Upcoming 05/2024 The human behind human-centric AI. Humanism and AI Conference, University of Bonn, Germany

03/2024 “The Human Behind Human-centered AI”, Jülich Speaker Series in the Philosophy of Technology Phil.Tech.Talks


12/2023 Menschenzentrierte KI-Ethik, Ringvorlesung “Einführung in die Philosophie”, University of Bonn, Germany

12/2023 “Erzählende Maschinen und ihre Schattenseiten” Panel with Philipp Hacker and Sylvia Rothe, medien impuls, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen (fsf) Berlin

11/2023 “Kann man Künstlicher Intelligenz vertrauen? Peut-on faire confiance à l’intelligence artificielle?” Deutsch-französische Zukunftswerkstatt by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Institut français Bonn and the Centre Ernst Robert Curtius of the University of Bonn (online)


10/2022 Standardizing Fairness Evaluation Procedures: Interdisciplinary Insights on Machine Learning Algorithms in Micro-Creditworthiness Assessments (with Sergio Genovesi et al.), Workshop AI Fairness – an Interdisciplinary Discussion, University of Bonn, Germany (online)

09/2022 Presentation of the Manifesto for the Future of Privacy, Symposium Rethinking Privacy after this Pandemic, University of Bonn, Germany (hybrid)

06/2022 “Broadcast Yourself ”. Die Täuschung einer Demokratisierung von Deutungsmacht (The deception of a democratized power of interpretation) (with Sergio Genovesi) Digitale Hermeneutik, Fernuniversität Hagen, Germany

06/2022 Unintended Surveillance as an Impact Factor for a Certification of Ethical AI (co author Sergio Genovesi), Surveillance Studies Network Conference, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

03/2022 Introduction to the Report on the governance of data protection ELI in ICT research and innovation, PANELFIT final dissemination event (online)

01/2022 Evaluating Fairness in the Framework of a Trustworthiness Certification of AI Systems (with Sergio Genovesi) AI research group, University of Bonn, Germany (online)


12/2021 Privacy and Autonomy in Recommender Systems Panel discussion with Joanna Bryson, Shannon Vallor et al. , University of Bonn, Germany (invited, hybrid)

10/2021 KI-Zertifizierung und KI-Verordnungsentwurf: Die Rolle der Ethik, (AI-Certification and the AI Act-draft: Ethics’s role), Conference “Zertifizierung und der KI-Verordnungsentwurf der Europäischen Kommission Chancen, Herausforderungen, Perspektiven” (with Sergio Genovesi) University of Cologne, Germany (invited, online)

07/ 2021: The gender of my car(’s voice) and other – feminist – ethical thoughts on philosophy of technology, The XVIIIth Symposium of the International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh), University of Paderborn, Germany (online)

06/2021: Certifying Sustainable AI in the framework of the AI.NRW flagship project (with Sergio Genovesi), University of Bonn, Germany (online)

05/2021: The morality of science in a world of uncertain consequences of one’s own actions, Workshop “Hannah Arendt’s critique of science and technology in the modern world”, University of Eichstätt, Germany (online)

03/2021: Science with and for society, Workshop “Research and Innovation in and for a Good Society”. A workshop by the ETHNA System, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway (online)

02/2021 From Privacy to (Value) Ethics, Final conference of the DFG-research training group “Privacy and Digitalisation”, University of Passau, Germany (invited, online)


11/2020: Ethics by Design Workshop for female engineering students, dib Tagung “Intelligenz” (deutscher ingenieurinnenbund dib e.V.), University of Stuttgart, Germany (invited, online)

10/2020: Privatheit als Luxus (Privacy as a Luxury), no spy e.V., Stuttgart, Germany (invited, online)

03/2020: Governance of Data-Protection Related Ethical and Legal Issues in ICT Research and Innovation, stakeholder workshop of the H2020-project PANELFIT Madrid, Spain

02/2020: Keynote and Workshop ELSI-Aspekte von IOT und Smart Mobility (ELSA concerning IOT and Smart Mobility), Auftakttreffen BMBF-Fördermaßnahme ‘Intelligente, vernetzte Gegenstände für den Alltag’, TU Berlin, Germany (invited)


11/2019: Ethics by Design – eine Topographie der Digitalen Ethik (on behalf of Petra Grimm) Algorithm rules – Wie kommt Ethik in KI? Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

10/2019: Mensch, wo bleibst du? Arbeiten im digitalen Zeitalter Zukunftsprojekt Arbeitswelt 4.0, Stuttgart, Germany

