Hans Joas

Hans Joas is Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he belongs to the Committee on Social Thought. He is also director of the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies in Erfurt, Germany. Among his recent English books are: The Genesis of Values (University of Chicago Press, 2000), Do We Need Religion?: On the Experience of Self-Transcendence (Paradigm Publishers, 2007), and Social Theory (with W. Knoebl, Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Posts by Hans Joas:

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Habits of the heart

For some scholars in the humanities and social sciences, old age is a period of abiding productivity. Upon reaching his retirement, Robert N. Bellah, the leading sociologist of religion of the last decades and one of the United States’ most influential public intellectuals, trusted this would be the case, so he outlined the project of a global history of religion from its beginnings until the present.

In 2011, Bellah published Religion in Human Evolution, which spans from the rituals of hunters and gatherers to the cults and myths of archaic states to the “axial age.” This concept was advanced by the philosopher Karl Jaspers to capture the widely held assumption that the great religious and philosophical traditions that the world draws on to this day have their roots in innovations that took place around the middle of the first millennium BCE in the Jewish, Greek, Chinese and Indian civilizations.

Read the rest of Habits of the heart.
Thursday, January 17th, 2008


zwischen-naturalismus-und-religion.jpgMore than most other great systematic thinkers of our time, Jürgen Habermas has for decades consistently expressed his views on the burning issues of the day, finding inspiration for his philosophical work in contemporary realities. There is still no sign of any let-up in his tremendous capacity to produce analyses of the contemporary world. With his new volume of essays, Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion, the philosopher now presents us with a collection of writings from the 2001-2004 period […]

Read the rest of Anti-secularism.
Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Varieties of Religion Today

varieties.jpgIn my first post, I discussed Charles Taylor’s book, A Catholic Modernity. I would now like to discuss a second book, which consists of lectures Taylor gave at the Vienna Institute for Human Sciences (Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen) in 2000; these grew out of his Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh in 1999. Surely the most renowned lecture series on the topic of religion, for more than one hundred years, leading thinkers have used this opportunity to share their ideas in the philosophy of religion. […]

Read the rest of Varieties of Religion Today.
Friday, December 14th, 2007

A Catholic Modernity?

catholic-modernity.jpgSome readers of Sources of the Self, particularly its last few chapters, might have wondered how exactly Taylor’s indirect plea for theism, which he makes there, might be related to his personal religious conviction. But the book itself and Taylor’s publications in general make it rather difficult to answer this emerging question. As George Marsden remarks, “Only the most acute readers might surmise that the author is Catholic, if they did not know that already.”

Read the rest of A Catholic Modernity?.