The first impression of their duet singing is of extreme harmony and cooperation. In the dense rain forest this helps the singing pairs to find each other again after they have darted off alone amongst the undergrowth.

D. Mennill, cited from Lingenhöhl 2008

One possible model of dynamics in the song control system is strongly anticipated by the singing-related firing of high vocal center-neuron patterns (HVC) that project to the robust nucleus (RA) ... We have proposed, that these HVC neurons form domino-like chains of activity that control the timing of the song.

M. Long and M. Fee 2008

The participatory researcher

Both the above citations, from work published in 2008, represent two ways of approaching the object of research. In their different ways they describe bird song. How can the meaning of the song be combined with the description of neuronal processes? What is the significance of the two different approaches for the relationship between the human being and nature.

We are working on these questions with the goal of contributing to a comprehensive understanding of living things and processes. Interdisciplinary approaches aim at the added value that is created by an overall view of the methods and the results from various branches of science.

At the Institute a range of phenomenological methods are developed and tested based on the natural scientific work of Goethe. A critical reflection on one’s methodological approach and its scientific and epistemic foundation are integral components of the work, and are at the core of the different disciplines. According to his research perspective – as external observer or participant – the scientist produces different results.

The concept of the Leib – the subjectively animate body – of Jonas and Schmitz provides a basis for understanding life. Goetheanism and anthroposophy extend the spectrum to an observation of things beyond the world of the senses. Here, "orientative" knowledge is more important than having knowledge at one’s disposal.