Philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels receives 2021 Lucas Prize

The Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize in 2021 goes to the philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels. The award committee paid tribute to his work, which explores the ways of, and conditions for, understanding what is foreign. The prize, endowed with 50,000 euros, is awarded annually by the University of Tübingen’s Faculty of Protestant Theology. Once more, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the award ceremony cannot take place as planned. As in 2020, it will be postponed to be presented together with next year’s prize at the award ceremony of 2022.

Bernhard Waldenfels (born in 1934 in Essen) is professor emeritus of philosophy at the Ruhr University in Bochum. He is one of the most important authors in the field of contemporary phenomenology. His work has been devoted primarily to the development of a "phenomenology of the foreign," spanning more than 20 volumes and receiving interdisciplinary recognition. Waldenfels’ original contribution to philosophy lies in re-reading the ’category’ of alterity through the perspective of foreignness. Waldenfels takes up the challenge of developing a phenomenological discourse that is able to grasp the extent to which the foreign reveals itself in an authentic way in the midst of the unstable and pluralistic terrain of experience and thereby remains perceptible.

Waldenfels is a key figure in contemporary philosophy. His work has been explicitly and in an original way dedicated to the project of a genuine dialogue between nations and countries. The plurality of areas in which the foreign reveals itself prompts Waldenfels not to limit himself merely to the results of phenomenological research in a narrow sense. Rather, he expands the spectrum of his research in the direction of a wide range of fields, such as social philosophy, political philosophy, law and ethics, ethnological discourse, as well as psychology and psychoanalysis. Waldenfels also devotes special attention to art and literature.

Contemporary Jewish philosophy plays a special role in his work, leading him to acknowledge the importance of the radical conversation. This incorporates the foreign as its own factor of understanding. From the perspective of the foreign, Waldenfels’ philosophy has emerged in the context of a dialogue between different European philosophical traditions - above all attempting to connect the French and German philosophical tradition in a mutual and fruitful conversation.

The Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize goes to individuals who have made a major contribution to greater tolerance and better relations between people and nations, and who have helped to promote a philosophy of tolerance. The prize was established in 1972 in memory of the Jewish scholar and rabbi Dr. Leopold Lucas, who was killed in Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943.