Behavioral Knowledge

Between ethos and program – writing and observing behavior

Based on preliminary studies on the iconic practice of comparative behavioural science as well as the observation films and reports of the former Ministry for State Security, the doctoral project develops a history of ideas and discourse history of the knowledge of behaviour. In these disparate fields of knowledge, a specific methodology used for the description, recording and valuation of behaviour can be found. This method will be traced back to a dispositiv of behaviour, which has yet to be examined in a historical and systematic way.

The research project, interested in a critique of power, is centered around an interpretation of such knowledge of behaviour as a dedicated tool for forecast and risk prevention, as well as a form of knowledge resulting from a situation of crisis or as a preventive action providing for it.

This is based on the idea, that behaviour has always been subject to observation and that the aesthetic operations involved are consequently regarded as the manifestation of (deviant) behaviour. Accordingly, a constant dispute on the seizure of behaviour becomes apparent in the respective concepts of behaviour »between ethos and programme«, which is either defined as belonging to bodies or rather viewed as a phenomenon to be described und taking place within anthropological discourses in the form of attribution or allowance.
Due to it’s technocratic potential, the knowledge of behaviour is therefore a subject of government and management. Thus, the reflexivity of behaviour, claimed or denied by the particular theoretisations, must be regarded as part of its gouvernementality.

The specific interest of an aesthetics based on cultural history and theory would lie in addressing the aesthetical procedures that are already touched by the concept of the theory scene, in which the contested knowledge of behaviour becomes tangible. A major concern of the research based in cultural history and theory, is a delineation of the dispositiv of behavioural knowledge not only through sources of biology, but also from the fields of psychology, sociology, ethnology as well as urban planning and economy.

Lorenz, Konrad: Tabelle. Aus: Ders.: Vergleichende Bewegungsstudien an Anatinen
(1941). In: Ders.: Über tierisches und menschliches Verhalten, Band 1. Berlin [u.a.]:
Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft 1965, S. 113.