Das Anthropozän und die Geschichte des Wissens

Director Jürgen Renn reports on the Anthropocene and the history of knowledge in a 13-minute lecture for "Bayerischer Rundfunk."


When did the Anthropocene begin? Some researchers argue that it started with human use of fire, while others date it to the beginning of agriculture in the Neolithic Revolution. Today's greenhouse-effect climate change has its roots in the use of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution; clear traces in the Earth system, such as the still-radiating remnants of the first atomic bomb explosions, prompted the so-called "Great Acceleration" of the 1950s with its rapid economic and technical development.

BRWhat contributions, then, have science and technology made to the transformation of the Earth? Were they just instruments in the hands of reckless exploiters of natural resources, or have they played a role in understanding the destructive power of human intervention? Can this be controlled? What role can we play in tackling the challenges of the Anthropocene in the future?

In this lecture for "Bayerischer Rundfunk," broadcast by ARD-Alpha on November 18 and 23, Jürgen Renn opens up a new perspective on the history of science as part of a comprehensive evolution of knowledge. Until now, the importance of knowledge development for cultural evolution has been underestimated: Are we at the threshold of a new evolutionary process, an epistemic evolution?