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17 June 2004

Gadamer Professorship 2004: Prof. Jan Assmann

Opening lecture on 6 July at 7.15 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Old University — Assmann devotes his lectures to the topic "The Price of Monotheism"

The Heidelberg philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer died on 13 March 2002 at the age of 102. This is the third year in which the Gadamer Professorship is taking place in his honour. It was set up in early 2001 and within its auspices renowned international scholars are invited to enlarge upon their own personal engagement with hermeneutics, the philosophical approach favoured by Gadamer. The Gadamer Professorship has been made possible by generous funding from the Awards Fund of Deutsche Bank, Baden-Württemberg's Ministry of Higher Education, the University of Heidelberg and the Fund of the Honorary Members of the University of Heidelberg.

Following Karl Heinz Bohrer and Peter Burke, this year's incumbent of the Gadamer Professorship is the Heidelberg Egyptologist Jan Assmann. With his descriptive approach to the "historiography of cultural memory" he stands very squarely in the tradition of Gadamer's hermeneutics. His opening lecture is scheduled for 7.15 p.m. on 6 July in the Great Hall of the Old University (Grabengasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg). He has dedicated his lectures to the subject of "The Price of Monotheism". In the opening lecture of the same name, Assmann will be discussing the "Mosaic distinction" between true and false religions from an Egyptological viewpoint and also expanding on his topically relevant theories on the socio-political repercussions of monotheism.

Assmann is one of the most influential cultural and religious scholars of the day. He has long been a key figure in intercultural discourse, where his concepts of "cultural memory" and the "Mosaic distinction" continue to play a productive role in many areas of scholarly thinking. His cultural and political commitment is reflected not least in his engagement with the memorialisation of the holocaust. From the in-depth perspective of an expert in ancient history, Assmann takes a comprehensive view of religion, literary studies, history and politics and demonstrates how closely they are interwoven.

In the light of the latest political developments on the global stage, a critical inquiry into the political effects of monotheistic religion has become more imperative than ever. This will also be the subject of the round-table discussion at 11.15 a.m. on 9 July in the Chamber Music Hall of the Heidelberg Stadthalle congress centre, involving Angelos Chaniotis, Uta Gerhardt, Ruth Groh, Jens Halfwassen and Christoph Markschies alongside Professor Assmann. Of special interest from a literary vantage is the lecture "God and the Gods in Thomas Mann's Joseph and his Brothers" at 7.15 p.m. on 8 July in the Great Hall of the Old University.

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Please address any inquiries to
Claudia Funke
Department of Philosophy

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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