The spread, both in and width and depth, of the multifarious branches of knowledge during the last hundred odd years has confronted us with a queer dilemma. We feel clearly that we are only now beginning to acquire reliable material for welding together the sum total of all that is known into a whole; but, on the other hand, it has become next to impossible for a single mind fully to command more than a small specialized portion of it. I can see no other escape from this dilemma (lest our true aim be lost forever) than that some of us should venture to embark on a synthesis of facts and theories, albeit with second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them -and at the risk of making fools of ourselves. Erwin Schrödinger What is Life? 1944
What kind of open-ended method for proposing synthetic theories would encourage the development broad integrative ideas? The development of knowledge is grounded in the correction of error. A method of synthesis could begin with three components that acknowledge and facilitate the creation and correction of error.
The first is an openness to posing foundational cross disciplinary questions that probe idiosyncratic contextual issues.
The second is an openness to large scale over-generalized theories in response to those questions with the understanding that large errors may have the potential to reveal large symmetries and unities when subject to criticism from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Foolishness in that sense should be encouraged. While over-generalized theories may not be falsifiable their inconsistencies should become obvious when applied to individual disciplines.
The third component is an openness to criticism and a method of adapting theories to evidence of error that preserves possible symmetries across disciplines. This method should acknowledge that discovering effective systemic theories is an ever evolving process that would be limited by any goals that imply finality or absolute certainty. Publishing should emphasize and promote that process and not be an end in itself.