Differences of non-classical scientific and technical disciplines...

Differences of nonclassical scientific and technical disciplines from classical engineering sciences

Over the past decades, significant changes have taken place in the sphere of scientific and technical disciplines, which make it possible to talk about the emergence of a qualitatively new nonclassical stage of their development. This stage is characterized by new forms of organization of knowledge aimed at increasing the effectiveness and effectiveness of scientific activity, a more rigid orientation of modern science to solve a variety of practical (including engineering) problems, which requires the involvement of specialists in a wide variety of branches of science and practice. At the same time, engineering methods, design installations and methodical methods of work penetrate the sphere of science, transforming the traditional norms and ideals of scientific research. Such new non-classical scientific and technical disciplines include, for example, cybernetics, system engineering, system analysis, etc.

Of course, within certain limits, the traditional spheres of scientific research and engineering practice continue to function quite efficiently, solving specific scientific problems and technical problems that confront them, but it is very important to imagine what these limits are and the limitations they impose. Many classical sciences used in the development of new research and design tasks are transformed into their solutions, changing their appearance. This is connected with the realization of the projecting, programming role of science as a whole in relation to practical activity, and above all the complexity of theoretical studies, in whatever form they are conducted and in whatever way they are formed.

In the classical technical sciences, the theory was built under the influence of a certain basic natural science discipline and it was from it that theoretical means and models of scientific activity were originally borrowed. Many modern scientific and technical disciplines do not have such a single basic theory. They are focused on solving complex scientific and technical problems requiring the participation of representatives of the most diverse scientific disciplines (mathematical, technical, natural and even public) grouped around one problem area. At the same time, they develop new specific methods and proprietary tools that are not found in any of the integrated disciplines and which are specially adapted to solve this complex scientific and technical problem.

Example

The French "Encyclopedia", the compendium of all the sciences and crafts then existing, the attempt to collect all the knowledge available in the world, to acquaint them with modern and subsequent generations, is a classic expression of the desire for a comprehensive description. This project, according to Diderot, was to break the barriers between crafts and sciences. However, such attempts, regardless of the claim to the scientific description, were in fact only rational generalizations at the level of common sense.

Today a qualitatively new problem arises, connected with the fact that we are talking about the complexity of first of all theoretical studies, which became very numerous and heterogeneous in the 20th century. Despite the fact that, at first glance, the synthesis of diverse knowledge, theoretical concepts and methods is the main thing here, this synthesis is based on a complex task of coordinating, coordinating, managing and organizing various activities aimed at solving a complex scientific and technical problem. Therefore, the object of complex research in modern scientific and technical disciplines will no longer be a traditional, though rather complex, and qualitatively new activity object.

Example

The object of system engineering consists of two parts: first, the object of research and organization is the activity aimed at creating and maintaining a complex technical system; Secondly, the system itself, being created, is not only included in human activity as satisfying a certain need, but also replaces this activity. System analysis also has an object of its activity, as it is a set of scientific methods and practices designed to solve a variety of problems arising in purposeful activities, especially management and research. In other words, there is an integrated approach to the organization of activities. And even cybernetics, which was originally oriented towards a mechanized representation of technical systems, becomes a science about models of human-machine systems.

The situation that has developed in modern scientific and technical disciplines, in many respects resembles the changes in the experimental and measurement activity, characteristic of nonclassical physics and associated with the so-called paradox of immeasurability. A similar situation is observed in modern engineering, aimed at creating complex human-machine systems and having certain features.

1 . The key here is evolutionary system design, which does not stop even when the system is already created. Since the system may become obsolete before it is created, the project must have its possible future modifications.

2. In the design of a complex man-machine system, it is impossible to take into account all the parameters and features of its functioning in advance (it can only be predicted with a certain degree of probability), therefore, in the modern engineering activities, a special implementation activity becomes necessary. This activity is aimed at correcting design decisions in the process of debugging the system and in accordance with changes in social, natural, economic, technical conditions, etc., because the environment is included in the projected system in as a special element.

3. The activities of use and the activity of creating and improving such systems become inextricably linked with these systems themselves.

Example

This trend is most clearly manifested in the sphere of social engineering developments. For example, urban planning uses knowledge of a number of social and technical disciplines to create specific activity systems. Here the problem of including such systems in the surrounding social environment becomes especially acute, in addition, it is difficult to predict in advance the consequences that this kind of design can lead to. The urban planning system should gradually fit into the environment. However, in this case we are not talking about re-engineering, but about development, the improvement of such a system, its gradual bringing it to the projected state, while the environment itself is gradually becoming the object of design. Thus, it is impossible to neglect the disturbing influence of research and design here, it must be specially taken into account, because both the object of design (research) and the designer (researcher) have a single-order activity essence.

