.DOC. Documentality and Organization of Social Complexity

In the last thirty years, the digital revolution has led to technological transformations that are before everyone’s eyes, but also to less evident consequences, which are even more relevant for social complexity. In particular, there has been an explosion of writings and of systems of recording and communicating, which has both revealed the deep nature of society (the fact of being based on documents, inscriptions and recordings) and highlighted the need for new techniques for dealing with administrative, occupational and social complexity. During the same period, two main phenomena have dominated the field of scientific research. On the one hand, philosophy and neuroscience have got closer and closer, this fact has given raise to a new paradigm for human sciences. On the other hand, computer science, jurisprudence, social science and philosophy have become more and more interdisciplinary. As a consequence, new disciplines have been created: exemplarily, the application of ontology to information systems. In such a framework, .DOC, DOCUMENTALITY AND ORGANIZATION OF SOCIAL COMPLEXITY advances a unified theory of mind and society, whose aims are formulating innovative analyses, and inventing new applications, and solutions.

At the base of .DOC, there is a very compact nucleus, the theory of documentality as developed by Maurizio Ferraris and his collaborators [for a synthesis, see “Documentalità: ontologia del mondo sociale”, http://www.units.it/~etica/2007_2/FERRARIS.pdf and the texts collected in http://www.labont.it/ferraris/somo.asp], along with the several works of the members of the unities of researches involved in the project. The theory of documentality is based on the assumption that social reality is expressed by the law Object = Inscribed Act. Social objects are the outcomes of social acts (such that involves at least two persons) characterized by the fact of being inscribed, in a document, in a computer file, or also, as memories, in people’s heads. Such a perspective is articulated both on the level of theoretic foundation, and on the level of practical application. The foundation concerns neuro-science, but also philosophy of person, society and culture. The applications
involve the methodology of document management in enterprise organization and administration, scientific research, and technological innovation.

As for the working team, .DOC constitutes the converging point of the researches of LABONT and CTAO (Center for Theoretical and Applied Ontology, http://www.ctaorg.org/ and Laboratory for ontology, http://www.labont.it/), which have been articulated, on a national level, in three different Programs of Research of National Interest (“Intellectual Property: property of objects, property of ideas”, 2002-04; “Ontological Canon, an integrative approach to knowledge organization”, 2004-06; “Documentality – Ontologiea and technologies for citizenship and democracy”, 2006-08). Thanks to the impact and the results of these three projects, the team is now the leader group in Italy for social ontology, and it collaborates at an international level with the main centers of research in the field, in particular with ECOR (European Centre for Ontological Research, http://www.ecor.uni-saarland.de/) and NCOR (National Center for Ontological Research, http://ncor.us/).

The expected theoretical results of .DOC will concern four theoretical levels in the first place: 1) A theory of mind as a writing system, supported by neuroscientific evidence. 2) A theory of person and their motivation based on phenomenology and neuro-ethics. 3) a theory of society that accounts for the role of documentality in the construction of social reality and its transformations. 4) A proposal for a science of culture, which interfaces productively with the technological transformations of the last decades. Those theoretical outcomes will lead to applications concerning the level of Certification (in particular, food certification), the level of Protection (copyright, and intellectual property), the level of Archiving and Dematerialization (of scientific and administrative documents), the level of Evaluation, Diffusion, and Vulgarization (in particular, with respect to scientific publications and the art-world), and the fostering of Citizenship (with a particular attention to social networks).