Prof. Dr. Thiemo Breyer

Winter Semester 2017/2018

Prof. Dr. Thiemo Breyer (Transformations of Knowledge, Universität zu Köln)

Hosts: Prof. Dr. Michael Roth and Dr. Marcus Held (Systematische Theologie und Sozialethik)

Since 2014, Thiemo Breyer has been a junior professor in the junior research group »Transformation of Knowledge« in a.r.t.e.s. Research Lab of the University of Cologne.

Prior to his appointment to Cologne, Breyer was coordinator of the research project “Verkörperung als Paradigma für eine evolutionäre Kulturanthropologie” at the Marsilius Kolleg and Managing Director of the “Interdisziplinären Forums für Biomedizin und kulturelle Studien” at the University of Heidelberg. In addition to these administrative duties, he was employed as a postdoc at the Karl Jaspers Chair of Philosophy and Psychiatry with Prof. Thomas Fuchs from 2010-2014 and was for many years associated research member of the Husserl Archive at the University of Freiburg (2006-2014). Apart from various memberships in societies and reviewer activities, he had various fellowships, e.g. currently at the ZiF in Bielefeld.

Thiemo Breyer obtained his doctorate in philosophy in 2010 with a dissertation on “Attentionalität und Intentionalität - Grundzüge einer phänomenologisch-kognitionswissenschaftlichen Theorie der Aufmerksamkeit” (“Attentionality and Intentionality - Fundaments of a Phenomenological-Cognitive Scientific Theory of Attention”). In this investigation, he arrives at a reinterpretation of basic philosophical concepts such as perception and consciousness, subjectivity and intersubjectivity, experience and reflection. It shows how subjective experience and objectively measurable behavioral correlates can be methodologically related. In 2014, Breyer obtained his habilitation in Freiburg with the study » Verkörperte Intersubjektivität und Empathie « (“Embodied Intersubjectivity and Empathy”). This investigation is dedicated to the questions, such as: What happens in the encounter between people? How to determine the structures of shared experience? What are the limits and breaks of intersubjective understanding? By means of phenomenological intentional analyzes and anthropological structural descriptions, which are combined with metaphors-historical and narratological considerations, he develops a new perspective of empathy. Breyer sees Empathy as a process that does not take place in closed psychic spaces, but in the public of physical encounter and linguistic interaction. The basic embodiment of the human relation to the world, to others and to oneself, therefore, forms the starting point of an interpretation that shows empathy as a multidimensional phenomenon.

During the visiting professorship, Thiemo Breyer worked on the preparation of a third-party funding application for the project »Fractures of Modern Experience Space - Fundamentalism and Empathy. Interdisciplinary Studies on the Genealogy of Modernity « under the direction of Ev. Theology (Prof. Roth / Dr. Held). The project aims to examine the connections between the affective-social order formation of fundamentalisms through the extraction and recourse of cultural and media semantics and practices.

The research team, with backgrounds in different cultural, human, and social sciences wants to examine the respective cultures of empathy, their configurations, and the media. From a cultural and humanistic point of view, the research to be undertaken provides a perspective for the field dominated by the methods and descriptive levels of psychology, political science and sociology, but it begins with a concise view of cultural and social theory.