07/2019: Kooperation ohne Solidarität? Semantik und Syntax in der Mensch-Maschine-Kooperation (with and presented by Susanne Kuhnert) Annual Conference of the Societas Ethica,Tutzing, Germany

05/2019: Ethics and Security in Highly Automated Driving (with Susanne Kuhnert) BSides Stuttgart, Germany (invited)

05/2019: Hätte Hannah Arendt WhatsApp genutzt?, Stuttgart Privacy Week, Germany (invited)

03/2019: Ethics and Privacy in Autonomous Driving (with Susanne Kuhnert) Automotive Security Research Group Stuttgart: Meeting 20, Germany (invited)


12/2018: KoFFI – Kooperative Fahrer-Fahrzeug-Interaktion (with Dr. Rainer Erbach and Nadine Hammele) BMBF- / BMWi-Tagung ‘Forschung und Technologie für automatisiertes und vernetztes Fahren’, Berlin, Germany

07/2018: Privatheit und Konformismus. Zu Arendts Aktualität Workshop ‘Öffentlichkeit, Privatheit und Pluralität im digitalen Zeitalter’, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany (invited)

01/2018: Commentary on: The Data Subject as a Small-Scale Sovereign – The Duties of Controllers and the Rights and Powers of Data Subjects under the GDPR by Claudia Quelle (with Niels Van Dijk) Privacy Law Scholars Conference Europe, Brussels, Belgium


01/2017: Hannah Arendts Privatheitsbegriff, Stuttgart Media University, Germany


07/2016: Privacy as a Luxury – what does this mean for women? The 2016 Symposium of the International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh), Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

05/2016: Privatheitsschutz, Hannah Arendt und die ,glücklichen Wenigen‘, CryptoCon 2016, Leipzig, Germany (invited)

04/2016: The Luxury of Leading a private Life. A Privilege for the Lucky Few?, 7th Biennial Surveillance and Society Conference 2016, Barcelona, Spain


12/2015: Household, Totalitarianism and Cyberspace. Philosophical Perspectives on Privacy Drawing on the Example of Hannah Arendt, 32C3, Hamburg, Germany


That our privacy is at stake is not just a problem since the 2013 revelations of Edward Snowden. The 20th century philosopher Hannah Arendt is an important source to understand what ‘privacy’ means and why we need to protect it. In my talk I am going to explain what Arendt understood as ‘private’ throughout her work, and how her reasons to claim the protection of the private realm were connected with her analysis of the totalitarian systems in the 20th Century. In my contribution I am first discussing philosophical concepts of privacy, with a focus on Hannah Arendt’s philosophy. Second, I am arguing why in a liberal-democratic system we need to protect our privacy. The third step will be to reason what we can morally do to prevent catastrophes such as a totalitarian system from happening again. Being a philosopher, I am going to make the philosophical — and in part legal — claims and preconditions understandable for a larger public. To prevent “what never ought have happened” from happening again we should, following Arendt, never refuse to judge about what is happening around us. I apply Arendt’s framework of moral judging by examples to three cases from today’s privacy discussions, Cybermobbing, Behavioral Advertising and secret services.

10/2015: ‘Oikos’, Totalitarianism, and Cyberspace. Thinking the Private with Hannah Arendt, Amsterdam Privacy Conference 2015, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Hannah Arendt’s ideas on the private entail more than just a re-appraisal of the ancient oikos / polis-distinction, as has been suggested in previous literature. In Arendt the local meaning of the private is obvious, as is, also a proprietary dimension. Taking a closer look, we can find an informational and a decisional dimension, as well. I expand the meaning of the private as a home (Benhabib) by arguing, that this home for Arendt is also created through friendships and other close relationships. I emphasize the meaning of the temporal aspect of privacy which so far has not been taken into account enough. I come to the conclusion that contrasted with current privacy issues, Arendt’s analyses and claims help us to understand why privacy needs to be protected today. We need to avoid „action“ being replaced by behavior and the spontaneous in human beings needs to be protected. Examples from today’s privacy discussions can serve as bases for moral judgments in an Arendtian way to decide whether we are confronted with privacy breeches. Arendt’s notion of privacy appears to be part a dichotomy with the public, but is, as I argue, in fact, a triad with the social, and it is a gradual phenomenon. Arendt’s use of synonyms for privacy and antonyms for the public can help us grasp the meaning of the word privacy. Privacy does not only have an individual value for Arendt, but also a collective one.

