Tautz, Barbara Katharina (2021). Heroines in Dependence: A Quest for Humility in Meister Eckhart, Hadewijch and Kierkegaard’s Writings. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


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In his book "Contingency, Irony and Solidarity" Richard Rorty offers a description of the lived experience of uncertainty and doubt evoked by postcolonial and new historicists’ questioning of universal truth. This is a result of recognizing the contradiction of one’s own ability and responsibility to cause pain for others and at the same time being unable to avoid this pain. The description of this state of anxiety raises the question of whether and how the liberal ironist can move beyond the experience of uncertainty towards action in life. On the other hand, the book depicts the liberal ironist’s awareness of her dependence on others. The presented interpretation of Rorty’s ironist reads her character as an attempt to relate to this dependence. Drawing on parallels between Rorty and Kierkegaard’s characterization of the ironist, humility suggests a different approach to dependence. Following other heroic figures in their quest for humility, this thesis presents alternative ways of relating to being dependent on others in the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, Meister Eckhart and Hadewijch. Rorty’s liberal irony poses the question of the thesis, but with their descriptions of humility, the analyzed authors offer a different response to dependence. To begin with, the analysis will turn to humility as a form of knowing oneself as dependent on another. Then, humility sheds light on different ways of relating to being dependent on another in the discussion of the concepts of union of the humble person and God as the other. This is elaborated on in a discussion of the relation of passivity and activity in humility. The argument moves from received activity in Eckhart to activity in passivity in Hadewijch and ends with concrete action in Kierkegaard’s humble courage. Humility thereby fulfils the function of hinges between the inner and outer person and describes an inward movement as much as an outward action. Moreover, this reveals humility to be a way to live one’s life in relation to another person. Humility is the ability to see the other and to will oneself in relation to another. Unlike Rorty’s irony, humility – therefore – represents an enabling rather than a restricting view on oneself in dependence on the other.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Translated abstract:
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Tautz, Barbara Katharinabarbara.k.tautz@gmail.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-364346
Date: March 2021
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 8: Philosophie > Philosophisches Seminar
Subjects: Philosophy
Christian theology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Date of oral exam: 11 July 2019
NameAcademic Title
Speer, AndreasProf. Dr. Dr h.c.
Rosfort, RenéProf. Dr.
Fraeters, VeerleProf. Dr.
Funders: Cusanuswerk
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/36434


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