I was born in Wuppertal (Barmen) – the birthplace of Friedrich Engels – in former West Germany in 1970. Here is how Engels, in the context of describing the consequences of 19th Century labor conditions, speaks about Wuppertal:
“True, at first glance it seems otherwise, for every evening you can hear merry fellows strolling through the streets singing their songs, but they are the most vulgar, obscene songs that ever came from drunken mouths; one never hears any of the folk-songs which are so familiar throughout Germany and of which we have every right to he proud. All the ale-houses are full to overflowing, especially on Saturday and Sunday, and when they close at about eleven o’clock, the drunks pour out of them and generally sleep off their intoxication in the gutter.” (Engels, Letter from Wuppertal).
I had luck: philosophy was offered at my high school as an AP course. I vividly remember that one of my Gymnasium’s final written and oral exams was on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. It was both terrifying and exciting. Though I initially thought of either applying to a journalism school (since I had worked as a freelance journalist in my hometown) or studying protestant theology (which I gave up quickly), I ended up studying philosophy, art history, and sociology at the universities of Bamberg, Tübingen, and, right after the German reunification, in the former East-German town of Jena. Due to the political changes in Germany and Europe at that time, the time in Jena was a high point of my intellectual life because nothing seemed to be set in stone and all paths towards a different future seemed to be open.
My teachers have been, among others, Richard Münch (Bamberg), Otfried Höffe (Tübingen), Wolfram Hogrebe (Jena), Gonsalv Mainberger† (Jena), and Wolfgang Welsch (Bamberg). I was awarded a “full ride” fellowship from the Hesian State (Land Hessen) for promising young researchers (1997-99) as well as a federal fellowship by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG, 1999-02), which provided me a “full ride” as a graduate student. I spent two years as a dissertation research fellow at Emory University in Atlanta (2000-02); I received an M.A. in philosophy, sociology, and art history from the University of Bamberg in 1997, and a Ph.D. in philosophy with a thesis on Heidegger and Husserl from the University of Marburg in 2002 under the directorship of W. Ch. Zimmerli (Philipps-Universität Marburg), D. Carr (Emory University), and Antonio Aguirre† (Bergische Universität Wuppertal). Before coming to MSU I taught at the University of Marburg, at Seattle University, and at the University of Kansas. My main areas are Post-Kantian European philosophy (esp. phenomenology), social philosophy (esp. Marx, critical theory, globalisation, technology), continental aesthetics, philosophy of culture, philosophical anthropology, and contemporary political philosophy [see also the department page for a short blurb: here].
Prof. Christian Lotz
Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University
368 Farm Ln, rm 503, South Kedzie Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
dept | 517.355.4490
fax | 517.355.1320
Education, Appointments, Awards
You’ll find a link to my full CV in the menu on top of this page.
Ph.D. (Philosophy): Philipps-University of Marburg (2002)
Dissertation Umwelthandeln und Selbstbezug. Phänomenologie praktischer Subjektivität (370 p.), published on micro fiche [Advisors: Prof. Zimmerli, University of Marburg; Prof. Carr, Emory University].
Research Fellow (Philosophy), Emory University, Atlanta ( 2000-02)
M.A. (Philosophy, Sociology, and Art History): Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg (1997)
M.A. Thesis Gewissenhabenwollen in Heideggers Sein und Zeit (120 p.) [Advisor: Prof. Zimmerli, University of Bamberg]
B.A., equivalent, Zwischenprüfung (Philosophy, Sociology, and Art History): Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena (1993)
Undergraduate Studies: Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg (1990-91; 1994-1997); Eberhard-Karls University of Tübingen (1993-94), Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena (1991-93)
Freelance Journalist, Westfälische Rundschau, editorial office Ennepetal (1987-1991), more than 300 published articles, 1989 and 1990 fixed-term replacements of full-time local journalists
Regular and Visiting Appointments
Full Professor, tenured, Michigan State University (since 2015)
DAAD Visiting Professor, full time (W2), Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus (2011 and 2013)
Associate Professor, tenured, Michigan State University (2009-2015)
Assistant Professor, tenure-track, Michigan State University (2005-2009)
Assistant Professor, tenure-track, University of Kansas (2003-2005)
Adjunct Professor, Seattle University (2002-03)
Instructor, Philipps-University Marburg (1997-2000)
Awards, Honors, Fellowships
Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, Michigan State University, 2014
Teacher-Scholar Award, Office of the Provost, Michigan State University, 2009
National Fellowship; German Science Foundation; fully funded; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), 1999-2002
State Fellowship for Promising Young Academic Scholars; fully funded; Hessische Nachwuchswissenschaftlerförderung, Land Hessen, 1997-99
Area I: Continental Philosophy
Overview: I have been working in the European tradition of philosophy in general, with a special focus on Husserlian and Heideggerian phenomenology, on Fichte and Hegel, as well as phenomenological concepts of practical subjectivity, such as affectivity, memory, forgiving, and the lived body. In my current projects I am concerned with bridging central aspects of social phenomenology and Frankfurt School inspired critical theory, such as Adorno’s and Heidegger’s readings of Kant. I believe that new work needs to be done in bringing together critical theory and phenomenology, and that not much attention has been paid in recent decades to bridging these traditions.
