Integrative Biophilosophy

Biophilosophy: Constellations and Signatures

Biophilosophy: Constellations and Signatures

Prof. Dr. Dr. Kristian Köchy

The project seeks to reconstruct the complex network of biophilosophy at the beginning of the 20th century in selected references. The aim is both to show the close relationships between philosophical and biological positions, persons and problems (constellations) and to determine the complex inner structure of the respective research programs in their characteristic core elements (signatures). The project has been implemented so far on certain constellations and signatures as selected threads of the network.

Selected Publications

Köchy (2022) Biologie als verstehende Wissenschaft. Zur Rezeption von Goethes Morphologie in Kurt Goldsteins ‚Der Aufbau des Organismus‘, in: R. Becker, S. Freyberg, R. Müller, T. Reinhardt, M. van Vliet, & M. Wunsch (Hg.), Morphologie als Paradigma in den Wissenschaften. Beiheft 3, Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, 251-281.

Michelini, F. and K. Köchy, (2020), Jakob von Uexküll and Philosophy. Life, Environments, Anthropology. New York: Routledge, see

Köchy (2018) Von der Ökologie der Forschung zu Forschungsumwelten. Bedingungen und Möglichkeiten einer erweiterten Lesart der Wechselbeziehung zwischen Forschenden und ihren ‚Forschungsgegenständen‘ in der Tierforschung, in: M. Wunsch, M. Böhnert, K. Köchy (Hg.), Philosophie der Tierforschung, Band 3, Milieus und Akteure, Freiburg/München: Verlag Karl Alber, 25-92, see

Köchy (2016a) ‚Scientist in Action‘. Jean Henri Fabres Forschungsprogramm, in: M. Böhnert, K. Köchy, M. Wunsch (Hg.), Philosophie der Tierforschung, Band 1: Methoden und Programme, Freiburg/München: Verlag Karl Alber, 81-148, see

Köchy (2016b) Organismen und Maschinen. Das historische Fallbeispiel der Debatte von Plessner, Driesch und Köhler, in: G. Toepfer, F. Michelini (Hg.), Organismen. Die Erklärung der Lebendigkeit, Freiburg/München: Verlag Karl Alber, 163-188, see

Köchy (2015) Plessners Biophilosophie als Erweiterung des Uexküll-Programms, in: K. Köchy, F. Michelini (Hg.), Zwischen den Kulturen. Plessners Stufen des Organischen im zeithistorischen Kontext, Freiburg/München: Verlag Karl Alber, 25-64, see

Köchy (2010) Vielfalt der Wissenschaften bei Carnap, Lewin und Fleck. Zur Entwicklung eines pluralen Wissenschaftskonzepts, in: Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 33 (1), 2010, 54-80. DOI: 10.1002/bewi.201001450

Book: Soulful Animals

The individual studies form the basis for a greater study currently in print: Beseelte Tiere. Netzwerke und Umwelten der Tierpsychologie. (Soulful Animals. Networks and Environments of Comparative Psychology)

Comparative Psychology („Tierpsychologie“) at the beginning of the 20th century is a prominent research direction between biology, psychology and philosophy. It inquires about psychic capacities of animals. In essay-like studies on well-known protagonists, the book presents research contexts of animal psychology. A series of works on researchers such as Henri Bergson, Jean-Henri Fabre, Jakob von Uexküll, Helmuth Plessner, Frederik Buytendijk, Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Lewin and Kurt Goldstein are collected.

All of the selected positions understand human perception as gestalt as the research subjects, the animals in their environments. The book examines historical relations of philosophy and science, but also outlines an independent philosophy of animal research that recognizes the interaction of human and animal subjects.

The thematic fields examined in the chapters of the book form selected nodes of a network of relationships and are interconnected in many ways. The aim is to reflect these lines of connection between actors, issues, methods, disciplines, situations, and beliefs in their context. To this end, the book focuses on selected strands of this network. It should also be noted that the impression that the focus on researching people is at the same time an anthropocentric point of view limited to human beings would be deceptive. On the contrary, the presentation purposefully deviates from the anthropocentric pattern. In each chapter, the focus is not on the human researcher personality, but on the context, the field in which he or she operates. This field is traced into its multiple filiations. In the process, the animals become visible as actors in the field. They become protagonists of the practical research and theoretical excursions. Köhler's chimpanzees on Tenerife belong to the network of animal psychology, as do Kluge Hans, Fabre's sand wasps, Uexküll's sea urchin, Buytendijk's toad, or Volkelt's spider.