College of Fellows

Interdisciplinary Anthropology

The famous Kantian question "What is man?" can no longer be asked today without grasping man in his situatedness and belonging to the world. It therefore fundamentally concerns human existence as a whole and brings various disciplines into conversation with one another. Above all, however, the question of man always concerns the questioner himself, so that the answers to this question are also historically and culturally situated. Thus, beyond the existential and social dimensions, the question of the human being also gains a global socio-political relevance. We take up these themes ("One World Anthropology", "The Comparative Anthropology of Worlding") in individual events and try to build bridges between different disciplines.


26 – 30 September 2023
The Anthropology of Perspectivism
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

"The Anthropology of Perspectivism"
Masterclass with Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

The masterclass takes place as a closed event, the application phase is closed.

Theme: “The Anthropology of Perspectivism”
“[B]eing people in their own sphere, non-humans see things as ‘people’ do. But the things that they see are different: what to us is blood, is maize beer to the jaguar; what to the souls of the dead is a rotting corpse, to us is soaking manioc; what we see as a muddy waterhole, the tapirs see as a great ceremonial house.”
This is how Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro describes the essence of what he calls ‘perspectivism’ – a conception “according to which the world is inhabited by different sorts of subjects or persons, human and non-human, which apprehend reality from distinct points of view”. His account of perspectivism, first outlined in a paper from 1996 and further developed since, is among the works that substantially inspired some of the most influential research trends within anthropology currently grouped under the label of the so-called ‘ontological turn’.
Being influenced by theorists as diverse as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Oswald de Andrade, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, Roy Wagner, Marilyn Strathern, and Bruno Latour, amongst others, and based on his own ethnography, Viveiros de Castro derives his notion of perspectivism from Amazonian Amerindian indigenous conceptions of human and non-human relations articulated in mythology and put into effect in shamanism, hunting, warfare, as well as in concepts of predation und kinship. 
Contrary to Western conceptualisations of naturalism, which take nature as the objectively given, in Amazonian mythology humanity or personhood is the original precondition from which all kinds of animals, plants and even things in the variety of their forms emerge. This internally persisting human condition shared by all entities is hidden by different bodily appearances of animals and plants, while at the same time their bodily dispositions determine their specific perspectives. While animality is the condition of the body regarded from an external viewpoint, humanity is the reflexive condition of a subject to itself. Animals are not only perceived as living human-like social lives, but as viewing themselves as humans. At the same time, animals may view humans as animals, and especially as predators, mostly as jaguars. Practices like shamanism may enter the animal’s perspective temporarily and thereby foster communication among species. The conception that differences between species are due to their bodily dispositions, while the human condition is shared by all living beings, is described by Viveiros de Castro with the term ‘multinaturalism’.
As a concept irreducible to the distinction of nature and culture, but also transverse to the opposition of relativism and universalism – and thus not to be reduced to relativism, for which it has been mistaken – Viveiros de Castro’s notion of perspectivism proved to be highly stimulating for anthropological theory, in a way that Roy Wagner has described not only as a paradigm shift, but as a “figure-ground reversal” of anthropology. At the same time, the reception of his work goes far beyond the boundaries of his discipline: philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory, archaeology, multispecies studies, science and technology studies, literary and culture studies draw inspiration from concepts such as ‘perspectivism’, ‘multinaturalism’, ‘controlled equivocation’, and others. His ethnographically grounded accounts have critically questioned and reversed common understandings of the relationship between subject and object, which in turn give rise to new questions of agency and, more generally, a philosophical critique of universalism.
The Masterclass seeks to explore these and other implications of Viveiros de Castro’s relational conceptions along the following – and other – questions: What theoretical impulses can be derived from perspectivism for our thinking about understanding, communicating and knowing and various other practices, considering that it refers to different dimensions of incorporating the other’s point of view? Can the notion of perspectivism serve as a reconfiguration of concepts like the self and the other, identity, alterity, kinship, and alliance, and of the oppositions of nature and culture, human and non-human? How do such reconfigurations contribute to an epistemological and political decolonising of knowledge and theory, e.g., does perspectivism allow anthropology “to fully assume its new mission of being the theory/practice of the permanent decolonization of thought”? Is it possible to fully understand the idea of perspectivism from a Western point of view at all? The challenge of such a task becomes particularly evident when we consider that the other’s perspective not only brings about other conceptualizations, but also shapes other ontologies, thus, no overarching viewpoint has interpretive sovereignty over different perspectives, realities, and worlds.

