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Lorraine Jenifer Daston Edit Profile

historian , university professor

Lorraine Jenifer Daston, American Historian, educator. Junior fellow Columbia University, 1979; fellow Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, Bielefeld, Federal Republic Germany, 1982-1983, 91-92, Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, 1987-1988, Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California, 1989-1990. Member American History Association, History Science Society (county 1986-1989), Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi. F C.


Daston, Lorraine Jenifer was born on June 9, 1951 in East Lansing, Michigan, United States. Daughter of Paul George and Marie Panoria (Arhondy) Daston.


AB, Harvard University, 1973. Doctor of Philosophy, Harvard University, 1979. Diploma, University Cambridge, England, 1974.


Executive director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in Berlin, and visiting professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, she is considered an authority on Early Modern European scientific and intellectual history. In 1993, she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Daston divides her year between a nine-month period in Berlin, and a three-month period in Chicago, where she usually teaches a seminar and assists doctoral students.

Her Chicago seminars usually take a textualist approach to philosophical, literary, and historical works. In a research capacity at MPIWG she heads the "Ideals and Practices of Rationality" working group, and has concentrated recently on the late-Enlightenment philosophical conceptualization of reason, and the subsequent rise of a rationality based in algorithms and rules. A frequent subject of past inquiry has been the naturalistic fallacy in philosophy and literature, or "the almost irresistible temptation to attempt to extract moral norms from the world of nature." Daston was appointed the inaugural Humanitas Professor in the History of Ideas at University of Oxford for 2013.

She has also held Oxford's Isaiah Berlin Visiting Professorship in Intellectual History. In 2002, she delivered two Tanner Lectures at Harvard University, in which she traced theoretical conceptions of nature in several literary and philosophical works. A number of her scholarly articles have been published in the journal of humanistic criticism Critical Inquiry.

She also holds a seat on that journal's editorial board, and a recent feature on Daston can be seen on the Critical Inquiry website.


  • Daston was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2010.



Fellow American Association for the Advancement of Science. Member American History Association, History Science Society (council 1986-1989), Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (Pfizer Prize 1989, 99), Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi.


Married Gerd Johann Gigerenzer, October 25, 1985. 1 child, Thalia.

Paul George Daston

Marie Panoria (Arhondy) Daston

Gerd Johann Gigerenzer

Thalia Daston