Publication details [#11268]

Weingart, Peter, Sandra D. Mitchell, Peter J. Richerson and Sabine Maasen. 1997. Human by Nature: Between Biology and the Social Sciences. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.. 600 pp.
Publication type
Book – monograph
Publication language


Representing a wide range of disciplines - biology, sociology, anthropology, economics, human ethology, psychology, primatology, history and philosophy of science - the contributors to this study spent a complete academic year at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), discussing a plethora of insights in reference to human cultural evolution. The scholars acted as a living experiment of "interdisciplinary in vivo". The assumption of the experiment was that the scholars - while working and residing at the ZiF - would be united intellectually as well as socially, a connection that might eventually enhance future interdisciplinary communication even after the research group had dispersed. This issue of human culture poses a challenge to the division of the world into the realms of the "natural" and the "cultural" and hence, to the disciplinary division of scientific labour. The appropriate place for the study of human culture, in this group's view, is located between biology and the social sciences. The group avoided biological and sociological reductionisms, adopting a pluralistic perspective - "integrative pluralism" - which took into account both today's highly specialized and effective (sub-)disciplinary research and the possibility of integrating the respective findings on a case-by-case basis. Each sub-group discovered its own way of interdisciplinary collaboration and submitted a contribution to the present volume reflecting one of several types of fruitful co-operation, such as a fully integrated chapter, a multidisciplinary overview, or a discussion between different approaches. (Publisher book description)