Relativity

The Research Group

Statements on observation are subject to the principle of relativity which was postulated as early as the 17th century by Galilei. The validity and meaning of these statements therefore can only be discussed in relation to an underlying perspective. As a consequence of the priciple of realativity, a few fundamental questions arise, which have been answered in different contexts and at different times in very distinct ways.

  • Relation: How can different observer perspectives be correlated?
  • Evaluation: Which observer perspectives are equivalent and how can non-equivalent perspectives be evaluated?
  • Abstraction: What parts of observations are independent from the perspective, or, what parts can be described "absolutely"?
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Starting from the key questions above, the RG Relativity's topical orientation emerged in focal points which can be summarised under the following questions and aspects:

"Why is red red and not another colour?"

Everyone is alone in their own perception – sensually, reflectively, normatively, trandscendentally, pathologically. At the same time, we believe (and with good reason) that others, too, have experiences that are somehow similar to our – humans, animals too, conscsious life, other intelligences.

"Are you experiencing what I am experiencing?"

And not only that: we even believe we can communicate with others via our perceptions, to wit, in a manner which is consistent in the sense that what we meant does not lose its sense when it refers to the perception of others rather than our own. And beyond that, we believe we can put ourselves in someone else's shoes. This change of perspective is an interesting field in psychology: The question at what age the relativity of one's own perceptions, attitudes, emotions is recognised has occupied develpmental psychologists most of all. Similar concepts are employed n autism research too. However, there has been little investigation into the breadth of variation of subjective 'relativity' and its determinants in healthy adults. From the realm of physics, the following quote is up for discussion: "What the observer knows is inseperable from what the observer is: the physical state of his memory implies his information about the universe. [...]  In this manner, the distinction between ontology and epistemology – between what is and what is known to be – is dissolved". (W.H. Zurek, „Decoherence, einselection, and the quantum origins of the  classical", Rev. Mod. Phys., 75, 715 (2003)).

"What matters?"

  • Every observer has a (certain, deliberate, involutary ...) influence over the observation. What are the consequences for the relations between different observers?
  • What possibilitie and criteria exist for a meaningful language on perceptions, experiences and observations?
  • What doe we perceive as relative? What do we see as universally valid?
  • What of this is true from a different perspective? When can we agree?
  • The following concrete questions are starting points for the problematisation:
  • What linguistic-logical consequences follow from the stochastic structure of globale descriptions of a multitude of single observations (or, what does it mean that we "summarise" retrospectively, but cannot extrapolate from singular instances – put differently: what reality do we ascribe to a statistic?)
  • How can we describe "aesthetic" events in a "relativistic" manner?
  • Do we need a self-referential logical structure in arguments with a global claim ("anthropic principle", hermeneutics, mathematical logic, or similar)?
  • How do the limits and the unrestrictedness of our imagination, or our range of experiences, affect our (aesthetic, value, spontaneous, pre-) judgements?
  • In how far are they necessary for us?
  • Why have philosophical concepts like deconstruction, constructivism, post- and structuralism not changed our (everyday) language very much? What linguistic consequences following from this should we be taking (more) seriously?
  • What non- or para-logical speech patterns can describe the world (somehow differently) seriously (like haiku, mysticism, joke, allegory, metaphor)?

Documentation of Events

Conferences

The RG Relativity organised two events: the international summer school and workshop "per.SPICE! Truth and Relativity of the Aesthetic" as well as the interdisciplinary conference "Moral Relativism".

Publications

The proceedings of these events organised by the RG Relativity are documented in two anthologies and a magazine article.

 

Members

  • Hannes Rakoczy

    Contact

    Hannes Rakoczy
    Psychology
    Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
    Hannes Rakoczy more
  • Barbara Stiebels

    Barbara Stiebels
    General Linguistics
    Universität Leipzig
    Barbara Stiebels more
  • Andreas Keil

    Andreas Keil
    Cognitive Neuroscience
    University of Florida, Gainesville (USA)
    Andreas Keil more
  • Julian Klein

    Julian Klein
    Composition
    IKF - Institut für künstlerische Forschung, Berlin
    Julian Klein more
  • Julia Eckert

    Julia Eckert
    Social Science
    Universität Bern (Schweiz)
    Julia Eckert more
  • Doris Kolesch

    Doris Kolesch
    Study of Theatre and Literature
    Freie Universität Berlin
    Doris Kolesch more
  • Christoph Halbig

    Christoph Halbig
    Philosophy
    Universität Zürich (Schweiz)
    Christoph Halbig more
  • Julia Fischer

    Julia Fischer
    Biology
    Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
    Julia Fischer more
  • Bettina Beer

    Bettina Beer
    Ethnology
    Universität Luzern (Schweiz)
    Bettina Beer more
  • Giovanni Galizia

    Giovanni Galizia
    Biology
    Universität Konstanz
    Giovanni Galizia more
  • Christian Fleischhack

    Christian Fleischhack
    Mathematics / Theoretical Physics
    Universität Paderborn
    Christian Fleischhack more
  • Ricarda Schubotz

    Ricarda Schubotz
    Cognitive Neurology
    Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
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  • Cord Müller

    Cord Müller
    Theoretical Physics
    Bayerisches Landesamt für Maß und Gewicht
    Cord Müller more
  • Gerhard Ernst

    Gerhard Ernst
    Philosophy
    Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
    Gerhard Ernst more
 
 
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