10/2015: Verhaltensbeeinflussung und Autonomie, Interdisziplinäre Fachtagung Privatheit und Selbstbestimmung, University of Passau, Germany


Behavior and autonomy — how do these two concepts fit together? Or don’t they at all? In my talk I am following the distinction made by the 20th century political philosopher Hannah Arendt between `behavior’ and `action’. Action is a spontaneous activity whose outcome is unpredictable, whereas behavior means to follow the same patterns and hence is predictable. The totalitarian systems and already the modern mass society tried to `substitute’ behavior for action. Both systems wanted human beings to behave compliant to their rules, in order to avoid anything unexpected from happening. In liberal-democratic societies, on the contrary, there is a consensus that all citizens need to have the opportunity to make their own, autonomous decisions. The mass society was one of the reasons that led to totalitarianism. However, within the totalitarian national-socialist era something happened that `never ought have happened’: the `mass fabrication of human bodies’. One solution to prevent catastrophes like this from happening again, was suggested by Arendt in her uncompleted work `Judging’. We should never `refuse’ to judge and we should do so by examples. Applying her framework of thought, I am discussing the `example’ of today’s marketing practice of `behavioral advertising’ which is currently intruding our informational and decisional privacy, when every single step we take online is tracked by companies.

06/2015: Commentary on the Paper Exploring Low-income Employee Privacy in the Digital Age (Working Title), by Dr. Jacqueline Vickery, PhD, Privacy Law Scholars Conference (PLSC), Berkeley, USA


06/2014: Hannah Arendt’s Views on the Private and Some Feminist Reactions to it, XVth Symposium of the International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh), Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Spanien


Hannah Arendt’s ideas on the private have been criticized by feminist (and non-feminist) scholars. Arendt claims a realm of the private which is absolutely protected from the government’s access. The only influence governments should have on their citizen’s privacy should be to pass the law that protects what is inside the private realm. Arendt describes the ancient Greek sphere of the ‘oikos’ in opposition to the ‘polis’ and the ancient Roman ‘familia’ opposed to the ‘res publica’, as a sort of an ‘ideal’ for a realm entirely separated from the political sphere. In this historical example, however, only male Greek, resp. Roman citizens did have some sort of privacy and the freedom to choose between ‘oikos’ and ‘polis’. While a private realm described like this can blanket violence against especially women and children — a fact highly criticized by feminist scholars and activists (“the personal is the political”) — one can also see positive aspects in this absolutely protected private sphere (cf. e.g. Seyla Benhabib (2003) reading Arendt’s ideas as a claim for a ‘home’). Beate Rössler defines in her 2001 book ‘The Value of the Private’ three “dimensions” of privacy: local, decisional and informational privacy. These dimensions of the private can be applied to Arendt’s philosophy, drawing not only on ‘The Human Condition’ (1958), where we find the above mentioned ‘local’ dimension of the ‘oikos’, but also upon other works (e.g. ‘We Refugees’ (1943) and ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ (1951)). In my paper I’m going to show that Arendt’s ideas on the private are still worth to look at, especially in terms of “informational” privacy and democracy.

04/2014: Hannah Arendts Privatheitsbegriff als Konsequenz aus ihrer Totalitarismusanalyse und seine Aktualität, Workshop with researchers from the Institut für Zeitgeschichte (Institute of Contemporary History), research project: “Das Private im Nationalsozialismus” (The Private during the national socialist era), Munich

abstract (German)

Hannah Arendts Privatheitsbegriff wurde in der Vergangenheit vorrangig aus Vita activa (1958) heraus als “Gegenbegriff” zu ihrem Öffentlichkeitsverständnis gelesen. Dieses entwickelte sie v.a. im Anschluss an ihre Totalitarismusanalyse in Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft (1951). Arendt wollte kein geschlossenes System entwerfen, da sie in einem solchen eine gewisse Dogmengefahr sah. Manche ihrer Definitionen bleiben metaphorisch, auch wenn sie klar Position bezieht, lässt die Argumentation bisweilen Fragen offen. Wie kann nun dennoch von Arendt Privatheitsbegriff gesprochen werden? In meinem Dissertationsprojekt arbeite ich heraus, was Arendts Position zu Privatheit ist, indem ich alle ihre Schriften berücksichtige. Die Analyse der Textstellen nehme ich mithilfe von Begriffen anderer Privatheitsforscherinnen und -forscher vor.


