Frieder Vogelmann

Visiting Professor for Critical Social Theory

Faculty of Social Sciences

Goethe University Frankfurt


Currently, I am visiting professor for critical social theory at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Goethe University Frankfurt.

At the moment, my research is focused on political epistemology, an emerging field of research in which I pursue the dual insight of early Frankfurt School Critical Theory that epistemology requires social theory just as social theory requires epistemology. Developing this insight in dialogue with analytic, continental and feminist epistemology on the one hand, and (French) political and social theory/philosophy on the other hand, I am working on a book project with the preliminary title Effective Knowledge. Rethinking a Basic Concept of Political Epistemology trägt.

My further research projects – on alternative governmentalities, on the concept of responsibility, on the concept of critique and on Michel Foucault’s philosophical method – have a common methodological core, best described as a historical-critical conceptual analysis. Following Ludwig Wittgenstein and Michel Foucault, I take the meaning of concepts to be established by their use in our social practices. Yet these practices must have a history emerging from the social struggles in wich they partake.

You can find further information in my CV or on my Academia.edu profile.

  • Critical Theory
  • Political Epistemology
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Michel Foucault
  • Responsibility
  • Contemporary French Philosophy
  • PhD in Philosophy, 2013

    University Frankfurt/Main

  • MA in Philosophy, Mathematics and Cognitive Science, 2009

    University of Freiburg im Breisgau

Academic Appointments

Recent Publications

The role played by the diagnosis of an “era of post-truth” in political, scientific and medial struggles necessitates a critique of reason.

The chapter analyses demands for transparency as a specific way of exercising power.

Radical critiques of reason are possible, I argue, if we turn our attention to the practices of criticizing, if we refrain from a sovereign epistemology, and if we pluralize reason without trivializing it.

A critical reading of Robert Brandom’s usage of the concept of responsibility to explicate normativity’s binding force.

The chapter describes the specific knowledge articulated in diagnoses of our times by looking at the critique of such diagnoses voiced in sociology and philosophy.

Upcoming Talks

There are no upcomming talks announced right now.

Recent Posts

If you have missed my talk “Radikal emanzipatorisch. Vernunftkritik als kritische Theorie” from the lecture series “100 Jahre Soziologie an der Goethe-Universität”, you can now watch it online in a video.

The new issue 2/2019 of WestEnd. Neue Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung features my article “Fighting with Untruth. Why a Critique of Reason Remains Necessary” [in German]. It grew out of the talk that I gave almost exactly a year ago in the lecture series “Frankfurter Positionen 2018/19”.

Jan Groos has a podcast “for expanding our ideas of te future,” appropriately named Future Histories. In the last episode, I was invited to speak about my project alternative governmentalities. However, I would also recommand listening to all the other interesting episodes!

My latest article on the concept of responsibility is a critical interpretation of Robert Brandom’s use of ‘responsibility’ to make explicit normativity’s binding force.


Effective Knowledge. Rethinking a Basic Concept of Political Epistemology

How does knowledge affect us? What political significance do epistemological questions and insights have? My habilitation project investigates the force of knowledge

Alternative Govern­mentalities

How can we govern in such a way that those governed need not fear those governing? What if the usual answer of political philosophy, namely “autonomy,” is not sufficient?

Concepts of Critique

How do we picture the activity of criticising, and how does this influence our theoretical activity of explicating the concept of critique? What kind of knowledge do we produce in criticising? And what is the relation between critique and necessity?

Zeitschrift für philosophische Literatur

Zeitschrift für philosophische Literatur is a peer-reviewed open-access online journal for book reviews in scholarly philosophy.

Philosophie & Kritik. Beiträge zur politischen Philosophie und Kritischen Theorie

The book series Philosophie & Kritik. Beiträge zur politischen Philosophie und Kritischen Theorie will start in 2017 with Springer VS. It publishes books which understand themselves as politically engaged philosophy.

Michel Foucault’s Philosophy

From a systematic perspective I am especially interested in Michel Foucault’s methodology and the resulting conception of (political) philosophy as well as his attempts to write a non-relativistic ‘History of Truth’.


That we should behave and act responsibly seems to be a self-evident norm hardly questioned by anyone. Yet, historically speaking, this is fairly new – only 200 years ago, “responsibility” was a rather marginal legal concept with no ethical significance. So what does the surprising career of “responsibility” mean, both for our thinking and our acting? What happens when “responsibility” becomes a required self-understanding for individuals at the workplace, in the welfare state or in the criminal justice system? And what are the consequences when philosophy’s analyses of “responsibility” focus almost exclusively on conditions of agency mostly absent in non-philosophical practices?

In the winter term 2019/20, I will teach three seminars and convene a weekly colloquium (all in German):

Colloquium for Critical Social Theory [in German]
Room for debates of BA and MA theses, current research projects and new literature on critical social theory.
Marcuse versus Habermas: Critical Theory, Left Politics and Technological Rationality [in German]
Syllabus Proseminar
The seminar examines the discussions about (critical) theory and praxis in the 1960/70ies.
The Critique of Reason in Critical Theories [in German]
Syllabus Seminar
“Critique of Reason” may sound like a relic from the 1980ies but the questions have never been fully answered – and have become pressing today.
What is (not) Critique? [in German]
Syllabus Proseminar
An in-depth introduction to the debate about the concept of critique.

Notes on Term Papers

Scientific writing is not an easy task. To help you with the writing part and to give you some idea how to find a good research question for your term paper, I have assembled some tips in the Hausarbeiten-Survival Guide - so far only in German. If you are instead looking for answers how to format your paper, you should consult the explanations given by Prof. Dr. Tanja Brühl (in this file) or by Prof. Dr. Thomas Lemke (in this file).