Intellectual accomplishment is increasingly subject to quantification, giving rise to a Science of Science that deepens our understanding beyond more simple measures of impact and too narrow forms of anecdotalism. Yet, while groundbreaking, the current multidisciplinary practice is still limited by the nature of data under investigation. As we typically quantify incomplete surrogates, such as citation enriched with topic meta-data, the tension between quantification and more qualitative interpretation still remains, even if both modes of inquiry have rigor. In this talk, I will break some tear-lines of citation to reveal a shared foundation with the potential to reconcile complex network science, higher-order topology, computation, and more surprisingly some central methods of cultural history. Rooted in Leibniz, the tragic bifurcation of these disciplines emerged due to the branching evolution of disciplinary focus, due to changes in language, and due to sometimes forced scholarly migration. Overcoming such obstacles in a systematic way, this talk will exemplify that it is worthwhile to go beyond citation data or other convenient yet incomplete surrogates. At the same time the chosen example itself will clarify that the ongoing tension between quantification and qualitative inquiry can be mitigated via a shared "most general symbolic reference framework" that is able to bridge the natural sciences and the humanities. In short: This talk will use qualitative inquiry to go beyond the quantification of a science of science, to convince the audience that an integration of quantification and qualitative inquiry is indeed possible and beneficial within a systematic science of cultural interaction, much like in systems biology.
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