Niall Bond (Lyon): Normativity in Ferdinand Tönnies' Conception of Community


“My both biographical and introspective exploration of the conceptual dichotomy Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft bequeathed by a seminal thinker on human community, Ferdinand Tönnies, wrestles with issues that are at the heart of the KHK’s programme from 2020 to 2022, in which Tönnies is cited: Law and Community: On the diversity (Vielfalt) of global cultures of family law and forms of community. We shall commence with explaining a controversial position among Tönnies researchers, which is that the scientifically fruitful work of Tönnies’ youth was inter alia an exercise in norms legislation, although Tönnies had fought alongside Max Weber to defend value neutrality in the human and social sciences at the beginning of the twentieth century. Tönnies saw in late retrospect that he had as a lad been predestined to become a teacher of ethics, which we have explored in his relations to Hobbes, Locke, Smith, Kant, Bentham, Schelling, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.

Tönnies’ contemporaries commented upon the “metaphysical pathos” (Theodor Geiger) of the “value judgments” (Max Weber) which inspired Tönnies’ thinking. It is not to diminish the work of a thinker to point out that conclusions drawn regarding the development of human bonds from past to present, or the categories of human beings we find in social life and their respective propensity to what may be termed “Gemeinschaft” or “Gesellschaft” – may be the fruit of experience, “Erfahrungswerte”, and need not be binding as either “cultural optimism” or “pessimism”. This exploration is important in political history as commitment to community has led down diverse ideological paths taken by liberals, National Socialists and Communists. Tönnies also had a scientific following, the global impact of which has been understated, since sociology emerged in Germany as a counter-hegemony to doctrinaire economic liberalism. In this respect, Tönnies’ importance as a forebear of the discipline is understated. Largely ignored, on the other hand, has Tönnies’ place in debates among legal scholars emerging from Maine, Gierke and Jhering and continued by Radbruch and Schmitt.”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niall Bond

Please note that the event will be recorded for public relations purposes.

Zoom Link:
Meeting-ID: 934 0607 1041
Kenncode: 334161

Curriculum Vitae

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niall Bond is a political scientist, Germanist, and historian. In 1991, he earned his doctorate from the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg with a thesis on Wissenschaft und Weltanschauung in Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft von Ferdinand Tönnies. Furthermore, he obtained a diplôme d’études approfondies (D.E.A.) in History from the Paul Valéry University of Montpellier 3. Niall Bond has extensive experience as a translator for German, English, and French and has worked as a conference interpreter at the Bank for International Settlements, the European Monetary Institute, and the European Central Bank, as well as for numerous political meetings and academic conferences. He also provided simultaneous translation and broadcasts for the European news channel Euronews. From 1994 to 1995, he was employed with the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations and a delegate to the UN Conference on Human Rights. In 1995, Niall Bond was appointed Senior Lecturer at Lumière Lyon 2 University. In addition, he lectured in the United Kingdom and Germany. In 2010, he obtained his habilitation à diriger la recherche with a thesis on Comprendre le lien social dans l’Histoire des idées politiques, économiques et sociales de l’aire germanique at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. One year later, he earned the qualification of university professor by the Conseil National des Universités (CNU). Since 2011, Niall Bond has been an assistant professor (maître de conferences) at Lumière Lyon 2 University. He has also been Chair of the Department of Applied Languages at the Faculty of Languages since 2017. Since 2019, he has been a German-speaking instructor for the European Minerve program, which invites lecturers from German universities to Lyon.

Niall Bond’s research has been funded by numerous foundations and institutions. His research focuses on community and its norms, as well as on the legal and social normativity lying behind concepts of community. His research is specialized on the writings of modern German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies.

Since March 2021, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niall Bond has been a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”.