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Interdisciplinary Discussion: Integrating Biological, Philosophical and Social Sciences

Microbes carry out the bulk of biological activities on the planet. They were the earth’s first lifeforms, and lie at the base of every major transition to new forms of life. People have 1.3 times more microorganisms than body cells. This microbial community influences how we digest our food, how active our immune system is, as well as whether we tend to be more anxious or curious. Contemporary microbiome research shows how microbes and microbiology can inform broader philosophical discussions about human nature, individuality, identity, selfhood, and mind, among other topics.

Metaorganism research has reached the social, historical and philosophical sciences. The fact that microbes can be transferred from individual to individual, that we talk about meta-communities, that we re-think the “individual” in light of the omnipresent microbiome, all that has meaning far beyond the natural sciences.

We therefore thought that it is time to include the thoughts of social scientists, historians and philosophers in our attempts to understand the impact of the omnipresent microbiome.

The Collaborative Research Center 1182 “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms” recently hosted interdisciplinary discussion: Metaorganism Research – Integrating Biological, Philosophical and Social Sciences.

CRC 1182 speaker Thomas Bosch discussed with the following guests:

Professor Hannah Landecker, Department of Sociology and the Institute for Society and Genetics at UCLA…

Professor Thomas Pradeu, Philosopher of science at the University of Bordeaux…

Professor Tobias Rees, Director of the Program “Transformations of the Human” of the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles…

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