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Hans Joas

Hans Joas German sociologist

German sociologist
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German sociologist
Countries Germany
Occupations Sociologist Educator
Gender male
Birth 27 November 1948 (Munich)
Education Free University of Berlin
Hans Joas
The details

Hans Joas (born November 27, 1948) is a German sociologist and social theorist.


Hans Joas is Ernst-Troeltsch-Honorarprofessor at the Faculty of Theology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He was a Permanent Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) (University of Freiburg) in Germany and Visiting Professor of Sociology and Social Thought and a Member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He was the Director of the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt from 2002-2011. Joas has taught at many institutions, most recently at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and has published several books on social theory, most notably The Creativity of Action.

Joas' work has focused primarily on reconstructing the tradition of American pragmatism, defending its philosophical interest and explicating its significance for social theory.

For Joas, pragmatism offers a novel solution to the problem of value, bridging between the normative concerns of philosophy and the sociological investigation of norms. Starting from an early study of George Herbert Mead (G.H. Mead: A Contemporary Re-examination of His Thought, 1983), Joas has gone on to explore the European reception of pragmatism in Pragmatism and Social Theory (1993) and to reconstruct the sociological theory of action based on the pragmatist conception of creativity (The Creativity of Action, 1996). A wide-ranging examination of ideas about The Genesis of Values (2000) draws heavily on William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Academic awards

  • 2010: Bielefelder Wissenschaftspreis („Niklas-Luhmann-Preis“).
  • 2012: Werner Heisenberg-Medall der Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.
  • 2012: Doctor honoris causa der University of Tübingen.
  • 2013: Doctor honoris causa der Uppsala University.
  • 2013: Hans-Kilian-Award.
  • 2015: Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award, American Sociological Association, Section History of Sociology.
  • 2015: Max-Planck-Research-Award.

Books in English

  • George Herbert Mead. A Contemporary Re-examination of His Thought (MIT Press 1985, ISBN 978-0-262-10033-5).
  • Social Action and Human Nature (with Axel Honneth) (Cambridge University Press 1988, ISBN 978-0-521-33935-3).
  • Pragmatism and Social Theory (University of Chicago Press 1993, 978-0-226-40042-6).
  • The Creativity of Action (University of Chicago Press 1996, ISBN 978-0-226-40044-0).
  • The Genesis of Values (University of Chicago Press 2000, ISBN 978-0-226-40040-2).
  • War and Modernity (Blackwell 2003, ISBN 978-0-745-62644-4).
  • Social Theory (with Wolfgang Knoebl) (Cambridge University Press 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-87063-4).
  • Do We Need Religion? On the Experience of Self-Transcendence (Paradigm 2009, ISBN 978-1-594-51439-5).
  • War in Social Thought: A History (with Wolfgang Knoebl) (Princeton University Press 2012, ISBN 978-0-691-15084-0).
  • The Sacredness of the Person: A New Genealogy of Human Rights (Georgetown University Press 2012, ISBN 978-1-589-01969-0).
  • The Axial Age and Its Consequences (Belknap Press 2012, ISBN 978-0-674-06649-6).

Books in German

  • Die lange Nacht der Trauer. Erzählen als Weg aus der Gewalt? (Psychosozial-Verlag, Giessen 2015, ISBN 978-3-8379-2267-7).
  • Sind die Menschenrechte westlich? (Kösel, München 2015, ISBN 978-3466371266).

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