Basic Theory of
Human Sciences
The notes about the slides can be read and printed after the download of the pdf-file.
Encyclopedic definition:
“Framework of reference, which demonstrates
the associations between disciplines.”
This fundamental knowledge helps to structure
interdisciplinary discussions, teaching and
research.
“A huge crowd of brain researchers work like ants on a gigantic brain: This is the view of the
graphic designer Uwe Brandi from Göttingen, about how scientists trye to unravel details of the
thinking organ. But how do the details fit together in a realistic way?”
© Uwe Brandi, drawing and text from: GEO-Wissen Nr. 1, page 31, 1987.
Multidisciplinarity
in the Human Sciences
 Can we structure interdisciplinarity in the
human sciences?
 Which knowledge is the foundation for which
speciality?
 Which concepts are a basic prerequisite for the
discussion of these questions?
 What are the minimum requirements for a
theory of human sciences?
3
Basic Concepts and Realm of the Discussion
• If one applies a matrix with the four central questions
of biological research (causation, ontogeny, adaptation,
phylogeny) and considers the different levels of inquiry
(e.g. molecule, cell, organ, individual), then the
interdisciplinary dimension of a topic becomes evident.
• Theory of central questions: slides 7-21, • Theory of levels of inquiry: 22-26
• The colored concepts are at least 150 years old
(questions e.g.: B.de Maillet, Ch.Darwin, K.Lorenz, N.Tinbergen).
•–Central questions and levels of inquiry are the
1. “smallest common transdisciplinary denominator” and
2. basis for the development of an interdisciplinary consensus.
4
The Periodic Table of Human Sciences
Table 1
Causation
Ontogeny
Adaptation
Phylogeny
Molecule
Cell
Organ
Individual
Group
Society
In this basic framework, all Human Sciences can be allocated:
Disciplines
(next slide, paragraph C), their
Questions
(paragraph A) and
Results
(paragraph B).
The questions and planes in italics are also the subject of the
humanities.
5
Table 2
Questions concerning proximate causes
Questions concerning ultimate causes
(1) Causation
(2) Ontogeny
(3) A d a p t a t i o n
(a) ecological
(b) within species
(4)Phylogeny
(A)
Examples if
ethological
inquiry and
associated
disciplines
How do behavior and psyche „function“ on the
molecular, physiological, neuroethological, cognitive
and social level - and
Which developmental steps and which
environmental factors play when /
which role? I.e.:
How do specific faculties of perception, subjective
internal mentation, learning and behavior benefit
the performer? E.g.:
Why did structural associations evolve in
this manner and not otherwise?
Specifically:
• what do the relations between the levels look like?
• How are genetically programmed behavior patterns
[e.g. "instinctive" drives and inhibitions], learning,
intellect and culture, as well as ability, volition and
conscience entwined with one another and
• are there differences dependent on the species, age,
gender and behavioral realm?
• How do perception, subjective internal mentation and
behavior correspond with the environment?
• What are the ontogenetic bases of
behavior and learning? E.g.:
Which effect have
• hormones and • reafferences for
• maturing processes and
• imprinting-like steps?
• How are instincts and learning
intertwined with one another?
• What is learned?
What are the costs, what the benefits of a behavior
pattern - e.g. (a: ecological; b: intraspecific):
(a) • concerning caloric (b) • in relation to familial
intake and
proximity and
• energy expended?
• social attractiveness?
• Which evolutionary alterations occured in
persistent phylogenetically earlier traits, caused by
the selective pressure of more recent behavior
patterns?
• Which behavior was a prerequisite of
which new form?
• What consequences do older traits have
for further developments - e.g. for
• synergy and antagonism in hormones
and transmitters,
• neuroanatomical structures and
• behavioral traits? (space-time-structure)
• Which traits are homologous and which
analogous?
(B)
Examples
of behavior
• Endorphine level rise during grooming in enactor and
recipient.
• Expression: emotion - enactor - recipient relations.
• Friendly behavior patterns are adversaries of
aggression, they can be furthered culturally.
Unattractive bahavior patterns such as wanton
aggression can be culturally inhibited..
• Children recognize themselves in a
mirror at 20 months of age. This is one
of the foundations of social cognition,
for example of being able to take
another‘s perspective as a prerequisite
for cognitive altruism and cognitive
cooperation
• Social bonding is
advantageous for
• protection against
predators,,
• collective hunting,
• building larger
structures..
