Hans Joas

Under the Spell of Freedom - Theory of Religion after Hegel and Nietzsche

(German title: Im Bannkreis der Freiheit)
ca. 668 pages
Hans Joas
Foto: Hans Joas
© Heike Steinweg

Hans Joas, born in 1948, is Ernst Troeltsch Honorary Professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin’s faculty of Theology as well as Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. He has received numerous accolades for his works, including the Hans Kilian Prize, the Max Planck- Humboldt Research Award, the Prix Paul Ricoeur and the Theological Prize of the Salzburger Hochschulwochen.

Awards (selection):

Prix Paul Ricœur 2017

Bielefeld Science Award 2010

Rights available

»Today, there is no other way to talk about religion and the history of religion than in connection with the normative demands and the history of political freedom.«


How do the history of religion and the history of political freedom relate to one another? The diversity of opinions on this in the fields of philosophy, the humanities and social sciences and in the public is vast and confusing. And yet, the sublime synthesis in which Hegel once united Christianity and political freedom is still of enormous guiding power for many – despite or maybe because of Friedrich Nietzsche’s influential provocations.

However, a different way of looking at this complex of questions evolved within the religious thought of the 20th century, as Hans Joas shows in his new book. It is based on a concept of history that is more open to the future and on an understanding of freedom that is richer than it is in Hegel’s thought. By reference to sixteen selected thinkers, Joas carves out this new understanding of religion and freedom that is neither intellectualistic nor Eurocentric. This creates a decisive plea for a global history of moral universalism.


»... it is a pleasure, almost a comfort, to follow a scholar in making traditions he cares about deeply come to life clearly and comprehensibly and in arguing fairly and constructively with those who have different opinions.« Johann Hinrich Claussen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»[An] extensive and very erudite study.« Otfried Höffe, Frankfurter Rundschau

Other publications

Die Macht des Heiligen/The Power of the Sacred (2017)

Sold to:

France (Seuil), Netherlands (Lemniscaat), English edition available through Oxford UP

Die Sakralität der Person/The Sacredness of the Person (2011)

Sold to:

Spanish rights Latin America (UNSAM Edita), Chinese simplex rights (Shanghai People’s Publishing House), Brazilian Portuguese rights (UNESP), France (Labor et Fides), Italy (Franco Angeli), Croatia (Breza)

Die Entstehung der Werte/The Origin of Value (1999)

Sold to:

Spanish world rights (Pólvora), Serbia (Belgrade Circle)