Nicole C. Karafyllis

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Nicole C. Karafyllis (born 1970 in Lüdinghausen, West Germany), is a German-Greek philosopher and biologist. Since 2010, she is Department Chair and Philosophy Professor at the TU Braunschweig, Braunschweig/Brunswick Institute of Technology (Germany).


Nicole Christine Karafyllis was born in Germany as the child of a German mother and a Greek father. From 1989 to 1994, she studied biology and philosophy at the Universities of Erlangen and Tübingen. In 1991, she was a visiting student at the University of Stirling in Scotland (UK). She received a doctorate at the University of Tübingen in 1999 at the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities. Her Habilitation in philosophy was completed at the University of Stuttgart in 2006, dealing with the topic Phenomenology of Growth. Philosophy and scientific History of productive Life between Nature and Technology. For ten years, 1998–2008, she has been working at the Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany and was a scholar of Günter Ropohl. In 2007 she has been a Visiting Professor for Applied Philosophy of Science at Vienna University (Austria). 2008 - 2010, she moved to the United Arab Emirates and was Full Professor of Philosophy at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). In fall 2010 she was senior research fellow of the International Centre for Cultural Studies (IFK) in Vienna (Austria).[1] She returned to Germany in summer 2010 to become Department Chair of the Philosophy Department at Technische Universität Braunschweig. Since 2013, she regularly visits the philosophy department (arts+science-group)[2] at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Méxiko (UNAM) in Mexico City for research purposes (projects on Spanisch-German philosophy in the early 20th century and beyond).

Her 2013 book entitled "Cleaning as Passion" (German orig. Putzen als Passion) became a philosophy bestseller in Germany.[3] It is both an introduction into philosophical problems and an ironic version of a self-help book on cleaning and related techniques. In addition, a calendar for 2015 is produced, including 52 postcards with philosophical sentences about cleaning (entitled: Putzen ist nichts für Feiglinge / Cleaning is not for cowards).


Karafyllis is engaged in a cultural philosophy of science and technology, making use of a history of ideas perspective without compromising the idea of manual and material culture. She is particularly known for her philosophical works on the modeling interfaces between biology and technology (the concept of biofact), and for her union of phenomenology and philosophy of technology. She also works on the "spirit of craftsmanship".[4] Her philosophical fields of work are phenomenology, anthropology, bioethics, philosophy of technology, philosophy of science, history of science, technology assessment, in which she develops a theory of biofacticity. She introduced the term biofact in philosophy in 2001, to stress the shifting borders between the concepts of nature, biology and technology. Other main topics of her work are the philosophy of plants, situated in a phenomenology of growth, and the philosophy of emotions in light of the neurosciences.

Selected publications[edit]

Books (in English)[edit]

  • Claus Zittel, Romano Nanni, Gisela Engel and Nicole C. Karafyllis (ed.) (2008): Philosophies of Technology: Francis Bacon and his Contemporaries. Leiden: Brill Publ., Nov. 2008
  • Karafyllis, N.C. and G. Ulshöfer [ed.] (2008). Sexualized Brains. Scientific Modeling of Emotional Intelligence from a Cultural Perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Oct. 2008
  • with Ortwin Renn, Alexander Hohlt and Dorothea Taube (Eds.): International Science and Technology Education: Exploring Culture, Economy, and Social Perceptions, Routledge 2015

Books (in German)[edit]

  • Karafyllis, N.C. (2000). Nachwachsende Rohstoffe – Technikbewertung zwischen den Leitbildern Wachstum und Nachhaltigkeit. Opladen: Leske+Budrich. (PhD-thesis) Awarded with the Franzke-Prize for Technology and Responsibility of the TU Berlin 2001.
  • Karafyllis, N.C. (2001). Biologisch, natürlich, nachhaltig. Philosophische Aspekte des Naturzugangs im 21. Jahrhundert. Tübingen/Basel: A. Francke.
  • Karafyllis, N.C. and Schmidt, J.C. [eds.] (2002). Zugänge zur Rationalität der Zukunft. Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler.
  • Karafyllis, N.C. [ed.] (2003). Biofakte. Versuch über den Menschen zwischen Artefakt und Lebewesen. Paderborn: Mentis.
  • Karafyllis, N.C., Krohmer, T., Schirrmeister, A., Söll, Ä. and Wilkens, A. [ed.] (2004). De-Marginalisierungen. Berlin: trafo.
  • Karafyllis, N.C. und Haar, T. [ed.] (2004). Technikphilosophie im Aufbruch. Festschrift für Günter Ropohl. Berlin: edition sigma.
  • Engel, G. and Karafyllis, N.C. [ed.]. (2004) Technik in der Frühen Neuzeit – Schrittmacher der europäischen Moderne. Themenband der Zeitschrift Zeitsprünge. Forschungen zur Frühen Neuzeit, 8. Jg., Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.
  • Engel, G. and Karafyllis, N.C. [ed.] (2005). Re-Produktionen. Berlin: trafo
  • Guest-Ed. of the Special Issue Technik of Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie, 2/2013 (Hamburg: Meiner), including a German translation of a text of philosopher Don Ihde and a document of Hans Blumenberg.
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2013): Putzen als Passion. Ein philosophischer Universalreiniger für klare Verhältnisse. Berlin: Kulturerlag Kadmos, Kindle Edition March 2014
  • Karafyllis, N. C. [ed.] (2014): Das Leben führen? Lebensführung zwischen Technikphilosophie und Lebensphilosophie. Berlin: edition sigma
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2015): Willy Moog (1888-1935): Ein Philosophenleben. Freiburg: Alber (Jan. 2015) ISBN 978-3495486979

