The scholarly dialogue and exchange of ideas in the eac takes place in conferences, whether individual conferences focusing on one particular discipline and topic (e.g., ethics and sports) or regularly occurring conferences with broader thematic foci such as the so-called “Mainz Moral Meetings” (MMM).

The “Mainz Moral Meetings are a series of conferences that began in 2009. In cycles of four conferences, individual questions related to ethics were considered in interdisciplinary and international perspective. The first cycle of conferences (MMM 1–4) dealt with norms in early Christian ethics and the ethics of antiquity whereas the second cycle (MMM 5–8) considered the forms employed in the grounds for ethics with a particular interest in literary and non-argumentative approaches to ethical reflection (such as, e.g., narrative ethics or doxological ethics).

The current cycle of conferences (MMM 9–12) is considering the question of “Ethik und Zeit”/“Ethics and Time” in which the classical temporal perspectives provide the foci: “Ethik der Erinnerung”/“The Ethics of Memory” (MMM 10), “Ethik der Gegenwart”/“Contemporary Ethics” (MMM 11), and “Zukunftsethik”/“Future Ethics” (MMM 12).

Conference attendance by interested guests is possible. Please contact Ruben Zimmermann for further information.

MMM 13 on "Temporal Dimensions of Ethics" will be held on the 6th of November 2018! Full details will follow soon.


 

Conference on the Relevance of the Bible in Ethical Discourse on the 10th and 11th of November, 2017

Biblical Ethics and Application

Does the Bible still play a role in a Christian’s daily life, in forming a moral character, in providing an orientation for the moral statements of Christian communities such as the churches, or even in social values and norms? Or can the biblical texts serve as a source of stimulation for forms of ethical thinking and reflection (e.g. narrative ethics, metaphorical ethics)? How can one refer to texts of the Bible in moral conduct and ethical debate? Where are the limits of such an application?

The general issue will be approached from three different perspectives:

1) a text-immanent linguistic, narrative or rhetorical approach to describe the literary devices and signals whereby a text formulates a more generalized perspective.

2) A socio-historical approach to reconstruct the probable or intended impact of this text on the explicit readers, as well as early Christian or later discourses.

3) A hermeneutical approach dealing with the use of the biblical text in contemporary ethical debates interacting with current ethical theories or moral philosophy.

The symposion is held in honor of Prof. Dr. Dr. Jan G. van der Watt, Hoogleraar Exegese van het Nieuwe Testament en Bronteksten van het Christendom, Radboud University, The Netherlands on the occacion of his 65th birthday. He developed pioneer work on Ethics in Johannine Literature, which will be of special interest in the symposion as well.

Twelfth MMM Conference on the 17th of May, 2017

Die Zukunft in der ethischen Reflexion / The Future in Ethical Reflection

"I'm more interested in the future than in the past, because the future is where I intend to live", Albert Einstein supposedly once stated, whom at the same time is accredited a quite different note on the future: "I never think of the future – it comes soon enough." Is the future of any relevance for ethics? How much future expectation does ethical reflection require, and at what point is it carried away by ideologies?

The third cycle of the Mainz Moral Meetings (MMM 9-13) organized by the e/ac is themed "Ethics and Time". After extensive debates on the role of the past (MMM 10) and the present (MMM 11) in ethical reflections we are now gazing upon the future and its relevance for ethical discourses. But why, of all things, should we consider the remote and past times of antiquity to understand the importance of the future for ethical reflections? Because it quickly becomes apparent, that utopian, dystopian, eschatological and apocalyptical future narratives in themselves dispose over a persistent past and are formed by a rather stable tradition. The future back then has often already become our current past. Our future expectations, our fears and hopes, however, are fed by similar metaphors and imaginations as they were in the ancient times. Can past future expectations be the magistrae vitae of our current future hopes and fears? The future also enforces certain responsibilities upon us, our present ways of living affect our future and the future of later generations, but, at the same time, the future remains to some extent open and in many ways unpredictable. The twelfth MMM concerns itself with these challenges of an unpredictable but vulnerable future and our present responsibilities.  There will be one talk each on the ethics of the Old and the New Testament; a rather current topic will be treated in a jurisprudential paper on the "Possibility of Norms" and the theological approaches to "Future Ethics" will be covered by the speakers of the department of (Systematic) Theology.  

