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date: 22 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers from both a historical and philosophical standpoint the role of war and commerce in motivating interdisciplinary research, typically against the “normal science” grain of academia. This kind of interdisciplinarity is best described as “use-inspired basic research,” which makes creative use of synergies between relatively uncommunicative academic literatures, or “undiscovered public knowledge.” The Rockefeller Foundation and DARPA are the two major institutional exemplars of this form of interdisciplinarity, which is fairly described as “Mode 2” or “triple-helix” knowledge production. The chapter stresses the adventurous, indeed “creatively destructive” character of this research, which typically leaves a lasting impression on both academia and society as a whole—be it for good or ill. In this context, the career of Fritz Haber—a man steeped in not only philosophy and the physical sciences but also war and commerce—is considered as exemplifying the Janus-faced character of this type of interdisciplinarity.

Keywords: military-industrial, cult of success, Moltke, Haber, Rockefeller Foundation, DARPA, Pasteur’s Quadrant, cybernetics, undiscovered public knowledge, Curse of Kant

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