Program Area Knowledge of Life

Reading and thinking have always been means to some end. These skills were believed to be vital to both the lives of individuals and collective bodies, such as nations. The idea that the arts produce and transmit knowledge relevant to life can be traced throughout history from notions of education during Antiquity to the modern Bildungsroman and into the concept of national literatures and cultures. But this conviction is faltering as the natural sciences now address subjects which according to the idea of “two cultures” were once the exclusive domain of the Humanities dealing with subjects that used to pertain solely to the humanities (e.g., the definition of free will). Moreover, modern technology constantly generates new kinds of applied knowledge which erode the distinction of living and non-living as well as nature and culture. The program area operates within the context of the challenges posed to the “two cultures” model. Its interdisciplinary projects engage with the field of biology in particular as the leading science of life. Without ignoring the logic and traditions of specific disciplines or flattening them into a single, shapeless concept of culture, our research takes on the task of investigating how natural objects, artifacts, organisms, and human beings can be studied within a shared framework.

Current Research Projects

Projects of this program area, completed or processed in the past

(selected, chronologically sorted by year of completion)