An Emergent Cosmopolis

A Transdisciplinary Framework


There are available a wealth of useful disciplines, but more often then not they are not organized for practical use. Transdisciplinary frameworks help the interventionist to organize what is significant for his or her purposes.


Friedman’s framework utilizes sixteen interacting transdisciplinary variables, loosely grouped into four sets of four. They cross all disciplines and cover most if not all the important aspects of human behavior that relate to the three primary tasks of orientation, diagnosis & evaluation, and estimates concerning the scope and constraints on rational behavior during
times of fundamental institutional change.


These are critical variables when it comes to operating in unique time-and-space-specific situations where socio/symbolic interaction plays a dominant role in creating new responses that promote progress while avoiding decline. They point to things we need to keep in mind when it comes to expressing a prophetic voice and a call to conversion, for we are in the world, part of the emerging reality, and not some imaginary outside observer.


This framework helps to heighten our awareness and broaden our understanding of what it means to be a human being, an actor, a creator—or even a destroyer. It guides us through the social sciences, helping to organize the significant features of each so that what is known can make its way into practice. It represents one practical way of organizing key insights into human behavior that we have acquired through centuries of dispassionate observation of human behavior.


Course notes on Organizational Development
Otto Friedman, Visiting Professor
York University, Sociology Department
by Russell C. Baker, 1975-6

Schematic: A Transdisciplinary Framework

Otto Friedman's Transdisciplinary Framework for Professional Practice

We need a broad framework geared toward professional practice as a proponent of Lonergan's cosmopolis, something that will help organize a vast amount of material from different disciplines.


Such a framework is especially important if a cosmopolis group is to have a presence in the wider world as these key variables for understanding the unique time-and-space-specific socio-political circumstance within which any such group exists. In particular, these variables and their interactions are very helpful in the three primary areas of professional practice: orientation (OR), diagnosis and evaluation (D&E), and scope and constraints on rational action within such unique historical and geographical circumstances (S&C).

The Four Primary Groupings

  • ​​There are four images that people consciously or more often unconsciously have in their minds when they interact with each other: a concept of what it means to be human, an image of the fundamental nature of social reality, and prevailing images of future and past.
  • A second grouping of four fundamental variables involve the ways in which a given community structures its exercise of control: power, authority, and influence; regulation, organized groups; and institutions.
  • A third set of four fundamental variables as socio-political drivers: economic interests; ideologies and utopias; divergent values, norms and demands; and the ubiquity of conflict, competition and co-operation.
  • The final set of four variables, now operative at the individual rather than group level: character and personality types; creativity; destructiveness; and experiential learning.


These are sixteen fundamental transdisciplinary variables

They cross all disciplines and cover most if not all the important aspects of human behavior that relate to the three primary tasks of orientation, diagnosis & evaluation, and estimating scope and constraints on rational behavior during times of fundamental institutional change. These are the critical variables when it comes to operating in time-and-space-specific socio-political situations, where socio/symbolic interaction plays a dominant role in creating new responses that promote progress while avoiding decline. They point to the things we need to keep in mind when it comes to expressing a prophetic voice and a call to conversion, for we are in the world, part of the emerging reality, and not some imaginary outside observer. This framework helps to heighten our awareness and broaden our understanding of what it means to be a human being, an actor, a creator—or even a destroyer. It guides us through the social sciences, helping to organize the significant features of each so that what is known can make its way into practice. It represents one way of organizing key insights into human behavior that we have acquired through centuries of dispassionate observing and recording human behavior.

It is far easier to draw conclusions from what one
already holds than to deepen one’s understanding of what one’s convictions mean.

— Lonergan