Max Planck Research Prize "Religion and Modernity: Secularization, Social and Religious Plurality"
At the end of 2015, Professor Hans Joas received the 750,000 EUR Max Planck Research Prize for his research on the subject of "Religion and Modernity". The research area of Professor Joas is the relationship between religion and modernity, among others. Here, tension is often created, in which non-believers and religiously shaped people as well as members of different religions, if not mutually hostile, still fail to understand one another. Hans Joas is looking for the connections and possibilities for understanding and has developed a model with which one can interpret and describe religious experiences. The point of departure of all religious experience, as well as of all experiences that touch human beings to their very core, are phenomena of 'self-transcendence', that is, phenomena in which one has the feeling of growing beyond oneself, such as when falling in love and religious experiences, and feeling connected with nature, such as the sea and the forest. However, religious people interpret these experiences differently which in turn creates a diverse range of new experiences. Moreover, transcendence in the religious sense can be a part of this pattern of interpretation, meaning that God, Gods, or a divine principle is not simply a part of the human universe, of its knowledge and of its horizons of experience, but goes beyond, that is, not of this world. This idea of transcendence came about in the so-called “Axial Age” (800-200 BCE) from which the great world religions of Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well as ancient philosophy have their roots. This common root can encourage peaceful dialogue between the world religions. Additionally, it is also especially important to consider the respective historical, political, and economic situations when in conversation with those involved in religiously charged conflicts. Interreligious dialogue is therefore also heavily influenced by political decisions. More recently, Hans Joas has attempted to bring together religion and modernity, particularly in the study of human rights and the question of whether they are purely Western. With his conception of the process of the sacralization of man, he provides a reinterpretation of human rights history and thus creates the starting point for a reflection on a history of moral universalism in a global perspective.
Supported by Max-Planck-Society and Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation