Research Field 'Notions'

The third research field was devoted to the analysis of basic religious notions, particularly regarding the notion of religion. This entailed a historically-educated reappraisal of the genesis of basic religious notions in European and Asian countries and of the transfer of these notions between the respective cultures. Also, the varying diachronic and synchronic conceptual meanings of basic religious notion were reconstructed systematically.

Notion of Religion

During the first three years of the KHK the efforts of the research field concentrated on the developmental contexts of the Kollektivsingular 'religion.' The hypothesis that 'religion' is - due to its use in the humanities of that time - first and foremost a product of European modern intellectual history was further substantiated.

Transcendence & Immanence

In order to be able to describe religion as a multi-conceptual field of discourse, which is seen differently from each of the notions involved, the research field shifted its attention to additional topics. These were: the concept of transcendence, the problem of a 'religious language,' the genesis of the notion of religion in pre-modern times, and role criticism of religion played in European modernity.

Especially the differentiation between transcendence and immanence opened a whole new analytical field for studies in conceptual history, which has so far been studied only in East Asian contexts. The results yield important insights into the history of an unfolding notion of religion, because the differentiation between transcendence and immanence is a broadly accepted criterion for the existence of a religion in contemporary studies of religion.

Mission & Religious Language

In collaboration with research field 4 the focus was on the conceptional change of religions in missionary areas. Taken as contact zones between various religious cultures missionary societies developed a new understanding of religion, that is as much of "the other" religions as of their own religious character. This was expressed in new religious concepts, which marked similarities and differences among them.

Religious Languages

As an overarching aspects the research field discussed the nature of religious languages in various cultures and areas of the world: Can such a thing as a "religious language" be defined at all in contrast to non-religious languages? How can such languages be described in terms of their semantics, pragmatic usages or formal character? Is it possible to come to the definition of a general concept of "religion" on this way? Such question were discussed in a series of lectures and papers.

Selected Publications