One of the characteristics of modern scientific and technical disciplines is the transition to to probabilistic representations and statistical justifications.

Example

The development of statistical radar was the development of such a generalized theoretical scheme that would establish the basic laws and quality criteria for any radar systems. It should lead to the development of a probabilistic approach to the solution of radar problems and to the development on this basis of new methods for processing and synthesizing signals. The problem of signal isolation in noise is statistical and can be solved only by methods of probability theory. Reception of signals began to be considered as a statistical problem first in radar, and then in radio engineering. Thus, in theoretical radar, two layers of mutually correlated theoretical schemes, reflecting respectively electrodynamic processes and their statistical models, were formed.

Just as in nonclassical physics the importance of the method of the mathematical hypothesis and idealized experiments is gaining importance, in the modern scientific and technical disciplines a decisive role is played by computer design and simulation modeling, allowing in advance, in the form of an idealized (machine) experiment, to analyze and calculate various options for the possible future operation of a complex system. In algorithmic languages ​​of simulation modeling, most often used for this purpose, the conceptual framework and the system image of the object are determined by the corresponding mathematical theory (set theory, queuing theory, mathematical statistics, etc.). The verbal description of the simulated system in this language (problem-oriented to a specific domain) is automatically translated into the machine code model. Next, we experiment with the model on a computer (as with a special ideal object), predict the behavior of the object for various conditions (generation of model variants and selection of the most suitable ones for these conditions). Intermediate interpretations are, as a rule, omitted.

Thus, in simulation simulation on a computer, the system is initially represented in the form of a flow scheme. Then this description is transformed into the corresponding functional scheme, with which a number of equivalent transformations are carried out (motion at the theoretical level - deductive inference). Finally, the result obtained (and if necessary, also some intermediate results) is interpreted, i.e. back is translated into the mode of the flow chart. In other words, in the algorithmic languages ​​of simulation, procedures are specified for the transition from functional to stream descriptions and operations for the equivalent transformation of functional schemes. The flow diagram can be realized further in the form of a specific structural diagram of the system being designed (researched).

Example

The modern imitation experiment is radically different from the experiment in classical natural science, where its main goal is the reproduction in a materialized form of idealized experimental situations, aimed at confirming individual consequences from general theoretical positions. In the modern experiment, neither the object of research or design (a complex system that is often integral only in the view of the researcher or designer), nor the activity itself performed by various participating specialists, nor any one scientific theory, as in classical science, allows to collect together all individual parts, aspects and positions. This can only be done at the metatheoretical or methodological level, and without such a holistic systemic representation, it is also impossible for real practical cooperation of those who participate in the research or design of this complex system. Such a complex system can not generally be "touched" as an object of study of classical natural science or a piece of product - a product of traditional engineering activity. In this sense, it is only intelligible. In complex human-machine systems, the individual elements that make up them are visible (people working with technology, the technology itself, communication channels, etc.). A holistic image of the system escapes from the observer from outside and even from the one who is engaged in its exploitation, if he is not familiar with the project, i.e. idealized representation of information flows, their redistribution and enrichment as a result of the implementation of this project.

The project installation has an impact on changing the priorities of complex research, contributes to the formation of an attitude to scientific knowledge, not only as a knowledge of something, but also as a means of action. The object of complex research was originally given only in the form of a computer simulation model, in one form or another, reproducing the functioning of the future system, i.e. design of the designer. The system has not yet been created, it is only being designed, but at the beginning of any design it is necessary to investigate it by analyzing it on an imitation model, and not just to examine the place where it will be built after manufacturing.

The prerequisite for solving complex research and design tasks is a holistic view of the investigated and projected complex system. It is this goal, and primarily serves as an imitation computer simulation, which has recently become widely used in various fields of science and technology. Simulation of the functioning of the system allows us to present it as an integral object in the early stages of design. Analyzing such a model, it is possible to make scientifically based decisions on the choice of the most appropriate realization of its individual components in terms of their interconnection and interaction, take into account in advance various factors affecting the system as a whole and the conditions of its functioning, to choose the most optimal structure and the most efficient mode of its operation. Without the use of modern computer technology, it is simply impossible to take into account all the numerous data on a complex system, especially if one has in mind their heterogeneity. Automation of simulation modeling is aimed at expanding the capabilities of the researcher and designer in solving the problems facing them in terms of predicting the behavior of the system in various changing conditions and selecting project solutions that are adequate to these conditions.

One of the most important features of modern scientific and technical disciplines from the point of view of philosophy is their clearly expressed methodological orientation. Within the framework of these disciplines, concrete methodological studies are carried out (often with the introduction into practice through methodological development and design). Moreover, methodological knowledge is woven into the very body of the technical theory.

Example

Specialist in the field of system design, first, acts as an investigator and then acts in accordance with the norms of scientific and theoretical activity. Secondly, he has to perform the functions of a designer and methodologist and consider the product of his activity as a special kind of project. Thirdly, he is an artist who inherits and aesthetically transforms all the achievements of the previous artistic culture in order to create a new work of art. However, he also has to, without identifying himself completely with all the roles listed above, to realize himself as a designer within the framework of a quite definite professional community. He must grasp the object and the process of his own activity as a single whole - a unified system and holistic activity - design of systems. This multifacetedness and at the same time the unity of professional roles accustoms his thinking to the inner dialogic and reflective, the need to constantly get up in the "borrowed positions" participants of cooperation, destroys the traditional for the classical natural sciences and engineering monologue and monotheoretical, blurs the line between research and design, the actual acquisition of knowledge and their use.

Sometimes methodological knowledge even replaces the theory, ie. in modern scientific and technical disciplines, the methodology can serve as a theory because of the undeveloped general theoretical tools, especially at the first stages of the development of these disciplines, since there are no samples or precedents of such a comprehensive study. Broadcasting them from other spheres is possible only through preliminary analysis, which significantly raises the role and responsibility of the methodology of science in relation to specific methodological studies. Standard theoretical tools, borrowed from other sciences, are transformed and developed, modified in accordance with the nature of the specific scientific and technical problems being solved. As a result, qualitatively new areas of research are being formed, where scientific-theoretical and engineering-practical aspects are inseparably fused. What is obtained in the process and as a result of such application is no longer an applied section of any mathematical, physical, economic or other theory, but creatively reworked and organically included in the structure of a new complex discipline.

Example

In the study of operations, such a field was the theory of inventory management, which arose as a result of combining abstract modeling of the stock formation process with pragmatic developments in the way they were defined. For example, in urban planning, the living space of a residential area, human flows and placement of consumer services elements remain out of sight before this complex system begins to function. Only buildings, roads and green spaces are visible. But this does not mean that the latter exist realistically, while the former do not; they simply belong to other, social and psychological realities that are not recorded from the point of view of the traditional engineering position, based on knowledge and representations of only classical natural science.

In this regard, representatives of modern non-classical scientific and technical disciplines seek support in the methodology, and above all in the systems approach, from which they derive basic concepts and concepts. However, most often they do not find them there in a sufficiently developed form for solving specific scientific and technical problems facing them, and are themselves forced to become methodologists, to complete missing theoretical schemes and pictures of the world.

Another important feature common to all complex scientific and technical disciplines is the problem of combining systemic and activity representations, since they deal with the activity object of research and design. For example, in system engineering this is expressed in the necessity of combining the structural and algorithmic schemes of the same system in a single description. It is often impossible to single out the distinction between a subject and an object, as was supposed in classical science, in complex research. The subject, investigating and projecting an object, is simultaneously forced to constantly analyze and organize his own activity, i.e. and make yourself an object of your own research. At the same time, the object of research is no longer a traditional object, but a special subject, rather its activity, which can include both machine tools and natural objects. This expresses the humanistic orientation of these disciplines, the inability to consider human activity as the ideal object of classical natural science, i.e. without taking into account the subjective factor.

System design is the design of not just technical systems, but systems of human activity (control systems, maintenance, etc.). For him, the production in the production place, whose place is occupied by the introduction, loses its meaning, and it itself is closely associated with the reorganization of the activity. This is not about creating separate technical systems, but about designing the entire activity system in which they are included (maintenance, management, operation, etc.), as well as organizing the activity itself to create a complex system.

At the center of complex research and system design is an activity object, which has the following features. First, the object of research and organization is the activity itself, aimed at creating and maintaining a complex system ("design engineering"). Secondly, such an object, being created, is not only included in human activity as satisfying a certain need, but also replaces this activity. This determines the specifics of ideal objects of the second level (ideal objects of the first level are related to individual researches being integrated in this discipline); they are inextricably intertwined object and activity representations: the object is, as it were, fused with the activities of its design, improvement and use.

Unlike classical technical sciences, which are object-oriented to a certain class of technical systems (mechanisms, machines, radio devices, radar stations, etc.), complex scientific and technical disciplines are problem-oriented to solve complex scientific and technical problems of a certain type: system-technical, ergonomic, town-planning, design, etc. Although the object of research in them can partially overlap, such as human-machine systems for ergonomics and systems engineering. This distinction between classical and non-classical scientific and technical disciplines is rooted in the development of engineering activity and design.

