Fabian Estermann
IFK_Junior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2018 bis 30. June 2019

Fellow Abroad

01. October 2019 bis 30. June 2020

Zoologischer Garten in Berlin



Fabian Estermann


The Meaning of Self-Awareness in Comparative Psychology in the 20th and 21st Centuries


The question if and to which extent non-human animals (from now on „animals“) are self-aware is fundamental to comparative psychology. Gordon Gallup Jr. tried to tackle this question with the mirror test: Are chimpanzees capable of mirror self-recognition? While chimpanzees as well as certain other animals frequently pass the test, there is an ongoing dispute about the implication of this feat. In his dissertation, Fabian Estermann aims to show that the latter isn’t caused by possible shortcomings of the mirror test and other similar tests, but instead stems from a fuzzy usage of the word “self-awareness”.


Fabian Estermann majored in philosophy and sociology at the Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg. His Master’s thesis focused on the mind-body-problem, which in part also plays a role in his dissertation. After receiving his degree in 2012, he worked for the Stiftung Bürger für Bürger and for Quifd–Agency for Quality in Voluntary Services. As a freelancer, he also assisted organizations which offer voluntary services in their goal of getting certified. Before his IFK_Junior Fellowship, Fabian Estermann was employed as an office assistant at the Humboldt University Berlin. He is working on his dissertation at the Department of Cultural History and Theory at the HU Berlin.

  • Lecture
Fabian Estermann

Die Fähigkeit zur Selbsterkennung im Spiegel wird oftmals als Indiz für ein vorhandenes Selbstbewusstsein beim betreffenden Tier gewertet. So werden immer mehr Arten dem sogenannten Spiegelexperiment unterzogen, um einem etwaigen Selbstbewusstsein auf die Spur zu kommen. Doch kann das Experiment leisten, was sich Forschende versprechen?