Contradiction Studies

Das Nicht(s)-Wollen wollen: Mittelalterliche Perspektiven auf ein volitionales Paradoxon

Prof. Christian Schneider (U Osnabrück)

06/13/2024 4:15 pm 5:45 pm

U Bremen GRA 2 0030 & online

Medieval debates about the human will take place against the backdrop of a particular tension: that between a person’s own will, usually considered free, and the will of an “other,” especially the will of God. In the Christian tradition, this tension is succinctly expressed in the prayer petition “Fiat voluntas tua,” “Thy (not my!) will be done.” It was perhaps most radically developed in medieval mysticism. The mystics also found a solution to it that seems to amount to a paradox: to will nothing. But the tension between wanting and not wanting also plays an important role outside of theology and mysticism. The lecture will outline different perspectives of medieval (and early modern) texts on the volitional paradox of “wanting not to want.” It will also attempt to build a bridge to relevant contemporary discourses, such as the concept of “un/controllability” (“Un-/Verfügbarkeit”) in sociological resonance theory.

The talk will be held in German.

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