolation of laboratories, while its answers are applied in a world where real life considerations and the immense complexity of total connectivity determine the course of events.

Whatever the reasons, it is our vision that the arena within which problems relevant to humanity are defined, must include world-class scientists, philosophers, artists, policy makers and (wo)men of practice. It must go beyond boundaries and that is what Para Limes stands for.
Our present world has been strongly influenced by the scientific knowledge that was generated in the last 300 years of mostly disciplinary science. The technology that coevolved with that science generated game changers for our world like vaccinations, antibiotics, cars, television, pesticides, nuclear energy, plastics, computers, mobile communication and Internet. That science gave us very little insights in the impact of those technologies on our world or in underlying principles that govern interactions between natural, social and human engineered systems.