Integrative biophilosophy

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The role of music-theoretical concepts for the study of organic nature in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Project management: Dr. Carsten Kries

Project description:

According to Helmuth Plessner, research on the organic - compared to a physically oriented approach to the living - points to a "plus of that enigmatic quality of life". In connection with this insight, scientific research and natural philosophy have developed some complex approaches to make this plus of the organic scientifically tangible, or to get it into view as the living in the first place. For this we find in the philosophy of nature and biophilosophy of the late 19th and early 20th century isolated approaches and hints of the attempt to make a music-oriented thinking / music-theoretical concepts usable for the research and the understanding of the living. Approaches to this were already provided by metaphysical systems, such as that of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), but also by considerations oriented to concrete biological research, such as those of Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) and Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944). Moreover, such reflections also play a role in specific philosophical disciplines, such as philosophical anthropology, where the work of Helmuth Plessner (1892-1985) is particularly noteworthy. At present, however, one can by no means speak of a predominantly closed research program or a current of natural philosophical reflection on the organic with the help of "musical thinking" or even the establishment of an instrumentarium borrowed from music for the study of organic nature.

Against this outlined background, the task of my present research project is to examine in particular natural philosophy (with emphasis on the 2nd half of the 19th and the 1st half of the 20th century) with regard to the above-mentioned music-oriented research approaches and reflection concepts; i.e., to collect, analyze, and arrange such attempts and thus to make recognizable a comprehensive picture of this highly interesting approach for a research field that is undoubtedly also at present still largely unworked but fruitful.