• Parental care and mother-child bond
were phylogenetic preconditions for
social bonds. Within this development in
addition to their original function,
elements of brood behavior became
elements of social behavior, e.g. kissing
& billing, and grooming & preening.
(C) Level
of inquiry
(e.g.: atom,
molecule,
cell, tissue,
organ,
individual,
group,
society)
with
examples
of scientific
disciplines
atom, molecule: Biochemistry,
cell, organ: Neurophysiology, Neurobiology,
organ, individual: Neuroethology, N.-psychology,
Neurology, Behavioral Physiology, B.-Genetics,
B.-Endocrinology, B.-immunology, Chronobiology, Psychosomatology, Psychiatry,
Ind, Gr: Human Ethology, Soziobiology, Behavioral
Ecology, Psychology, Pedagogy, Psychotherapeutic Theories, Earliest History,
Ges: Sociology, Law, Political Science, Economics,
History, Cultural Sciences, Arts
• Friendly behavior helps
to develop and maintain
bonds as a basis for
reciprocal support, e.g.
during parental care and
aggressive interactions
cell, organ: Neuro-biology,
organ, individual: Neuro-ethology,
organ, individual: DevelopmentalNeurology, Neurobiology,
Ind, Gr: Human Ethology,
Developmental Psychology,
Psychotherapeutic Theories
individual, group:
Human Ethology,
Behavioral
Ecology,
Socioekology.
individual, group:
Human Ethology,
Soziobiology
individual, group: Human Ethology
The first three lines in red italics of paragraph A / columns 1-4 are mutatis mutandis applicable to (all “life
sciences” e.g.) morphology, psychology, social and cultural sciences. In the following slides the rectangles to
the central questions and the paragraphs A and B will be shown in readable size.
6
Biology as the Guiding Discipline for
the Human Sciences
The questions for ontogeny and causation are
summarized as questions for the proximate causes.
These questions are similar to those of Physics and
Chemistry.
Physics and Chemistry are guiding disciplines for
(Behavioral) Biology.
(see e.g. N. Hartmann/slide 24)
7
Biology as the Guiding Discipline for
the Human Sciences
The questions for phylogeny and adaptation of
behavioral traits are summarized in Ethology as
questions for the ultimate causes.
These questions are characteristic for Biology,
because only in nature on the strata of living
matter phylogenetically grown phenomenons are
observable: This holds true for programs of
functioning, construction plans and their
adaptive value.
8
Phylogeny
(A) Examples
of ethological
inquiry and
associated
disciplines
Why did structural associations
evolve in this manner and not
otherwise? Specifically:
 Which behavior was a prerequisite
of which new form of behavior?
9
Young Tupajas lick the
saliva of their mother,
possibly to take in
liquid and Immunglobulines
before
enough
milk
is
produced (D.v. Holst).
This behavior might
have been a precondition
of
the
bonding
behavior
among adult pairs (i.e.
brood provisioning was
a
precondition
of
bonding, love and
reciprocal altruism; cf.:
Why do Tupajas show their „affection“ grooming)
10
in this manner and not otherwise?
•
© Photos: Dietrich von Holst, University Bayreuth.
Phylogeny
• Phylogenetic similarities (homologies) can
only be reconstructed by behavioral observations only concerning smaller taxonomic
entities, e.g. orders, families and genus;
• Behavioral phylogeny concerning great
systematics remains hypothetical.
11
Phylogeny
(B) Examples Concerning great systematics hypotheses exist
for:
of behavior
1. Cognitive aspects (Lorenz, Medicus)
• Evol. Epistemology, • Theory of Culture, • Freedom
2. Gender differences (Medicus & Hopf)
3. Dealing with resources and possession
(Hammerstein, Kummer, Medicus)
4. Roots of humanity (Bischof, Eibl-Eibesfeldt,
Medicus)
When investigating single faculties by comparing the behavior
of different species, their connections with the rest of abilities
is worth to be considered (e.g. preconditions, cognitive abilities).
Reconstruction of behavioral phylogeny concerning great
systematics can be a guiding support.
(see also Biogenetic Rule/slide 17, 18).
12
Phylogeny
(B) Examples
of behavior
• Reciprocal altruism (on an
instinctive basis) can only be
observed in species, which show
parental brood provisioning (or
which has been shown by their
ancestors).
