Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht Former Senior Fellow

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
April-May 2019


From September 1989 to June 2018, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht was Albert Guérard Professor in Literature at Stanford University, in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (Departments of Comparative Literature, French & Italian; and, by courtesy, in German Studies, Iberian and Latin American Cultures, and Modern Thought & Literature). He also was associated with the Département de Littérature Comparée at the Université de Montréal, and was a Professeur attaché at Collège de France, a Directeur d’études associées at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Ständiger Gastprofessor at Zeppelin Universität (Friedrichshafen, Germany), and still is Professor Catedratico Visitante Permanente at the Universidade de Lisboa.

Dated from 2019

Fields of Research

  • History of Spanish, French, German (Italian and Brazilian) Literatures: Middle Ages, Enlightenment, 1920s
  • Philosophical Aesthetics (Aesthetics of Sports)
  • Systematic Reading of philosophical texts from the past

IKKM Research Project

“Prose of the World” – Diderot's Epistemology

I would like to use my time at Weimar to bring to a closure the writing of a book project on which I have concentrated for the past five years. Starting out with Hegel’s – quite surprising – irritation and fascination for Diderot’s texts, I develop the thesis that Diderot intellectual style is part of a peripheral epistemology that emerges from the 18th century without being subsumed under „the historical world view“ which has shaped our institutional perception of the 18th century as „Enlightenment.“ This (Diderot’s) world view can be characterized by four features that are not only peripheral but eccentric in relation to the dominant Western epistemology since the early 19th century:

– a conception of human existence as embodied
– an emphasis on the world as a universe of contingency
– a materialistic (and monistic) conception of the physical environment
– and judgment as the central intellectual operation.

My main point is that this „epistemology“ (which is close to ways of thinking and acting that we find in protagonists like Goya, Lichtenberg, and Mozart) may have a – non-teleological – affinity with (a relevance for) our present intellectual and epistemological situation.

Selected Publications

Weltgeist im Silicon Valley. Leben und Denken im Zukunftsmodus. Herausgegeben von René Scheu unter Mitarbeit von Manuel Mueller. Zuerich 2018.

Brüchige Gegenwart. Reflexionen und Reaktionen. Mit einem Essay von René Scheu. Leipzig 2019.

Production of Presence. What Meaning Cannot Convey. Stanford 2004 [Spanish translation under the title: ‘Producción de presencia. Lo que el significado no puede transmitir.’ Mexico City [Editorial Iberoamericana] 2005 / German translation [under the title ‘Diesseits der Hermeneutik. Die Produktion von Präsenz’, Frankfurt [Suhrkamp] 2004 [second edition, 2005, third edition, 2010] / Hungarian translation at Racio Publishing, Budapest 2010 / Russian translation in NLO [2006] / French translation at Maren Sell Editeur 2010 / Portuguese translation at Contraponto, Editora PUC-Rio / Croatian translation of pp. 51-52 and 65-89 / Polish translation 2017 / Ukrainian translation forthcoming].

Präsenz. Herausgegeben und mit einem Nachwort von Jürgen Klein. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 2012.

Explosionen der Aufklärung. Diderot, Goya, Lichtenberg, Mozart. Edited by Forschungszentrum Laboratorium Aufklärung. Jena 2013.

Unsere breite Gegenwart. Berlin 2010 [edition suhrkamp 2627] [English translation at Columbia University Press, 2014 / Portuguese translation at Editora UNESP [Sao Paulo, 2015 / Hebrew Translation Forthcoming in 2018 / Italian translation forthcoming [Bompiani] 2019].

Digital_Pausen: Konturen einer flüchtigen Gegenwart. Springer 2015.