Sunday, 18 December 2016

Paper of the month: Roberto Alciati on 'Ars Ascetica from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, 200-900 CE'

Congratulations to Roberto Alciati, Fellow at the Max Weber Center for being the most read author on the blog over the past month. His paper on 'Ars Ascetica' ranged top. As one can see from the statistics, the blog is increasing in becoming one of the windows of the Center towards the US in particular, but is also widely read in Russia, Europe, but also in Canada, Brazil, Australia and other places. With over 7.000 views last month, we have topped the 6.000 views of the previous month and the 5.000 of the month before. Numbers do not say everything, however, in a field of social sciences, anthropology, history and religious studies, particularly in an institute in which dynamic acceleration is studied critically (Rosa, 2013), and where we are aware of the downsides of such statistics. In this sense, we are more interested in the scholarly exchange regarding the content of what we do. And here, it is noticeable that over the past months we had the first publications and editions of original material on the blog here, something, we'd like to develop further in the coming year. For now, we are grateful to all the contributors and readers, feel free to respond and submit material that you deem right for being placed here,
have a great Christmas time and a happy New Year
your team from the MWK Blog
Bettine, Jutta and Markus

Louis-Philippe Vien is presenting a working paper on 'The Kingdom of Influence - Max Weber As A “Would-Be Englishman”'

Between the hagiographies following in the wake of Marianne Weber Lebensbild, Mommsen’s Wegbereiter thesis, and the works of those, indirectly writing against the first two receptions, who see in him an insightful political scientist, Max Weber’s political thought is the object three massively different interpretations. With the help of Pocock’s theory of political language I intend to shed lights on the English influences of Weber’s conception of modern politics. In this I follow the intuitions of Günther Roth in his Work on “Weber The Would-Be Englishman”. But where his writings are based on the economic history of Weber’s extended family, I want to investigate the structure of his political thoughts as to reveal how Weber’s political ideas, if often described as unique and extraordinary in the German context of his time, is based on interrogations and themes that would appear as common for late-Victorians. In order to identify the common tensions upon which a shared political language is articulated, I compare Weber writing on politics with those of two iconic Victorian political authors, namely Walter Bagehot and John Stuart Mill. From their (I) historiography, to their conception of the parliamentary institutions, be it their roles as tools of State administration (II) or in their influence on the political education of the nation (III), or in their relation to (IV) Statesmanship, what reveal itself is a common conception of modern politics, a common view on the necessity of strong parliamentary institutions in modern states, and a common adherence to the short-lived brand of agonistic liberalism.

Hartmut Rosa presents a working paper on 'Airports Built on Shifting Grounds? Social Acceleration and the Temporal Dimension of Law'

Modern societies are characterized by a progressive transformation in their temporal fabric which can be understood as a consistent trend towards dynamization and social acceleration (Rosa 2013). This trend implies that there is not just an ongoing technological acceleration in the speed of transport, communication and the production of goods and services, but also a progressive decrease in the stability of social arrangements and practices; that is, a change in the rates of change themselves. In other words, the social, technological and economic world transforms itself at an ever increasing pace. If one accepts this as a defining feature of modernity and hence as an adequate description of modern society, the interesting question for the role of law in this process arises almost as an enigma. On the one hand, law is supposed to ensure stability and calculability in a dynamic world. So this would mean that the rule of law is a prerequisite and even a safeguard for the dynamism of the socioeconomic world, but is not itself accelerated in the process. On the other hand, of course, laws need to be adapted to changing needs, values and environments, so lawmaking itself has becoming a perennial task in the modern world. And furthermore, of course, law itself can be the source of considerable social dynamics, as every historian can tell from the introduction of welfare, educational or gender legislation. In this contribution, I will try to sort out the role and function of law in the process of social acceleration in a systematic fashion. In the first step, I will briefly sketch out the logics and workings of social acceleration as a consequence of modernity’s core principle: dynamic stabilization, and I will point out how this leads to escalatory processes of speed-up, increase and innovation. In the second step, I will scrutinize the argument that law can be understood as a functional and indispensable ‘stabilizer’, even a decelerator, in the acceleration-game. However, not all aspects or spheres of social life can be dynamized to the same extent and at the same speed. This systematically raises the danger of desynchronization, for example, between the speed of market developments and the pace of democratic decision-making. Therefore, as I will try to point out in the third step, law serves a vital function in ‘re-synchronizing’ the pace of social life. This explains why law-making and applying, in some cases, actually is a tool to accelerate or dynamize certain social spheres or populations. Nevertheless, there is something like a natural speed-limit for law to be capable to fulfill this function. Beyond it, the rule of law itself is in danger of becoming anachronistic, of being too slow for the pace of social dynamics and hence of being eroded by the escalatory tides of acceleration. It might well be that late-modern societies are approaching this state of affairs quickly. It might mean, however, that the system of dynamic stabilization and social acceleration is finally undermining itself. This will be the topic of my concluding remarks in the fourth part of this paper.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Julia Seeberger is presenting a working paper on 'Visiones cuiusdam virginis – Searching for a certain virgin, the Beguine Agnes Blannbekin (+1315) from Vienna'

My dissertation project is based on the “Life and Revelations” of a woman, called Agnes Blannbekin, who lived in Vienna in the late 13th century. Her confessor, an unknown brother who belongs to the Order of the Friars Minor, probable in Vienna, wrote down her life and revelations. In short articles in encyclopaedias for Christian female mysticism Agnes Blannbekin is described as a representative of the typical Later Middle Ages piety, which focuses on Jesus Christ and the longing for Jesus. Further Agnes Blannbekin is known as the only Beguine in the Austrian area. In contrast to my former papers this paper does not focus on the outstanding position of odoratus in the visions or within the context of piety. I previously focused on the usage of olfactory vocabulary for personal descriptions of clerics in the “Life and Revelations” of Agnes Blannbekin. In this paper, now, I am going to analyse the female protagonist, her place, role and social environment. At the beginning I start with a collection and investigation of the existing manuscripts of her "Life and Revelations". Based on these manuscripts I examine the general characteristics of the protagonist and resume to characterize the protagonist based on the content of the “Life and Revelations”. Based on these investigations I would like to verify the general narration of the Viennese Beguine Agnes Blannbekin and to think about the contemporary use and intention of the extant copies.