Representative publications in this area: From Affectivity to Subjectivity. Husserl’s Phenomenology Revisited, (London: Palgrave 2008); Vom Leib zum Selbst. Kritische Analysen zu Husserl and Heidegger (Freiburg: Alber 2005); “Recollection, Mourning and the Absolute Past: Husserl, Freud and Derrida,” New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, Vol.3, Nr. 4, 2004, 121-141
Graduate courses in this area: Intentionality and Beyond: From Husserl to Levinas; Heidegger: Being and Time; Intersubjectivity from Hegel to the Present; Augustine’s Confessions and Contemporary Philosophy; Husserl and Heidegger
Graduate/senior level courses in this area: Kierkegaard and Continental Philosophy; German Philosophical Anthropology; Sartre; Heidegger: Being and Time; Marcuse; Arendt; Gadamer and Hermeneutics; The Early Heidegger; Hegel; Foucault; Heidegger and Phenomenology; 19th Century Philosophy; Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Undergraduate courses in this area: Existentialism; Existential Problems of Human Life/On Being Human (GenEd)
Area II: Critical Social and Political Philosophy
Overview: I am working on aspects of a critique of political economy in relation to social ontology from a contemporary standpoint, such as the “Neue Marx Lektüre” (Reichelt, Backhaus, Altvater, Heinrich, Elbe, Postone) during the last decades in Germany and the US. Seen from my perspective, Marx offers us a theory of Vergesellschaftung, social synthesis, and social totality. Recent work in European critical theory operates without a social ontology, a categorial analysis of contemporary society, and a clear idea of social reality. I am also interested in a first-generation holistic understanding of critical social theory that equally takes epistemological, metaphysical, anthropological, political, and cultural aspects of social philosophy into account. More recently I have turned to contemporary political European philosophy.
Representative publications in this area: The Capitalist Schema: Time, Money, and the Culture of Abstraction (Lexington Books, 2014, pbk. 2016); “Categorial Forms as Intelligibility of Social Objects. Reification and Objectivity in Lukács.,” in Confronting Reification. Revitalizing Georg Lukács’s Thought in Late Capitalism, ed. Gregory R. Smulewicz-Zucker, Leiden: Brill/Chicago: Haymarket Books 2020, 25-47; “Fiction without Fantasy. Capital Fetishism as Objective Forgetting,” Continental Thought & Theory, 2, 2017, 364-382
Graduate courses in this area: Marx, Grundrisse; Marxist Philosophies: Hegelian Marxism- Marxist Humanism-Marxist Structuralism; Contemporary European Political Philosophy; Critical Theory (co-taught with Todd Hedrick); Recent European Political Philosophy; Recent Anglo-American Philosophy of Technology
Graduate/senior level courses in this area: Adorno’s Social Philosophy and Theory of Society; Arendt and Luxemburg; Anarchism and Radical Democracy; Community, the Commons, and Political Resistance; State, Democracy, Power: Radical European Political Thought
Undergraduate courses in this area: Philosophy of Technology; Marx; Introduction to Social-Political Philosophy; Is Another World Possible? Global Capitalism and Post-Capitalism (GenEd); The Culture of Capitalism (GenEd)
Area III: Continental Aesthetics
Overview: I have been working on central aspects of visual culture, esp. painting and photography, from a “hermeneutical” perspective, which is based on Gadamer’s philosophy of formed images [Gebilde] and Hegel’s concept of plasticity, both of which are related to how the German tradition conceptualized art and culture from Goethe to Beuys. Central ideas about image constitution and painting are presented in my book on Gerhard Richter. I am interested in a de-mystified understanding of Beuys’ ideas about creativity, sensuality, politics and thinking. Finally, I am also thinking about a contemporary concept of (critical) realism, especially in relation to photography, documentary film, and architecture.
Representative publications in this area: The Art of Gerhard Richter: Hermeneutics, Images, Meaning (London: Bloomsbury Press 2015, pbk 2017); “Representing Capital? Mimesis, Realism, and Contemporary Photography,” The Social Ontology of Capitalism, ed. Daniel Krier and Mark P. Worrell, London: Palgrave 2017, 173-193; “Depiction and Plastic Perception. A Critique of Husserl’s Theory of Picture Consciousness,” Continental Philosophy Review, 2/2007, 171-185.
Graduate/senior level courses in this area: The Sublime and Non-representable; Philosophy of Culture; The Meaning of Photography: Recent Anglo-American Discussions; Philosophy of Poetry
Undergraduate courses in this area: Adorno’s Aesthetics; Aesthetics: Kant-Nietzsche-Heidegger; Aesthetics: Kant vs. Hegel
Philosophy only satisfies its own demands when it is more than a discipline (Adorno).
For me, higher education is the opposite of “schooled learning,” “fixed curricula,” and “textbook education,” as it is common in large parts of US university curricula. It requires more than superficial understanding of ideas. The humanities not only are responsible for educating responsible and critical citizens, but also can offer significant insights into what is. As such, they should remain in skeptical distance to integrating students intellectually into the existing functional paradigms and should be seen as equally important as the sciences which are only one of many symbolic forms. Such a goal can only be achieved if “academic study differs emphatically from school work” (Adorno).
“Niemand lasse den Glauben daran fahren, daß Gott an ihm eine große Tat will” (Luther); the sentence is difficult to translate, perhaps somehow like this: “No one should lose faith in God and his will to see a great deed in him/her/they” – engraved above the entrance hall of the old Wittenberg University; today’s Luther Haus.