 

Eleventh MMM Conference on the 11th of May, 2016

Ethik der Gegenwart / Contemporary Ethics

By placing the present at the centre of the discussion, attention is given to the fundamental temporal tense for the present is the realm in which our life takes place. The past and the future can only become a part of the constitutive realm of our lives through the present, namely as the past in the present and the future present. At the same time, however, there is a present danger that ethical reflection, as a result of its interest in the future goal (of an action), may underemphasize the present in the light of the future. As such, the here and now simply becomes the “not yet.” Along these lines the philosopher Gerd Haeffner has written, “What does it mean to live in the present?… A negative answer can easily be offered. One who lives in the past or the future is one who does not live in the present. One who lives in a fantasy and not on the basis of a present awareness is one who does not live in the present.” We are obviously incapable of opening ourselves to our counterparts or to the present if we do not reside in the present. A past that has not been overcome or a future fantasy to which one flees appear to be two sides of the same coin. In neither instance is the present in view. The loss of the present results in the loss of the recognition of one’s counterpart and his or her needs. For this reason, the question of the appropriate forms and means through which the present can be considered becomes a central ethical question. Such an inquiry into the consideration of the present is not intended to replace the interest in shaping the future but rather to provide it with a foundation. What view of the present permits a realistic view of the future? In what ways do the biblical accounts perhaps contribute to a view of the present that is able to see that which is vital and determinative?

 

11th and 12th of December, 2015

Workshop Po/et(h)ik an der JGU Mainz 

Scholars from a variety of disciplines (especially theology, literary studies, and philosophy) participated in a workshop considering the connection between poetics and ethics. The interdisciplinary focus was overtly advanced by the structure of the workshop, which included tandem-presentations, responses, and interdisciplinary panel discussions. Shared views became apparent during the course of the discussions, including the sentiment that it is outdated to exclude the question concerning the relevance of ancient phenomena for contemporary contexts. It also became clear that the participants agreed that ethics is based upon an aesthetic perception and worldview and thus not self-evident but rather necessitating hermeneutical reflection. One criterion considered and discussed during the workshop was that aesthetic perception lead to ethics and a changed viewed of the self at the point when it takes another into consideration.

In sum, one can look back upon a workshop with English- and German-language presentations by scholars from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France in which space was created for fruitful discussion in the overcoming of linguistic and disciplinary barriers.

Tenth MMM Conference on the 2nd and 3rd of November, 2015

Ethik der Erinnerung / The Ethics of Memory

It is often only in retrospect that actions are evaluated and become the subject of ethical inquiry. Here, erroneous decisions or violent acts frequently exercise an immense influence in the present in that the experience of trauma or the feelings of guilt retain a present potency. In presentations by Prof. Dr. Jan Assmann (Constance, Egyptology/Cultural Studies), Prof. Dr. Christoph Horn (Bonn, Philosophy), Prof. Dr. Matthias Konradt (Heidelberg, New Testament), Prof. Dr. Martin Walraff (Basel, Patristics), and Dr. Christine Schließer (Zurich, Theological Ethics), MMM 10 brought this retrospective, temporal dimension of ethics to the fore.

 

The 26th and 27th of June, 2015

Conference “Sports and Ethics”

On the 26th and 27th of June, 2015 a conference organized by the research group Ethics in Antiquity and Christianity (Prof. Roth and Prof. Volp) and entitled “Performance and Success in Sports, Church, and Society” took place.

Performance leads to success and success is based on performance.” This is the promise of bourgeois society: status is allocated on the basis of one’s own work and performance. And yet, this measure of success appears to be waning in contemporary civil society even as the performance principle is retained (for the moment) in sports. The sporting world is a world unto itself in which the attempt is made to achieve as precise a comparison of performance as possible. Sports can be valued as one of the few remaining realms in which the connection between performance and success is retained, and so it is surprising that a critical distancing from the performance principle in sport is often found in the church or theological positions. In fact, the sporting world is reproached for its pursuit of performance and achievement.

The goal of this conference was to bring about interaction between the differing discourses concerning sports. As such, from the perspective of the philosophy of sports the question of the experience of an athlete was brought into focus, from an ethical perspective the performance principle was considered, and from the perspective of sports psychology the tension between the ideal and reality of sports was contemplated. Of particular import were historical perspectives, including the use of sports metaphors by Paul and in early Christianity, as well as the question of the significance of Christianity for the mindset of performance and advancement.

The papers presented at the conference will be published in a forthcoming volume edited by Michael Roth and Ulrich Volp and entitled Gut, besser, am besten. Ethische und historische Relfexionen zu Leistung und Erfolg in Sport, Kirche und Gesellschaft (Leipzig, 2016).

