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Research Agenda

The research training group seeks to study a specific structure of normative practices common to art, law, religion, language and morality. These practices are characterized by the way in which they are always bound to standards; but at the same time, they are also defined by the fact that when actors engage in these practice, they critically reflect upon and distance themselves from these very same standards. The realization of standards can lead to transformation, but transformation can itself become a standard of, for example, artistic practices. The research agenda follows the hypothesis that in all these contexts to apply a norm in the full sense of application implies to critically reflect upon the guiding norm. In this sense, the training group explores the transformative aspect of normativity in the respective contexts. The research interest can be stated by four guiding questions which circumscribe the analytical frame of the research agenda.


(1) How are the structures of applying a norm to be accounted for? Whether and how are the normative standards tied to their critique? What is transformative normativity?


(2) Whether critical reflection of norms builds a continuum of the norms in questions or instigates a break within them? What is the relation of continuity and discontinuity of practice and critique? Are normative practices capable of learning through crises and collision of norms?


(3) Whether there is a difference between, on the one hand, a traditional conception of norm application, and, on the other hand, a modern conception of norm application? In which way does the self-understanding of norm-followers play an important role of their norm application?


(4) How are we to understand the relevance of language for the constitution of these normative practices? Which role do the linguistically mediated practices of reasoning and judging play for transformative normativity? How to account for language both as a media and also an object of critique?


These are the four key topics of the training group. From our perspective, it is more than relevant to place these analytical categories in the context of different fields of study. The GRK 2638 therefore unities the expertise of 14 PIs of 10 different disciplines which can all be placed within a wider understanding of humanities. The innovative research design of the GRK 2638 can be summed up as follows:


  • To conceptualize normativity while having artistic practices in view
  • To re-address the relevance of critique and think it beyond the limits of subversion
  • To sharpen novel perspectives on the disciplines involved by the challenge of interdisciplinarity.