The raison d’être of this volume can be enlightened by focusing on the intuition that the multi-layered-ness and ductility which characterises the concept of origins appeals both to scientists and humanities scholars. From an etymological point of view the noun ‘origin’ relates to ‘1. The act or fact of arising, springing, from something […]; 2. That from which anything arises, springs or is derived’. The adjective ‘original’ means ‘pertaining to the origin, beginning, or earliest stage of something’ and bears connotations such as pristine, primeval, primary. Clearly enough, the indication that there is a source, a commencement, and the condition of being primitive, authentic, archetypal, archaic, essential, pure, allow for remarkable semantic mobility. The wide range of significations renders the concept of origins perfectly suited to host interdisciplinary dialogue. The assumption that origins can be defined as a hermeneutic paradigmin the humanities and in the sciences is explored in relation to specific theoretical frameworks and research methodologies. By investigating how origins have been conceptualised in different domains of knowledge – biology, primatology, psychology, linguistics, history of science, critical theory, classical studies, philology, literary criticism, strategy and accounting – a double movement has been generated: towards the very core of each discipline and beyond disciplinary boundaries. ‘Which are the most productive theories and methods each discipline has elaborated for investigating origins?’ ‘Can they become transdisciplinary?’ ‘Which synergic enquiries can be devised in order to expand and share knowledge?’: such questions have been addressed in order to verify if origins function as a powerful connector between scientific and humanistic territories. The prospect of envisaging a context in which a geneticist and a classicist discuss the origins of humankind may well sound provocative. Indeed, one of the major aims pursued in studying origins has been the constitution of an heterogeneous research environment suited to foster discussion about the theoretical orientations and methodological tools which various domains of knowledge have regarded as distinctive and pre-eminent.
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