Christine Abbt

Christine Abbt

Christine Abbt

Prof. Dr.

Full Professor (Chair) for Philosophy

Fachbereich Philosophie
Unterer Graben 21
9000 St Gallen
Main Focuses

Political Philosophy

Democratic Theory

Literature, Philosophy and Politics

(Learn to) think critically

Philosophy of Creativity

Forms of Forgetting, Memory Theory

Fields of research

Political Philosophy

Radical Democracy


Critical Theory

Social Philosophy


Habilitation in Philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Zurich

Research stays with third-party funding:

Excellence Cluster Normative Orders of the University of Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Info

Committee on Social Thought of the University of Chicago (CST), Chicago, USA. Info

International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK), Vienna, Austria. Info

Doctorate in Philosophy, University of Zurich

Diploma Higher Teaching Qualification for German and Philosophy, University of Zurich

Study visits with grants:

School of Theory and Criticism (STC), Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. Info

Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. Info

Interdisciplinary Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities at the University of Tübingen (IZEW), Tübingen, Germany. Info

Collegium Helveticum of the ETHZ. Info

Master of Applied Ethics, University of Zurich

Licentiate (Master) in German Studies, Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Zurich

Professional Career

Full Professor of Philosophy with Chair at the University of St. Gallen 


  • Full Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Graz, 2020-2023
  • SNSF Professor of Philosophy, University of Lucerne, 2015-2019
  • Senior Lecturer for didactics of philosophy, PH Lucerne
  • Research Assistant in political philosophy, University of Zurich
  • Head of continuing education program "Science and Wisdom", University of Zurich
  • Certified Teacher of Literature and Philosophy, Kantonsschule/Gymnasium Hohe Promenade, Zurich
  • Research Assistant in Applied Ethics, University of Basel
Teaching Activities

Current projects

  • The political leeway. Democratic self-understanding and identity politics
  • Transformative concept of freedom. Historical developments, systematic foundations
  • Separating powers. Why Montesquieu instead of Locke

Finished projects

  •   Meddlesomeness (Fremd- und Vieltun) (greek: allotrio-/polypragmosyne). About the meaning of forms of the non-identical for democracy in the antiquity, European enlightenment and the present. (promoted by the Swiss National Fund (SNF) and the research commission of the University of Lucerne)
  • Thinking with texts. A philosophy of literature (with Prof. Christian Benne, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • I forget. Possibilities and limits of thinking from a philosophical perspective (habilitation in philosophy, promoted by the SNF and the IFK Vienna/University of Linz)
  • The Wordless Suicide. The Literary Shaping of Abandonment by Language as a Challenge for Ethics (Doctoral Thesis in Philosophy, funded by UZH and SNF)
  • Applied Ethics and Public Mandate (Master's Thesis in Applied Ethics, University of Zurich)
  • Storytelling Saves Lives. Ethical Effects of the Depicted Act of Narration (Master's Thesis in Literary Studies, University of Zurich)



-       Since 2021: Austrian Society for Philosophy

-       Since 2020: Society for Women in Philosophy Austria

-       Since 2014: German Society for Philosophy

-       Since 2018: German Society for Aesthetics, member of the scientific advisory board from 2018 to 2021

-       2011 – 2015: Swiss Society for Cultural Theory and Semiotics (SGKS), Vice President since 2016

  • 2012 Research Fellow, Cluster of Excellence Normative Orders, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
  • 2011 Visiting scholar, Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago, USA
  • 2011 Research Fellow, International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK), Vienna, Austria
  • 2005 Member, School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University, Ithaca/NY, USA
  • 2005 Research Fellow, Swiss Institute Rome for the promotion of interdisciplinary collaboration between science and art, Rome, Italy
  • 2004 SNF Scholarship, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), Melbourne, Australia
  • 2003 SNF Scholarship, International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences (IZEW), University of Tübingen, Germany
  • 2000 Member as a doctoral candidate, Collegium Helveticum, Interdisciplinary Research Center of ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Selection since 2021