Angelika Malinar is presenting a working paper on 'Karmic history, politics and the synthesis of “East” and “West”: Annie Besant (1847-1933) on Hinduism'

The research focusses on European women as interpreters of Hinduism in the colonial-modern period. The interpretation of Hinduism as well as the “woman question” were prominent arenas of the political-cultural debates that characterised the entangled history between India and Europe at that time. From the last decades of the nineteenth century onward women not only in India, but also in Europe participated increasingly in the debates about Indian religion and society. Annie Besant (1847-1933) and Margaret Noble (1867-1911), for instance, did not only pursue their own spiritual interests, but were also actively engaged in socio-political and educational projects. In doing so they challenged constructions of gender and regimes of power both in India and Europe which resulted in complex biographies as well as in various. While their political activities received some scholarly attention, their interpretations of Hinduism did not. One reason for this is that these interpretations were often seen as intellectually irrelevant or mere apologetics. This view seems to be based on the application of certain paradigms in the interpretation of female agency and individuality in the colonial context. The European women were considered as being either mere mouthpieces of “Indian Gurus” or agents of imperialism (even when they saw themselves fighting against it). Such unilateral views of colonial history have been challenged in recent years by emphasizing the entangled, multi-layered interactions between Indians and Europeans as well as the complex personal relationships they entertained. In following this approach, I shall explore the individual biographies, the social and political networks of the European women and the larger intellectual contexts of their interpretation of Hinduism. The paper focusses on Annie Besant and deals firstly with some theoretical issues and in the second part discusses certain features of Besant´s interpretations of Hinduism.

Internal meeting of the members of the ERC-project ‘Lived Ancient Religion’ at Schloß Ettersburg, 8-9 December 2016

Ten members of the ERC-funded project ‘Lived Ancient Religion’, co-directed by Jörg Rüpke (MWK) and Rubina Raja (Aarhus), came together at Schloß Ettersburg near Weimar (Thuringia) on 8-9 December 2016 to assess progress on individual projects as the financial period draws to a close (31 May 2017), and to review preparations for the final conference to be held at Haus Haunstein in Eisenach, 3-5 April 2017. On taking stock of what the participants felt to be the key concepts that had been developed over the five years, it became clear that the original terms have largely, though not entirely, been replaced by others that are more appropriate to individual needs. A number of existing co-operation partners and future conferences were nominated as means of pursuing topics that are only now being opened up or could not be completed within the financial period. In addition to the publication in various forms of individual projects and of the proceedings of the final conference, it was resolved to publish a collective article in a Religious Studies journal to summarise the project’s provisional results in that quarter. The new house-journal Religion in the Roman Empire (Mohr Siebeck) will however be the major long-term forum for the ideas developed by the project.

Call for Papers: „Shared Ritual Practices and Divided Historiography: Media, Phenomena, Topoi“

The Research Centre „Dynamics of Jewish Ritual Practices in Pluralistic Contexts from Antiquity to the Present“ at the University of Erfurt (Germany) announces its third conference, which will run from June 14 through June 16, 2017, and is entitled „Shared Ritual Practices and Divided Historiography: Media, Phenomena, Topoi“. The conference will focus on widespread, „popular“ ritual practices. We are especially interested in rituals that were not performed at synagogue or at church but in the private or semi-public realm and were not described in official liturgical books (at least not initially). This also includes rituals for which the official ritual practitioners attempted to produce scripts and rules as they realized that such rituals were performed outside of the official realm. In those cases, we are interested in investigating the anxieties that such rituals, which did not conform to established boundaries, produced. The main interest lies in the questions of the sharing of such rituals in the face of boundary work or across institutional boundaries and in its historiographical treatment. In terms of chronology, material from late antiquity and the middle ages will be given primary attention. Again, the focus is on Judaism within larger contexts, in particular polytheistic (Mediterranean, European), Christian (European, American), and monotheistic traditions (Islam in Northern Africa, Asia). The following scholars have already agreed to deliver papers: Sarit Shalev-Eyni, Rivka Ulmer, Sara Offenberg, Karen Stern, Eric Rebillard, Nicola Denzey, Jordan Rosenblum, Claudia Bergmann, Susan Weingarten, Michael Satlow, and Jörg Rüpke.
During the conference, doctoral students are invited to present their research in short lectures. These lectures should be no longer than 15 minutes, they will be followed by about 10 minutes of discussion. Thematically, any topic regarding rituals in Judaism is welcome, but we especially invite presentations on art, inscriptions, cemeteries / tombs, food/meals, and historiography. The language of the conference is English.
If you are a doctoral student and would like to participate in our conference by presenting a short lecture, please contact Claudia Bergmann at Please send your name, your current position, and a short abstract of no more than one page including your sources and some bibliographical information by January 31, 2017. If you are chosen to present, we will provide for your accommodation in Erfurt and costs in regard to the conference. If need be, we can also offer a contribution to your travel expenses.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Opnenings for up to 4 Scholarships for Guest Doctoral Students (1,100 Euros/month) at the Max Weber Center, Erfurt

The Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt invites applications for: up to 4 Scholarships for Guest Doctoral Students (1,100 Euros/month) for PhD projects in the fields of Sociology, Religious Studies, History, Philosophy or Theology within the framework of the Kolleg Research Group “Religious Individualisation in Historical Perspective” directed by Prof. Dr. Martin Mulsow and Prof. Dr. Jörg Rüpke.

The scholarships start on 1 April and 1 October 2017 and are granted for either 6 or 12 months.

• Knowledge of German (at least reading skills, if necessary participation in a German Language Course), English and other relevant languages
• Acceptance for the position of doctoral candidate at another university and secured funding of the PhD project from another source
• Cooperation within in the interdisciplinary context of the Max Weber Center and in particular the Kolleg Research Group Further information about the Max Weber Center and the Kolleg Research Group available here.

Please submit your application with CV, copies of your final school and university degrees, a copy of your MA or diploma thesis, one letter of recommendation and an outline of the PhD project you would like to pursue (max. 5 pages) with a stringent discussion of your research questions, the state of research on the topic, the methodological approach and the leading hypotheses as well as a working schedule and projected date of completion as pdf-files (maximum of 10 MB) by 18 December 2016 to:
University of Erfurt
• Max-Weber-Kolleg
• Direct informal enquiries may be made to Dr. Bettina Hollstein ( The University of Erfurt does not refund any costs incurred in the application process.

Openings for up to 3 Junior Fellowships for Young Female Researchers/Postdoctoral Scholars at the Max Weber Center, Erfurt

The Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt invites applications for: up to 3 Junior Fellowships for Young Female Researchers/Postdoctoral Scholars for research projects in the fields of Sociology, Religious Studies, History, Philosophy or Theology within the framework of the Kolleg Research Group “Religious Individualisation in Historical Perspective” directed by Prof. Dr. Martin Mulsow and Prof. Dr. Jörg Rüpke.

