Epistemology of Seeing: Guardinis’ Seeing of Christ as Origin of the Transdisciplinary Comprehension of the World

Yvonne Schlobitten
Pontifical Gregorian University

Transdisciplinarity is more than a new discipline; it is “a different manner of understanding the world.” Nicolescu distinguishes three forms of transdisciplinarity: (1) theoretical, (2) phenomenological, and (3) experimental. It might be fruitful to engage in a dialog between transdisciplinarity-as-a-new-discipline as a way of being and as a way of seeing. The relevant resources can be found not only in academia, but also in domains such as literature and religion, keeping in mind the constant risks of the non-representable and of their differences (including within science itself). The proposed reframing also sheds light on the role of conversion in transdisciplinary research projects. In a sense, conversion and the possibility of an ‘opening’ can be seen as a critical “unknown” or not “seen or thought before” for the activity of integration and implementation.

The research project aims to study the ‘Seeing of Christ’ as the basis of Guardini’s Weltanschauung, as the origin of transdisciplinary comprehension of the world.  To overcome the classical theoretical versus practical dichotomy as a dialectic encounter, Guardini proposes instead, inspired by the writings of Michelangelo and other artists, a triadic dialogue between three “persons:” the author, the created work, and the observer. They relate to each other as in a dynamic triangle, creating the central categories of form, formation, and trans-formation, intertwined with each other.

The secret of Guardini’s origin of transdisciplinary seeing lies in his theory of the “epistemology of the third space”; the connection between becoming human and seeing the artistic creative process that has taken on the form of existence in the work of art. To comprehend this, Guardini writes, it is necessary to become “a living work of art” ourselves, entering into this space of opposites. This enables us to bear our own nature of opposites, creating a ‘third space’ (a thing, an idea, the work or an attitude) in which one can enter to create it new and thus recognize oneself in what one might be. This promise of seeing, determined by a threefold seeing which consists of an encounter of a threefold attitude: between a theoretical pondering, an experience of thinking and a contemplating of the world — called the ‘Seeing of Christ’  (Blick Christi) — as a paradigm of transdisciplinary comprehension. This calls a person out to seek and walk the path towards the encounter with himself, the acceptance of himself and the struggle with the own beginning and origin. Therefore, in the work of art lies the beginning, in its structure and its nature lies vocation and a call to freedom.