Claudia Welz

Professorin für Ethik und Religionsphilosophie; Gründungsdirektorin des Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture (CJMC), Universität Kopenhagen

Aufenthalt am Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
Oktober 2019–Juli 2020

Forschungsthema am Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»Religious Re-Orientation and Conflict Resolution«

As a fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, I will contribute to the LOEWE SCHWERPUNKT Religiöse Positionierung: Modalitäten und Konstellationen in jüdischen, christlichen und islamischen Kontexten.

My contribution will consist in the study of different modalities of (re-)orienting and thereby positioning oneself, and in testing the potential for conflict resolution inherent in various ways of relating to other religions. I am particularly interested in the following issues:

(1) Religious positioning through emotions: As aggressiveness against believers from other religions is tightly connected to excessive self-assertion, I want to investigate countermotions that are present in all three monotheistic religions. Especially the mystic traditions within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam advocate humility and self-abnegation. I will explore mysticism with a special focus on Meister Eckhart and Simone Weil. Both of them tried to reduce self-importance and increase nearness to God. Eckhart’s and Weil’s approaches will then be related to current research on humility within in the philosophy of emotion, where humility is taken as a »self-conscious emotion« that can be compared to pride, guilt, and shame.

(2) Religious positioning through rational thinking: Since the times of European Enlightenment and the intellectual movement of Haskalah in Judaism, the relation between faith and reason has received renewed attention. In the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, we are confronted with a peculiar tension: on the one hand, the transcendence of a God higher than human reason is affirmed; on the other hand, the limits of rationality come to the fore precisely when we employ and exhaust rational argumentation. In this line, Søren Kierkegaard has pointed to the paradox of reason attempting to understand what is beyond understanding. Given these constraints, how can we deal with antithetical truth claims? Considering the 1916 correspondence between Franz Rosenzweig, who defended Judaism, and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, who converted to Christianity, I will outline the interdependence between rationality and language. Rosenzweig and Rosenstock-Huessy ultimately reached a new definition of revelation as an opening-up of mutual understanding that is mediated by verbal communication.

(3) Religious positioning through dialogical practices: In times when the persecution of religious dissenters produces waves of refugees around the globe, it is imperative to find antidotes against extremism. The practice of prayer with corresponding ideas about a God »speaking« to human beings is relevant to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike. In fact, prayer is a worldwide institution used as a guide to action by bringing all human matters before God and abandoning one’s self-will to God’s will. Yet, how can we understand God’s »word« or »will« in a given situation if His »voice« is inaudible, and how can we know whether or in what sense our prayers are »answered«? Listening and responding is key, not only in the God-relationship, but also in intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Nonetheless, it is not self-evident whether (and if so, in what sense) the practice of prayer can serve as a means of conflict resolution. In order to clarify this, I will concentrate on examples of a dialogical dynamics that rely on the faculty of imagination (Vorstellungskraft), which comprises the ability to see things from another’s perspective.

As a whole, my project aims to reveal how human beings may successfully re-orient themselves in complex situations of crisis or conflict when their familiar world, relational home and previous system of »coordinates« seem to be out of joint. The project will focus on exemplary paradoxes of orientation where the norms (e.g. divine revelation) as well as the means of religious orientation become ambivalent, for instance when one is in doubt about the content of divine revelation and feels torn between opposite emotions. Paradoxes occur when contradictory alternatives exclude each other, and yet both alternatives seem to be correct. Paradoxes can become productive when they enable one to operate with both alternatives and thereby to explore new paths of thought. I will investigate how the confusion caused by ambivalence and the confrontation with paradox can be turned into multilayered comprehension, which transforms dis-orientation into a deeper and richer-faceted form of re-orientation. (Claudia Welz)

Claudia Welz folgt einer Einladung von Heiko Schulz (Professor für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie) und Christian Wiese (Professor für Jüdische Religionsphilosophie) und dem an der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt angesiedelten LOEWE-Schwerpunkt »Religiöse Positionierung. Modalitäten und Konstellationen in jüdischen, christlichen und islamischen Kontexten«.