 

 

Ninth MMM Conference on the 22nd of January, 2015

Die scheinbare Zeitlosigkeit der Ethik / The Apparent Timelessness of Ethics

Human actions occur in time and for this reason, temporal concepts affect the contemplation of moral actions. Reflecting upon a particular action involves a retrospective aspect in terms of the completed action, a present aspect in terms of decision, and a prospective aspect in terms of the consequences. At the same time, the Enlightenment restricted ethics to rational argumentation and the ethical subject so that distant horizons and supra-generational perspectives fell out of view. Ethics thus became an apparently timeless endeavor. The consequences of such a reduction are not only evident in concrete interaction with history (e.g., the holocaust, environmental damage) and the future (e.g., demographic displacement, climate change) but also in the absence of meta-ethical categories in ethical descriptions and considerations.

This conference is the first of four dealing with the theme “Ethics and Time,” conferences in which past, present, and future perspectives will programmatically be considered. This introductory conference seeks to define the boundaries of the discussion explore the general temporal dimension of ethics.

 

Eighth MMM Conference on the 12th of November, 2013

Doxologische Ethik / Doxological Ethics

MMM 8 reflected upon “doxological ethics.” [hier ist wieder eine Mischung von englischer und deutscher Formatierung der Anführungszeichen vorhanden] To what extent is a ground of action set forth in the speech act of praise? For instance, when one sings a hymn praising creation, is there not a recognition of its value and an indirect and implicit appeal to preserve it? A poem or a song of praise thus has both a dimension of expression and a dimension of appeal along with a further connection to a rationale in that the hymn has an addressee (e.g., the creator). For this reason, great hymns in the history of Christianity, such as the Magnificat or the Canticle of the Sun by Francis of Assisi, have rightly played a formative role in ethics. In this conference the specifics of a doxological reflection upon moral action are to be considered on the basis of various texts along with the manner in which they point to a medium of aesthetically transmitted ethics.

 

Seventh MMM Conference on the 23rd of January, 2013

Mimetische Ethik / Mimetic Ethics

The seventh Mainz Moral Meeting concerned itself with mimetic ethics. At the centre of this justification for and ground of ethics is the conforming of oneself or one’s actions to another person or ideal. Since Plato, mimesis has been understood as the appropriate means by which one can conform to the good, the beautiful, and the true. For Aristotle also, mimesis was a tool in the move away from becoming towards that of being precisely because that which is to be imitated is to be found in the realm of being. For this reason, mimesis was necessarily a conforming to the good and thus teleological in its orientation. The ethical potential here is patently obvious. Even though the term “mimesis” has also been utilized by modern and postmodern thinkers, in Jewish and Christian texts of late antiquity one finds the Platonic and neo-Platonic principle of mimesis as self-education through the engagement of and involvement with a worthy and virtuous counterpart. The one viewed to be worthy of imitation is, on account of his or her ethical qualities, the reason why a particular action or a certain lifestyle is necessary. Along these lines, mimetic ethics lays claim to being intimately connected with reality and constructs an ethic into the foundational order of things. Papers were presented by Johan Leemans (Leuven), Dr. Ron Naiweld (Paris), Prof. Dr. Nils Arne Pedersen (Aarhus), Prof. dr. Eve-Marie Becker (Aarhus), and PD Dr. Istvan Czachesz (Heidelberg).

 

Sixth MMM Conference on the 26th of June, 2012

Narrative Ethik / Narrative Ethics

Reflection upon and justification for actions in early Christianity is encountered not only in rational argumentation, such as is found in early tractates. Narratives and letters draw on other argumentative strategies that are worth uncovering. In so doing, it becomes evident that forms of speech are not insignificant vehicles for ethics but rather are significant modes of its expression. Moral reflection on the basis of narratives, metaphors, or hymns takes place in a categorically different manner than moral reflection on the basis of logic and argument. The questions concerning the differences, the advantages, or the limitations of metaphorical, narratival, mimetic, or doxological ethics are the topics of the symposia. Recent discussions in the fields of moral philosophy and ethics have brought to expression the limits of the rational, and a lively debate has developed concerning the manner in which the discourse concerning values can be advanced upon a different basis. Several edited volumes (Joisten; Hofheinz) and works (Fischer) on “narrative ethics” have been published, allowing this MMM to join an ongoing conversation. MMM 6 included two lectures on narrative ethics from the perspective of moral philosophy and literary studies. Subsequently the opportunities created by, as well as the limits encountered in, a narratological approach were explored on the basis of passages taken from the Gospels of Mark and Matthew. Finally, the ethical implications of narrative sections in the Letters of St. Antony were examined.

