Felix Steilen

Fellow des Forschungsprojektes »Komplexität in Wissenschaft, Kultur und Gesellschaft«

Resident at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
March 2019–March 2020

Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»A Conceptual History of Social Complexity in Modern Social and Political Thought«

Project outline:
My project concerns the conceptual history of complexity with a focus on modern social and political theory, where the concept serves to describe higher-level social phenomena (Durkheim, Luhmann) and where it also relates to the philosophy of science (debates on emergence, holism, evolution, etc.). In general, social complexity can be said to denote the irreducibility of social phenomena to individual causes – a process which has consequences for an explanation of social wholes and with regards to prognoses of social development. My project starts out from 18th C theories of social contract (Hobbes, Montesquieu, Rousseau), covers the protosociology of the European counter-enlightenment (Cortés, Maistre, Bonald) and their early-socialist counterparts (Saint-Simon, Comte, Proudhon), dominant 19th C social theory (Spencer, Durkheim, Simmel), up until the 20th C theory of social systems. (Felix Steilen)

Research partner:
Felix Steilen is a fellow of the research project »Complexity in Science, Culture and Society« at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften. The project is led by Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (Professor of Philosophy at Goethe University) and Harald Schwalbe (Professor of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Goethe University). It is funded by the Aventis Foundation over a period of three years (2017–2019).

Scholarly profile of Felix Steilen

Felix Steilen recently completed his doctorate at Humboldt University in Berlin. The title of his thesis was »The Representation of Historical Reality in Modern Sociological Theory«, which he will now turn into a book. 2016–2019 he was a Minerva fellow at the department of history at Tel Aviv University, 2014–2015 a visiting scholar in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and before that a visiting graduate student at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Further information about Felix Steilen can be found here.

Main areas of research:
Political and Sociological Theory, Modern History of Ideas, Philosophy of History

Selected publications:
  1. »Löwith and Nietzsche: Notes on Recurrence«, in: Galili Shahar and Felix Steilen (Eds.): Karl Löwith. Welt, Geschichte und Deutung. Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für Deutsche Geschichte/Tel Aviv Yearbook of German History 2019, Göttingen: Wallstein 2019.
  2. »Die Probleme der Geschichtsphilosophie (1892, 1905/1907) «, in: Hans-Peter Müller and Tilman Reitz (Eds.): Simmel Handbuch. Begriffe, Hauptwerke, Aktualität, Berlin 2018.
  3. »Zur Politischen Ikonologie der Palmach«, in: Leviathan. Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaften, Special Issue No. 34 (2018) on Political Representation and Iconography, p. 336-360.
  4. »Die Innenwelt der Außenwelt. Dargestellte Wirklichkeit in der Theorie historischer Repräsentation«, in: Paula Diehl and Felix Steilen (Eds.): Politische Repräsentation und das Symbolische. Historische, politische und soziologische Perspektiven, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2016, p. 65-84.