Wissenschaftliches Profil von Claudia Welz

Claudia Welz studierte Theologie und Philosophie in Tübingen, Jerusalem, Heidelberg und München, war Doktorandin und Habilitandin am Zürcher Institut für Hermeneutik und Religionsphilosophie und Postdoktorandin am Center for Subjectivity Research. Von 2010 bis 2018 war sie Professorin mit besonderen Aufgaben in Ethik und Religionsphilosophie an der Universität Kopenhagen, wo sie 2014 das interdisziplinäre Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture gründete. 2019/20 ist sie Fellow am Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften; im Sommersemester 2020 lehrt sie an der Universität Duisburg/Essen.

Sie ist die Autorin der Monographien Love’s Transcendence and the Problem of Theodicy (Mohr Siebeck 2008), Vertrauen und Versuchung (Mohr Siebeck 2010), Humanity in God’s Image: An Interdisciplinary Exploration (Oxford University Press 2016) und (zusammen mit Elazar Benyoëtz) SinnSang: Theologie und Poesie. Aphorismen – Essays – Briefe (NordPark-Verlag 2019).

Weitere Informationen zu Claudia Welz finden Sie hier und hier.

Jüdische und christliche Religionsphilosophie; Phänomenologie; Hermeneutik; Ethik; Dialog- und Emotionsphilosophie; deutsch-jüdische Literatur; trauma and memory studies; theologische Anthropologie

Veröffentlichungen (Auswahl):
  1. »A Theological Phenomenology of Listening: God’s ›Voice‹ and ›Silence‹ after Auschwitz«, In: Religions (139:10), 2019. [Hier verfügbar: PDF.]
  2. »A Voice Crying out from the Wound – with or without Words: On Trauma, Speech, and Silence«, In: Dialog: A Journal of Theology (56:4), 2017, 412-427.
  3. »The Voice of Conscience, Kierkegaard’s Theory of Indirect Communication, and Buber’s Philosophy of Dialogue«, In: Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 2017, 363-377.
  4. »Dem Unsichtbaren eine Stimme geben: Gebet, Glaubensanfechtung und (Un)Gehorsam«, In:Anfechtung. Versuch der Entmarginalisierung eines Klassikers (hrsg. Pierre Bühler et al.), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2016, 253-282.
  5. »Paradoxien ethischer und religiöser Orientierung als Neuanfänge des Denkens«, In: Zur Philosophie der Orientierung (hrsg. Benjamin Alberts et al.), Berlin: De Gruyter 2016, 217-232.
  6. »Difficulties in Defining the Concept of God – Kierkegaard in Dialogue with Levinas, Buber, and Rosenzweig«, in: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (80:1), 2016, 61-83.
  7. (Hrsg.) Ethics of In-Visibility: Imago Dei, Memory, and Human Dignity in Jewish and Christian Thought (Religion in Philosophy and Theology 77), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2015.
  8. »Human Perfection: Overcoming Oneself. A Discussion of Kierkegaard’s Four Upbuilding Discourses from 1844 with reference to Luther, Heidegger, and Simone Weil«, in: José M. Justo & Elisabete M. de Sousa (Hrsg.), Kierkegaard in Lisbon: Contemporary Readings of Repetition, Fear and Trembling, Philosophical Fragments and the 1843 and 1844 Upbuilding Discourses, Lisbon: Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa 2012, 97-115.
  9. »The Self as Site of Conflicts: Guilt, Recognition, and Reconciliation«, in: Ingolf U. Dalferth & Heiko Schulz (Hrsg.), Religion und Konflikt: Grundlagen und Fallanalysen, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2011, 137-164.
  10. »Identity as Self-Transformation: Emotional Conflicts and their Metamorphosis in Memory«, in: Continental Philosophy Review (43:2), 2010, 267-285.