Research Program

Research Program

Recently, the social- and cultural sciences as well as the humanities have increasingly turned towards the issue of religion and have intensively discussed the role of religion as a structural force in society. Simultaneously, there has been a conflict about the social and ethical foundations of modern societies. The SFB 804 takes up both of these discussions, but transforms them into a systematic inquiry by conceptually linking “transcendence” and “common sense” as discursive and practical resources for constituting social and political orders.

“Transcendence” thus points to those discourses and practices which found social and political orders by drawing on a construction of the unavailable/ideal. The concept of the transcendent cannot be reduced to Christianity, monotheism or the religious as such. The SFB 804 takes also into account those forms of transcendence that cannot be associated with the religious (such as “civil religion”, myths and narratives of origins, scientific faith in progress, the arts as religion). As common sense, we consider a process of generating and claiming sense that is both an individual sense of the common and a common sense of individuals, creating a common orientation of action and behavior.

New Perspectives
The analytical categories of transcendence and common sense can generate new perspectives to clarify the basic question of the prerequisites, conditions and resources for the constitution and the stability of social and political orders. What meaning do transcendences have for the mobilization of common resources of action? Do claims of common sense themselves possess the status of transcendence? It shall be analyzed if and how discourses and practices of transcendence create common sense and if and how common horizons of action and behavior are based on a frame of transcendence. The resulting interplays, ambivalences and conflicts are the objects of empirical and systematical analysis. It can be shown how the construction and interpretations of transcendence interact with common-sense-forms of integration and socialization.

The single projects, in an exemplary, historical, systematical and comparative perspective, analyze formations of social and political orders from antiquity until the present – such as religious communities, urban life-worlds, courtly societies, national state-building, democratic and republican as well as totalitarian orders, or even certain professional and social groups (artists, engineers, architects, noblemen, scholars, pastors, politicians).


Prof. Dr. Hans Vorländer
Sprecher des SFB 804




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