The fellowships start either on 1 April 2017 or 1 September/1 October 2017 and are granted for up to 10 months. Financial arrangements take into account the individual situation of the awardees of the fellowships and are based on the principle “no loss, no gain”.

• Position at another university
• Excellent academic degree
• Relevant PhD Thesis
• Outstanding Academic Record
• Knowledge of German (at least reading skills), English and other languages that are relevant for the project
• Cooperation within the interdisciplinary context of the Max Weber Center and in particular the Kolleg Research Group Further information about the Max Weber Center and the Kolleg Research Group available here.

Please submit your application with CV, copies of your last university degrees, a copy of your PhD thesis and up to three articles, list of publications, and an outline of the research project you would like to pursue (5-10 pages) with a stringent discussion of your research questions, the state of research on the topic, the methodological approach and the leading hypotheses as well as a working schedule and projected date of completion as pdf-files (maximum of 10 MB) by 18 December 2016 to:
University of Erfurt
• Max-Weber-Kolleg
Direct informal enquiries may be made to Dr. Bettina Hollstein ( The University of Erfurt does not refund any costs incurred in the application process.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Bettina Hollstein presents a working paper on 'Pragmatist ethics of economics in light of corruption in NGOs, as for example in academic research'

Based on the systematic considerations for a pragmatic ethics of society and economics in my habilitation thesis ('Understanding voluntary work') my new project is to develop elements of a pragmatic ethics of economics. For this end, there will be an emphasis on action theory and emotions, embodiment, creativity, routines, situations, patterns of interpretation and collective narrations. These considerations are to be developed on the basis of specific cases of ethics in economy where corruption is a key element, as corruption has become a topic of attention in the public over the last twenty years. In my paper I will focus on corruption in the non-profit-sector, especially in the sector of academic research.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Central German Universities are launching a joint research Forum

The Universities of Leipzig, Halle-Wittenberg, Jena and Erfurt set up a joint research forum in the humanities and social sciences on 1 December 2016. The forum, entitled "Forum for the Study of
the Global Condition", brings together scholars from numerous disciplines, studying the global entanglement of contemporary societies and their historical roots. In addition to the four universities, involved are the Leibniz Institute for Leipzig, the Max Planck Institute for Ethnology, the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture Leipzig, and the Center for the History and
Culture of Eastern Central Europe at the University of Leipzig (which will become part of the Leibniz Gesellschaft on 1 January 2017).

The initiative is based on the idea that the Central German Universities, together with the institutes of the Max Planck Society and the Leibniz Gesellschaft, have an excellent expertise in the analysis of global processes, with their professionalism and experience in collaborative research. Existing
collaborative and individual projects are to be linked with each other and supplemented by appropriate forms of doctoral qualification and research-oriented teaching.

In terms of content, it is about the paradox that more and more people are involved in and affected by global interdependencies, but that they are skeptical about a globalized future for various reasons. The Forum does not study "globalization", but explores how different actors deal with transnational migration, exchange of goods, financial flows and the transfer of ideas, and thus create "the global" at all.

"Through an interdisciplinary combination of our competencies in the new Forum, we will be able to form a competitive center, whose research is attracting international attention and is thus highly attractive to excellent young scholars and master students," says Prof. Dr. Beate Schücking,
Rector of the University of Leipzig. "In Central Germany, we are constantly showing how good inter-institutional cooperation can be achieved. The institutionalised cooperation between Halle, Jena and Leipzig has now been in existence for more than 20 years, special research areas such as those of the
nomadic societies have made the best use of this foundation and the relatively young German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research is developing into an internationally visible lighthouse. The study of global processes is now building on this."

More important collaborative projects have been approved in the recent past, such as the Leibniz Science Campaign "Eastern Europe - Global Area" between Leipzig, Halle and Jena, and the special research area "Spatialization Processes under Globalization Conditions" (University of Leipzig, Leibniz Institute for Ethnology, History and Culture of East Central Europe). The new research Forum also links thematically to topics and projects of the "International Year of Global Understanding", which has its origin at the University of Jena and focuses on questions of sustainability and the understanding of global contexts.

"The research Forum will be an expression of cooperation between university and non-university research centers in Central Germany," emphasized Prof. Dr. Walter Rosenthal, President of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (FSU). Bringing together excellent human and social sciences expertise is an important step "to promote interdisciplinary research in these fields", so Rosenthal.

In terms of content, the University of Jena inter alia focuses on literature, history, and sociology. The existing research and graduate colleges as well as the collegiate research groups represent an excellent starting point for the successful cooperation. The President of the FSU also emphasizes that the promotion of young scholars is a particular concern of the new Forum. Thus, by means of a joint program of excellence, the proportion of international graduate students in Central Germany would be significantly increased.

"Halle contributes its expertise primarily to questions of law and the possible implementation of national legal systems in the context of international norms," ​​says Prof. Dr. Udo Sträter, Rector
of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. The University of Halle and Jena, among others, are part of the University's interdisciplinary research center "Society and Culture in Motion" as well as the Aleksander Brückner Center for Polish Studies. Another important partner is the Max Planck
Institute for Anthropological Research in Halle.

At the University of Erfurt, the sociological and historical research at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies concentrates on the changing world-relations of individuals and entire societies, which are increasingly challenging in the face of growing uncertainty about the result of the many overlapping global interdependencies. Professor Walter Bauer-Wabnegg, President of the University of Erfurt, said: "The comparative analysis of world relations in the field of culture, in particular, also includes historical aspects well before the 19th century and our time."

Thursday, 1 December 2016

IAHR Congress 2015 - Proceedings have now been published Open Access

The Proceedings of last year's IAHR Congress have now been published in an Open Access version (see IAHR 2015 Proceedings). The volume, as the Congress itself, addresses the dynamics of religions in the past and present. As such it is also addressing the dynamics of the study of religion. Bringing together programmatic contributions and exemplary case studies, it focuses on the different fields of change, namely that of the individual as subject and object of religion, of community and society, of practices and discourses, and of the narrations on such developments.
While the print version (to be published December 19) includes only the expanded keynote presentations of the IAHR Congress, the online version also includes all information about IAHR business meetings, the running of the Congress and all abstracts of the papers that were delivered during the IAHR World Congress. 

