A common pursuit: Paul Cilliers’ and Wentzel van Huyssteen’s epistemic attitudes

Gys M Loubser


Paul Cilliers, late professor of complexity and philosophy of
science at the University of Stellenbosch, argued that by acknowledging the
complexity of particular systems, one is called beyond a foundationalist or
relativist epistemology. He advocated for a modest epistemic attitude which
recognises the provisionality of our knowledge claims. Advocating for a similar
epistemic attitude, Wentzel van Huyssteen, extraordinary professor of theology at
the University of Stellenbosch, argues that a postfoundationalist epistemic attitude
moves beyond foundationalist and nonfoundationalist epistemologies. A
postfoundationalist understanding of rationality facilitates interdisciplinary
research by drawing on the concept of transversality and the shared resources of
human rationality. This essay illuminates the common epistemic pursuit of both these
highly respected scholars and illustrates the modesty of a postfoundationalist model
of rationality. Furthermore, this essay proposes that by strengthening Van
Huyssteen’s postfoundationalist approach with the insights generated by Cilliers on
complex systems, sustainable interdisciplinarity could be realised.


Complexity; Postfoundationalism; Epistemology; Rationality; Interdisciplinarity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5952/54-1-2-307


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ISSN 2226-2385 (online); ISSN 0028-2006 (print)

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