What is the human person? Perspectives for an interdisciplinary, modern anthropology
The first three years of the Frankfurt Templeton Research Lectures were a great success. New perspectives and approaches with regards to the question What is the human person? were elaborated by different biological fields in cooperation with philosophy and theology. In total many thousand participants attended the local events, our website had several ten thousand viewers and we were represented in all mediatic fields including televison, radio and print media on numerous occasions.
This means that, next to the invaluable insights that modern natural sciences provide and which must be taken into account, other essential characteristics of the human person must also be incorporated in such a conception:
The discussions on consciousness and evolution set the agenda for a modern anthropology and therefore suggest themselves as the epicentre of an anthropological outline. The concept of consciousness is being explored in an interdisciplinary discourse which is one of the most-observed both in science and in society. Neurobiology, psychology and medicine are supplying important insights and findings that have an effect on the classical ideas of humanity such as freedom of will, concept of person, self and consciousness of self among others. Whether a human is in principle a self-governed acting subject or whether consciousness for example is nothing but an epiphenomenon is decided here. What is interesting to notice is that the deficiencies of reductionist approaches are becoming increasingly apparent within the consciousness debate and therefore a new framework for anthropology is needed.
Today the following questions also play an essential role for this mentioned framwork:
- Which scientific findings point to a creative cosmos?
- What is man’s position within this creative cosmos?
- Where can the different dimensions of human existence be placed within it?
- What does religion contribute to an anthropology in this context?
A modern anthropology therefore must encompass both scientific results and religious perspectives – at least as possible aspects of humanity.
It is for this purpose that we hope to head a fourth year in Templeton-Lectures with two interdisciplinary, intercultural and internationally renowned scholars: Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Günter Rager and Prof. Dr. Michael von Brück.
Next to the lectures themselves numerous conferences and workshops adressing different aspects and requirements of a modern anthropology, will enrich the programme with topics such as “Concepts on consciousness in religions”, “Life World and Scientific Perspective”, “What can quantum physics contribute to the modern image of world and mankind?”.
This enterprise is intended to be conducted in cooperation with the prestigious and highly competitive Dilthey-Fellowship “Das Rätsel des Bewusstsein. Auf der Suche nach einer integralen Theorie” (“The Puzzle of Consciousness. In Search of an Integral Theory”) which Dr. Tobias Müller received.
Against this backdrop the fourth year of the Frankfurt Templeton-Research-Lectures is designed to answer the ethically, politically and philosphically highly relevant question “What is the human person?” in an interdisciplinary and intercultural fashion, under today’s considerations.
Günter Rager studied medicine (major fields of study: neuroscience and embryology) and philosophy in Erlangen, Tübingen, Göttingen and Zurich. He earned his doctorates in philosophy focussing on Indian philosophy and in medicine. He was appointed professor and director of the Institute for Anatomy and Special Embryology of the University of Fribourg, where he was active for many years. Initially at the Institute of Anatomy in Göttingen, later at the Max-Planck-Insitute for Biophysical Chemistry also in Göttingen, he developed his highly successful research in both his fields of specialisation, embryology and neuroscience. Next to this he published numerous writings on questions transcending the boundaries of natural sciences and philosophy (amongst others on the concept of person). The scientific work of Günter Rager was recognised through many appointments to scientific institutions and committees. Between 1983 and 1986 he was president of the Swiss Society for Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, since 1998 he is director of the Institute of the Görres Society for Interdisciplinary Research. Other memberships include the senate of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, the Académie Internationale the Philosophie des Sciences, until recently the Swiss Medical Inter-Faculty Commission, as well as other scientific associations. In 2005 Rager received an honorary doctorate in Catholic theology.
Michael von Brück studied theology, philosophy, religious studies and Sanskrit in Rostock (Germany), Madras (India) and Tokyo (Japan). In 1991 he was appointed professor of comparative religious studies in Regensburg and took on the chair of religious studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in 1998. He has been in dialogue wih the 14th Dalai Lama for many years now, has written several books on Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity and their relationships to each other, which are regarded as standard works in the field.
Perspectives for an interdisciplinary, modern anthropology
So far we have planned six main lectures with both fellows:
Nov. 09th 2009: Consciousness, I and the Self
Nov. 10th 2009: Knowledge and Truth
Nov. 16th 2009: Evolution
Nov. 17th 2009: Freedom of the Person
Dec. 12th 2009: Love and Responsibility
Jan. 19th 2010: Dying and Dead
After the lectures there will be the opportunity for a public discussion.
All lectures will take place in the lectures hall on the Campus Westend at the Goethe-University.
Flyer and Directions
Directions to Campus Westend