Meta-Science: Towards a Science of Meaning and Complex Solutions


Andrej Zwitter (ed)
University of Groningen
Takuo Dome (ed)
Osaka University


Science has lost its ethical imperatives as it moved away from a science of ought to a science of is. Subsequently, it might have answers for how we can address global challenges, such as climate change and poverty, but not why we should. This supposedly neutral stance leaves it to politics and religions (in the sense of non-scientific fields of social engagement) to fill in the values. The problem is that through this concession, science implicitly acknowledges that it is not of universal relevance.
Objective knowledge, as Karl Popper calls for, might be less easily attainable in the world of ideas and within the confines of scientific idealism. However, if ideas, values and meaning have equal claim to be drivers of change in the sense of causation, aspiring to identify objective knowledge about the world of ideas and of meaning is necessary. If the sciences and disciplines aim to give objectively valid reasons for our actions (and for how to address global challenges), we need to elevate the study of meaning beyond the cultural, disciplinary and ideational delineations.  We need to come to a meta understanding of values and meaning equal to objective knowledge about the material world. But differently than in the material world this meta understanding needs to incorporate individual and subjective experiences as cornerstones of objectivity on a meta-level.
We need a science of meaning; one that can scientifically answer Kant’s third question of “what may we hope for”.

Publisher: University of Groningen Press
Broerstraat 4 9712 CP Groningen

Cover design: Bas Ekkers
Typesetting: LINE UP boek en media bv | Riëtte van Zwol
Production support: LINE UP boek en media bv

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This book has been published open access thanks to the financial support of the Open Access Book Fund of the University of Groningen.


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Author Biographies

Andrej Zwitter , University of Groningen

Andrej Zwitter is Professor, Department of Governance and Innovation,Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen / Programme Chair – Conceptions of Human Flourishing, The New Institute, Hamburg.

Takuo Dome, Osaka University

Takuo Dome is Advisor to the President / Director, Social Solution Initiative / Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University

Yasuo Deguchi, Kyoto University

Professor, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University
Chairperson, Kyoto Institute of Philosophy

Michael Hoelzl, University of Manchester

Senior Lecturer, Department of Religions and Theology, University of Manchester

Michihiro Kita, Osaka University

Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University

Johanna M. Grad, Campus Fryslân / University of Groningen

Student, Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen

Indira S.E. van der Zande , Campus Fryslân / University of Groningen

Assistant Professor, Department of Governance and Innovation, Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen

Brendan F.D. Barrett, Osaka University

Professor, Center for Global Initiatives, Osaka University

Jacques Buith

Senior Partner, Global Lead Client Service Partner United Nations, Deloitte

Michael Mulqueen, University of Central Lancashire

Professor, School of Law and Policing, University of Central Lancashire

Clíona Saidléar

Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI)

Chihiro Takayama

Fellow, Eisai Co., Ltd., Director CMO, KNOCK ON THE DOOR Inc.

Cover Meta Science



November 16, 2023



Sustainable development, Human flourishing, Metascience, Philosophy of science, Global challenges, Complex solutions

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