This workshop will enable discussions with Eduardo Viveiros de Castro about his contributions to anthropological theory. It will be of interest to participants from a wide range of disciplines. There will be an opening session on day one. Day two to four will consist of an initial overview paper by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, which is followed by participant contributions and discussions. The masterclass ends with a closing session and a wrap-up of topics on day five. Participants are also invited to attend a public lecture by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro during the week.
Participants must present a 15-minute paper that critically discusses one of the themes and/or questions of the workshop. Engagement with current research questions and issues are particularly welcome, and connections with the applicants’ current PhD projects should explicitly be drawn.

The application phase is closed. Doctoral students from all disciplines (applications of master students have been considered in exceptional cases) have been accepted. There is no program fee, however, participants must cover their own costs for accommodation and meals. The CoF will assist participants in finding inexpensive accommodation.

30 May – 03 June 2022
The Comparative Anthropology of Worlding
Philippe Descola

Venue: College of Fellows, University of Tübingen, Germany
Organization: Niels Weidtmann, University of Tübingen, Germany


“The comparative anthropology of worlding”

Furhter information about the workshop can be found in our events-archive.

22 – 26 September 2019
One World Anthropology
Tim Ingold

Venue: Forum Scientiarum, Tübingen University, Germany
Organisation: Martin Porr, University of Western Australia, and Niels Weidtmann, University of Tübingen, Germany

The workshop was sponsored by the Udo Keller Foundation Forum Humanum.


Over the last decades, Tim Ingold has become one of the most influential, innovative and prolific writers in anthropology. His work has been transcending established academic and disciplinary boundaries, particularly between social and biological anthropology. Related to this theme is his critical long-term exploration of the relationships between human beings, organisms and their environment. Overall, Tim Ingold’s work is truly transdisciplinary and his thinking is impacting more and more areas of research and other intellectual and artistic fields in profound ways. He is both deeply engaged in debates about latest developments in anthropology, archaeology, education and social theory, but at the same time does not engage in a fashionable proliferation of theoretical concepts and terminologies.

In an introductory statement to a recent paper, Tim Ingold summarises the core of his understanding of the anthropological endeavour: “Anthropology is a philosophical inquiry into the conditions and possibilities of life in the one world we all inhabit” (Ingold 2018b, p. 158). Anthropology is philosophy, because it asks questions about the character of humanity, what it means to be human; it wants to understand humans and their lives. It is, however, philosophy with the people in it. It is philosophy that engages with other people’s learning and deliberations in the real world. Tim Ingold insists to conduct an anthropology that takes other people’s views and ideas seriously. As such, it is inquisitive, educational, mutually constitutive and open to wonder and surprise. It wants to allow questions about and insights into the conditions of people’s lives and the possibilities that different people’s lives contain. This endeavour is not aimed at establishing the hidden causalities of human existence (e.g. genes, memes, algorithms etc.). It does not want to restrict or narrow down the understanding of human life but makes visible the continuous emergence of difference, innovation and activity. This orientation is fundamentally linked to the understanding of life in general. Indeed, Ingold’s anthropology follows an encompassing view of life as the “potential of the circulations of materials and currents of energy” of the world (Ingold 2018a, p. 23). Life is not a secret ingredient of and within organisms, but, rather, organisms themselves are in life. This perspective has a range of consequences for the understanding of human beings’ relationships with the environment, their acts of learning, perceiving, growing and making as processes of mutual correspondence and constitution. Tim Ingold always emphasises a perspective of the situated and engaged being who is dwelling in a life-world. This orientation makes his anthropology not a detached and disinterested endeavour. Rather, his interpretation of anthropology also considers the philosophical aim of an exploration of how we should live. It also has important implications for academia and the university as a place of learning and education. Through its deep and serious engagement with other people’s viewpoints, considerations, practices and wisdom, anthropology gains a crucial significance for today’s world, the world we live in and for this world’s future.