10/2013: Education and Gender, Women in Philosophy of Education Conference 2013, University of Limerick, Ireland

08/2013: Temporal Privacy. A Philosophical Contribution to Today’s Privacy Discussions, XXIII. World Congress of Philosophy 2013, Athens, Greece


In this paper I discuss the “temporal” dimensions and aspects of privacy as an example for what philosophy can contribute to today’s interdisciplinary privacy debates. I introduce the “temporal” aspect as an extension of Beate Rössler’s distinction between three dimensions of privacy: local, informational and decisional privacy. By giving several examples, I show that my proposition to think of a temporal notion of privacy can help to solve some of the difficulties that today’s privacy research is facing. Those difficulties are caused by the fact that privacy is not a static construct but is used to describe many different phenomena.

06/2013: Shifting Public Spheres – Identity, Privacy and Processes of Legitimation, Panel Discussion with Mahmoud Bassiouni, Julia Maria Mönig and Mongi Serbaji, Moderation: Soumaya Mestiri, Conference “Space for Transformations”, Organised by the Goethe-Institut, the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (KWI) and and the Ruhr University Bochum’s Centre of Mediterranean Studies (ZMS) (invited)

06/2013: Hannah Arendts Begriff des Privaten: mehr als eine rein lokale Dimension von Privatheit, Symposium „Gender – Women – Science“ of the equal opportunities coordinator (Frauenbeauftragte), University of Passau, Passau, Germany

abstract (German)

In der Privatheitsforschung wird zwischen verschiedenen “Dimensionen” des Privaten unterschieden, um die Bedeutungsspanne des Wortes ‘privat’ zu fassen. Beate Rössler benennt beispielsweise in ihrem 2001 erschienenen Buch Der Wert des Privaten eine lokale, eine dezisionale und eine informationelle Dimension von Privatheit. Werden diese drei Dimensionen auf das Privatheitsverständnis der politischen Philosophin Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) angewendet, welches sie aus der antiken griechischen Unterscheidung zwischen oikos und polis ableitet, und mit dem sie die Bedeutung des Öffentlichen und des Privaten für Demokratien vor dem Hintergrund ihrer Totalitarismuskritik herausstellt, so wird dieses sowohl in der Arendt-Forschung, als auch in der Privatheitsforschung, vornehmlich als “lokale” Privatheit identifiziert. Hierbei spielt insbesondere die feministische Kritik eine Rolle, die einem Privatheitsverständnis, wie dem Arendts vorwirft, dass die absolute Trennung zwischen Öffentlichkeit und Privatheit und ein Nicht-Einmischen des Staates in häusliche Belange dazu führen kann, dass im Namen von Privatheit Gewalt v.a. gegen Frauen und Kinder ausgeübt wird. In diesem Vortrag werde ich zeigen, dass Arendts Privatheitsbegriff nicht nur die lokale Dimension, sondern auch die dezisionale und informationelle Dimension von Privatheit berührt. Unter Berücksichtigung der feministischen Kritik an Arendts Interpretation der Dichotomie von Privatheit und Öffentlichkeit, stelle ich die Bedeutung der feministischen Theorie für die Privatheitsforschung im Allgemeinen heraus.

05/2013: Le domaine privé dans la philosophie politique d’Hannah Arendt. Colloque de recherches de l’institut de philosophie de l’Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland (invited)

05/2013: Le public et le privé dans la pensée d’Hannah Arendt. Groupe neuchâtelois de la société romande de philosophie, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland (invited)

abstract (French)

Dans La condition de l’homme moderne, la philosophe Hannah Arendt distingue entre le privé et le public à la manière de la distinction grecque entre l’ oïkos et la polis. Dans cette conférence nous allons voir qu’en lisant toutes les œuvres d’Hannah Arendt, on peut trouver d’autres définitions du privé, notamment du privé comme ‘informationnel’ et du privé comme ‘décisionel’. Nous montrerons alors que chez Arendt, la notion forte du privé aussi bien que celle du public viennent de sa critique du totalitarisme.

