Boundaries: an interdisciplinary (hi)story
The experience and awareness of boundaries form an integral part of being human. This article investigates the systematic philosophical underpinnings of our understanding of the nature of boundaries, in some instances supported by historical considerations. It stands to reason that boundaries are related to our awareness of spatial relationships, even though this awareness cannot avoid incorporating the distinction between entities and properties, reflected in the distinction between the concrete what and the how of reality. Differences between the original (mathematical) meaning of space and other contexts within which we encounter analogies of spatial boundaries are considered by paying attention to the problem of accounting for physical space (which is neither continuous nor infinitely divisible), biotic and sensory space (compare notions such as Umwelt, ambient and environment) as well as the significance of closed and open systems also for inter-human relationships displaying a solidary unitary character, analogous to thermodynamic open systems. Boundaries between different modes of explanation finally underscore the typical on-going task of philosophy, namely to investigate boundary questions. It will be argued that the problem of the multivocal nature of the term boundary only finds a satisfactory solution if it is embedded in a non-reductionist ontology.
- Faculty of Humanities