Phenomenology of Listening (no. 3): Ethics and the Voice of Conscience – University of Copenhagen

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Phenomenology of Listening (no. 3): Ethics and the Voice of Conscience

Open seminar in cooperation between University of Copenhagen and the Centre for Pastoral Education and Research, Church of Denmark

It is no coincidence that we often use acoustic metaphors in order to describe the relation between interiority and exteriority. The sense of hearing can be seen as the door to the soul (Johann Gottfried Herder), but it is also essential for a human being’s openness to the external world. Moreover, there is an obvious connection between Vernunft and Vernehmen: according to Helmuth Plessner, the human spirit has its soil and substratum in sensory perception, and thinking is particularly related to listening. While Derrida’s criticism of logo- and phonocentrism assumes an underlying ‘metaphysics of presence’ where ‘thinking to oneself’ means ‘hearing oneself speak,’ we will explore listening as the bond between impression and expression, between call and response, and as one’s link par excellence to the Other. We will concentrate on what eludes the apparent identity between reason, language, and reality.

In a series of lectures and research seminars at CJMC and an ensuing publication, we will develop a multi-disciplinary approach to the phenomenology of listening with an emphasis on the foreignness of the word, voice, or speech experienced by a person who becomes moved and de-centered by more or less harmonious or conflictual events of resonance happening in-between subjectivity and alterity.

Research seminar no. 3 focuses on ethical aspects of listening as an exemplary experience of being reached by another’s demand or appeal, and yet responding on one’s own. In particular, we will consider the peculiar qualities of the ‘voice’ of conscience, which comes from us and yet over us, addressing us, for instance, via feelings of guilt and shame, or remaining inconspicuous in conveying the peace of mind related to a ‘good conscience.’

Who ‘speaks’ through conscience? In what ways can the ‘voice’ of conscience promote the self-obligation of a moral agent – and, by contrast, how could war criminals involved in mass atrocities claim to have a ‘clear conscience’? We will discuss such questions in a dialogue between philosophy, theology, sociology, and history.





Hagi Kenan (Tel Aviv University):

“Listening to Hope at the Mountain of Death: Celan and Heidegger”




Coffee break


Lars Cyril Nørgaard (University of Copenhagen & University of Durham):

“In another Voice: The Christian Self between Experience and





Organization & funding:

Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture (CJMC) & Centre for Pastoral Education and Research, Church of Denmark

Everyone is welcome!

Participation is free, but online registration required by May 2, 2018