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Welcoming the New Fellows 2013/14

When Oct 21, 2013
from 08:15 PM to 11:00 PM
Where Anatomy Lecture Hall, Albertstraße 19, 79104 Freiburg
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 (0)761 203 97362
Attendees universitätsöffentlich / open to university members
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Keynote lecture by Prof. Dr Hans Joas (Freiburg/Chicago): "Slavery and Torture in a Global Perspective. Human Rights and the Western Tradition"


My book “The Sacredness of the Person” offers an alternative to the two dominant narratives on the history of human rights: the mostly secularist view that traces human rights back to the French Revolution and its roots in Enlightenment thinking and the mostly Catholic view of human rights as an outgrowth of the personalist understanding of God. The alternative “genealogy” I propose deals with human rights as the product of a profound cultural transformation for which I use the term “sacralization of the person”. The empirical cases studied in the book concern the abolition of torture and of slavery and the codification of human rights in the late 18th century and after World War II.
After a brief summary of the book the lecture will expand my argument in connection with the study of slavery and torture in a global perspective. This will shed new light on the connection between the emergence of moral universalism in the Axial Age and the history of human rights in the last centuries.