Jasmin Kutzner is presenting a working paper on 'The Influence of Synagogal Liturgy and Ritual Practices of Judaism in the Works of the Neue Jüdische Schule'

Hélène Clément & Jascha Nemtsov play Alexander Weprik - "Chant rigoureux"  

The project is dedicated to the appearance of national Jewish art music in the first decades of the 20th century. With the changes of the social position of the Jewish population in Europe and their participation in political, economic, and cultural life, a new self-confidence arose in regard to religious and cultural traditions and ethical principles, especially in Eastern Europe. Russia not only became the nutrient medium of a national Jewish renaissance, what led to the creation of a national school of Jewish music in the early 20th century - initially also the most important centre of Jewish artmusic - which later on inspired many composers of different countries to artistic disputes about the independent Jewish language of music. In the centre of the research interest are compositions of the Neue Jüdische Schule, which was an association of composers characterised by Zionist ideas and institutionally organized with the Gesellschaft für jüdische Volksmusik in St. Petersburg (1908-1920), the Gesellschaft für jüdische Musik in Moskow (1923-1931) and with the Verein zur Förderung jüdischer Musik in Vienna (1928-1938). Within the project selected musical works of Jewish composers will be analyzed regarding the question of the influence of liturgical elements and ritual practices of Judaism to them. In a second step, they will be put into the context of (music-)historical and cultural processing and identity-founding strategies. The scientific discussion about both synagogal and folkloristic music and about ritual practices of the Judaism, with respect to their historical development, functionality and social influence, are the starting point and basic concept of the project. The research project is strongly linked to the Potsdamer Archiv der Neuen Jüdischen Schule initiated and built up by Jascha Nemtsov. The goal of the research project is the discursive interpreting examination of the musical collections of the archive paying special attention to the interconnections of liturgical, traditional, and ritual practices of Judaism with art-musical forms of expression. The scholarly interest also follows the questions of underlying musical and sociological ideals of the Neue Jüdische Schule, the tense relationship within the association of composers and to the social reality. Furthermore, the topic music as a political symbol and medium for dissemination of a national consciousness will be addressed. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary oriented research project wants to give birth to analytical results regarding structural elements of the Jewish music-language and also of the positioning of the Neue Jüdische Schule in the musical field of tension between tradition and innovation.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mikhail Khorkov is giving a working paper on 'Cusanus in Erfurt: A pre-history of the reception of the works of Nicolaus Cusanus at the Carthusians in Erfurt'

The present paper is part of my research project on the history of the Cusanus reception in the Erfurt Carthusian monastery in the 15th century. The focus of this project is not only on the texts of Nicholas of Cusa, but also on the motifs and context of their reception, especially on the debate on the nature of the mystical theology and the interpretation of the earlier medieval mysticism. In this paper, the first controversy of Nicholas of Cusa with the Erfurt Carthusians on the interpretation of wisdom is examined.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Paper of the month 'Knud Haakonssen on 'To know yourself – that’s a whole crowd! Ludvig Holberg as a case study of multiple authorial personae'

The MWK blog has seen a sharp increase in uptake of readers over the past weeks, and it is getting more and more recognized around the world. This month alone, we had more visitors than in the entire year of 2015.

This growing interest in what the MWK is doing and posting on its blog is due to an increasing number of subscribers at the MWK, but also from around the world, and the content the members of the MWK are providing. This map gives you an insight into who is reading the MWK blog, the darker, the more readers. As you will quickly see, there are far more readers in the US than, for example, in Germany. Straight after the US come Russia and Germany, but with a good readership also in France, Turkey, Ukraine, India and Brazil:

Last month's also has front runners of entries - and congratulations to Knud who has been the most read paper of November ! - underlining the interest in questions of natural law around the world.


Bjørn Schiermer Andersen presents a working paper on 'Max Weber on Creativity: Towards an Alternative Theory of Action in Weber's Work'

The present paper aims to unearth an alternative theory of action in Weber. Centering on the three concepts of creativity, personality and Sachlichkeit in Weber's work, I argue that one finds action theoretical impulses at these instances which are principally at odds with the Kantian, subject-centered, formalistic and dualist perspectives pervading much of his work. I aim to show how so-called object-orientated attitudes surface at these instances, attitudes that rests on fundamentally different epistemological and ontological assumptions than the Kantian ones. The paper consists of two parts. In the first, critical or 'negative' part, I contour the most Kantian passages in Weber's work and demonstrate the fatal theoretical and empirical consequences they entail. In the second, "positive" part I start by investigating Weber's understanding of creativity, highlighting its object-orientated impulses. I then demonstrate how his conceptualization of personality changes in the course of his work, likewise due to the emergence of object-oriented attitudes. Thereupon, I seek to show how Weber's ideas of creativity and personality fuse in his concept of Sachlichkeit and how the latter concept leads his late methodological work in a decisively Anti-Kantian and anti-dualist direction. Concluding, I discuss in more general terms the sociological relevance of this alternative 'theory' of action found in Weber.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Georg Gangl presents a working paper on 'Narrative Explanations. The Case for Causality'

Questions around the explanatory status of narratives have recently resurfaced in various forms in discussions in the philosophy of history and historiography (PHH) and several disciplines of the social sciences. Two theoretical developments seem particularly noteworthy: Firstly, the push towards postnarrativism in PHH and the discussions its theoretical innovations have been creating (Kuukkkanen 2015; Roth 2016), and secondly a strengthening interest in what has been called “the narrative construction of reality” in the social sciences in the broadest sense construed (for an overview see Hyvärinen 2006). Postnarrativism with its emphasis on colligatory concepts and epistemic values has broached the topic of the potentially explanatory role of narrative again without fundamentally leaving the theoretical terrain of classical narrativism and, other than its name suggests, the discussion about the narrative construction of reality is mostly a discussion about narrative as a more or less necessary form of depiction of reality. Both discussions might come together in a fruitful manner or both may even be grounded in what Arthur Danto called the “descriptive metaphysics of historical existence” (Danto 1968: vii); in a philosophy able to express the link between fundamental elements of our historical being and their depiction in the form of narrative. The concept of “narrative explanation” (Danto 1968: 236) stands for this philosophical project.

Danto, the original author of the term narrative explanation, might in fact just be the right starting point when it comes to matters concerning the philosophical substance of narrative. As much as the term narrative explanation has in fact raised eyebrows and caused philosophical wrinkles when it was first coined by Danto in the middle of the 1960s in the midst of the discussions about the applicability of Hempel’s Covering-Law-Model to historiography (Hempel 1942), today there is certainly some intuitive appeal to it coming from both, quarters of the philosophy of science ranging from the philosophy of biology to the philosophy of historiography and the social sciences in general (Beatty/Carrera 2011; Roth 2016; Hyvärinen 2010). Narratives, there is no doubt in any of the two fields of discussion just mentioned, are employed in both ordinary discourse and various different sciences when it comes to the description of change, process, and development, and they are, in those fields at least, customarily also thought of as being explanatory of those phenomena.