  • Ingold, T. (2018a). Anthropology. Why it matters. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Ingold, T. (2018b). One world anthropology. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 8(1/2), 158-171.


28 September 2023
Public Lecture "Indigenous multinaturalism from a cosmopolitical point of view"
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

28 September 2023, 07:00 PM
Alte Aula, Münzgasse 30

About the Lecture:
In his lecture, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro will present his scholarly work, which has set decisive impulses in anthropology and cultural theory. His concept of perspectivism, which is closely linked to the concept of “multinaturalism”, proved to be particularly stimulating for anthropological theory. 
Contrary to Western conceptualisations of naturalism, which regard nature as the objectively given, in Amerindian mythology humanity is the premise from which all kinds of animals, plants and things in their diversity emerge. This inwardly persisting human condition is common to all beings, whereas the bodily condition conveys different perspectives on the world: “non-humans see things [the same way] as ‘people’. But the things that they see are different” (Viveiros de Castro 1998). Thus, differences between species are due to their physical dispositions, while personhood is common to all living things, which is described by Viveiros de Castro as “multinaturalism”, a concept that is both irreducible to the distinction between nature and culture and transversal to the opposition of relativism and universalism. Assuming different natures, it is in a sense antithetical to the Western concept of multiculturalism, which assumes only one nature and different cultures.
This notion of multinaturalism implies a ‘cosmopolitical’ view, which Viveiros de Castro describes as follows: “What we could call the natural world, or “world” for short, is for Amazonian peoples a multiplicity of intricately connected multiplicities. Animal species and other species are conceived as so many kinds of people or peoples, that is, as political entities. […] What we call the environment is for them a society of societies, an international arena, a cosmopoliteia.” (Déborah Danowski and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s 2015)

1 June 2022
Summer Lecture "The multiple births of naturalism"
Philippe Descola

1 June 2022, 7:00 PM
Alte Aula, Münzgasse 30

The Summer Lecture is a public event open to anyone interested in the topic, no registration required. Please note that the lecture will be held in presence, and will not be webcast online.

Descola rejects the strict distinction between nature and culture that has prevailed in "Western" thought and refers to "naturalism" as one of several different "ways of worlding". In his lecture he discusses the multiple births of naturalism.

On 1 June 2022, French anthropologist Professor Philippe Descola held the Summer Lecture 2022 “The multiple births of naturalism”, organised by the College of Fellows at the University of Tübingen. Descola’s lecture gave a profound, detailed, and concise insight into his comparative anthropological research, which focuses on the description of four major ontologies – animism, totemism, analogism, and naturalism – and their lifeworldly basis which he describes with the term ‘worlding’.

In his lecture, Descola focused on the "multiple births” of naturalism, pointing towards aspects of naturalistic thinking inherent already in ancient thought. At the same time, he sketched the unique historical emergence of naturalism in modern (natural) science as a way of tackling the rich yet ‘chaotic’ relations of analogism. While outlining differences between the ontologies, Descola also touched upon common features. In particular, he highlighted transitions between analogist and naturalist knowledge, which both share the notion that singularities can be linked in networks of multiple relationships, as mixed entities with intrinsic differences. He thus provided a framework both for understanding the emergence of scientific thought in Europe as one decisive form of worlding, as well as for an understanding of naturalism’s formative influences on the world in which we live today. Even if Descola rejects an all too simple alternative, as to think of a way out of the naturalist mode of worlding, his comparative insights call for a rethinking of strict dichotomies within the ontology of naturalism, especially those of nature and culture, and of humans and non-humans.

