TRACKING THE HUMAN: TECHNOLOGIES OF COLLECTING, ORDERING AND COMPARING, OR THE PROBLEM OF RELEVANT KNOWLEDGE
The human being, its whole body or subdivided in parts and substances, as well as its functionalities, has come under the scrutiny of many research projects today. Scientists from a range of disciplines seek insights into the human body and human life itself and strive to contribute to its enhancement. Cancer registers, drug development and design, neuroimaging and various other scientific methods and tools, applied in biology, medicine, pharmacology, as well as the social sciences contribute to the production of scientifically and socially relevant knowledge.
The project «Tracking the Human» aims at reflecting on the social and historical contexts in which research into the mentioned domains occurs. According to our observations scientific disciplines are inevitably guided by culturally coined images and understanding as well as by social narratives about what the human might be. These ideas and imaginations sometimes allow to further or to hamper advancement in science. At any time – so our assumption – they shape what is tried out, aspired, longed for in the name of science.
This project aims at analysing a range of scientific thought styles, concepts and methodological practices contributing to knowledge about the human. It asks how different technologies of collecting, ordering and comparing have contributed to the idea of mankind, and where they come to their limits respectively. The interdisciplinary undertaking approaches four scientific fields from a comparative perspective. It intends to integrate the results into a comprehensive picture serving as a background for understanding scientific traditions and their social implications, chances and limits of research, tracking the human.
The project «Tracking the Human» is affiliated with the Collegium Helveticum, a transdisciplinary laboratory situated at the University of Zurich (UZH) and the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).