04/2013: Modern technologies as GPS tracking, informational privacy and autonomous citizens — an impossible combination? 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, University of Toronto, Canada


In these days we are more and more affected by surveillance — GPS can tell where we are at any time. CCTV can transmit what we are doing and how we are behaving. Combined with other information about us (e.g. questions we enter into a search engine or e-mails we send) our whole life can be tracked, every step can be traced back. How does this affect our (informational) privacy? In current privacy research it is claimed that surveillance does affect our behavior as an autonomous citizen (cf. e.g. Beate Rössler). Hannah Arendt’s work on totalitarianism provides several examples for what can happen in the worst case (collection of all information about one person’s acquaintances, total isolation of a human being in a concentration camp). Is democracy at stake when we are being tracked all the time? And what about the space of seclusion we need, following Arendt, to think? In my talk the distinction between local and informational privacy is questioned. I will argue that if we want to preserve our privacy we do not need necessarily to shut off GPS devices and disconnect from the (virtual) world but we need political solutions as privacy laws as well as technology we can trust.

03/2013: Troublesome Women. Symposium with Morwenna Griffiths, Helen E. Lees and Caroline Wilson at the PESGB Annual Conference 2013, New College, Oxford, United Kingdom


Troublesome Women. Hannah Arendt, education and the private realm: The private realm has been characterized by several (feminist) theorists as a realm of hierarchy, violence and inequality. One of these theorists is Hannah Arendt who, not a feminist and even skeptical on the historical meaning of women’s emancipation (cf. her Human Condition) points out the „darkness“ of the private realm very overtly in her description of the ancient Greek oikos – polis distinction. She sees, however, advantages in this construction of a private realm totally separated from the public. On the one hand it renders the oikos despotes possible to act in public, free from the ”necessities of life” which means he can concentrate on politics. This freedom can only exists at the cost of those who stay in the darkness of the private realm, the oikos, labouring and not being seen and heard in the public sphere. On the other hand there is the one positive aspect of the private which is that it shields life and especially the events of birth and death. Children in Arendt’s opinion need to be shielded from the world – as well as the world has to be protected from the “newcomer’s” attacks – and this means that education needs to take place in the private and later on maybe in the social sphere, e.g. the school, so that children can be “gradually” prepared for politics. This realm in which education is supposed to take place should be reigned, according to Arendt by tradition, religion and authority. I’d like to question Arendt’s ideas under the following aspects: Which tradition can Arendt mean? Does Arendt’s approach imply the problem addressed by feminist thinkers that the public world is the world of and made by men and the private world the one made by women? How plausible is Arendt’s distinction between political and pre-political authority? How does the conception of natality, the precondition for all human beings to come to life, to become a human being, but also to start a revolution fit into the picture?

03/2013: Bedeutet das Promovieren über eine Exilantin das Promovieren in der Exilforschung? Workshop on “Exile and exile studies”, Pre-conference workshop for PhD-Students to the annual conference of the society of exile studies (Gesellschaft für Exilforschung e.V.), University of Hamburg, Germany

abstract (German)