Initially, Danto’s aim in his main publication on the issue, Analytical Philosophy of History (Danto 1968), was to “demonstrate an equivalence between explanation as construed by Hempel, and narratives” (Danto 1995: 71), as he remarks in reflections written exactly thirty years after the initial publication of that book, but no such equivalence could generally be established and in the years that followed the initial publication of his book Danto was among the first to concede that much. It turned out that epistemologically as well as ontologically narratives just could not be squared with the rigid premises imposed by the Covering Law Model; neither could the complex form of argumentation provided by narratives be assimilated to the strict and generalizing argument form of deductive logic nor did a notion of causality based on the Humean idea of constant conjunctions of events and a concomitant symmetry between explanation and prediction prove to be any useful in dissecting the complex and multi-layered causal chains found in the narratives of historians, and shortly after the discussion about the application of the Covering Law Model to historiography reached a dead end in the end of the 1960s the whole discursive terrain underwent a significant transformation. Just think of the initial publication of Hayden White’s Metahistory in 1973 (White 1974), neglecting with its emphasis on linguistic and stylistic concerns in narrative construction any form of explanatory issue at hand. However, freed from the strict limitations of the Hempelian model the question of the explanatory purview of narratives remains acute. - Is there any such thing as genuinely narrative explanations, including potentially historiographical narrative explanations?

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Aarhus University and Universität Erfurt agree MoU on an ongoing exchange of scholars

The newly signed Memorandum of Understanding between Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet, Aarhus University) and Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies (MWK, Universität Erfurt) is a new highlight for both institutions and the Universities of Aarhus and Erfurt. Already in the past fruitful exchanges have taken place with workshops, conferences, seminars and papers given by colleagues of the respective other institution. These continuous cooperations have now led to a formalising of the relationship. The two colleagues who have headed and represented the institutions are Professor Rubina Raja (director of UrbNet) and Professor Jörg Rüpke (vice-director of Max-Weber-Kolleg). They have paved the way for this Memorandum that secures the foundation for expanding the academic partnership. The agreement seeks to promote an ongoing exchange of scholars at both junior and senior level, with the intention of sharing expertise and fostering joint projects.

As part of the collaboration agreement, Professor Jörg Rüpke has been awarded a 5-year renewal of his adjunct professorship at Aarhus University, now affiliated with UrbNet. A number of research and teaching stays has been planned, during which Rüpke will offer lectures, contribute to conferences as well as co-organise and co-teach (with Rubina Raja) a series of doctorate courses on historiography.

Qian Zhao presents a working paper on 'Individualization, Cultural Entrepreneurs and Socio-technological Innovations in China: An Empirical Study'

In the topics related with contemporary China, a universal recognized aspect is that China is in transition. Since the economic reforms in 1978, the socioeconomic stature of China is dramatically different from previous. My project tends to examine the changing Chinese society from the perspective of individual in facing with the tremendous socio-economic changes.

This research starts from the current debate of Chinese individualization. Some scholars argued the Chinese individual bears a strong flavor of possessive individualism while no longer uphold the core values of social collectivism, as the primacy of collective interests over those of individuals. It is problematic if we take this statement as granted. It is also too simple to category China society in the individualism/collectivism dualism. This research’s first purpose is to review Chinese individual as discussed in the literature, identify controversies and debates and consider some critical issues of individualism/collectivism. By focusing on a singular but symbolic group – China young cultural entrepreneurs, the second purpose is to propose conceptual and research strategies in substantiating issue of individualism/collectivism in youth, exploring the changes of behaviors and values under socio-technological innovations in the empirical study.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Maik Patzelt gave a working paper on 'The Significance of Religious Experience in Seneca’s Works: The Case of the Silent Prayer'

This contribution aims to argue that Seneca attempts to promote a religious experience as well as the essential technique to that end. Whereas his philosophical views elaborate a concept of divine proximity, the religious experience of divine presence is realized through ritualized practices of ecstasy. Seneca elaborates a ritualized technique of silent prayer that fulfills, cognitive psychologically speaking, all conditions of a so-called ‘mystical’ prayer. The prayer style as well as its experience is quite hidden behind a special narratological structure, which the following approach has to reveal. This structure is characterized by the opposition of the silent prayers with those prayers of the ‘wrongdoers’. Seneca strategically opposes two sorts of experiences this way.

Bernhard Kleeberg gave a paper on 'Do executives think straight?'

„Do you and your executives think straight? Or do you solve problems by ‚intuition‘?“ – thus asks an article published in the economic journal Fortune in 1953. It marks a significant transition in respect to rationality, which at the time is increasingly seen as deeply connected with emotion, motivation, and situationality. Straight thinking no longer seems to be the objective of modern man, but intuitive, creative, “wild” thinking as it is practiced, for instance, in brainstorming sessions. This new kind of rationality is related to the virtues of the emerging figure of the executive manager, whose immediate and creative response to challenges of the market becomes fundamental for postindustrial society. Aiming at a political epistemology of rationality of the mid 20th century, the paper relates these debates to contemporary studies of group constellations and individual cognition in experimental psychology.

Bernd-Christian Otto presented a working paper on '"Perfectioning" in learned discourses on magic of the 20th century'

The present paper is devoted to the phenomenon of changeability in the history of ‚Western learned magic‘ and focuses on a particular – conceptual as well as ritual – shift which took place, so the paper argues, at the turn of the 20th century. The paper is derived from a lecture I gave during a Ringvorlesung on the topic of ‚Perfektionierung des Menschen‘ earlier this year. It will appear in a volume that assembles selected lectures of said Ringvorlesung, and thus stands next to papers on genetics, embryo screening, or transhumanism.

The paper first sketches out my current understanding of ‚Western learned magic‘ (ch. 1), and therafter (ch. 2) attempts at outlining the relationship between ‚Optimierung‘ and ‚Perfektionierung‘ in the pre-modern ‚learned magic‘ discourse (I mainly operationalize these two concepts on the level of ritual goals: inner-wordly Kontingenzbewältigung vs. self-deification or apotheosis). Chapter 3 provides the main part of the analysis: the three discussed examples – the Hermetic Order oft he Golden Dawn; Aleister Crowley; and the so-called ‚moonchild experiments‘ by Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard – are intended to illustrate the presumed shift from ‚Optimierung‘ to ‚Perfektionierung‘ in the 20th century ‚learned magic‘ discourse. The final chapter (ch. 4) attempts to provide a range of explanations for this seemingly crucial shift in the history of ‚Western learned magic‘.

