How do you interact with nature

Human-nature as a world of interaction

Anchor: title | Contents sketch | Seminar goals | Registration | Recommended reading | Seminar schedule |
Seminar: Man-nature as a world of interactionSketch of contents The seminar "Man-nature as a world of interaction" is a continuation of the seminar "The conception of nature" (WS 2014/15). At that time we worked on relevant texts from the period from antiquity to Modern central concepts of nature. The starting point was Hegel's important consideration at the beginning of his natural philosophy, according to which our attitude to nature oscillates between the extremes of purely theoretical understanding and purely practical intervention. This semester's seminar starts with this thought figure. More precisely: We will receive and analyze texts that focus on the idea that our understanding of ourselves and the world largely depends on realized interactions.

Restricted to the human-nature relationship, this means two things: First, the content of the terms "human" and "nature" depends on the corresponding human-nature interactions. Second, it follows from the coupling of the conceptual contents to interactions that vary in space and time that the associated meanings are further multiplied or differentiated with each new type of interaction. The field of meanings of self and nature is generated from the multitude of types of interaction. The investigation of this procedural genesis of conceptual meanings is the first objective of the seminar. The second arises from the fact that the types of interaction can be mapped to corresponding behaviors, which in turn imply certain normative attitudes towards nature and towards ourselves as humans. This implicit normativity of interactions should be exposed in the seminar.

The two objectives can also be paraphrased as follows: In the seminar we will try to survey the "grammar of human-nature interactions" both along the cognitive-constitutive dimension and along the action-normative dimension. All interested students are cordially invited. Seminar goals

The seminar “Human-Nature as Interaction” is a research seminar, the basic objective of which has already been described in the content sketch above: the reception of texts in which the approach is worked out that the knowledge of the world and the self as well as that of the possible ethically relevant relationships between self and world based on the realized interactions. With a focus on natural philosophy and environmental ethics, texts should be read in which the questions:

  1. What is nature
  2. What value do we attach to this nature - as the environment that surrounds us and essentially also determines it?

be answered with reference to the interaction between humans and nature. In simple words: How and what we recognize as nature, what moral value we assign to it, depends on what practical references are made to it as an environment.
This thesis still needs to be explained in many respects. Important concepts remain unexplained at this point and are initially used in their everyday meanings. With critical intent one would have to ask, for example:

  • What meanings do humans and nature have to have so that both can be placed in a relational relationship?
  • In this context, how far does the differentiation of the term nature (as the totality of living things) and environment (as the totality of all inorganic aspects of material), which is often encountered in environmental science discourse, carry?
  • There is talk of both interactions and practical references. Does this mean willful actions or a willless, even unconscious behavior?
  • Isn't this approach fundamentally anthropocentric because of its subject-centered (epistemological) approach?
  • If the concept of value is not problematic in itself: What ethically relevant value could be assigned to nature from such a quasi-anthropocentric perspective, if not an inferiority compared to humans as the actual source of the attribution?

In order to be able to answer these and other questions, we will make use of a classic philosophical working technique in the course of the seminar by looking back into the history of philosophy and critically analyzing an influential philosophy in which the human-nature interaction plays a central role: namely constructivism , especially radical constructivism. Further information can be found in the lesson letter for the introductory seminar session on October 27, 2015 (see seminar schedule).

Registration Two steps are necessary to take part in the seminar:
  • Please register for the OLAT course of the same name. Enrollment in the OLAT course is mandatory for participating in the seminar.
  • Please write a short interpretation of a film excerpt from "Tree of Life" against the background of the seminar description. You can find this on YouTube or in the OLAT course.
    You can use the literature mentioned in preparation as a basis, but of course you can also do your own research. The text should be at least 600 words but not more than 1000 words.
    Please send your interpretation to my business e-mail address by October 30th, 2015 with the subject "Mensch-Natur". Submitting the interpretation is the first of the conditions that must be met for successful participation.
Recommended reading as of October 12, 2015
  • Fritz B. Simon (2006): Introduction to Systems Theory and Constructivism. 7th edition Heidelberg: Carl-Auer Verlag (2015)
  • Ulf Dettmann (1999): Radical Constructivism. Tübingen: J.C.B. Moor
  • Peter M. Hejl et al., Ed. (1992): Introduction to Constructivism. 14th edition Munich: Piper Verlag (2014)
  • Siegfried J. Schmidt, Ed. (1992): Cognition and Society. The discourse of radical constructivism 2. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag
  • Gregory Bateson (1987): Mind and Nature. A necessary unit. 10th edition Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp (2014)
  • Humberto R. Maturana et al. (1987): The Tree of Knowledge. The biological roots of human knowledge. 6th edition Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch (2015)
  • Siegfried J. Schmidt, Ed. (1987): The discourse of radical constructivism. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1830): Complete Works (TW). Newly edited edition based on “der Werke”, edited by Eva Moldenhauer and Karl Markus Michel. Vol. 9: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline. Second part. The natural philosophy. Frankfurt a. M .: Suhrkamp
Seminar schedule Here you will find the updated seminar schedule up to the next meeting (the preliminary overall schedule is contained in lesson S01). To prepare for the individual sessions, you should read the short lesson units with orientation tasks and recommended literature. To do this, click on the respective download link in brackets. The lesson PDFs are in an eBook-friendly A5 format. The first lesson will be published on October 13, 2015. The bibliography is continuously expanded and can be found at the end of the most recent lesson unit.
  1. | October 27, 2015 - Introductory event (lesson S01): Information on the performance requirements, the event topic and the seminar schedule
  2. | November 3rd, 2015 - Introduction to Radical Constructivism (Lesson S02): Knowledge of reality as a continually dynamic process
  3. | 11/10/2015 - Classification in the history of philosophy (lesson S03): Overview of the constructivist currents and their anchor points in the history of philosophy
  4. | 11/17/2015 - Classification in the history of philosophy (Lesson S04): Developmental psychological roots of constructivism. Piaget's parallel between epistemology and organism-environment interaction
  5. | 11/24/2015 - The problem of cognition (Lesson S05): Foerster's cognitive science justification of radical constructivism
  6. | 01.12.2015 - Philosophical foundations of constructivism (Lesson S06): observation operation, autopoiesis
  7. | 07.12.2015 - Empirical questionability of radical constructivism (lesson S07): Justification of informational unity
  8. | 14.12.2015 - Radical-constructivist ethics (Lesson S08): Self-reflexivity and freedom
  9. | January 12th, 2016 - Radical-constructivist communication theory (lesson S09): Communication as a subtype of interaction
  10. | January 19, 2016 - Criticism of Constructivism (Lesson S10): Critical points and their replies
  11. | 01/26/2016 - Metaphysics of Constructivism (Lesson S11): Implicit normative principles
  12. | 02.02.2016 - Synopsis I (Lesson S12): Critical overview of the RK
  13. | 02/09/2016 - Synopsis II (Lesson S13): Inner contradictions of the radical-constructivist concept of ethics