Julie Casteigt follows again invitation of the Gotha Research Center

Dr. habil. Julie Casteigt, Professor of Philosophy at the Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, has been granted the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. This prize is awarded annually to scientists from abroad for outstanding scientific achievements. The award, which is endowed with 45,000 EUR, also includes the sponsorship of a research stay at a self-selected scientific institution in Germany. Julie Casteigt will return to the Gotha Research Center of the University of Erfurt for one year at the invitation of Prof. Dr. Martin Mulsow, where she has already spent two months as a Hiob-Ludolf-Fellow in 2019.

Julie Casteigt is an internationally outstanding specialist in the history of medieval philosophy and member of the Meister Eckhart Research Unit of the Max-Weber-Kolleg. With her also methodologically highly innovative work on Meister Eckhart, Albert the Great and the medieval commentaries on the Gospel of John, she has presented groundbreaking approaches for a new understanding of these texts. Her current research project, which focuses on textual bridges between the Middle Ages and the early modern period, intellectual networks, and the history of ideas in this period, will also be conducted in cooperation with the Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt.

Julie Casteigt: „I am very happy about this award and I am looking forward to working in Gotha and Erfurt again, where I have found an excellent research environment and exciting dialogue partners at the Gotha Research Center as well as at the Max-Weber-Kolleg“.

Stefan Schmalz receives Heisenberg research funding

PD Dr. Stefan Schmalz, currently deputy professor at the Latin America Institute of Freie Universität Berlin, will be included in the Heisenberg Programme of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The funding is based at the Max-Weber-Kolleg for Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt.

Schmalz will conduct research at the Max Weber College on „Globalisation in the Cancer Course: New Lines of Conflict in the International Division of Labour“. The project is devoted to current conflicts which are being caused by the rise of China in the world economy. One focus is on disputes over Chinese direct investment in the high-tech sector. It discusses what ‚deglobalisation‘ means. Schmalz also plans to conduct research in China and the USA in the coming years.

The Heisenberg Programme is aimed at „outstanding scientists“ whose research projects are characterised by „high scientific quality and originality“. Hartmut Rosa, Director of the Max-Weber-Kolleg: „In this project, which focuses on problems of the international division of labour using the example of China, we also see great potential for inter-faculty cooperation with colleagues at the Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences, and especially the Willy Brandt School.“

New publication: Gottesdiener und Kamelzüchter

With „Gottesdiener und Kamelzüchter“ (Servants of God and Camel Breeder), Benjamin Sippel has now published his dissertation submitted to the University of Erfurt in the Harrassowitz publishing house. It deals with the everyday and social life of the Sobek priests in the Fayum of the imperial period and is at the same time volume 144 of the series „Philippika – Altertumswissenschaftliche Abhandlungen“.

When Octavian conquered Egypt (30 B.C.), several large temples that cultivated the cult of the crocodile god Sobek were enthroned in the villages on the edge of the Fayum. Rich archaeological, epigraphic and papyrological evidence has been handed down from this region for the following three centuries, illustrating the daily life of the priesthood between ritual acts, temple administration and family life under Roman rule.

Benjamin Sippel is the first to paint a picture of the relations of the Sobek priests of Fayum among themselves, with their village communities and with state officials. The focus is on the villages of Bakchias, Narmuthis, Soknopaiu Nesos, Tebtynis and Theadelphia. Four thematic areas form the core of the study: (1) the peculiarities of naming among priestly families, (2) the efforts of the temple colleges to attract a Hellenistically educated audience, (3) the secular earning opportunities for priests and (4) the sources of conflict in the temple environment. On the one hand, Sippel succeeds in deconstructing the stereotype of Egyptian priests as an ‚indigenous elite‘. On the other hand, the study closes a research gap by shedding light on the situation of the Egyptian Sobek cults in the Fayum under Roman rule.

More information about the publication here. (German only)

New publication: Marx und Eucken 2.0 – Ein Manifest zur Transformation der Marktwirtschaft

With their book „Marktwirtschaft: Zu einer neuen Wirklichkeit – 30 Thesen zur Transformation unserer Wirtschaftsordnung“ („Market Economy: Towards a New Reality – 30 Theses on the Transformation of our Economic Order“), Prof. Dr. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, economist at the Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt, and the Cologne education entrepreneur Dr. Stephan Bannas have now presented a concept of how the global challenges of climate change and increasing inequality could be met by reorienting our economic coexistence.

They focus on the ‚real market economy‘, which they see as an alternative to the ideology of ‚capitalism‘. In doing so, they place themselves in the tradition of German ordo-liberalism, but extend it by a new economic-ethical and ecological framework.

More information about the book here. (German only)

Markus Vinzent presents a working paper ‚From a critical theory of scholarship to a critical historiography‘

The present paper reflects upon a post-postmodern criticism of scholarship from a historical perspective. Taking into account the move from hypersceptical auto-criticism of the postmodern period to a rather sceptical understanding of auto-criticism of scholarship in light of Trumpism, the paper advocates that scholarship cannot dispense of auto-criticism or relegate it to specialist fields like philosophy or sociology. In contrast, even a discipline like history has to critically reflect upon its own methodological approaches if it keeps to being scholarship and does not hand over agency to populists.