Claudia D. Bergmann presented a working paper on 'Last Things Last: The Meal Scene on the Last Page of the Ambrosian Bible'

The paper is part of the research project on Biblical Food Motifs – Contemporary Customs: How Medieval Culture Influenced the Depiction of Food and Eating in Illuminated Jewish Books from Ashkenaz.

The research project sees itself as interdisciplinary. It will discuss the biblical roots for selected food items and food-related activities, investigate depictions of communal meals in early Jewish medieval manuscripts in Ashkenaz, and ask the question how these visual depictions of acts of (communal) eating betray knowledge of early Jewish literary traditions as well as medieval Jewish and Christian (meal) cultures. The main pictorial source for this proposed project are the following early Ashkenazi illuminated manuscripts from the 13th and 14th centuries: the Ambrosian Bible: c. 1236 probably from Würzburg or Ulm (MS B 32 inf., Bibliotheca Ambrosiana, Milan); the Birds’ Head Haggadah: c. 1300, probably from Würzburg (Israel Museum, Jerusalem); the Leipzig Mahzor: c. 1310, from Southern Germany possibly Worms (Ms Vollers 1002, Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig). The list of 14th and 15th century Ashkenazi manuscripts that will also be taken into consideration includes, but is not limited to: the Darmstadt Haggadah: from the 14th century (COD.OR. 8, Universität- und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt); the Ashkenazi Haggadah: c. 1460, probably from Ulm (Add 14762, British Library); the Washington Haggadah: written by Joel ben Simeon from Cologne in 1478 (United States Library of Congress). While the project “Biblical Food Motifs – Contemporary Customs: How Medieval Culture Influenced the Depiction of Food and Eating in Illuminated Jewish Books from Ashkenaz” does not propose to be a comprehensive overview over the topic, it intends to present representative case studies that illustrate the topic.
This is a sub-project of the research project on 'Dynamics of Jewish Ritual Practices in Pluralistic Contexts from Antiquity to the Present'

Gunnar Folke Schuppert is presenting a working paper on 'the language of law in the "concert of language of politics"'

Research on the universal, the world- or, as it seems to have become the conceptual name for it – of global history – are the fashion of the day. This also applies to the global history of ideas, which is considered one of the facets of global history. As far as this branch of a globalized history of ideas is concerned, a number of different approaches are possible. Some prefer to deal with the emergence and dissemination of ‘big ideas’, others - such as Martin Mulsow - hold such a narrowed concepts for little meaningful. Probably the most popular methodical approach, however, is the history of ideas as an entangled history, in particular looking at ‘intermediaries, translations, and networks’. A third methodological approach is to use ideas as a history of language, which means languages ​​used in public discourses, for example, as common good, in order to establish a good and just order and in general terms for a ‘Good Government’. Necessary elements, for example, are the languages of theology, of philosophy but also those of law. The latter leads us to the topic of this working papers, namely the role of language of law in the political discourse, be it the pre-modern, the early modern period, or – in which we are particularly interested in - the present. We suggest that we can learn something about the present when we think about what language of law brought it about.

Jana Ilnicka presented a working paper on 'Relatio in Meister Eckhart's vernacular writing, as found in a re-discovered manuscript (Eisenach Ms. 1361)'

In this paper I am concerned with a Quaestio about 'relatio' in the newly found manuscript of Wartburg. This manuscript contains several texts (the extant is not established yet), which, according to their content, can be attributed to Eckhart alone, one of which is the present question about
relationship. It is here published for the first time and needs further exploration, for which this paper is the first attempt.


Meister Eghart und ouch ander meister sprechent /2 daz zwei ding sind in gode: wesen und widersehen /3 daz da heisset relacio:

nu sprechend die meister /4 daz des vader wesen /5 den sun in der godheit niht gebird:
Wan [da] der vader nach sinem \/ [m.r.: wesen] sicht niht anders danne in sin bloßes wesen /6 und schouwet sich selber da inne /7 nah aller siner kraft /8 und da schouwet er sich blos an den sun /9 und an den heiligen geist: und sicht da niht wan einkeit sines selben wesens
Wen aber der vader ein widerschouwen und ein widersehen haben wil /10 sin selber in einer ander person /11 so ist des vader wesen in dem widersehnenne geberend den sun
/12 und wand er im selber in dem widersehen so wol gauellet /13 und im daz widerschouwen so lustelich ist /14 und wand er alle wollust hat eweklich gehebt /15 darumbe so muost er /16 dis [wist] widersehen
<1> Meister Eckhart and other  Meister too state,  that there are two things in God: being and respect, that is called relatio.
[The counter-argument:]
Now the Meister say that the being of the Father does not give birth to the Son in the godhead.
[The argument:]
<2> If the Father sees according to his being he does not [see] anything except into his bare being and regards himself  in there according to his entire power, and he only sees himself in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, hence he does not see anything but oneness of his very being. 
If, however, the Father wants to have a regard and respect of himself in another person, it is the Father's being which gives birth to the Son in this respect.

<3> And because he is so delighted about himself in this respect, and the retrospection is so desirable for him and because he had such desire for eternity, therefore he must have this respect
<1> 'being and relation'

<2> respect is constitutive for persons in God

<3> eternity of relation

<87v> eweklichen hauen:
darumb so ist der sun ewig als der vader /2 und von dem wolgeuallen und von der minne /3 so vader unde sun ze samen havend /4 so hat der heilig geist sinen urspring:
und nun disv(?) minne zwichchen dem vader und dem sun ist eweklich gewesen: darumbe so ist der heilig geist / als ewig als der vader und der sun: und hand die dri person niht wan ein bloßes wesen und sind allein underscheiden an den personen: wan des vaders person ward nie des suns noch des heiligen geistes person: und alle drie \/ [m.r.: sind] ein ander vremde an den personen / und sind doch ein in dem wesen
for eternity.

