This volume is the result of a research project entitled “Evolutionary Continuity – Human Specifics
– The Possibility of Objective Knowledge” that was carried out by representatives of six academic
disciplines (evolutionary biology, evolutionary anthropology, brain research, cognitive
neuroscience, cognitive psychology and philosophy) over a period of three and a half years starting
July 1, 2006 and ending December 31, 2009.
The starting point for the project was the newly emerging riddle of human uniqueness: though the
uniqueness of human beings is undisputable, all explanations for this fact successively got lost in
recent decades. There is no special factor that could explain the particularities of human existence.
Rather, all human skills derive from a continuous relation to pre-human skills, that is to say
elements that have been developed earlier in phylogeny and have been inherited therefrom. But
starting from abilities that are anything but special, how could the particularity of human beings
have come into being?
This was the issue underlying the project. Starting from this point, the following research
questions were formulated: How strong is evolutionary continuity in human beings? How can we
understand that it gave way to cultural discontinuity? Which aspect of cultural existence is really
unique to humans? Can the possibility of objective knowledge be seen as an (admittedly extreme)
case in point?