Unit 1: History of the Life Sciences and Philosophical Anthropology
Professor Dr. Christina Brandt
This research group focuses on historical transformations of anthropological knowledge that developed at the intersection of life sciences, philosophical reflections and cultural contexts. From Darwinian evolutionary theories to very recent cloning research, life sciences have challenged our notions of ‘what it means to be human’ in radical ways and in a variety of modes. This project examines the dynamics of how knowledge about ‘the human’ was produced and became circulated in late 19th and 20th century research areas such as reproduction and heredity research, medicine and physiology, modern genomics and gene technologies. Our research addresses historical as well as epistemological questions: We explore the historical conditions of conceptual and practical shifts in life sciences, and we are interested in understanding epistemic processes, i.e. the dynamics of scientific changes and the epistemic role of metaphors, research models, concepts and visualizations in generating and distributing knowledge. In addition, cultural dimensions are explored by tracing the historical and contemporary transfers of anthropological knowledge across science and humanities and across cultures and societies. With the latter, a major aim is to open up new perspectives on the history of philosophical anthropology.