Present neurobiological accounts of the mind-brain relationship often tend towards a reductionist view of subjectivity. In contrast this paper outlines an ecological or systemic view of the brain, which regards subjectivity and consciousness as components in a circular causality of the organism and its environment. In such circular processes, the brain functions as an organ of transformation which translates elementary system states into complex ones and the other way around, thus allowing the organism to develop integral options of perception and action in its environment. Since these interactions themselves continuously change the microstructure of the brain, it must be understood as an organ that is formed biologically, socially and historically. Human subjectivity thus retains a crucial role in the interaction of the organism and its environment.
The development of modern science has been accompanied and essentially motivated by the ideal of a steady and cu mulative progress in the knowledge and grasp of nature. However, the crisis of the idea of progress during this century has been reflected in new concepts of the history of science as a discontinuous process of successive systems of thinking, or paradigms. A comparison of T S. Ku hn’s and L. Fleck’s models of the history of science, and the example of vitalism vs. mechanistics in the history of physiology (Harvey, Descartes, v. Haller) raise the question of whether this monolinear1” course is not an idealization of the factual “polylinear” development of the history of science. As an alternative, the author outlines the possibility of a “complementary evolution” of interpretations of reality which would contribute to a “polyperspective” science.