  • Democratic freedom and transformation, University of St. Gallen, 1.10.2024.
  • Limiting power. A democratic imperative, University of Innsbruck, 13.6.024.
  • Transformative Freedom and Democracy, University of Innsbruck, 12.6.2024.
  • Human rights and democracy. Panel discussion with Arnd Pollmann, Daniel Binswanger, Christine Abbt, Zurich 31.5.2024.
  • Of absolute enmity. Derridas Critique of C. Schmitt, University of Vienna, 12.4.2024.
  • Open Horizons. On the Design Potential of Non-Ideal Conditions. Philosophicum Lech, Lech, 22.9.2023
  • Why Austria Should Provide Assistance to Ukraine in Demining Anti-Personnel Mines, Conference on Neutrality, University of Graz, 20.6.2023.
  • Vulnerability in a Democratic Context, Conference “Vulnerability. Theories and Concepts in Philosophy and the Social Sciences”, University of Graz, 20.10-22.10.22.
  • How Can We Live Together Well and Justly? Democratic Questions, Lecture within the Monday Academy of the University of Graz, 17.10.22
  • Neutrality - Political-Philosophical and Theoretical Considerations on a Polarizing Concept, IX Conference on Practical Philosophy, University of Salzburg, 29./30.9.22.
  • Captivating the Gaze and Democracy. Conference “In-/Visibility in Politics”, University of Zurich, 30.6.-2.7.2022.
  • Mouffe or Derrida. Divergences in Democratic Theory. Conference “Derrida Today”, Washington D.C., 10.6.-13.6.2022.
  • Freedom as Obligation. Lecture “Banquet Républicain”, Theatre Uri, Altdorf. 30.4.2022.
  • Individual Forgetting, Social Remembering. Conference “Ethics of Remembering”, Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), University of Bielefeld. 6.-8.4.2022.
  • Wasteful Wall Building and Political Representation, Conference “Luxury? The (Mis-)Use of Our Built Environment”, University of Geneva. 20.11.2021.
  • Identity Politics? Polypragmosyne and Democracy, Series: Theatre and the Crisis of Democracy, HTA Lecture Series, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt. 21.1.2021.
  • Separation of Powers. Montesquieu's Radical Democratic Theory in Persian Letters, IPW Lectures, Institute for Political Science, University of Vienna. 14.1.2021.
Editorial Board
  • 2020 - 2025 Journal for Practical Philosophy
  • Since 2021 To the Point. The Essay. Mohr Siebeck Publishing, Tübingen
Research Cooperation
  • Democracy Forum of the University and City of Graz
  • Theories of Radical Democracy, Institute for Political Science, University of Vienna
  • Erasmus+ Program "Training Embodied Critical Thinking and Understanding (TECTU)" at the University of Reykjavik (Iceland), among others (financial support for the cooperation: Movetia Switzerland)
  • METIS Project for Intercultural Wisdom Literature and Wisdom Practices, ETH Zurich
  • Political Neutrality (among others with Gregor Berger, IfS Frankfurt am Main; Prof. Katrin Meyer, University of Zurich/Basel; Prof. Astrid Séville, TU Munich; Prof. Dagmar Comtesse, University of Münster)
  • Metaphors of Membership in Philosophical Arguments about Flight and Migration (Prof. Andreas Oberprantacher, University of Innsbruck and Dr. Laurin Mackowitz, University of Graz)
  • Binding Plurality (with Prof. Peter G. Kirchschläger, Institute for Social Ethics, University of Lucerne)
Additional Information

Memberships in Commissions, Advisory Boards, Coordination Teams at the University of St. Gallen since 2024:

  • Equality Commission
  • Research Commission
  • Art Commission
  • Collegium St. Gallen, led by Prof. Dr. Claudia Brühwiler
  • Coordination of the Focus Area Society together with Prof. Dr. Patrik Aspers

Initial Supervision of Dissertations in Philosophy since 2015. Completed Doctorates include:

