Extremely important essay and ideas.
<<I propose a notion of interstitial realism to put science on more flexible footing.>>
This is an important conclusion for finding a way to overcome the conceptual and paradigm crisis of the metaphysical / ontological basis of fundamental science, which manifests itself as a "crisis of understanding" ("J. Horgan "The End of Science", Kopeikin K.V. "Souls" of atoms and "atoms "of the soul : Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, Carl Gustav Jung and "three great problems of physics"), "crisis of interpretation and representation" (Romanovskaya T.B. "Modern physics and contemporary art - parallels of style" ), "loss of certainty" (Kline M. "Mathematics: Loss of Certainty"), "trouble with physics" (Lee Smolin "Trouble with Physics").
But I suppose, in search of "more flexible footing" and a more solid basis, one must turn to the good old dialectic and ontology. Only new breakthrough ideas are needed, taking into account the development of science and problems in the foundations of "fundamental science", helping to build a New Expanded Ideality - an ontological basis of knowledge: ontological framework, carcass, foundation.
<<In other words, our competence in navigating the world seems to presuppose comprehension of its workings.>>
Understanding is "events of grasping the structure" (G. Gutner "Ontology of Mathematical Discourse"). So we need to grasping the "structure" (super-structure, primordial generating structure). It suffices here to recall the whole story of the "hundred-year-old beard" - the foundations of mathematics.
The construction of an ontologically substantiated "Primordial Generating Structure" is relevant both for mathematics, physics and cosmology (the structure of the "physical /metaphysical first-beginning").
N. Bourbaki has a good idea of "les structures mère". But they do not give a single "La Structure mère". When constructing the "first-beginning" as an ontological holistic first process, we need a methodology for the dialectical-ontological construction and representation the "first-beginning" in a mathematical symbol.
Next you write:
<<We've already encountered a few hints to guide us: if science no longer allows us to view nature uncovered, it can still aid us in finding the best way to engage, to interface with it; if we can't look down to ever more simple fundamental atoms, we can instead turn our gaze upwards, at the whole instead of the parts; if there is no single, all-encompassing story to be told, we can instead learn to appreciate the plenitude and diversity of this glittering jewel of perspectives. >>
I believe that it is necessary to go immediately both "up" and "down" to the most remote semantically distinguishable depths of the existence of the Universe as an eternal holistic process of generating more and more new meanings, forms and structures (material and ideal).
First of all, Heraclitus, Plato, Cusa, Galileo, Whitehead, Einstein, Wheeler, Florensky give us hints for building a new ontological basis of knowledge.
John A. Wheeler: “We are no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself."
A.N. Whitehead: “A precise language must await a completed metaphysical knowledge.”
To understand the EXISTENCE itself means to "grasp" (understand) the nature of the primordial TENSION of the Cosmos. And for this it is necessary to "grasp" the primordial ontological structure of matter. That is, to build a model "being-nothing/other-being-becoming" and introduce a new concept, the semantic core of the model - ontological (structural, cosmic) memory, "soul of matter", its measure.
A. Einstein “I like to experience the universe as one harmonious whole. Every cell has life. Matter, too, has life; it is energy solidified."
P. Florensky: “We repeat: worldunderstanding is spaceunderstanding."
In a word, in order to overcome the conceptual - paradigmatic crisis of the metaphysical basis of fundamental science, a Big Ontological revolution is needed. But who wants it?