The Son is, therefore, as eternal as the Father, and he has the desire and the love jointly with the Father, from where the Holy Spirit has its origin.
Hence, the love between Father and Son has existed for ever.
Hence, the Holy Spirit is as eternal as Father and Son. And the three persons have only one simple being and are different only with regards to the persons. The person of the Father, namely, was never that of the Son nor the person of the Holy Spirit. And all three are alien to each other with regards the persons, although these are one in being.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Jörg Rüpke presented a working paper on 'Gelebte Religion und gebotene Religion: Überlegungen zu Transformationen im römischen Reich'

The Roman Empire covers a period in which religious transformation shaped the history of religion in late antiquity of the Mediterranean basin, Europe and Western Asia. Despite and perhaps particularly because of the many details which are left to us from this epoch, it is a big challenge to create models of description for this period of transformation. This working paper takes as its outset two anithetical sides. On the one side it starts from a lived ancient religion perspective, in which individual adaptation of religious traditions and the resulting dynamics are looked at, so that group formation are only seen as ensuing follow ups. On the other hand the big political area of the Empire is interpreted as the structural framework in which new norms of religious activities are formed.

Cécile Stephanie Stehrenberger is presenting a working paper on 'Praktisches Wissen, Wissenschaft und Katastrophen. Zur Geschichte der sozialwissenschaftlichen Katastrophenforschung, 1949-1989'

During the second half of the 20th Century several US-American social science „disaster research groups“ conducted field studies after earthquakes, factory explosions and “racial riots”. Their aim was to provide practical knowledge that could be applied in the planning and managing of future disasters of both peace- and wartime nature. In this paper, I will elaborate on how this research goal conflicted with some scientists’ aspirations to develop more theoretical knowledge, and how, more generally, it endangered disaster research’s “scientificity”. I will also show how the generated research results came to be ‘impractical knowledge’, which was difficult or impossible to apply. Furthermore this paper analyzes the scientific practices that were involved at different stages of the knowledge production process and contributed to disaster research’s ‘precarious’ character.

Roberto Alciati presents a working paper on 'Ars Ascetica from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, 200-900 CE'

The current project aims to take up an old theme of research in the study of religion, and in particularly of the history of Christianity: asceticism. The aspiration is to set a new standard in terms of selection of available sources and selection of methods not commonly used in conversation with each other. This process should drive to a novel perspective for conceptualising and framing an astounding set of practices and believes, which is still waiting for its reassessment. By tradition asceticism has constituted a stock theme of great interest in religious studies, anthropology, sociology and theology, but rarely the various ascetic traditions have been interpreted from a large and multi-disciplinary viewpoint. Very few, then, are the theoretical and comparative researches, which focused on asceticism as a whole. On the contrary, many of the histories and critical analysis have assumed that the ascetic within a particular religious or cultural tradition was simple in character, and most have respected the artificially designated boundaries between particular religious systems or cultures (Christian, Jewish, Greek…). These historical-interpretive analysis on asceticism seem to be questionable in a very similar way to what we may see in the broader religious studies. If we look at the history of religions, in the last forty years the traditional way of dealing with this subject has been criticized over on two major grounds. First, it sets religious experience up as the perfect example of something unique or sui generis. Second, it constituted religion (and the religions) as a special aspect of human culture set apart from other aspects. Critics claimed that this approach isolated the study of religion from other disciplines and masked a tacitly agenda of a liberal ecumenical kind. Similar considerations should be extended to asceticism.
1. A methodological remedy
According to these premises, the first urge is to find a remedy for this (misleading) approach by orientating any theorizing act about asceticism beyond the discursive bounds of the traditional fields. In this manner, we shall bridge a traditional gap in scholarship, but at the same time add a novel perspective that has not previously been adopted in studying asceticism. In the wake of Peter Sloterdijk, I take asceticism in its primary Greek meaning as training (askesis). He defines it as programs of training in which he includes a wide array of phenomena that are not traditionally really taken in account in studies of asceticism, but in which the focus always has been directed on elements of renunciation and self-control. By this notion, Sloterdijk is able of proceeding from antiquity to modernity and, thereby, shed light on the presence of asceticism in multiple phenomena like coaching cultures, fitness, sports, art performances, selfstinging or anorexia. This pervasiveness of asceticism takes it to an extent in which every human being is called to develop her or his own individual life program. Sloterdijk, then, has an extraordinary appreciation of the relationships between such phenomena and those confined to a considerably smaller part of society in antiquity. Under this theoretical umbrella, the aim is not to offer a survey or catalogue of the forms of the ascetic life from the third to the tenth century of the Common Era, but, on the contrary, to enucleate the principal characteristics of this form of R. Alciati, Kolloquium MWK, 07.11.2016 2 life and the over-imposed historical debate, from late antiquity onwards. What the research program represents is mainly the effort to expand and radicalize the concept and valence of asceticism. The idea is to detach the practice – or the discourse about it – from its western Christian historicistic-theological moorings, to question and interrupt the apologetic agenda, with its assumptions about cultural exceptionalism and religion and spirituality as the privileged – if not exclusive – domain of activity and interest.

Tanja Visic is presenting a working paper on 'Ethnography of living arrangements, informal work and the transnational care: Experiences of domestic workers from the former Yugoslavia in Germany'

The main objective of the doctoral research project is to examine the phenomenon of care and domestic work from a perspective that combines a macro-level and micro-level using ethnographic approach based on case studies, thick descriptions and perspectives from the actor’s points of view. The text you are reading is doctoral dissertation description which is divided into five parts. The first part introduces the subject of research, main research questions and information about fieldwork that has been conducted so far. The next two sections outline main theoretical debates around domestic and care work within feminist theorization of care work, migration and globalization studies. In the fourth and fifth section I contextualize previously mentioned debates within Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav female labour migration indicating the research gaps in the field and potential contributions of my research project. Next two parts will inform you about research questions, levels of analysis, approach to the research and concepts which will be applied in the study. In the last part I will present multiple practices of data collection known as ethnography I use in the research, and shortly introduce the methodology, namely the challenges of feminist ethnography while focusing on production of knowledge about women lives in specific socio-cultural contexts.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Michael Stausberg delivered a working paper on 'Reconstruction of Religion as Emancipation and civilisation'