Karafyllis is co-editor of the newly (2012) launched book series PHYSIS on Naturphilosophie/Philosophy of Nature at the German publishing house of Karl Alber in Freiburg.

Articles in English[edit]

  • Karafyllis, N.C. (2002). Biotechnology – the offspring of life science or techno science? Newsletter of the European Society of Agricultural and Food Ethics (EURSAFE) (4), No. 2.
  • Karafyllis, N.C. (2003). Renewable resources and the idea of nature – what has biotechnology got to do with it? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. Vol. 16 (1) 2003. 3-28.
  • Karafyllis, N.C. (2007). Growth of Biofacts: The real thing or metaphor? In: R. Heil, A. Kaminski et al. (ed.) Tensions. Technological and Aesthetic (Trans)Formations of Society. Bielefeld: transcript publishers. 141-152.
  • Karafyllis, N.C. (2008). Endogenous Design of Biofacts. Tissues and Networks in Bio Art and Life Science. In: sk-interfaces. Exploding borders - creating membranes in art, technology and society. Ed. by Jens Hauser. Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press. 42-58.
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2008). Ethical and epistemological problems of hybridizing living beings: Biofacts and Body Shopping. In: Wenchao Li and Hans Poser (Ed.): Ethical Considerations on Today's Science and Technology. A German-Chinese Approach. Münster: LIT (2008), 185-198.
  • Karafyllis, N. C., and Ulshöfer, G. (2008). Intelligent Emotions and Sexualized Brains: Scientific Models, Discourses, and their interdependencies. In: N. C. Karafyllis/G. Ulshöfer (Ed.): Sexualized Brains. Scientific Modeling of Emotional Intelligence from a Cultural Perspective. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1-49.
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2009). Facts or Fiction? Methodological and Ethical Problems of Vision Assessment. In: M. Paul Sollie/Marcus Düwell (ed.): Evaluating New Technologies. Methodological Problems for the Ethical Assessment of Technologic Developments. Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy. Berlin/New York. Springer, 93-116.
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2010). Entries on "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)" and "Alfred Nordmann" for SAGE’s Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Society. Ed. By David Gulston and J. Geoffrey Golson.
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2011). The virtuous autist. Why neuroelitism does not work for the common good. In: Mariacarla Gadebusch Bondio, Andrea Bettels (Ed.): Im Korsett der Tugenden / In the Corset of Virtues. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2013): Short articles on the philosophy of technology of Andrew Feenberg, Richard Sennett, Norbert Wiener (co-authored with Christoph Hubig) and Jose Ortega y Gasset (co-authored with Hans Poser) in: Ch. Hubig, A. Huning, G. Ropohl [ed.]: Nachdenken über Technik: Die Klassiker der Technikphilosophie und neuere Entwicklungen. 3rd ed., to be translated into English and Chinese in 2014/15.
  • Karafyllis, N. C. (2015): "Why 'technology' is not universal", in Ortwin Renn, Nicole C. Karafyllis, Alexander Hohlt and Dorothea Taube (Eds.): International Science and Technology Education: Exploring Culture, Economy, and Social Perceptions, Routledge 2015


  1. ^ See the website of the IFK at
  2. ^ See the webpage of the Arts+Science group at UNAM
  3. ^ See for example the interview in Germany's daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 2014, on the webpage of the journalist Anne Haeming
  4. ^ See also Richard Sennett, The Craftsman, 2008; Hans Blumenberg: Geistesgeschichte der Technik. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 2009 (in German)

External links[edit]