Frieder Vogelmann

Interim Professor for Sociology with Focus on the History and Systematics of Social Sciences

Faculty of Social Sciences

Goethe University Frankfurt


Currently, I am interim professor for sociology with focus on the history and systematics of social sciences 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 True and Effective. A Concept of Knowledge for 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
  • Interim Professor for Sociology with Focus on the History and Systematics of Social Sciences

    Goethe UniversityApril 2020 – Present Frankfurt am Main

  • Visiting Professor for Critical Social Theory

    Goethe UniversityApril 2019 – March 2020 Frankfurt am Main

  • Assistant Professor for Political Theory

    SOCIUM/University of BremenApril 2018 – February 2020 Bremen

  • Assistant Professor for Political Theory

    InIIS/University of BremenOctober 2012 – March 2018 Bremen

Recent Publications

Can the concept of propaganda help us to understand digital publics? My essay considers early analyses of propaganda by Alfred and Elizabeth Lee, Leo Löwenthal and Norbert Guterman and Victor Klemperer to shed light on the agitational logic of digital publics on twitter.

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.

Upcoming Talks

The goal of this section is to reconsider the relationship between knowledge and politics.

Eine Podiumsdiskussion über Universitäten im postfaktischen Zeitalter.

Recent Posts

… schreibt über Twitter: Genau das habe ich in Widerspruch. Münchner Zeitschrift für Philosophie getan. Mein kleiner Essay über die agitatorische Logik digitaler Öffentlichkeiten, die ich mithilfe einiger anachronistischer Überlegungen zum Propagandabegriff entwickele, basiert auf dem Vortrag zu Propaganda, den ich für das Corona-Glossar des Frankfurter Arbeitskreises für Politische Theorie und Philosophie gehalten habe.

The Frankfurter Arbeitskreis rounds up its “Corona Glossary” in short talks on YouTube with a livestream on Sunday, 3rd May, at 17:00h (GMT +2). Again, we use this opportunity to ask for your support of the following organizations: Medico International, Project Shelter, Medical Volunteers International, Stand by me Lesvos, No Border Kitchen.

The Frankfurter Arbeitskreis presents a “Corona Glossary” in short talks on YouTube. Meant to stimulate discussion, it is also connected with a very practical aim: to raise money for two initiatives which support migrants in their vital needs and political struggles: Project Shelter, a local charity from Frankfurt, and Medico International, an organization which promotes the human right to health in cooperation with many left-wing political forces around the globe.

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”.

BEHEMOTH - A Journal on Civilisation

The journal Behemoth publishes semi-annually research articles on contingent and sometimes precarious regimes of (dis)order.

True and Effective. A Concept of Knowledge for 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 2020/21, I will teach four seminars (all in German):

Epistemology as Social Theory: Jürgen Habermas’ Knowledge and Human Interests [in German] (together with Martin Saar)
A in-depth discussion of Habermas’ (ambitious and complicated) book as well as the criticisms levelled against it – especially Habermas’ own self-criticism.
Introduction to Modern Social Theory [in German]
The seminar is meant to introduce students to modern social theory by discussing classical as well as contemporary texts. We will focus especially on the topics of domination, agency and critique.
Populismus as a Social Phenomenon: Current Thoeries about a Contested Issue [in German]
“Populism” is subject to a fierce debate – yet scientifically, it is far from settled what we mean by it. In the seminar, we will look at the most prominent theories to see how they can help us understand “populism” as not just a political but a social phenomenon.
Theories of Society from Marx to Luhmann [in German]
By discussing different theories of society (namely from Marx to Luhmann), we will try to answer the question what is distinctive about theories of society and why we need them.

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).