This is a package comprising two draft chapters on Solomon Schechter (1845–1915), Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983), and Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891–1956). The chapters are part of a book project on “A Global History of Religions in the 20th Century as Serial Biography” (working title). All three figures have transnational biographies. Kaplan and Ambedkar studied at Columbia University at the early 20th Century, where they were exposed to the emerging social sciences. Schechter and Kaplan were mainly educated in religious (Jewish) matters, while Ambedkar took degrees in economics and law. Schechter and Kaplan who had migrated to the USA, sought to overcome the liberal-orthodox divide in Judaism, Schechter by his idea of “Catholicity”, Kaplan by a “reconstruction” of Judaism as a “civilization”. Both were driven by the desire to devise a viable future for Judaism in the modern world as they perceived Judaism to be under threat of extinction. Both are considered founders of new “denominations” in Judaism. As Kaplan introduced changes to Jewish ceremonies he was branded heretic and was excommunicated by an association of orthodox Rabbis shortly after the end of WW2. Ambedkar, who being from a group (“class”; “caste”) reckoned as “untouchables” (now Dalits) had endured discrimination, theorized that this discrimination was an integral part of Hinduism; disintegration would only stop if Hinduism disintegrated. Ambedkar emerged as the political leader of the “untouchables” since the 1930s. In 1935 he announced that he would renounce Hinduism. In 1956, shortly before his death, he, together with five hundred thousand of his followers, in a public ceremony took his refuge to Buddhism. In an extensive comparative study of religions Buddhism had appeared to him as the only religion to satisfy his pragmatic criteria of a good religion. At the same time, Ambedkar “reconstructed” Buddhism and this branch of Buddhism has spread widely among the “oppressed” (Dalits). Kaplan and Ambedkar were severe critics of Judaism and Hinduism respectively. They devised views of religion that renounced supernaturalism and emphasized the necessity of historical change and the pragmatic affordances of religion in terms of constituting collectivities and social order that allow individuals to become fully human.

Anthony Carroll presents a working paper on 'Thinking Beyond Secularistion: Panentheistic Humanism'

The idea of developing a theory of ‘panentheistic humanism’ in which the human person is considered to be open to and constituted by a relation to ‘ultimate reality’, or God in Christian terms, arose out of my recent work, which has been concerned to foster a constructive dialogue between religious people, atheists, and agnostics.[1] There I discovered that at bottom many, though not all, of the blockages of communication between these different groups arise out of issues to do with language, metaphysics, and the challenges of coming to terms with the varieties of human experience. This position paper represents an introduction to the general idea of ‘panentheistic humanism’ and a discussion of one central issue with which it is concerned, namely, naturalism.

The project is currently at the ‘scoping’ stage. That is to say, as a part of the Max-Planck-Forschungspreis, I am probing the robustness of the idea and its potential fruitfulness for thinking about religion and modernity, secularization, and social and religious plurality. This entails developing an historical narrative, structured by the heuristic thesis of ‘panentheistic humanism’, as one reasonable way to speak of the openness of human beings to ‘ultimate reality’. This historical-methodological approach is used to both justify the systematic thesis of the emergence of ‘panentheistic humanism’ as a more adequate contemporary philosophical anthropology than that of the currently dominant ‘exclusive humanism’, and to demonstrate how the former binary concepts of the sacred and the profane, of the immanent and the transcendent, and of the religious and the secular, have traded upon a dualistic metaphysics, which no longer presents a coherent vision of reality within which to envisage human beings in relation to God.[2]

In Part I, I begin by introducing the philosophical and scientific background to the theory of ‘panentheistic humanism’, and then go on to sketch the meaning of this concept in contrast with Karl Rahner’s philosophical anthropology.[3] Using a modified version of Hans Joas’s method of ‘affirmative genealogy’,[4] I argue that current binary thinking, which attempts to demarcate two metaphysically distinct domains: ‘nature’ and ‘super-nature’, fails to provide a satisfactory picture of reality. This has resulted in ‘scientific naturalist’ accounts becoming dominant in philosophy. In order for current impasses between ‘exclusive humanism’ and religious ‘super-naturalism’ to be overcome, I argue that it is necessary to develop a conception of humanism in which reason is open to the full range of human experience.[5] The concept of ‘panentheistic humanism’ is used to orchestrate this historical and systematic project of philosophical anthropology.
In Part II, I then focus on one of the central claims upon which the theory is grounded, namely, the openness of human beings to ‘ultimate reality’, which include experiences of God, as a constituent part of human identity.[6] I approach this particular issue here through an engagement with recent discussion on the philosophical question of naturalism.

[1] See Anthony J. Carroll and Richard Norman (eds.), Religion and Atheism. Beyond the Divide, London and New York: Routledge, 2016.
[2] Whilst these binaries have been typically viewed as in various relations with each other, these relations have often been conceived, in oppositional terms: eternal/mortal, infinite/finite, super-natural/natural and so on. Here I am developing the idea of constitutive relations between God, humans, and nature.
[3] See Karl Rahner, Grundkurs des Glaubens, Freiburg, Basel, Wien: Herder Verlag, 1976, pp. 13-142.
[4] See Hans Joas, Die Sakralität der Person. Eine neue Genealogie der Menschenrechte, Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2011, pp. 147-203.
[5] For a discussion of experiences of ‘self-transcendence’, see Hans Joas, Braucht der Mensch Religion? Über Erfahrungen der Selbsttranszendenz, Freiburg in Breslau: Verlag Herder, 2004.
[6] I use the concept of ‘ultimate reality’ as a summary term for the various experiences of ‘self-overcoming’ and of absolute value commitments, which are associated with religious traditions and also, at least with respect to absolute value commitments, with the humanist morality of some atheist traditions. The term ‘ultimate reality’ indicates that each person has some ultimate concern(s) in their life though this/these varies/vary between individuals, communities, religious and non-religious traditions, and between civilizational epochs. As such the language of ‘ultimate reality’ or indeed of ‘ultimate realities’ conveys the basic idea that whether it be God, Enlightenment, living a moral life, being in harmony with the cosmos, or money and power, everyone needs something ‘to get them out of bed’ in the morning. How one deals with proximate concerns thus indicates attitudes to ultimate concern(s), and proximate concerns often combine as subsets of ultimate concern(s). In this sense, the term ‘ultimate reality’ is more inclusive than the concept of ‘God’, which is necessarily particular to religious traditions that are theistic. However, as a Christian, I write from the point of view of someone for whom the Trinitarian God of Christianity is ‘ultimate reality’. I thus describe ‘panentheistic humanism’ from a Christian point of view and hope to show that though not equivalent to other conceptions of ‘ultimate reality’ ‘panentheistic humanism’ points towards significant points of overlapping concern for all human beings. In matters pertaining to ‘ultimate reality’, I presume that no one can claim a ‘view from nowhere’ and has a responsibility to combine ‘internal’ and ‘external’ perspectives as best as they can. See See Robert Neville Cummings (ed.) Ultimate Realities. A Volume in the Comparative Religious Ideas Project, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001, Robert Neville Cummings, Ultimates. Philosophical Theology Volume One, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013.  Thomas Nagel, The View from Nowhere, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.