Hannah Arendts Lebenswerk- und aufgabe, verstehen zu wollen, wie im 20. Jahrhundert geschehen konnte, „was nie hätte geschehen dürfen“ wäre, ohne ihre eigenen biographischen Erfahrungen in Exil­situ­ationen als Verfolgte eines totalitären Systems undenkbar. Arendt erlebte zwei Orte des Exils, Paris und New York. Nach 1933 bewegte sie sich als Exilantin in einem ExilantInnenkreis in Paris, der weniger „dramatisch“ wahrgenommen wurde: die geographische Entfernung war nicht übermäßig groß, die weltpolitische Lage noch nicht so gravierend wie nach dem Beginn des zweiten Weltkrieges, die Wannsee-Konferenz hatte noch nicht stattgefunden, die ExilantInnen lebten in einem Land, dessen Sprache sie größtenteils bereits sprachen. Dann folgte jedoch 1941 die Flucht in ein „neues“, das zweite Exil. Hier musste eine erneute Auseinandersetzung mit der Fremde stattfinden, mit dem Neuen, mit der Suche nach der eigenen Stimme als Publizistin in einer anderen Sprache. Die Exilant­In­nen­kreise, in denen Arendt sich bewegte, schienen „Argonauten auf Long Island“ (Monika Plessner) zu sein. Nach dem Krieg stand die Entscheidung zurückzugehen oder zu bleiben an, – aber wohin zurück? Das „Europa der Vorhitlerzeit“ (Günter Gaus) gab es nicht mehr. Es gab ein in Trümmern liegendes Land, dessen Bevölkerung nach dem zweimaligen moralischen Zusammenbruch jeweils die neue Ideo­lo­gie nahezu widerstandslos angenommen hatte. Endete für Arendt nun das Exil mit dem Ende des Krie­ges und der faktischen, rechtlichen Möglichkeit, wieder nach Deutschland zurückkehren zu können? Ein Einschnitt war für sie der Erhalt der amerikanischen Staatsbürgerschaft im Jahr 1951. Mit die­sem würde ich behaupten, war ihr Exil für sie beendet, auch wenn sie weiterhin in einer fremden Sprache schrieb und ihre Texte dem „Englishing“ unterzogen werden mussten. Arendts Beschäftigung mit dem Exil erfolgte auf verschiedenen Ebenen. Auf einer direkten Ebene bestand die Frage, wie die “Massenfabrikation von Leichen” im Holocaust geschehen konnte: in ihren Wer­ken Eichmann in Jerusalem sowie in ihrer Analyse der Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft ist das Thema Totalitarismus vordergründig. In ihrem unvollendeten Spätwerk Vom Leben des Geistes sollte es um die Frage gehen, wie insbesondere die Geistestätigkeit des Urteilens dazu hätten beitragen können, dass die Menschen in Deutschland zwischen 1933 und 1945 nicht einfach dem politischen Ge­schehen zugesehen hätten. Überwiegt nun Arendts Beschäftigung mit dem Totalitarismus ihre Erfah­rungs­dimension des Exils? Vielleicht wiegt sie schwerer, es soll jedoch gar nicht meine Absicht sein, dies in Seitenzahlen, o.ä. zu messen. In Vita activa findet implizit eine Auseinandersetzung mit dem Exil statt, explizit außerdem in verschiedenen Essays. Hierzu zählen Arendts Suche nach einem Hei­mat­begriff, die Frage nach dem zu Hause Sein, sich in der Welt einrichten. An dieser Stelle schließt sich der Kreis zu meiner Dissertationsfrage, ob Hannah Arendts Privatheitsbegriff mehr darstellt, als nur das lokale Gegenstück zur Öffentlichkeit zu sein. Dabei fragt sich, was „Privatheit“ im Exil heißt. Ge­wohnte „Dinge“ sind nicht vorhanden, die gewohnte Umgebung muss aufgegeben werden, Gegen­stände und Gegebenheiten, die jeweils dazu beitragen, Privatsphäre mitzuschaffen, sind nicht mehr zuhanden. Was bedeutet Privatheit, wenn Menschen, in beengtem Raum leben, andere Berufe ausüben? Darüber hinaus steht die Metaüberlegung im Raum, ob über eine Exilantin zu promovieren bedeutet, Exil­forschung zu betreiben.



10/2012: Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Private: More than just the opposite of the Public? Amsterdam Privacy Conference 2012, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands


Since Hannah Arendt’s death in 1975 her ideas on the private have mostly been considered in relation to her concept of the public. This approach is understandable since the distinction between the public, the private (and the social) is a – if not the – central point in Arendt’s thought. In my talk I try to focus on the private, claiming that implicitly for Arendt the private is equally important for democracy as the public. Research on Arendt’s concept of the private has shown that Arendt is formulating an Aristotelean understanding of the private. She uses the ancient Greek local distinction between ‘oikos’ and ‘polis’ to describe how the household, the ‘oikos’, provides the necessary freedom to act politically in the ‘polis’. Arendt focuses on local privacy because in her opinion birth and death need to be sheltered from the public, which represents the household’s “non-privative trait”. Distinguishing between three dimensions of privacy: local, decisional and informational privacy, I argue that Arendt’s notion of the private is not only a local one but that taking into account several of her works one can also find hints on what is called informational and decisional privacy. Given these Arendtian ideas one should keep in mind that the whole biographical basis for Arendt’s political philosophy was her attempt to try to understand how in the middle of the 20th century something could happen “that never ought have happened”. Following Arendt’s unfinished considerations on The Life of the Mind, the activity supposed to prevent that anything like the Holocaust might happen again, is judging. I claim that executing the faculty of judging requires decisional privacy. Being that Arendt wrote The Human Condition in English and revised the German translation which was published in 1960, two years after the first edition, it is interesting to compare the differences between the German and the English text in Vita activa and The Human Condition, i.e. the chapter on the private.

10/2012: What, then, is Privacy? Some Thoughts on the Private, Women in Philosophy of Education Conference, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


“Privacy” has often been defined ‘ex negativo’, mostly in opposition to the public. In this work in progress I’m thinking about privacy by contrasting it to related words and not to its contraries. Exemplarily I consider the concepts of ‘home’ and ‘hotel’ and give an outlook on what it could mean to think over the intimate and secrets. I’m starting with the assumption formulated by Saint Augustine in regard to time that we do know what privacy is, if we are not asked about it. To meditate on the home I’m recalling the story of the Three Little Pigs and try to take into account what it means to be ‘homeless’. After this, I briefly consider what a hotel is and formulate some last thoughts on intimacy and secrets. I come to the conclusion that examining the semantic field of the private – or at least related social concepts – might help understanding what privacy means.