  • Nahyan Niazi: The Unleashing of Moral Energy. Self-realization and External Control in the State and Spirit according to Wilhelm von Humboldt. University of Lucerne, 2024
  • Estefania Cuero: Justice-oriented Perspectives on the Human Rights Approach. University of Lucerne, 2024
  • Anja Ringhofer: The Perpetuation of Racial Injustices by Migration Policy. University of Graz, 2023
  • Leire Urricelqui: Antitypes. On the Authority and Demarcation of (In)human Life. University of Lucerne, 2023
  • Miriam Hefti: Silence. Approaching the Perception of Absence. University of Lucerne, 2022
  • Francesca Nobili: Locke as an Ethicist. Examination of the Early Writings. University of Lucerne, 2020
  • Susanne Schmieden: Actors and Theatrical Science. Democratic Subjects in Denis Diderot and Bertolt Brecht. University of Lucerne, 2019
  • Michel Borner: The Ethical Dimension of Autobiographical Writing Illustrated by Christine Lavant and Thomas Bernhard. University of Lucerne, 2019

Organization of Workshops and Conferences (Selection) with Publications:

  • 2024 Democratic Projects. Derrida, Laclau, Mouffe, Workshop, with Oliver Marchart, Matthias Flatscher, and Leire Urricelqui, University of Vienna.
  • 2023 Neutrality. Political-Philosophical Reflections, International Workshop with Gregor Berger, Dr. Dagmar Comtesse, Prof. Katrin Meyer, Prof. Astrid Séville, University of Graz.
  • 2022 "The World Becomes an Immense Question Mark". Questions as a Method in Literature and Philosophy, with Prof. Christine Weder, University of Geneva. Guest Edition "Figurations", Böhlau, 2024.
  • 2019 Thoughtfulness, International Conference, with Hartmut von Sass, Donata Schoeller, Collegium Helveticum ETHZ. Anthology Diaphanes/Zurich, Berlin, New York
  • 2019 Self-realization and External Determination in the Work of Wilhelm von Humboldt, International Conference, with Nahyan Niazi, University of Lucerne.
  • 2019 Do not be seduced / To Toil and Depletion! (B. Brecht). Political Theatre in the German-speaking World 1918-2018, International Conference, with Susanne Schmieden, University of Lucerne.
  • 2018 Alterity Revisited, International Workshop Consortium TransPositions, Post-Graduate Programme of University of Utrecht, Lucerne, and Berne, University of Lucerne.
  • 2018 In Terms of Exclusion. Thinking the Barbarian in Antiquity and Today, International Conference, with Leire Urricelqui, University of Lucerne. Anthology (Spanish), Laertes/Barcelona
  • 2018 'To Each His Own? Me Everything!' – Inequality and Injustice in Current Political Debates, International Conference, with Prof. Peter G. Kirchschläger, University of Lucerne. Guest Edition "Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie (FZPhTh)", Fribourg
  • 2016 Politics and Performance. Denis Diderot, International Conference at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies of the University of Linz in Vienna, with Prof. Michael Festl. Guest Edition "Swiss Journal of Philosophy/Studia Philosophica", Basel
  • 2016 Forms of the Political. Diderot's Virtuosity and its Reception in the German-speaking World (1746-2016), International Conference with Prof. Peter Schnyder, University of Lucerne. Anthology, Rombach/Freiburg im Breisgau
  • 2015 Foreignness and Busyness. On the Significance of αλλοτριοπραγμοσ?νη and πολυπραγμοσ?νη in Philosophical, Literary, and Historical Texts of Antiquity, Conference, with Nahyan Niazi, University of Lucerne. Anthology, Colmena/Basel
  • 2014 Displeasure. Study Day, with Prof. Christine Weder at Cabaret Voltaire Zurich. Guest Edition, Journal "Figurationen", Böhlau
  • 2012 Vita interactiva. Cultural Theoretical Approaches to Digital Life Forms, Study Day, with Prof. Doris Agotai (ETHZ and FHNW) at Museum Rietberg Zurich.
  • 2012 Aesthetic Disobedience, International Conference, with Prof. Jonathan Neufeld, Prof. Helmut Lethen at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies of the University of Linz, Vienna.
  • 2010 Forgetting. Spaces of Thought?, SGKS Conference, with Prof. Hans-Georg von Arburg, University of Zurich