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‘Professor of Consolation’ Christoph Jedan promoted from associate professor to tenured Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics

24 November 2021

Prof. Christoph Jedan delivered his inaugural lecture for the chair in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics in March 2017. Since then, his associate professorship has been converted into a ‘regular’, permanent professorship in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics.

Professor of Consolation

Christoph Jedan is quite down to earth about his promotion: ‘Naturally, it’s nice for your work to be recognized and appreciated, but otherwise, it’s business as usual and my colleagues and I are simply carrying on with what we were working on.’ For the past few years, his research has primarily focused on the topic of consolation; a colleague from Tilburg even calls him the ‘Professor of Consolation’. Jedan: ‘Especially when it comes to the topic of consolation, philosophy works a bit like a religion. It’s quite unusual for a philosopher to engage with texts that verge on religion, that almost serve the purpose of theology and faith. But that’s precisely what I find fascinating: when philosophy assumes the roles of religion, and vice versa, when religion becomes a sparring partner for philosophy.’ When Jedan’s chair was established in 2016, he eloquently explained: ‘I want to address the intellectual relevance of religion. Religion gets us thinking. Religions formulate ways of thinking that are enlightening and inspiring, even if – or precisely because – you are not a worshipper of that particular religion.’

Ancient philosophy also revolved around ‘lived’ philosophy

‘Consolation is about being able to discern a sense of continuity in your life or in that of your loved ones, even when things go (completely) wrong. That when someone dies, for example, you can recognize the enduring value or impact of their life,’ he continues. ‘Consolation can be a rather theological and pastoral subject, and it’s unusual for a philosopher to work on such a topic. But the interesting thing is that this type of lived philosophy was often explored in ancient philosophy: there was a particular focus on the meaning and role of philosophy in everyday life. It revolved around the question: “How can I help you?” It was almost therapeutic. Even though this is a bit unusual in contemporary philosophy, I don’t want to be blinded by fixed doctrines; I want to investigate how philosophy and religion affect the lives of real people. I find this fluidity of ideas, of lived religion and lived philosophy, incredibly fascinating.’

Course units, projects, and the here and now

In addition to the eight course units that Professor Jedan teaches, he is working on a book about consolation, mourning psychology, and therapy in ancient philosophy. He is also currently involved in a large European research project on cemeteries and migrants: ‘This project examines the provision, or lack thereof, of cemeteries for minorities and migrant groups. It is fantastic to be able to work on this project with so many European colleagues. It combines my interest in consolation and my empirical work, in the here and now – which is also quite unusual for a philosopher.’ In the near future, Christoph Jedan hopes to collaborate with his colleague Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta, from the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, on a project about the continuing relevance of ancient religion and worship for the present day.

Wonderful people

Professor Jedan explains that his work in Groningen has actually become increasingly religious in nature as a result of his interaction with his colleagues: ‘Their way of looking at things and their way of working influence my work as a philosopher. And there’s that fluidity again, which I love to explore.’

Jedan notes that his promotion has one minor drawback: he will have less time for research due to his additional administrative duties. ‘This winter, I will once again be appointed head of our Department of Christianity and the History of Ideas, a position I had previously held for six years. I will have to take on more administrative responsibilities again, but that’s just part of the job. And the wonderful people I get to work with here at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies are worth it. I have fantastic colleagues; we get on very well. They are incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated to delivering the very best work and to creating an optimal environment for the students – and they are very generous with their time. So, of course, I don’t want to lag behind!’

Last modified:24 November 2021 8.12 p.m.
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