Parmenides Foundation

The Parmenides Foundation is a charitable research and teaching organization. Its main task is to study how human thinking copes with complexity and to develop innovative methodologies and tools to support the human brain in this rapidly increasing challenge.


The foundation was created 20 years ago by Albrecht von Müller, in close cooperation with Ernst Pöppel. Soon thereafter, Eörs Szathmáry, Helge Ritter, Thomas Filk, Michael Öllinger and Benedikt Grothe also became crucial contributors to the build-up of the foundation. From the very beginning, there was a close and very fruitful cooperation with several departments of LMU Munich and some Max Planck Institutes.

Today, the Parmenides Foundation brings together approx. 240 experts from 12 disciplines, directly in the foundation or in its application-oriented spin-offs.

At present, the foundation is led by Julian Nida-Rümelin as Executive Director and Albrecht von Müller as Chairman of the Board. The ultimate statutory beneficiary of the Parmenides Foundation is the Max Planck Society.

Our basic research focuses on four main topics: 1) the underlying, modular architecture of complex thinking processes, 2) the difference between ratiomorphic analysis and a constellatory appreciation of issues in their entirety, 3) the necessary interplay of these two basic modes of thinking for cognitive excellence and „reason“ (in the full, philosophical sense), and based on all the above 4) new forms of multi-modal and model-based AI, viz. AI with reduced demands on data and greater proximity to general intelligence.

With regard to education, we have developed a new postgrad/postdoc curriculum, the MCA (Magister Cogitationis Artium). It is focussed on fostering outstanding skills in authentic thinking and on familiarising the participants with crucial thought-patterns from different disciplines. By the latter, we intend to enable the participants to approach novel challenges with a broad spectrum of different “cognitive prisms”.

As for the practical application of the basic research findings, four fields have been chosen. They are all characterised by a need for disruptive innovation and a potential for large humanitarian returns. The fields are „Medicine & Health Care“, „Education & Science“, „Strategy & Finance“ and, last but not least, „Democracy & Governance“.

Organisationally, the foundation is composed of several centers that our faculty, core team and associates contribute to: