Schering Stiftung


Salon at the Komische Oper Berlin

Salon at the Komische Oper Berlin
Photo: Jan Windszus Photography

“Of Humans and Animals”

Salon about an Age-Old Relationship

Salon at the Komische Oper Berlin
Photo: Jan Windszus Photography

“Of Humans and Animals”

Salon about an Age-Old Relationship


November 11, 2019, 7:30–9 p.m.


Komische Oper Berlin, Foyer
Behrenstr. 55-57


Tickets at 12 EUR / 8 EUR (reduced rate) are available at

Best friend, pest, or food source – humans assign a variety of functions to animals. How did this range – from equal partner to mere object – come about? Are dogs, because of their cognitive abilities and their genetic predisposition, closer to us than wasps? And what is ultimately the difference between apes and humans? The fact that the latter can sing, dance, and make music, while the former cannot? Or that humans can reflect on their actions and thus develop an understanding of ethics? In this case, are humans even justified to treat animals as mere products and cram cows, horses, and chicken into cowsheds, barns, and chicken-coops?

How did it happen that humans as a species consider themselves to be superior to all other species? And what can be offered in opposition to this speciesism? Civil rights for animals? Or bird song compositions?

These are some of the questions addressed by the salon “Of Humans and Animals – Salon about an Age-Old Relationship.” Guests will be Prof. Dr. Ursula Wolf (philosopher, University of Mannheim) and Dr. Rainer Hagencord (Philosophical-Theological University of Münster).

They will be accompanied by vocalists and instrumentalists of the Komische Oper Berlin.

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Program Flyer Season 2019/20

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The speakers 

Rainer Hagencord, born in Ahlen/Westphalia, studied theology in Münster and Fribourg (Switzerland) and biology in Münster. After his ordination in 1987, he established, as university chaplain in Münster, an interdisciplinary dialogue between theology and biology. He completed his doctorate in theology in 2004 with a dissertation entitled “Das Tier: Eine Herausforderung für die christliche Anthropologie. Theologische und verhaltensbiologische Argumente für einen Perspektivenwechsel” (The Beast: A Challenge for Christian Anthropology – Theological and Behavioral Arguments for a Change in Perspective). Since 2009, Dr. Rainer Hagencord has been director of the Institute of Theological Zoology at the Philosophical-Theological University of Münster.


Ursula Wolf was born in 1951 in Karlsruhe. After studying philosophy and classics, she completed her dissertation at the University of Heidelberg (under the supervision of Ernst Tugend) and her habilitation at the Freie Universität Berlin. After working at the FU Berlin and the University of Frankfurt, she was appointed Chair of Philosophy at the University of Mannheim in 1998, where she has been teaching ever since – from summer 2019, as senior professor. In philosophy, she is particularly interested in ancient Greece as well as in action theory and theory of ethics. In her book Das Tier in der Moral (The Animal in Ethics, 1990), which was reissued in a much revised version in 2012 under the title Ethik der Mensch-Tier-Beziehung (The Ethics of Human-Animal Relations), she was one of the first to introduce a German reading public to the Anglo-Saxon debate on animal ethics.


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