Principal Investigator: Prof Dean Komel, PhD

Research Organisations:

  • Nova revija –Institute of Humanities
  • University of Maribor, Faculty of Arts, Dipartment of History
  • Institute IRRIS for Research, Development and Strategies of Society, Culture and Environement

Period: 1. 5. 2017 – 30. 4. 2020
Financed by: Slovenian Research Agency (Grant n.o: J7-8283)


Scientific background

Today’s situation of humanistic sciences could be deemed as being to a great extent paradoxical: on the one hand they are marginalized, on the other hand one often demands from them to offer a wholesome vision of the world, which is more or less missing. Both standpoints can for humanistic research be impeding, therefore within the project proposal we strive to surpass them within the question: what forms the contemporaneity of today’s humanities, which knowledge and which values should they represent in order to be able to respond to the challenges of time and space?

The historical aspect, because of which the humanities often face the accusation of being “scientifically regressive” and “socially conservative”, is within the proposed project postulated as the positive basis for the thematization of contemporaneity, especially with regard to the problem of the expression of social and individual freedom.

Such a direction presupposes the introduction of new interdisciplinary and thematic approaches in the field of humanistic research, which would take into account also the aspect of conceptual historical effectuation. Key conceptual determinations within humanistic research not only stem from certain contexts of understanding and historical-social situations, but they are also being created anew whilst being dealt with in research. We define this aspect of the progressive “historical consciousness”, which always also bears an awareness regarding the present and brings a message for the future, as the concept of the contemporality of the context of understanding.

The concept of contemporality has predominantly been methodically developed within the hermeneutically oriented philosophical tradition, which attempted to offer methodological determinants for research in the field of humanistic sciences and which thus not only touched upon the research con-junctures relative to philosophy, historiography, literary and linguistic sciences, but also upon the general questions of the epistemology of law, sociology, pedagogy, political science and economy, in short, upon everything kind of knowledge that in an emphatic sense constitutes “ the science of man”. The reason for such a broad application lies in the direct temporal effectuation of the context of understanding that in itself in-tends to be expressed in a meaningful manner.

With the purpose to prevent any kind of research and disciplinary syncretism the effectuation of the entire project is subjected to a common research methodology characterized by the elaboration of the contemporality of the context of understanding and of its influence upon the formation of individual and social freedom. As evident from the presentation of research topics the themes are in terms of preparation and realization mutually intertwined presupposing a wholesome development of interdisciplinary research in the field of the humanities and of its social application.


Presentation of the problem

The existing analyses of the context of understanding or of the structure of meaning within the hermeneutical as well as the structuralist and the socio-critical discourse have insufficiently considered and discussed its direct connection with the expression of individual and social freedom. Within the proposed project a special emphasis is given to the task of demonstrating the dimension of the historical effectuation that opens up the space and the time of our contemporaneity, and thereby also the possibility of the freedom of action. Insofar as on the basis of historical experience we not only pose questions about who we are, but are at the same time explicitly posed in front of them, one cannot overlook the special authority of historicity with regard to the formation of humanistic knowledge. On the other hand, however, also the freedom of the author, in the past, in the present as well as in the future, cannot be disavowed. In the field of his own expression the author often meets with disregard or even disdain that co-condition the continuity or the discontinuity of the reception of his work in the passing of time.

Thus a special task of humanistic research that investigates the historical and the contemporary aspect of the comprehension and the expression of freedom can be formulated, particularly regarding the realms where there have been or even still are instances of the restriction of freedom, which have directly influenced the reception not only of the expression, but also of the freedom itself. Censorship in the function of the social control of public expression represents only one aspect of the suppression and also oppression against the expressed context of understanding with regard to its contemporary effectuation. One must take into account also the interior way of selflimitation of the senseful expression by manner of becoming nonsense, which concerns and reaches onto the plane of the creative expression itself and even of the witnessing. The other exterior way of the restriction of free expression and of the (p)re-arranging of the context of understanding, often with the intent to direct it and to subordinate it to the higher “state” economic interests, is the activity of secret services.

This latter aspect inevitably poses the question of the transparency of public communication as one of the essential implements of development of the democratic society, which has in the age of the internet and of the expansion of information technologies been often put to the test, and which thus demonstrates the necessity of humanistic and sociological discussion that would contribute the appropriate consciousness and awareness regarding the contemporary contexts of understanding of the individual and the social freedom, which we otherwise commonly relate to as the crisis of meaning.

 Key research objectives:

  • The analysis of philosophical, historical, literary-historical and socio-critical comprehension of freedom in the past and in the present with the intention of a synthetic projection that surpasses the alleged regressivity of humanistic knowledge in the direction of the progressivity of developing methods, contents and applications.
  • On the basis of progressive interdisciplinary interlinking of humanistic and sociological approaches towards the discussion of understanding (and) of freedom a view upon the future can be opened that bears awareness of the value of European existence and coexistence, which can also be of worth in the perspective of global humanity.
  • This direction of research demands taking a different stance towards historical and linguistic-cultural determination of humanistic knowledge and towards transference of humanistic and sociological expertise into education, culture and society in general. Instead of accentuating “scientific deficiency” and “application deficit” of humanistic research, which are supposed to be supplemented with the transposition of more appropriate methodologies of other sciences, we believe that precisely here lies the opportunity to create new approaches in the field of the humanities.
  • In this regard the main focus of the project proposal is dedicated to the question of communicational essence of tradition within the formation of contexts of understanding that are the expression of personal and interpersonal freedom. The question what freedom historically and actually means can be answered only through the expression of freedom.
  • This correspondence between the contexts of understanding and the expression of freedom will be discussed within the concept of contemporality, which entails also the experience of presence (the present time) of our immediate life situation that is not bound exclusively by our actual state and life stances within it, but comprises also horizons of the past and the future, that is to say, our entire understanding of existence in the world, to which we are bearing witness.

Sestava projektne skupine:


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