An analogy between non-classical science and science and technology disciplines can be drawn on the role that the scientific picture of the world plays in them. Modern non-classical scientific and technical disciplines, including a complex set of different types of knowledge and methods and relying on many different disciplines, use them to solve specific complex scientific and technical problems that are not solved in any of these disciplines separately. Therefore, the first condition for the effective organization of theoretical research in them is the need to reconstruct that single reality, in which it is possible to correlate all private approaches and a special holistic view of the object of research (and design). And since these disciplines deal with a set of theoretical representations that perform the function of particular theoretical schemes in relation to a complex theoretical investigation, the formation of a nonclassical technical theory begins immediately from the stage of development of the generalized theoretical scheme. However, due to the lack of such a basic theory from which this kind of scheme could be transported, it is translated from the methodological sphere (of course, with subsequent modification and specification). This function in relation to modern scientific and technical disciplines is most often performed by the systems approach and the general theory of systems having a general scientific status. Sometimes cybernetic concepts and concepts are used in this capacity.

Example

Radar system engineering, where the electrodynamic picture of the world is replaced by a system-cybernetic, can be used as an example of such a paradigm shift in scientific and engineering thinking. Radiolocation falls into a new family of scientific and technical disciplines with a system orientation. The application in the radar of the conceptual and mathematical apparatus of the theory of information and cybernetics made it possible to proceed to an analysis of the so-called fine structure of a complex signal, regardless of its specific form.

Thus, at present a whole block of scientific and technical disciplines with a common system orientation has been formed, by means of which a special plane of objectification of artificially created complex systems is assigned to them. In such a fundamental theoretical scheme, a specific vision of the object of research and design is determined. In addition, the system picture of the world (or system ontology) serve as a methodological reference point (in relation to various modern scientific and technical disciplines) in the choice of theoretical tools and methods for solving complex scientific and technical problems, makes it possible to broadcast them from related disciplines or methodological spheres. It is also a methodological reference point for constructing complex ideal objects of modern scientific and technical disciplines, their subsequent simulation modeling and interpretation, i.e. allows you to extrapolate the experience accumulated in this discipline on future design situations. So, in system engineering it is somewhat different than in cybernetics, system analysis or ergonomics, but it is still a systemic fundamental theoretical scheme.

Modern scientific and technical disciplines are characterized by humanitarization, penetration into their sphere of humanitarian methods of cognition. An important feature of modern scientific and technical disciplines is the uniqueness of the object of their research and design. Complex systems are unique, and there are no typical ways to create them. They are created in one copy and in the course of their development the most diverse methods, means and representations are used, the combination of which is also unique. This principle, which can be called the principle of individualization, is an important distinctive feature of humanitarian thinking and research, in which each (for example, historical) phenomenon is regarded as unique, unique and only then its typical features are singled out.

A special feature of humanitarian thinking is its dialogic nature, the simultaneous development of complementary and even competing concepts on the same material. System analysis and design also emphasize the need for a comparative analysis of alternative versions of programs, projects, models and plans. For a single unique complex system, several possible theoretical concepts are constructed.

Another important principle of humanitarian thinking is the principle of historicism, which has a constant appeal to the history of the discipline, consideration of the historical evolution of not only the object of research, but also the ideas about it. A significant number of modern scientific and technical disciplines are characterized by the emergence of new problems that require a historical approach to their research. This suggests, in addition to listening to the history of many related scientific disciplines, as well as the search for patterns, images, conceptual schemes in the cultural heritage of mankind as a whole - the philosophical, psychological and even mythological concepts of the past. This attitude to history is a consequence of the reflexivity of modern non-classical complex disciplines, their focus on understanding their own activities, their methodological nature, and the constant discussion in them of the legitimacy of posing various problems and ways to solve them.

The transformation of modern scientific and engineering thinking, its emergence into the sphere of social practice, inevitably leads to the breakdown of barriers in the established professional organization of science (between humanitarian, engineering and natural science methods of cognition) and action (between social, natural and technical sciences). The new tendencies in question are characteristic of modern science in general, including for many disciplines that can not be considered scientific and technical (say, science or medicine), they are manifested in the natural sciences, where they even speak of the formation of a special "social science". However, these tendencies are most clearly and strikingly manifested in the family of system-oriented disciplines identified by us.

Thus, the branch organization of science is supplemented by complex nonclassical scientific and technical disciplines that can not be attributed to either natural, technical, or social sciences. Despite their complexity and interdisciplinarity, they are not purely interdisciplinary studies, if only because they themselves are organized disciplined. Complex scientific and technical disciplines have a clear branch organization, a stable publication array and a limited professional community. Their disciplinary organization is formed approximately equally. Initially, the practical sphere of scientific and technical activity develops: first design, system-technical, ergonomic, and so on appear. projects and special groups that implement and develop them. At the second stage, the corresponding area of ​​scientific and technical knowledge is formed, characterized by the formation of a publication array of this discipline. These works, as a rule, are of an interdisciplinary nature. For this stage, especially active development and discussion of specific methodological problems, the formation of systemic concepts and concepts specially adapted for the solution of a specific type of complex scientific and technical problems, the development of their own specific methods are characteristic.

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