Descola’s well-attended Summer Lecture was the first large event organised by the College of Fellows, officially inaugurated in April 2022 as a platform for interdisciplinary research and networking among international research fellows at the University of Tübingen. The lecture was accompanied by a five-day workshop (30 May – 3 June) for international PhD students, who discussed Descola’s work with him, and explored its theoretical applications and stimulating potentials in their own contributions across several desciplines. Both events have been part of the activities of the Focus Group “Interdisciplinary Anthropology” at the College of Fellows.

3 May 2022
Lecture "Schopenhauer's Buddhism: Nothingness, Negativity, and Compassion"
Eric Nelson

Online, Tuesday, 3 May 2022, 1 pm CEST (UTC + 2)

Organisation: The Philosophical Interdisciplinary Cluster “Phenomenological Anthropology: Language, Ethos, Finiteness” of Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj, Romania, and Tübingen University

Description: Schopenhauer was fascinated by Indian philosophy throughout his life and often showed particular interest in Buddhism. In this paper, I will explore the philosophical motivations operative in Schopenhauer’s interpretation of Buddhism and how this encounter shaped his thinking of nothingness, negativity, and compassion.

Bio: Eric S. Nelson is Professor of Philosophy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He received his PhD from Emory University in 2002, and he joined the faculty of HKUST in 2014. He works on Chinese, German, and Jewish philosophy. He is the author of Daoism and Environmental Philosophy (Routledge, 2020), Levinas, Adorno, and the Ethics of the Material Other (SUNY Press, 2020), and Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought (Bloomsbury, 2017). He has published over eighty articles and book chapters and is the editor of Interpreting Dilthey: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He co-edited The Bloomsbury Companion to Heidegger (Bloomsbury, 2016), Between Levinas and Heidegger (SUNY Press, 2014), Rethinking Facticity (SUNY Press, 2008), Anthropologie und Geschichte: Studien zu Wilhelm Dilthey (Königshausen & Neumann, 2013), and Addressing Levinas (Northwestern University Press, 2005).

Working group "Phenomenological Anthropology: Language, Ethos, Finality"

A scientific working group of the College of Fellows of the University of Tübingen and the Department of Philosophy of the University of Cluj in cooperation with the Universities of Bologna, Messina, Vienna and Zagreb.


Activities of the working group:
The consortium seeks contact with top researchers from all those fields who are interested in a philosophical-interdisciplinary discussion of anthropological issues and provides an open discussion forum for both young and established scientists as well as students.

The starting point of the joint work is the question of man's position in relation to the world and in the world. However, the WG does not intend to seek metaphysical answers, but to work strictly phenomenologically-descriptively. This also means that the various contributions of the individual sciences will be examined to see what they can contribute to clarifying the phenomenon that can be described in experience. Central questions of phenomenological anthropology, such as the question of the meaning of the corporeality of the human being, the question of the relationship of the individual to the community, questions about the finiteness of the human being, and many others, serve as a guideline for the discussions. In addition, the focus is on the different ways in which these questions and the answers found to them have been shaped by historical concepts in Europe and beyond the continent. Thus, topics that are classically dealt with in the field of philosophical discussion gain a socio-political relevance beyond the existential dimension.

In order to achieve the aforementioned goals, the WG plans to organize conferences every two years on scientifically relevant topics that are currently being discussed in the philosophical-interdisciplinary fields of phenomenological anthropology, psychology, medicine, linguistics and political philosophy. In addition, the exchange of lecturers between the participating universities is to be promoted. By involving students in the projects of the AG, we would also like to draw their attention to the participating universities and encourage them to engage in exchange studies. Furthermore, five years ago the AG established a working group "Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis" at the University of Tübingen, which since then meets three times a year and discusses anthropological questions from both a phenomenological and a psychoanalytical perspective. In addition to numerous practicing psychoanalysts, students of the University of Tübingen also participate in the working group.

