Our Guest: Frédéric Vandenberghe

Frederic Vandenberghe


LFUI Guest Professorship
October - November 2023

Home university / Country
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Professor of Sociology

Research areas
Social Theory, History of ideas, Critical realism, Hermeneutics and Phenomenology

Guest of 
Frank Welz

Institut für Soziologie

Guest lecture
30.10.2023, 18:30, SOWI, Hörsaal 2
"Warum Bhaskar? (Critical Realism)"

 "As a sociologist, I don’t think we can separate our scientific research from the state of our societies. Our knowledge comes from society and has to return to society."


The motto I live by is…

..."science avec conscience" (science as conscientiousness). As a sociologist, I don’t think we can separate our scientific research from the state of our societies. Our knowledge comes from society and has to return to society. The relation between knowledge and society is a reflexive one – thanks to scientific objectivation, society becomes conscious of itself, its tasks and its limits. When societies are facing the most serious challenges, the sciences need to stretch themselves to their limits. At the limit, they will encounter the need for a totalisation of their knowledge, which includes the person of the scientist itself.


At the University of Innsbruck I will...

... be teaching a course on the epistemology and methodology of the social and political sciences. We will basically look at the philosophy of the sciences  and investigate their implications for the construction of social theory that is simultaneously realist, critical and humanist. The basic assumption is that every epistemology presupposes an ontology and projects a sociology. To make sure that our knowledge of society does not contribute to the alienation of its members, we’ll have to investigate the relations between the social constitution of the subject of knowledge and the epistemic construction of the object of knowledge. Both are ideally grounded in a circular relation of increasing reflexivity. The course will be based on classic texts in the various traditions in the philosophy of science- the Wiener Kreis in Austria, from Popper to Feyerabend, neo-Kantianism in Germany, from Cassirer to Habermas, historical epistemology in France, from Bachelard to Bourdieu, and critical realism in the UK, from Harré to Bhaskar.


The University of Innsbruck is different from my home institution in...

... Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). I am originally from Flanders in Belgium. I wrote my Ph.D. in Paris on German theories of Verdinglichung. For the last twenty years, I have been working and living in Brazil. Brazil has changed me - as a researcher from the Global north and as a person. I am on leave from my university in Rio for three years. I just spent a year as a Distinguished Max Weber Fellow at the University of Erfurt in Germany where I worked together with Hartmut Rosa. I am writing a book on the political situation in Brazil under Bolsonaro. After a year of continuous writing, it will be a pleasure to return to teaching for two months. I am planning to teach for the first time ever in German. I wonder how I’ll manage the Austrian dialects…

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