The Parmenides Foundation is a charitable research and teaching organisation. Its main task is to study how human thinking copes with complexity and to develop innovative methodologies and tools to support the human brain in this rapidly increasing challenge.

The foundation was created 20 years ago by Albrecht von Müller, in close cooperation with Ernst Pöppel. Soon thereafter, Eörs Szathmáry, Helge Ritter, Thomas Filk, Michael Öllinger and Benedikt Grothe also became crucial contributors to the build-up of the foundation. From the very beginning, there was a close and very fruitful cooperation with several departments of LMU Munich and some Max Planck Institutes.

Today, the Parmenides Foundation brings together approx. 240 experts from 12 disciplines, directly in the foundation or in its application-oriented spin-offs.

At present, the foundation is led by Julian Nida-Rümelin as Executive Director and Albrecht von Müller as Chairman of the Board. The ultimate statutory beneficiary of the Parmenides Foundation is the Max Planck Society.

Our Approach

Our basic research focuses on four main topics: 1) the underlying, modular architecture of complex thinking processes, 2) the difference between ratiomorphic analysis and a constellatory appreciation of issues in their entirety, 3) the necessary interplay of these two basic modes of thinking for cognitive excellence and „reason“ (in the full, philosophical sense), and based on all the above 4) new forms of multi-modal and model-based AI, viz. AI with reduced demands on data and greater proximity to general intelligence.

With regard to education, we have developed a new postgrad/postdoc curriculum, the MCA (Magister Cogitationis Artium). It is focussed on fostering outstanding skills in authentic thinking and on familiarising the participants with crucial thought-patterns from different disciplines. By the latter, we intend to enable the participants to approach novel challenges with a broad spectrum of different “cognitive prisms”.

As for the practical application of the basic research findings, four fields have been chosen. They are all characterised by a need for disruptive innovation and a potential for large humanitarian returns. The fields are „Medicine & Health Care“, „Education & Science“, „Strategy & Finance“ and, last but not least, „Democracy & Governance“.

“For it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be.”

Parmenides, in
Plotinus, Enneads V, i.8

Parmenides Research Centers

Parmenides Center for the
Study of Thinking

The research agenda of the Parmenides Center for the Study of Thinking (PCST) combines the conceptual study of the fundamental structures and dynamics of complex thinking operations with the exploration of the underlying neurobiological processes.

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Parmenides Center for
Digital Humanism

Digital Humanism is opposed to mainstream Silicon Valley ideology. It rejects transhumanist utopias and neo-animistic views of software agents . Its central anthropological idea is that of human agency and authorship.

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Parmenides Center
for Art & Science

The center was created in cooperation with the Human Science Center and the Institute of Medical Psychology at LMU Munich to investigate the relation between the arts and the sciences, particularly via cognitive neuroscience and psychology.

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Parmenides Center for
the Conceptual Foundation of Science.

A crucial field for understanding thinking – and for making the study of thinking practically relevant – are the unresolved foundational issues in science, especially in physics, biology and cognition research, approached in an interdisciplinary manner.

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Solon Center for
Policy Innovation

Building upon the legacy of the innovative statesman, the center contributes to significant political reform today. We are a policy research and consulting think tank attempting to enlarge societal option spaces in innovative and viable ways.

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