Matteo Santarelli presents a working paper on ‚Values, concepts, and contingency: re-assessing Joas’ theory of values‘

This paper is part of the introduction to the Italian edition of Hans Joas’s
book Die Entstehung der Werte. This paper aims at discussing and
reassessing Joas’ theses from the standpoint of nowadays scientific,
political and cultural debates.
In the first section of the paper, I will briefly reconstruct Joas’ definition of
values as the articulation of experiences of self-formation and selftranscendence.
In the second section of the paper, I will try to develop Joas’ theory of values presented in his 1997 essay from a theoretical point of view. As an outcome of this discussion, two supplementary theses will be introduced and discussed: values have an abstract (or more precisely, vague) conceptual content; moral judgments and feelings exceed the conceptual content of values. In the third section of the paper I will try to apply this theoretical reelaboration of Joas’ theory to discuss a contemporary issue, that is the role that values play in contemporary political and social life. Specifically, I will try to show how limited is an understanding of western contemporary societies in terms of total loss of values. The critical focus of this discussion will be Wendy Brown´s nihilistic interpretation of the contemporary conservative reactivation of traditional values.

Antje Linkenbach gives a working paper on ‚Asynchronicity, Ambiguity and Contingency: Provincializing Theories of Modernity‘

The present contribution examines recent sociological, non-linear and contingencysensitive ways of engagement with modernity, which attribute different significance to normative questions and refer to different levels of socio-historical configuration. It will lay particular emphasis on the work of Johan P. Arnason, as one of the most advanced, although non-normative approaches to modernity. This will be followed by a discussion of normative approaches to modernity offered by Hartmut Rosa and Peter Wagner. I will argue that a normative perspective is constitutive for social theory and questions about the emancipative potential and possibilities of modernity must be at the core of analysis (see Joas, Knöbl 2004). I will further argue that while it seems reasonable to discuss modernity from a macro-perspective and even in the context of civilizational analysis, and so move to a geopolitical higher level or ‘hyper-social system (Mauss) – as it is prominently done in the work of Johan P. Arnason -, the reverse route has never been received adequate attention. Modernity should also be approached from a microsociological perspective, which takes into account the temporally, spatially and socially contextualized acting subject in a locality or a region. Special attention should be given to the postcolonial encounter.