I have some overarching themes and interests:
- Existentialism. It’s not a philosophical system; it describes a movement that emphasizes the uniqueness of our lives. Existentialism can be found in literature, philosophy, and the arts. It was an early 20th-century movement with many historical and intellectual roots. Thinkers as diverse as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre belong to it. I am also including Emmanuel Levinas, who writes about the existential encounter with the Other (the “Face of the Other“. Existentialism is not a dead movement; it continues to bear fruit in our times.
- Political theory. For many years I taught classes about human rights and social justice. I developed an interest in political philosophy and political economy. Our lives depend on global political and economic structures and trends that nobody understands or controls anymore. Political philosophers struggle to come up with new theories. Our traditional models of governance cannot easily be applied to a changing and unevenly globalized world.
- Nature, Environment, Ecology. This includes entries relating to the theory of evolution, biology in general, as well as environmental studies and ecology. Our relationship to nature is changing: For thousands of years, nature was mysterious and threatening to human civilization. Today, our earth is threatened by us. An environmental consciousness is awakening that transcends the scientific and political efforts to understand and control global warming. Nature has deep meaning for us – will it lead to new forms of spirituality?
- Economy and Geography: This project could also be called “Area Studies.” I developed an interest in traveling, and this was shaped by classes I taught about globalization and economy. I want to study the local culture as well as the economic structure and the population trends of the region. What are the global trends that are transforming our world so rapidly?
- Psychoanalysis. I am mainly interested in theories of the subject and in the philosophy of mind. I have spent years studying psychoanalysis, and writers like Freud, Jung, Bion, and Lacan. The topic of my dissertation was Lacanian theory and the psychoanalytic view of religion.
- Mysticism. I started my academic journey at the Jesuit “Hochschule für Philosophie” in Munich. The Jesuits treated philosophy and theology as the two sides of one coin, and they were very interested in Buddhism and Zen as well. This perspective opens a vast research project: Can we bring the Western philosophical and theological ideas into dialog with Eastern traditions? We are caught up in new religious wars emanating from the Middle East, while modern science has opened up a perspective of profound nihilism. Is there something to spiritual experiences? Can mysticism become the foundation for a new dialog between the different groups?