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Research

Here, you find an overview of all research projects run by Prof. Kann and his team or projects where they participate as members.

Paradoxes in the 13th Century

The project aims at a discussion of systematic questions concerning paradoxes in the 13th century and at providing a critical edition and translation, with a commentary, of William of Sherwood’s Insolubilia. Sherwood is generally considered one of the three most important logicians in the 13th century, next to Petrus Hispanus and Lambert of Auxerre. Insolubilia are proposition or logical paradoxes requiring analysis, which attracted the attention not only of logicians of the Middle Ages, but especially of present day logical analysis. The project will make a decisive contribution to our current understanding of medieval logic and semantics (scientia sermocinalis), which at the same time claims to be scientific propaedeutics and linguistics. This is the first time that an Insolubilia treatise will be provided in a modern text edition including a translation and a commentary. 

  • Funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation
  • Project staff: Sascha Aulich, Dr. Raina Kirchhoff

Whitehead and the Tradition of Inductive Metaphysics

The project aims to reconstruct A.N. Whitehead’s philosophical cosmology as an approach to Inductive Metaphysics. In doing so, it combines historical with systematic interests. The historical focus is on the period from late 19th century to early 20th century, especially on Whitehead’s metaphysics and related theories or conceptions including those of his contemporaries William James and Henri Bergson. Their conceptions will be compared with another branch of the Inductive Metaphysics tradition, mainly represented by Theodor Fechner. The systematic focus of the project is on the epistemological and methodological aims of metaphysics in the relevant period in general, and on Whitehead’s criticism of metaphysical assumptions within the tradition of Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz etc. in particular. Of special interest are Whiteheads criteria of a speculative scheme as an interpretation of reality, his concept of a philosophical cosmology, his methodology of imaginative generalisation as related to induction, and his idea of a metaphysical theory in accordance with assumptions and methods of the natural sciences. Focussing on Whitehead’s philosophical cosmology as a unique variant, the project will provide a substantial contribution to our understanding of Inductive Metaphysics as hitherto considered.

  • Part-Project of the SFF-Project Inductive Metaphysics funded by the HHU (2015-2017)
  • Together with Prof. Dr. Markus Schrenk, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schurz
  • Project staff: Dr. Aljoscha Berve
  • A follow-up project is in the application stage

Presuppositions of Frame Theory in the History of Philosophy

The project aims to provide both a historical and systematic reconstruction of Barsalou’s frame conception as a model of mental representation. The main focus of the project is the question as to whether frame theory, particularly the concept of a frame, has its precursors in philosophy or in adjoined disciplines. Does frame theory represent a totally new paradigm, or does it rest upon older theories and modify their essential features? In treating these and adjacent questions, the project can refer to fragmentary historical or chronological remarks and reflections in frame investigations themselves. Barsalou’s theory of cognitive representation partially draws on the frame semantics established by Fillmore, which in turn was inspired by Minsky’s model of knowledge representation by means of semantic networks. Minsky himself points not only to the notion of a scheme in cognitive psychology (Bartlett), but also to the notion of a paradigm in epistemology (Kuhn). Actually, older theories like categorial systems (Aristotle, Kant), conceptions of schemes (Whitehead, Rumelhart) or theories of memory (Augustine, Locke) seem to share basic intentions, structures and assumptions with frame theory. Therefore the investigation focuses on the notion of a frame including an analysis of its neighbor concepts, its components of meaning, its explanatory virtue and, in particular, its premises in the history of philosophy.

Philosophical Terminology – Presuppositions, Case Studies, Perspectives

The project intends a fundamental inquiry into philosophical terminology. Philosophy, like other sciences, makes use of specific technical means of expression. At the same time, it differs from other sciences in terminological respects because of it its close relationship with expressions of everyday language that enter into its often seemingly esoteric technical terminology, while undergoing considerable shifts in meaning. Then again, the philosophical terminology overlaps significantly with terminologies of neighbouring diciplines, which partly developed out of it and became terminologically independent in that process. So far, adequate research on this complex state of facts has been rudimentary only. In established research on technical languages the philosophical terminology has played a minor role at best, while within philosophy traces of terminology research were eclipsed by analyses of concepts and ideas in the 19th and 20th century. The project aims at filling this gap and to provide a historic and systematic inquiry into the specific terminological means of philosophy. 

  • SFF-Project, funded by HHU (2014-2016).
  • A follow-up project is in the application stage

Stereotypes of Age(ing) in the History of Philosophy

Key theories, concepts and terms of age and ageing have their origin in the philosophical tradition. In antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, Seneca) and the Middle Ages (Hrabanus Maurus, Hugh of Saint Victor) as well as the Modern Times (Montaigne, Hegel, Schopenhauer) and the present (de Beauvoir, Marquard, Höffe) philosophers provided reflections and theories on age(ing). Throughout all epochs, the succession of concepts of age(ing) in philosophy has contributed significantly to the development and criticism of stereotypes of age(ing). Systematically, the philosophy of age(ing) can be classed between reflections on time and the experience of time on the one hand and the philosophy of death on the other hand. While in analytic philosophy, for example, concepts of age(in) are compared, even across disciplinary boundaries, in order to identify particular stereotypes of age(ing), existential philosophy deals with perspectives on the process of ageing as an irreducible fundamental situation and central element of the human condition, in which the experience of time and the perspective of death are of particular importance. 

  • Part-Project of the HHU internal Research Training Group “Age(ing): Cultural Concepts and Practical Realisations" (2012-2016)
  • A follow-up project is in the application stage:  „Vita Activa and Productivity. The Development of an Age Imperative“ within the Research Unit: „Productive Aging: Conditions – Expectations – Consequences“
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