The results of the conference will be made available to the participants in pdf format; a selection of the contributions will be proposed for publication (to finance the publications, applications will be made to foundations in Germany as well as to the respective partner universities).

Coordination / Management:
Niels Weidtmann (Universität Tübingen), Dietmar Koch (Universität Tübingen), Alina Noveanu (Babes-Bolyai Universität Cluj)


Scientific Advisory Board / Permanent Members: 
Prof. Dr. Francesco Cattaneo (Universität Bologna), Prof. Dr. Virgil Ciomos (Babes-Bolyai Universität Cluj, Rumänische Akademie, Fundatia Colegiul Noua Europa), Prof. Dr. Ion Copoeru (Babes-Bolyai Universität Cluj), Prof. Dr. Giuliana Gregorio (Universität Messina), Dietmar Koch (Universität Tübingen), Prof. Dr. Igor Mikecin (Universität Zagreb), Akad. Rat Dr. Alina Noveanu (Babes-Bolyai Universität Cluj), Dr. Radu Turcanu (Psychotherapeut, Paris), Prof. Dr. Georg Stenger (Universität Wien), Dr. Philipp Thomas (Universität Tübingen), Dr. Niels Weidtmann (Universität Tübingen)

Tübinger Phenomenological Colloqium

About the Tübinger Phenomenological Colloqium:
Since its foundation by Edmund Husserl around 1900, phenomenological philosophy has been one of the decisive currents in philosophy. Since then, it has undergone a multifaceted development that has given rise to such diverse independent philosophies as philosophical hermeneutics, alterity thinking, and structural phenomenology. Moreover, it is in close research contact with numerous other disciplines. Examples are the lifeworld concept, which plays a crucial role in the social sciences; the phenomenology of the body, which promotes the body-turn in the cognitive sciences; the phenomenology of inner time-consciousness; the phenomenology of moods and emotions; the phenomenology of religion, and many others. All these fields of research testify to the enormous interdisciplinary importance of phenomenology in the present.

The Tübingen Phenomenological Colloquium aims to make phenomenology visible in its interdisciplinary topicality and in its entire breadth. To this end, the College of Fellows invites phenomenologists from all over the world to present their work to an interested university audience and to discuss it with students.

Past Events:

PD Dr. Thorsten Streubel, FU Berlin: Fundamentalanthropologie als kritische Phänomenologie

13th of July 2021


Professor Dr Tetsuri Kato, Nagoya/University of Hildesheim: „Unterweg zur politischen Philosophie als alltägliche Praxis: Vom späten Foucault zum japanischen Konfuzianismus in der frühen Edo-Zeit“

19th of January 2021


Professor Dr Waldenfels, University of Bochum: Responsivität und Korresponsivität aus phänomenologischer Sicht

9th of Januar 2020, 18:15, Forum Scientiarum (now CIIS), Hörsaal

Dr Annette Hilt, University of Mainz: „Eine Phänomenologie des Sozialen? Zu Strukturen einer geteilten Welt bei Eugen Fink“

9th of December 2019, 18:15 Forum Scientiarum (now CIIS), Hörsaal.


Professor Dr Inga Römer, Grenoble: Realismus als Herausforderung der Philosophie im Denken der Gegenwart

9th of July 2019, 18:15


Dr Hanspeter Padrutt, Zürich: Naturwissenschaftlich-technische Denkweise und „Poetische Welterhörung“

21st of May 2019, 18:15


Professor Dr Hiroshi Abe, Kyoto: „Tetsuro Watsujis Ethik ”

17th of July 2018, 20:15. Forum Scientiarum, Hörsaal


Associate Professor Dr Bogdan Minca, Bukarest: „Platon und Heidegger über das Hermeneutische”

12th June 2018 , 18:15. Forum Scientiarum, Hörsaal