Meet the scientists researching at Goethe University: Social Philosopher Martin Saar

We wanted to know: Why did our scientists want to become scientists in the first place? What are they working on, and what do they still want to discover? You can read their answers to these questions and more – including how they motivate their working groups and what they could really do without – as part of this series, which successively introduces some of the people behind the research conducted at Goethe University.

Name: Prof. Dr. Martin Saar
Profession: Social Philosopher
Place of work: Institute of Philosophy

Why did you become an academic?

Out of a mixture of coincidences, out of curiosity, and a passion for books, thoughts and fundamental questions.

What are you currently working on?

Generally speaking, I am preoccupied with the connection between Critical Theory, i.e. the social theoretical considerations of the “Frankfurt School”, and classical ontological questions about being. There are more points of connection than one might imagine, and some recent theoretical developments (as the so-called “New Materialism” and “ontological turn” in the social sciences) make this topic particularly appealing. Within the context of the ConTrust research cluster project (Trust in Conflict. Political Coexistence in Conditions of Uncertainty), I am interested in discussions about identity, identity politics and identity attributions, which are among the most controversial social issues of the present and in which the connection between power and knowledge or between conflict and trust becomes clearly apparent.

What do you still want to find out?

Many things, but in the short term I want to know more about possibilities and opportunities to think philosophical and social problems together.

What does your ideal workday look like?

The less determined by deadlines, phone-calls and emails, the better.

What could you easily do without in your daily work?

(Most) emails.

What I like about my job is…  

…the possibility of seriously addressing big, fundamental, abstract questions and of pursuing them together with many others.

To me, Goethe University Frankfurt is…

…a place with a great and binding tradition.

What should society know about your research? Are there common misconceptions, and if so, which?

It is a mistake to believe that abstract theoretical questions have nothing to do with social, historical, or political reality; they are, in fact, fundamentally determined by it. At the same time, it would also be mistaken to think that the humanities and social sciences offer direct and immediate solutions to social and political problems; this requires translation into social and political projects, initiatives and mobilizations – each of which have their own logic, legitimacy and success criteria.

How do you get your mind off research?

At the movies, at the theater, on the playground.

Prof. Dr. Martin Saar is a member of the ConTrust cluster initiative. The cluster project explores the interplay of trust and mistrust in crisis and conflict situations.

More information on Prof. Saar’s research topics is available here.

Photo: Peter Holl

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