literature, cultural history, philosophy of science
Christinenstraße 18-19, Haus 8
This project examines the relation, in various experimental doctrines (Experimentallehren) around 1800, of meditative/‘first-personal’ and demonstrative/impersonal perspectives. The guiding hypothesis is that if ‘research’ (which Heidegger correctly grasped as the essence of what is still called science) is comprehended in this way as a bipolar ‘machine’ in which ascetic-liturgical and demonstrative-doctrinal schemas intersect and struggle, what may come to light is an intricate entanglement (perhaps even a more-or-less secret solidarity) between soteriological and epistemological economies in the modern age.
Cognition/Volition: Two Figures of the Human in the Age of Experimental Systems
This research adopted the multistable figure as a potential model for the complex relationship (more an unmediated exposure than a mediated antagonism) between two co-existing aspects of human subjectivity in modern society. Taking the dawn of bioscience in the 1790s as the crucible of a particular knowledge/power configuration that continues to determine the present, the project attempted critically to reconstruct a bifurcation and 'instrumentalization' of the human subject within the mode of epistemic production dominant in capitalist society: experimental systems. It drew on the work of Latour and Rheinberger, while developing the genealogical analyses of Foucault and Agamben, to elaborate the co-evolution of an experimentalization of knowledge and a governmentalization of power in modern society. Combining empirical investigations of 18th-century laboratory life with theoretical analysis of self-organization (drawing particularly on Hegel), the aim was to expose a split and a tension, especially discernible at this time, between the substance and function of the living human subject.