Senior Fellow: October–November 2021
Research Project: God’s “Word” and the “Call” of Conscience: Reliable Sources of Knowledge?
This project problematises the reliability of two alleged sources of knowledge: (1) God’s “word” and (2) the “call” of conscience. The person addressed by God’s “word” or the “call” of conscience is required to listen to the message imparted and, if this message is not clear, to clarify its meaning. This involves acts of interpretation and critical evaluation. How can we understand God’s “word” in a given situation if His “voice” is inaudible, and how can we know whether prayers are “answered”? These questions are aggravated in a post-Holocaust situation characterised by God’s perceived “silence.” The first part of the project explores the aforementioned issues by focusing on the thought of Martin Buber, Emil L. Fackenheim, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Elazar Benyoëtz, and Melissa Raphael. Part two will investigate the ambiguity of conscience as a medium of self-disclosure and a source of self-deception, with a special focus on Primo Levi’s descriptions of the manipulations of memory performed by the perpetrators and victims of atrocity and on Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the Eichmann trial and her late essays Responsibility and Judgment.
Claudia Welz is a professor of ethics and philosophy of religion at Aarhus Universitet.