HPS Lecture Series - Katja Guenther (Princeton)

April 24, 2020 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm

“Mirror, Mind, and Man: A History of Self-Recognition”

Abstract: In my talk, I will draw on my current book project on the history of the mirror self-recognition test. The mirror test came to the fore in the mid-nineteenth century when the notion of human specificity was under assault. For many, it provided a final line of defense against the tendency of the biological and cultural sciences to blur the boundaries between humans and other animals. In the twentieth century, this function was exploited in a range of disciplines including psychiatry, psychoanalysis, animal and human psychology, cybernetics, anthropology, and neuroscience. Scientists placed infants, “primitives,” robots, and animals of various kinds in front of mirrors, in order to pose and find new answers to the perennial question: “What is man?”

Location and Address

Cathedral of Learning 1008