Urs Lindner presents a working paper on ‚Affirmative Action and Equality: A Synthesizing View‘

The aim of the paper is to draft an outline of how an egalitarian justification of affirmative action might look like. I do so by injecting the ideas of parity, equal representation and participation into what has been established within the US philosophical debate on the policy. An egalitarian justification of affirmative action has to answer four questions, which, at the same time, structure the argument of my paper. First, I will consider whether and to what extent affirmative action measures are compatible with procedural fairness or may be even required by it, and which role equality plays in this connection. In the second paragraph, I will introduce a substantive account of equal opportunity and analyze how the policies in questions may contribute to the realization of this meritocratic ideal. In a third step, I will try to make sense of parity, equal representation and participation by connecting them to a concept of political equality, again, asking how affirmative action fits the bill. Finally, I explore the connections (and tensions) between procedural fairness, equal opportunity and parity and situate these ideas within a broader framework of democratic or relational equality.

Tullio Viola presents a working paper on ‚Edgar Wind on Symbols and Memory. Pragmatist Variations on a Warburgian Theme‘

This paper deals with Edgar Wind’s texts on symbols and cultural memory from the early 1930s. It emphasizes in particular the connection these texts establish between Warburg’s ideas and the pragmatist philosophy to which Wind was exposed during his first stay in the United States. I will argue that Wind’s interpretation of the polarity of symbols takes up a quintessential pragmatist focus on habit as the mechanism that lets us understand how expressive gestures develop out of practical actions. I will then show that Wind used the idea of a mnemonic power of symbols to fine-tune the pragmatist conception of thought and action as a permanent oscillation between doubt and belief.

Stephan Lorenz presents a working paper on ‚Food Supply and the Pandemic between Political Economy and Political Ecology ‚

The project is part of the package proposal ‘Regulation, Legitimization and Political Ecology of Property Regimes in the Pandemic’ (together with M.Schütt, C.Henning). The common starting point is the assumption that political measures taken to control the Corona crisis have challenged societal property relations. This project explores the political ecology of food supply, i.e. socio-ecological problems during the pandemic. A guiding thesis assumes that economic success in the prevalent food system is achieved at the expense of social and ecological issues, which intensifies the problematic societal consequences of the pandemic. The main focus of the project lies on the crisis-induced re-negotiations and possible re-arrangements of the socio-ecological issues of food supply regarding their property relations. It will be reconstructed how the different types and scales of property (small and big private businesses, regulations and public enterprises, cooperatives and use of commons) and their relations (private resources and/or public access and/or common participation) take effect as selective forces in these negotiations. It is expected that the integrated case findings will allow assessments of probable long-term consequences and suggestions for pandemic-preventive, sustainable food systems.

Carsten Herrmann-Pillath presents a working paper on ‚A Copernican Moment: Engaging Economics with Geoethics‘

Chapter draft October 1, 2020: Martin Bohle, ed. “Geo-societal narratives – contextualising geosciences” (Palgrave)

This chapter proposes a geocentric turn in economics that aims at radically transforming the performative functions of economics in contemporary capitalism: Inspired by an expression of John Stuart Mill, I outline the idea of the Earth as a ‘community of advantage’. The argument proceeds in two steps. The first is to switch from an anthropocentric to a geocentric conceptualization of the purpose of economic activity: The economy does not primarily serve human consumption but is a central element in Earth system regulation. This reflects the rise of the technosphere as a new regulatory layer in Earth system processes. The second is to combine the economic concept of externality with the creation of non-human rights which are represented in legal persons that are owned by non-human entities. This metamorphosis of rights is grounded in the fundamental norms of Rights of Earth. Non-humans are owners of legal persons which are managed by humans as stewards. As a result, the economy and the legal system morph to including both human and non-human interests in their operations. This implies that the performative functions of economics, after the geocentric turn, would also incorporate the geosciences and the life sciences. In the Earth as a community of advantage, geoethics would achieve a human scale, in the sense of realistic moral demands and commitments.

João Tziminadis presents a working paper on ‚Responding to Finitude: The Problem of Death between Ontological Insecurity and Technical Security‘

In this text, I would like to argue that one is able to identify two parallel trends in the sociological and cultural-critical accounts of modern society’s relation to death. On the one hand, modern subjects seem to be deprived from overarching and socially bonding interpretations of their mortality. However, on the other hand, differently from many who defend that modern society displaces death from public discourse and make it a hidden subject to which no more cultural answer is produced, it seems that later-modern society actively invests in a particular relationship with death: a technical one.. The unprecedented rise on life expectations worldwide is an indication of that. For most of the time these gain in technical control over death has been an indirect consequence of general improvement in life conditions. Nonetheless, it is observable that, in recent times, more direct and intentional attempts to transform mortality into a technical problem come to the fore. The general argument of this contribution is that it is possible to conceive of the technical taming of mortality as an active cultural response to the problem of death in modernity and, more explicitly, in late modernity. As religion, philosophy or the arts, technology constitutes a form of responding to the awareness of our inescapable finitude. But, differently from them, a technological response does not promise any transcending projection beyond death.