[*cognitive altruism can only be
observed in apes and humans]
13
Adaptation
a: ecological
(A) Examples of
ethological
inquiry and
associated
disciplines
 b: intraspecific
How do specific faculties of perception, subjective
internal cognition, learning and behavior benefit the
performer? E.g.:
What are the costs, what the benefit of a behavior for example (a/b)
 (a) concerning caloric-  (b) in relation to familial
intake and
proximity and
 energy expended?
 social attractiveness?
14
Adaptation
a: ecological
(A) Examples of
ethological
inquiry and
associated
disciplines
 b: intraspecific
How do specific faculties of perception, subjective
internal cognition, learning and behavior benefit the
performer? E.g.:
What are the costs, what the benefit of a behavior for example (a/b)
 (a) concerning caloric-  (b) in relation to familial
intake and
proximity and
 energy expended?
 social attractiveness?
15
Ontogeny
(A) Inquiry
Which (a) developmental steps and
which (b) environmental factors play
when / which role? I.e.:
(B) Examples
of behavior
 ad (a) e.g.: implications of age at the
onset of puberty.
 ad (b) e.g.: implications of age and
nature of the partner at the first sexual
experiences.
16
The “Biogenetic Rule” Has No Relevance for
Behavioral Ontogeny for the Following Reasons:
1. Morphological ontogeny recapitulates
phylogenetically “antiquated” traits [mostly] not
because of their original function as environmental
adaptation, but because of their phylogenetically
younger inductive function during embryogenesis
(i.e. adaptation within the organism).
Is there an evidence for “antiquated” behavioral
traits as an adaptation within the organism?
What should these “antiquated” traits be good for?
17
The “Biogenetic Rule” Has No Relevance for
Behavioral Ontogeny for the Following Reasons:
2. After the morphological development of the
nervous system according to the biogenetic rule,
a chronologically shifted second period of
behavioral development is most unlikely, again
according to this rule.
18
Causation
(A) Examples
of ethological
inquiry and
associated
disciplines
How do behavior and psyche
“function” on the molecular,
physiological, neuroethological,
cognitive and social level?
19
Causation
(B) Example of • Endorphine levels rise during
behavior
grooming in the enactor and the
recipient.
• Friendly behavior patterns are
adversaries [= antagonists] of
aggression, they can be furthered
culturally.
Unattractive behavior patterns such
as wanton aggression can be
culturally inhibited.
[= in part „instinct/culture-intercalations“].
20
Causation
(A) Examples
of ethological
inquiry and
associated
disciplines
How do behavior and psyche
“function” on the molecular,
physiological, neuro-ethological,
cognitive, and social level - and
 what do the relations between the
levels look like? (cf. next slide)
21
Level of Inquiry / Complexity
We categorize
to be able to grasp
the complexity of the world.
22
When R. Riedl
assigned disciplines
to the levels of
reference, he did not
take the aspects of
basic questions into
consideration in his
illustrations. His
achievement was to
elucidate the
connections between
the basic causes of
Aristotle with the
levels of complexity.
The Aristotelian causes
can be assigned to the
four basic questions.
23
The Laws about the Levels of Complexity
by Nicolai Hartmann (1964, 3rd edition, p 432)
1 Law of Recurrence: Lower categories recur in the higher levels as a
subaspects of higher categories, ... but never vice versa.
2 Law of Modification: The categorial elements modify during their
recurrence in the higher levels (they are shaped by the
characterstics of the higher levels).
3 Law of the Novum: ... [the] higher category ... [is] composed of a
diversity of lower elements, [it] contains a specific novum, ...
which is ... [not] ... included in the lower levels... .
4 Law of Distance between Levels: The different levels do not
develop continuously, but in leaps. [The levels can be clearly
differentiated.]
24
Reference Level
Especially when studying the proximate causes, the
“basal“
reference
levels
are
a
prerequisite
for
understanding the “higher“ levels.
This results in the connection of the mentioned guiding
disciplines.
However, knowledge of the laws of the basal levels alone
(e.g. of cell physiology) is insufficient for understanding
complex behavioral patterns or a personal experience.
The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
25
Each Reference Level is in
Principle Equally Important.
In reality different “ratings“ (or
valuations) of levels and disciplines
arise.
26
Terminology and Level
of Reference
Many concepts and terms are only useful
within specific levels of reference and cause
confusion, if they are used on the wrong
level of reference.