Fifth MMM Conference on the 17th of January, 2012

Metaphorische Ethik / Metaphorical Ethics

The biblical texts are filled with metaphorical language, even in ethical contexts. Church fathers, such as John Chrysostom, received these texts and expanded upon them with their own metaphors. “You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world” are the opening words to the Sermon on the Mount, a sermon often viewed as containing the foundational teaching of Jesus. Yet how is ethical persuasiveness achieved through metaphors? How does this metaphorical speech become the justification and ground for an ethical declaration? What are the differences between metaphorical and rational reflection on an action?

Papers were presented by, amongst others, Prof. Dr. Jens Herzer (Leipzig), Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Mühlenberg (Göttingen), and Prof. Dr. Christoph Gregor (Müller).

Fourth MMM Conference on the 2nd of February, 2011.

Tugend und Tugenbegriff in griechisch-hellenistischer Philosophie, biblischer, jüdischer und frühchristlicher Theologie / Virtue and the Concept of Virtue in Hellenistic Philosophy, Biblical, Jewish, and Early Christian Theology

The fourth Mainz Moral Meeting was dedicated to the issue of virtue and conceptions of virtue in antiquity, the Bible, and early Christianity. Thus, the fourth MMM was also concentrated upon a particular theme as conceptions of virtue were considered from a variety of perspectives.

After several decades in which the discussion of “virtue” was largely dormant there has been a recent renaissance in the scholarly dialogue concerning “virtue” with some even speaking of a paradigm shift in this field. Virtue and the conception of virtue were dominant in ethical theory from antiquity into the late Middle Ages. In the Reformation, however, different ethical paradigms emerged, which questioned the validity of an undifferentiated conception of virtue. At the same time, the ethics of virtue survived in both civil society and the Christian churches.

Conference papers were delivered by, amongst others, Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Blümer (Mainz), Prof. Dr. Maximilian Forschner (Erlangen), Prof. Dr. Dr. Eckart Otto (Munich), and Christian Hengstermann (Münster).

Third MMM Conference on the 14th of July, 2010

Der Grundbegriff „Leib“/σῶμα und die Begründungszusammenhänge antiker christlicher Ethik / The Basic Concept of “Body”/ σῶμα and the Grounds of Ancient Christian Ethics

The third conference in the Mainz Moral Meetings series continued in the vein of previous conferences and their attempts to set forth that which identified and justified ancient Christian ethics. Here the focus was upon the concept of the human body (σῶμα) and its corporeality with its anthropological, theological, ethical, and cultural implications.

Presenters at the conference included, amongst others, the New Testament scholar David Horrell (Exeter in Great Britain), the Systematic theologican Frederick Aquino (Abilene in the USA), and the Italian New Testament Scholar Lorenzo Scornaienchi (Zurich). Countries represented amongst the conference participants included Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Great Britian, and the USA.

Second MMM Conference on the 13th of November, 2009

Leben zur vollen Genüge – Lebenskunst. Der Lebensbegriff als ethische Norm in Antike und Christentum“ [hier stehen jetzt die MMM Title in Anführungszeichen] / “Life to the Fullest—The Art of Living. The Term ‘Life’ as Ethical Norm in Antiquity and Christianity”

The second meeting in the series of conferences “Mainz Moral Meetings” was entitled “Life to the Fullest—The Art of Living. The Term ‘Life’ as Ethical Norm in Antiquity and Christianity.”

Conference papers were delivered by, amongst others, the president of the Protestant Church in the Rheinland and assistant council president of the Protestant Church in Germany Nikolaus Schneider and Frau Prof. Dr. Maren Niehoff from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

First MMM Conference on the 8th of July, 2009

„Gut, Güter, Güterabwägung“ / “Good, Goods, Weighing Competing Goods”

The first conference in the series of “Mainz Moral Mettings” conferences was entitled “Good, Goods, Weighing Competing Goods” and considered the question, amongst others, of how the weighing of good and evil can occur beyond the confines of a purely principled or fully utilitarian approach to ethics.

The conference included numerous participants and several presenters including the South African New Testament scholar Jan G. van der Watt who read a paper on “Goods, Values and Actions: A Brief Structural Description of the Process of Action Creation in New Testament Writings.” Van der Watt is the author of more than 20 books, bible translator, and honorary professor and numerous departments of theology around the world. He is particularly known for his work on the Gospel of John and the ethics of early Christianity along with contextual exegesis in the South African context.