this mini-conferece is organized by aniella tiedje, elsa salonen, regine rørstad torbjønsen and filipe-guilherme pirl, who researched together last semester in the course „creative research: plant consciousness“ at humboldt-university berlin.


almost unnoted by the mass media, a little revolution happened in plant science in the last decade. scientists found out that plants are capable of a lot of pretty amazing things we were not expecting from them: they can learn, smell, hear, see, communicate with each other and have an electric signalling system pretty similar to ours. they can differentiate between themselves, kin and stranger, actively defend themselves thru elaborated behaviors against herbivores and manipulate other animals for their needs.

those are pretty cool findings, right? botanist and philosophers thought so too and new research fields like plant neurobiology, critical plant studies and something that you could call phytophilosophy mushroomed in the backyards of different universities. at this point, given the huge pile of research showing their amazing capabilities, the question whether plants are intelligent or not, isn’t an interesting question anymore. a better question is, what is plant intelligence and how does it differ from animal intelligence? and the even more interesting question, but one that takes balls to be asked, is whether they are conscious or not. balls because there is a big chance that nobody will take you seriously. for a lot of people ‚plant consciousness‘ smells like incense and sounds like this very relaxing seven chakra meditation you are listening to on youtube at night when you try to fall asleep.

plant consciousness ?

but actually, asking the question of vegetal subjectivity is not asking whether there is magic or god or whether aliens build the pyramids. it’s merely asking whether plants‘ behavior is guided by the same thing animals‘ behavior is guided by: an intentional agent reacting on perceived experiences. for a lot of people this is unimaginable because plants don’t have something that looks like a central nervous system and having a human-like brain is seen as a necessary condition for having consciousness nowadays.

this is a pretty strong and untestable postulation, and fits just too well in the history of anthropocentric human thought towards non-humans, to be unquestioned. at this mini-conference, we talk about the context it emerges from; plant scientists will present their current research, philosophers will talk about consciousness and artists will approach the concept of plant consciousness in a less language-centered way.


the mini-conference will not happen in the sterile lecture rooms of humboldt university, far away from the public, but between beehives and plants in an urban garden in the heart of berlin – in the magical prinzessinnengärten. right now the laube is being finished there – a three storied wood building for events and courses on environmental education, which is perfect for our little conference.

come by, sit down in the shadow of the trees and let’s talk about our little plant friends!