Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

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Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Category: research Institute
Carrier: Max Planck Society
Legal form of the carrier: Registered association
Seat of the wearer: Munich
Facility location: Berlin-Dahlem
Type of research: Basic research
Subjects: Humanities
Areas of expertise: History
Basic funding: Federal government (50%), states (50%)
Management: Jürgen Renn , Dagmar Schäfer
Employee: approx. 120

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) is a non-university research institution of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (MPG) in Berlin-Dahlem and deals with a theoretically guided history of science based on systematic issues . The institute describes itself as "the world's largest research facility for the history of science".


The institute was founded in 1994 with the aim of creating an international science-historical research center in Germany. The institute started its work in March 1994, with the establishment of an independent research group and an independent junior research group in 1999 the institute completed its development phase. The science historian and philosopher Lorenz Krüger , who was unable to accept his reputation due to illness and died in the autumn of 1994, was also scheduled to be the founding director in 1994 .

Tasks of the institute

The institute has three research departments:

  • Structural change of knowledge systems,
  • Ideals and practices of rationality ,
  • Artifacts, Action, and Knowledge.

The institute's research activities focus primarily, but not exclusively, on the development of scientific thinking, while the methodology is oriented towards cognitive and cultural studies . Contributions to the development of a “historical epistemology are the common research goal of the three departments of the institute.

Historical epistemology deals with the historical development and the technical, cultural and social conditions of scientific knowledge processes. On the basis of detailed studies of the history of individual sciences, fundamental terms of scientific thought such as “ number ”, “ force ”, “ movement ”, “ field ”, “ gene ”, “ organism ”, as well as central epistemological categories such as “ representation ”, " Causality ", " Experiment ", " Deduction ", " Objectivity ", " Determinism " and " Probability " can be reconstructed in their development.

The MPI for the History of Science is also playing a leading role in European Cultural Heritage Online , a website that aims to become a digital collection of cultural heritage and is also a research platform for humanities scholars.


The MPI for the History of Science has been publishing the "Preprints" series since 1994, in which over 420 preprints have appeared since then (as of the end of 2012). Many of the preprints are accessible online. Furthermore, the institute publishes regular reports on the work done and the people involved every two years with the English-language "Research Reports".


The board of directors at the institute consists of Jürgen Renn and Dagmar Schäfer . Lorraine Daston retired in 2019. The members of the college take turns in managing the institute.

At the beginning of 2014 there were around 130 scientists and 40 non-scientific employees working at the institute.

Journalist in Residence

At times the institute had a journalist-in-residence program. In 2013, Alexander Mäder, head of science at the Stuttgarter Zeitung, was journalist in residence.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. see for example job advertisement from March 2014 at hsozkult at
  2. see the history of the institute at
  3. Thomas Sturm and Uljana Feest (eds.), What (Good) Is Historical Epistemology? (= Special issue of the journal "Knowledge", 75 (3), 2011).
  4. see holdings of preprints in the German National Library at
  5. see subpage of the institute's homepage with the preprints under Archived Copy ( Memento from December 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  6. ^ See holdings of the "Research Reports" in the German National Library at
  7. see page about the program on

Coordinates: 52 ° 26 ′ 43 ″  N , 13 ° 16 ′ 40 ″  E