06/2012: “Beispiele als Gängelwagen des Urteilens” – Hannah Arendts Versuch, die kantische ästhetische Urteilskraft auf moralische Urteile zu beziehen, und dezisionale Privatheit, Conference: Das Projekt einer historischen und zugleich strukturellen Anthropologie V, Inter University Centre Dubrovnik, Croatia (invited)

abstract (German)

Hannah Arendt auf einer Konferenz über Anthropologie zu behandeln wäre vermutlich gar nicht in ihrem Sinne gewesen, zeigt sie sich doch in Vita activa davon überzeugt, keine Anthropologie zu verfassen. Sie möchte nicht über die Natur des Menschen schreiben, die es ihrer Meinung nach gar nicht gibt, sondern ̈über die Bedingtheit des bzw. der Menschen. Sie stellt die Frage, was wir tun, wenn wir tätig sind. Dennoch soll der Versuch unternommen werden, Arendts Anthropologie durch ihre Werke hindurch nachzuforschen. Hierbei soll Arendts Begriff von Natalität in seiner wörtlichen Bedeutung, nicht als politische, sondern als anthropologische Kategorie betrachtet werden, um herauszufinden, worum es Arendt in ihrem strikten, aristotelischen Privatheitsverständnis geht. Formuliert man die Ergebnisse von Arendts Untersuchung der Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft positiv um in eine Forderung nach lokaler, dezisionaler und informationeller Privatheit, wird deutlich, dass das Private mehr ist, als der Raum, der die nötige Verborgenheit für das „Geboren werden und Sterben“ (Vita activa) bereitstellt. Das Private ist – ebenso wie die Öffentlichkeit – notwendig, damit Menschen frei handeln und sprechen können, d.h. politisch tätig werden können. Die These meines Vortrags lautet, dass Hannah Arendt, die zu verstehen versuchte, wie eintreten konnte, was nie hätte geschehen dürfen, als Grundlage (und Raum) für das Urteilen eigentlich eine Art dezisionaler Privatheit hätte beschreiben müssen, und keine rein lokale, die ihre Unterscheidung zwischen ’oikos’ und ’polis’ letztlich ist. Beim moralischen Urteilen geht es um die ethische Frage: „Was soll ich tun?“. Diese wurde, so Arendt, zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus von den Betroffenen aufgrund von logischem Schließen innerhalb der Ideologie beantwortet, nicht, indem sie sich eigenständige Urteile gebildet haben. Im schlimmsten Fall, wie Hannah Arendt ihn in der Person von Adolf Eichmann beobachtete, gab es ihrer Meinung nach sogar die Weigerung, zu urteilen. In meinem Vortrag stelle ich mich insgesamt einer dreifachen Herausforderung: die Verbindung des – zumindest von Seiten der feministischen Kritik – vielleicht umstrittensten Begriffs in Arendts politischer Philosophie mit wahrscheinlichen Entwürfen zu ihrem unvollendeten Werk Vom Leben des Geistes, i.e. „Das Urteilen“, in dem sie selber einen Versuch wagt und Kants Kritik der ästhetischen Urteilskraft auf das moralische Urteilen anwendet.


09/2011: Vergangenheitsverdrängung, Gegenwartsanalyse und Zukunftssuche. Hannah Arendts Auseinandersetzung mit dem Exil, interdisziplinäre Graduiertentagung Perspektiven der Exilforschung, University of Wuppertal, Germany


12/2010: Documentation as a form of protest? with Jeannette Windheuser, Gender R[ae]nder, University of Wuppertal, Germany

09/2010: Hannah Arendt über Demokratie und Erziehung Forschungskolloquium der Professur für Allgemeine Erziehungswissenschaft/ Theorie der Bildung, University of Wuppertal, Germany

09/2010: Hannah Arendt on Democracy and Education, Women in Philosophy of Education Conference, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


