Claudia Welz

Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion; Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture (CJMC), Copenhagen University

Resident at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
October 2019–July 2020

Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»Religious Re-Orientation and Conflict Resolution«

Project outline:
As a fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, I will work on my book project Vox peregrina: An Ethical, Theological, and Psycho(patho)logical Phenomenology of Listening. This project is a trilogy that shall clarify the connection between listening and understanding in developing an inter-modal ›hermeneutics of the senses‹ with special consideration of the sense of hearing. The three parts of the book belong to different disciplines, but have one thing in common: they attend to a voice, a word, or speech (vox) that is foreign (peregrina) in the sense that it is experienced as reaching one ›from outside,‹ yet touching and transforming one’s own and innermost.

As a whole, the 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. human dignity, personal identity, religious commitments) as well as the means (e.g. thinking, feeling, imagining, remembering) of re-orientation become ambivalent. Paradoxes occur when contradictory alternatives exclude each other, and yet both alternatives seem to be correct. Paradoxes can block thinking, but they can also become productive if 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 potentially turned into multilayered comprehension, which transforms dis-orientation into a deeper and richer-faceted form of re-orientation.

My contribution to the LOEWE-Schwerpunkt ›Religiöse Positionierung: Modalitäten und Konstellationen in jüdischen, christlichen und islamischen Kontexten‹ will consist in the study of three modalities of orienting and positioning oneself: (1) via emotions disclosing one’s relations to others and the wholly Other, (2) via the faculty of imagination (Vorstellungskraft), which comprises the ability to see things from another’s perspective, and (3) via (verbal and non-verbal) communication including the components of listening and responding. In particular, I will compare Jewish and Christian approaches to the dialogical dynamics of becoming oneself vis-à-vis the Other. (Claudia Welz)

Research partner:
Claudia Welz follows an invitation of Heiko Schulz (Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion) and Christian Wiese (Professor of Jewish Philosophy of Religion at Goethe University) and the University's research center »Religiöse Positionierung. Modalitäten und Konstellationen in jüdischen, christlichen und islamischen Kontexten« (»Religious Positioning: Modalities and Constellations in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Contexts«).

Scholarly profile of Claudia Welz

Claudia Welz studied Theology and Philosophy in Tübingen, Jerusalem, Heidelberg and Munich, was a PhD student and habilitant at the Zurich Institute for Hermeneutics and Philosophy of Religion and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Subjectivity Research at Copenhagen University. From 2010-2018, she was a professor with special responsibilities in Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at Copenhagen University where she founded the interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture. 2019/20 she is a fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, and, in the summer term 2020, she teaches at Duisburg/Essn University.

She is the author of the monographs Love's Transcendence and the Problem of Theodicy (Mohr Siebeck 2008), Trust and Temptation (Mohr Siebeck 2010), Humanity in God's Image: An Interdisciplinary Exploration (Oxford University Press 2016) and (together with Elazar Benyoëtz) SinnSang: Theology and Poetry. Aphorisms - Essays - Letters (NordPark-Verlag 2019).

Further information about Claudia Welz can be found here as well as here.

Main areas of research:
Jewish and Christian philosophy of religion; Phenomenology; Hermeneutics; Ethics; Philosophy of dialogue and emotion; German-Jewish literature; Trauma and memory studies; Theological anthropology

Selected publications:
  1. »A Theological Phenomenology of Listening: God’s ›Voice‹ and ›Silence‹ after Auschwitz«, In: Religions (139:10), 2019. [Available here: 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 (ed. 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 (ed. 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. (Ed.) 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 (Eds.), 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 (Eds.), 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.