Evolutionary Epistemology – Philisophy in the age of science and technology

Evolutionary Epistemology –
Philosophy in the age of science and technology

Gerhard Vollmer combines in his personage the two academic cultures: He received his Dr. rer. nat. in physics with Siegfried Flügge, by that time (1971) one of the best addresses in theoretical physics. His further studies in philosophy and linguistics led to the Ph. D. degree and opened the door to a professorship in philosophy.
Vollmer s strengths in speaking and writing are clarity, distinctness and lucidity. His double education as a physicist and philosopher has enabled him to become a mediator between the natural sciences and humanities. He represents the principle of interdisciplinarity at its best. His books are accessible to the layman as well, since Vollmer has the talent to simplify complex facts of case without distorting them.
We are impressed indeed by Vollmer s philosophical work as a whole but the present prize is mainly for his Ph. D. thesis of 1975 on Evolutionary Epistemology. This book has reached a wide readership since (8 editions in German, 4 translations into foreign languages) and has firmly established Vollmer s reputation as a philosopher and talented writer.
The concept that our cognitive faculties must be considered a consequence of biological evolution implies a rethinking of the major questions and answers of traditional epistemology in terms of a coherent and consistent naturalistic theory. In fact, in Vollmer s hands epistemology has become a subject of evolutionary science, combining philosophical as well as biological thought, but firmly anchored in a general naturalistic theory of evolution, reaching from the big bang to hominisation.
Vollmer s thinking has strongly affected the Angloamerican philosophy of biology. A novel approach, called Evolutionary Psychology, is mainly based on Vollmer s (and Lorenz s) ideas and analyses even though this connection is not always appreciated. In any case, Vollmer is recognized world wide by biologists (and many philosophers) as a prototype and guide in epistemological reasoning.
In conclusion, we want to honor Gerhard Vollmer for his efforts to elaborate the consequences of the modern naturalistic theory of evolution at the level of philosophical reasoning. Moreover, we honor him for acting as an almost ideal mediator between the “two cultures”. We urgently need people like Vollmer to bridge the gab between the major academic disciplines.

Prof. Dr. Dr.h.c.mult. Hans Mohr,
Universität Freiburg