What are the main subjects of thought


Teaching profile

Concept / forms of work / courses held until 2016:

Academic teaching 2000-2016

Current courses

WiSe 2019/20:

"Despair!" Introduction to Existentialism

Courses from previous semesters

SoSe 2019: Culture: The World of People - Introduction to Ernst Cassirer's philosophy

Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) was one of the most respected German philosophers in the Weimar Republic. After he fled from Nazi-ruled Germany in 1933, he was forgotten here for decades. Only since the 1980s has his extremely extensive work been received again and with increasing breadth in Germany.
His main interest is in how people understand the natural and, above all, the social world and seek to orientate themselves in it. He examines the diversity of these attempts, which he understands as a whole as human culture, and wants to find out their systematic basis and unity. His “Philosophy of Symbolic Forms” arises from these questions. In it he combines cultural-historical, epistemological and ethical insights into a basic understanding of people and their world, which is still relevant today.

SoSe 2019: Tolerance - indispensable and insufficient

The term “tolerance” is currently on everyone's lips. Some see it as the solution, others see it as the cause of numerous interpersonal and social conflicts.

The seminar will first try - in discussion with Rainer Forst - to define the term clearly. Only when this has been achieved can one ask when tolerance is required - and where it may have limits.

The second part of the seminar is about whether and how binding rules for living together can be found and enforced in a society that tolerates a wide variety of beliefs and ways of life.

WiSe 2018/19:Ask? Practice in philosophical questioning and answering

Philosophy is a strange science. Because, unlike other sciences, it has no content of its own. Instead, however, there is no topic and no question that one cannot also consider philosophically. But what does it mean to "consider something philosophically"? The seminar, which intentionally has no fixed topic, provides an introduction to philosophical questions. In the first session, we will jointly choose a few topics, which we then ask philosophically together - and explore the possibility of answers.

SoSe 2018: Hans Jonas - Thinker Against the Current. In-depth introduction to life and work

Hans Jonas became known to the general public when he published his main work "The Responsibility Principle" in 1979. In it he calls for a new philosophical ethic that takes people's responsibility for future generations seriously - in view of environmental destruction, possible nuclear wars and genetic engineering. But the work of this Jewish philosopher, who fled Germany in 1933, is not limited to ethical questions. It also includes writings on the history of religion and the philosophy of religion as well as fundamental reflections on anthropology, evolution and natural science. (The international Hans Jonas conference took place in Siegen from June 6-9, 2018. Participation in this congress was a central part of the seminar.) Both the seminar and the conference will familiarize you with all of these areas of Hans Jonas' thinking.

SoSe 2018: Philosophy between criticism of religion and justification of religion: a multifaceted history

The relationship between religious and philosophical thought, between theology and philosophy, has long been and is still hotly disputed. There are theological approaches that strictly defend themselves against philosophical forms of thought, and others that try to think through and justify faith rationally with the help of philosophy. There are philosophical approaches that consider religion to be the height of irrationality, and others that understand belief in God as the goal and consummation of thought. Last but not least, to determine your own position, it is worthwhile to critically examine the arguments for and against the so different views. That is exactly the aim of the seminar, which deals with a number of particularly succinct statements on the controversial relationship.

WiSe 2017/18: Anxiety - Political and Philosophical Perspectives

Fear has become a public issue again for some time: the fear of terrorism, the fear of “the foreigner”, the fear of Islam, the fear of losing prosperity ... The seminar initially approaches the topic from a philosophical perspective . This should clarify whether and why fear is part of human life and what it means. After that, the view of psychological and political connections is broadened. The question in which the different approaches finally come together is aimed at understanding the current socially thematized fears about possible ways to deal with them appropriately.

WiSe 2017/18: Anthropology and Normativity

At first glance, it does not seem surprising that our views of what constitutes a person have an influence on moral education and legislation. From the perspective of a practical philosophy that claims to establish and justify norms in a purely rational way, things look different. First she asks herself: Should be like that and can it consistently even be that way? More accurate:

- How can it be possible that certain images of human beings become practically binding for us and others? In other words: Can descriptive sentences about people become valid normative sentences that dictate action or omission?

- How unproblematic is it when culturally influenced notions of people flow into cross-culturally binding legislation?

These and related questions will be investigated in the seminar

SoSe 2017: Human dignity - historical approaches and current challenges

At the University of Siegen, the Basic Law was discussed in many actions and events in the summer semester 2017. His very first sentences postulate: “Human dignity is inviolable. It is the duty of all state power to respect and protect it. ”These sentences are often quoted - and raise many questions: What is“ human dignity ”? Who owns it? What is it based on? Can a man lose it? Is it a Christian, Western idea - or is it known and recognized in all cultures? Last but not least, it is important to clarify the relationship between human dignity and human rights.

SoSe 2017: Secularity - About the expressiveness of a much-invoked term

The relationship between state, society and religion was and is controversial. In Germany, too, there is a dispute about which role religion should play in public and in the state - and not just since the Muslims living in Germany have been demanding religious freedom for themselves. The current debate can only be understood if one knows the history of secularization and the very different forms of secularity. Only then can it be seen what secularization means for society and for the religious people living in it.

WiSe 2016/17: "Metaphysical assumptions" after the end of metaphysics: Hans Jonas as a thinker "against the current"

The lifetime of the philosopher Hans Jonas (1903-1993) spanned almost the entire 20th century. Shortly after studying with Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Bultmann, the Jewish thinker emigrated - first to England, Israel and Canada, and then spent most of his academic life at the New School in New York. His research areas were very broad. They ranged from the history of religion and philosophy of religion to a philosophical interpretation of evolution to his famous late work on “The Principle of Responsibility”. Jonas always saw himself as a “thinker against the current”. His resistance to the respective mainstream becomes clearest in the fact that he sticks to the philosophical task of constantly considering metaphysical questions anew. The seminar gives an overview of the many topics of thought of Hans Jonas. Particular attention is paid to the metaphysical aspects of his work and the anti-metaphysical and post-metaphysical drafts of contemporary philosophy, to which Jonas wanted to counterbalance. As the seminar will show, this controversial issue continues to be topical to this day.

SoSe 2016: What is truth? Options for action in an ambiguous world

It is obvious that one and the same object, one and the same event is experienced and understood very differently by people. For some, a picture is a moving work of art, for others it is a lucrative object of speculation. With a rose one brings a declaration of love, the other examines its genetic information. What some see as blind coincidence appears to others as the intervention of a transcendent power. What is the relationship between these understandings? What influence do they have on people's actions? Can one interpretation be shown to be the only true one? Or do we have to come to terms with an ambiguity that makes every decision, every orientation impossible? The seminar will attempt to answer these questions using epistemological, cultural-philosophical and systems-theoretical methods.

SoSe 2016: Controversial tolerance

Hardly any other demand is made as often in a pluralistic society as the call for “tolerance”. In the current refugee debate, the term is invoked by some and demonized by others. However, it is often largely unclear what exactly this term means and requires. The philosopher Rainer Forst has designed and developed a concept of tolerance over the past 20 years, which has become decisive for the current discussion about tolerance and its limits. The content of the seminar is to get to know this concept and to discuss it critically.