27
Attribution of Freedoms in the
Transdisciplinary Dialogue
• It is noteworthy how the notions of freedom differ, depending
on which reference level is at the center of attention; for
instance, the relatively deterministic ideas of many
neurophysiologists and neurobiologists are difficult to
reconcile with those of psychologists and sociologists, who
usually are willing to “grant” us more freedom.
• Every reference level has (as novum) its own regularities and
degrees of freedom which are not necessarily deducible from
the more basal ones.
• From an evolutionary perspective, accomplishments are made
in the process of higher development, which open up new
freedoms.
28
On the causation of the devided faculties
The way from external reality to internal
mentation is not directly verifiable.
The fact is depicted in the body-soul-problem and
the separation of natural scientific anthropology
and the humanities.
The separation has methodical-theoretical
consequences, e.g. concerning the relation
between empiry und theory.
29
Guiding Framework of the
Theory of Human Sciences
Table 1
Causation
Ontogeny
Adaptation
Phylogeny
Molecule
Cell
Organ
Individual
Group
Society
With the help of this survey questions can be asked
concerning specific problems.
The survey shall encourage one to overcome
traditional borders between disciplines and to help
make trans-facultar information flow easier.
30
“Hardness” (accuracy) of Data and Theories
• Principally it behooves us to confirm and to consider
data and theories as well as possible.
• Reproducibility, counterhypotheses, statistical aspects,
and consistency with the results of neighboring
disciplines play an important role here.
• Data and theories can show varying degrees of
“hardness” according to the field of focus in the
structural model (Table 1). The varying degrees of
“hardness” are yielded by the variously complex
diversities, e.g. depending on the reference level being
examined (cell, organ, individual, group).
31
examples of epistemological
positions
useful and/or necessary
e.g. in the following realms
1: only conclusive arguments and uncompromising demands on certainty
are relevant (theoretical rationality)
Logic, Mathematics
2: practical rationality: compromises
between theory & empiricism; the
purpose: factual representation of ideas
Natural Sciences,
basic knowledge of
e.g. Medicine and Technology
3: practical rationality of applied
sciences:
what works is true
theoretically insufficient, but conc.
application sufficently established
fields of Medicine and Technology
4: belief in religious myths, which
principally can often not be falsified
contributions to morals and ethics
examples can be found in all religions animistic, mono- und polytheistic
ad 1-3: Different epistemological positions - dependent on the field of research have certain advantages and disadvantages attached to them.
consequences of transfacultary different evaluations of
theory and empiricism, theoretical and practical rationality
If attempts are made to understand the world without empiricism, the only measure of
similarity between ideas and
reality are (logical) consistency
and ones own assessment.
- the value of the explanation can
thus be poor.
Natural science persistently uses
contradictions between theory and
empiricism and on the basis of analyses,
can explain more and more details about
ever decreasing realms of the world
- for the price of an overall view
Two extreme views:
Good science lies between theory
and empiricism.
Because of this conflict their
compromise and recipe for success:
as little speculation and fiction, and
as much consistency and certainty
as possible.
1. Too high a demand on
consistency and certainty
of individual scientists and
2. clairvoyants´&
superstitious people´s fiction
fiktions, which can not be used as working hypothesis
„... not to see the wood for the trees“
regarding the interfacultary barriers
• psychological barriers & defence mechanisms
according to Kuhn outdated paradigms are used to controvert
newer ones
• how are contradictions managed institutionally?
– group dynamics within institutions and scientific societies are
similar to those of tribal societies (conc. interrelational work as
well as the pressure of conformance conc. the ruling paradigm)
– scientists between the faculties are social „outsiders“
• scientifically political shortages
– transfacultary identification of basic knowledge and its imparting
are not institutionalized
– staff savings despite an explosion of knowledge
34
Summary: Examples of corner stones,
structuring transdisciplinarity
 Periodic
 rules
Table of Human Sciences,
of the Levels of Complexity (N. Hartmann),
 causations
of Divided Faculties
(body-soul-problem),
Dia 05
Dia 24
Dia 29
 parallels
between Expectation / Experience (Karl Popper)
Mutation / Selection
Theory / Experience (Empiricism)
 different approaches to Certainty,
Dia 32
 Naturalistic
and Moralistic Fallacies
35
Everyone of us resembles one of these
partially sighted persons: Transdisciplinary
“nobody exists, who corresponds with the ...
‚seeing person‘, who ... keeps track.“
Basic questions and
reference levels can
be a “seeing aid“.
36
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