The gap between Hannah Arendt’s view on the human condition and natality and her thoughts on education could – at first sight – not be broader. In The Human Condition Arendt develops her concept of natality. Natality means that all human beings are born with the chance to act, to begin something new, to make a new start, to do something unexpected. Natality is the reason why people can start a revolution to change the whole system, out of nothing, even in a totalitarian system. In contrast to this really “idealistic” image of all human beings as being equally revolutionary from the beginning, Arendt claims for education authority, tradition and conservativeness. The world has to be protected from the “storm” of children as well as the children need to be protected from the world. In the frame of Arendt’s claims and ideas this doesn’t seem to be that contradictory after all. As education has – as Arendt says – to take place in the sphere of the private, the social, and not in the realm of the political the state has not the right to tell parents what to do with their children. Like her whole political theory these ideas are based on experiences with the totalitarian systems in the 20th century. Concerning education especially because those regimes “abused” the youngest to influence them ideologically. The aim of my work in progress is to ask the question if we can make Arendt’s insights fruitful for democratic education, nevertheless. I claim that in Arendt’s work this obvious paradox is still coherent seen her writings on the distinction between the public and the private sphere, resp. the social. Besides looking at Arendt’s ideal of democracy (Council democracy) I’d like to contrast Arendt’s opinion with those of other theorists.

08/2010: Hannah Arendt on Science and the Human Condition , 12th ISSEI, Çankaya University, Ankara, Turkey


For Hannah Arendt the rise of modern science began with astronomy. In The Human Condition she states that “it is indeed in the very nature of the thing that astrophysics and not geophysics, that universal science not natural science, should have been able to penetrate the last secrets of the earth and nature.” In the 21st century, when physicists release processes, “such as occur only outside the earth, in the universe”, the question arises what we can learn from modern (particle) physics. In collaborations like e.g. the Large Hadron Collidor scientists work and act peacefully together in an environment characterized by competition as well as by cooperation. This kind of “acting” can be paralleled with Arendt’s concept of action and political agonism. In addition Arendt’s skepticism towards modern science is not quite understandable when she praises the human spontaneity and capability to make a new start. The curiosity and inquisitiveness is what is “guiding” scientists to find out more about our world. Their curiosity is similar to a childish curiosity which “comes” with the natality. The natality is also the reason why Arendt doesn’t appreciate “behavioral sciences” which, as Arendt puts it, “aim to reduce man as a whole […] to the level of a conditioned, behaving animal”. As a third point we will try to show that in science people are communicating and even if Arendt says, that “a ‘language’ of mathematical symbols […] contains statements that in no way can be translated back into speech” mathematics seems to be the universal language of science.

05/2010: Quality of Teaching and Learning: The Shift from Teaching to Learning and the Role of Staff Development, Visit by a delegation from University of Prishtina, Kosovo at the University of Wuppertal (with Dr. G. Rott)


09/2008: Erzählte Geschichte(n) – Politische Implikationen in Hannah Arendts Geschichtsbegriff, Interdisciplinary Conference: Retrospektivität und Retroaktivität, University of Wuppertal, Germany

02/2008: Radikale Demokratie, Philosophisches Café Wuppertal, Germany

01/2008: Demokratie und ziviler Ungehorsam (bei Hannah Arendt), Ringvorlesung des Allgemeinen Studierendenausschusses, University of Wuppertal, Germany


07/2022: Ethik lehren, Verantwortung hinterfragen lehren, Haltung einüben (Teaching ethics, questioning responsibility, practicing attitude), University Teaching Qualification Program, University of Bonn, Germany

05/2022: (Re-)thinking Privacy after this Pandemic (with L. Nussbauer and E. Siopi) Poster Exhibition “Research Focus Diversity” Diversity Days, University of Bonn, Germany

12/2019: KoFFI-Code: Ethik für Hochautomatisiertes Fahren (with Prof. Dr. P. Grimm), Final Meeting of the projects financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF): “Human-Technology-Interaction for an intelligent Mobility: Realiable Technology for the mobile human”, Berlin, Germany

02/2016: Das Private in der politischen Philosophie Hannah Arendts. Vom ,oikos‘ zum Cyberspace, DFG-research training group “Privatheit und Digitalisierung”, University of Passau, Germany

10/2012:  Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Private: More than just the opposite of the Public? Women in Philosophy of Education Conference, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

09/2011: Divers Weiter-Bilden! Überlegungen zur Konzeption und Didaktik von Weiterbildungsveranstaltungen mit heterogener TeilnehmerInnenschaft (Diversity and Continuing Education), (with I. Koall and A. Orlikowski), Annual Conference of the German Association for University Continuing and Distance Education, University of Bielefeld, Germany