Admiration and Adoration

  • Version 1.0
  • published 11 November 2022

1. Introduction

We use the terms admiration and adoration to describe emotional and affective dynamics between communities (the admirers or adorers) and ⟶heroic figures (the admired or adored).1This article is based on collective discussions that have taken place within Sonderforschungsbereich 948 “Helden – Heroisierungen – Heroismen”. We have therefore decided against naming individual authors. The text has been edited by Georg Feitscher and Georg Eckert. In the act of adoring and admiring, a community positions itself in relation to a figure2Admiration and adoration can of course just as much be directed at ⟶heroic collectives. For simplification, however, the present article refers to the admired/adored heroic figure in the singular., expresses its esteem for the hero and/or his ⟶deeds and defends him against criticism or deheroization from outsiders. Beyond that, however, adoration and admiration also have a community-forming function because through the medium of the heroized figure the admirers or adorers define themselves as a group, they distinguish themselves from other communities and they compete with other communities for the appropriation and interpretation of the hero figure.

Although the terms admiration and adoration are often used almost synonymously in colloquial situations, we will think of them in this article as distinct phenomena. One of the aims of this article is to determine in some detail how they relate to each other and how they interplay. In general, we define admiration as the reference to specific imitable deeds, qualities or attitudes of a hero, whose imitability or exemplariness are emphasised. By contrast, adoration focuses on the hero figure in its entirety that is deemed exceptional and ‘inimitable’, as well as on the system of meaning associated with the hero figure (even though specific heroic deeds are generally also attributed to the figure, which are viewed as proof of its heroic nature).

The following article presents heuristic approaches for understanding admiration and adoration in their significance for ⟶heroization processes. To that end, we first describe how hero adoration is a dynamic process of reciprocal affective relations between a heroic figure and its devotees. Then, the combined effect of individual admiration and collectively practiced adoration that is constitutive for heroization processes will be outlined. The respective functions of admiration and adoration in creating that combined effect are not static, however. Rather, they should be understood as elements of a variable and dynamic arrangement that can be configured and functionalised differently depending on the historical and cultural context.

2. Defining and differentiating between the two terms

Psychological and sociological research on emotions describes admiration and adoration as positive to enthusiastic emotions of respect, appreciation and (high) esteem for another person.3Cf. the synthesis of numerous attempts to define admiration and adoration from emotions research in Schindler, Ines / Zink, Veronika / Windrich, Johannes / Menninghaus, Winfried: “Admiration and Adoration. Their Different Ways of Showing and Shaping Who We Are”. In: Cognition and Emotion 27.1 (2013), 85-118, 86-92. It arrives at the observation: “[T]he characterisation of admiration and adoration as predominantly positive, other-praising emotions is unequivocal” (ibid., 92). Cf. also Zink, Veronika: “Bewunderung und Verehrung”. In: Kappelhoff, Hermann et al. (Eds.): Emotionen. Ein interdisziplinäres Handbuch. Berlin 2019: J.B. Metzler, 210-214, 210, which describes admiration and adoration as “affirmative and emotionally enthusiastic” references informed by “respect and high esteem” to outstanding personalities “whose position at the uppermost end of the social framework [is recognised] jubilantly”. According to the approaches in those sciences, adoration and admiration – like all emotions – are experienced by individuals, but are simultaneously formed socio-culturally and have a reciprocal effect on the social realm: they are “structured and structuring social factors”.4Zink: “Bewunderung und Verehrung”, 2019, 210. Because adoration and admiration refer to that which counts as especially good or desirable to a community, they influence both individual and collective identities, reinforce cultural ideals and values and legitimise social hierarchies.5Cf. Zink: “Bewunderung und Verehrung”, 2019, 210; Schindler et al.: “Admiration and Adoration”, 2013, 86.

To make an ideal-typical distinction between the two related phenomena, Schindler et al. (2013) suggest understanding admiration as an emotion that is directed at another figure’s outstanding deeds, achievements or attitudes that are perceived as being particularly desirable and imitable: “[A]dmiration occurs for role models who represent a specific ideal.”6Schindler et al.: “Admiration and Adoration”, 2013, 103. The selective reference to specific individual achievements outweighs the reference to the figure in its entirety. Hence, it is possible for instance to admire certain actions or attitudes of a figure while rejecting others and even taking a critical stance on the figure overall. Admiration is aimed at aemulatio, i.e. an imitative approximation of the model figure and its achievements: imitable actions are identified, recognised as exemplary and sometimes communicated to others in order to motivate oneself and others to reach similar achievements.7Cf. Schindler et al.: “Admiration and Adoration”, 2013, 102-105. Admiration can therefore be felt in private and articulated in public.

By contrast, adoration is directed holistically at a figure perceived to be exceptional and at the system of meaning associated with it: “[A]doration occurs for meaning makers and benefactors who represent an entire framework of meaning.”8Schindler et al.: “Admiration and Adoration”, 2013, 103. The attribution of specific deeds or achievements to the figure is relevant insofar as they are essentialised, i.e. inferred from the essence of the acting figure, and construed to be an expression and proof of its exceptional character.9One might recall Luther’s supposed act of posting his theses with forceful hammer blows to the door of the Wittenberg Schlosskirche, which was described for the first time not until decades later and without which the heroization of the figure of Luther now could hardly be imagined anymore. Because the adored figure is regarded to be exceptional and ‘inimitable’, its adoration therefore cannot be aimed at the emulation of certain achievements. Instead, adoration is based on a “subordinative tendency”, for the adorers accept and affirm that they can never achieve the exceptional rank.10Zink: “Bewunderung und Verehrung”, 2019, 213; cf. also Weber, Max: Economy and Society. A New Translation. Ed. and transl. by Keith Tribe. Cambridge, Massachusetts 2019 [1922]: Harvard University Press, 338-339. By adoring someone, however, a close bond to the adored is created11Schindler et al.: “Admiration and Adoration”, 2013, 102.; the figure is elevated to the symbolical concentration of collective values and ideals and – even necessarily – to a point of identification for all members of the community. Adoration therefore cannot be a purely private act, but involves the community, which affirms and maintains the adoration in collective practices and rituals.12Schindler et al.: “Admiration and Adoration”, 2013, 109 reference the theory of “costly signaling”: communities demand that individuals take part in very resource-intensive rituals in order to test whether the individual in fact feels committed to the community and shows genuine dedication. Their aim is to thereby preclude individuals from profiting from the community as “free riders” without giving anything back.

3. Adoration as an affective relationship

In our opinion, it is reasonable not to see the adoration of heroes primarily as an emotion – in following Schindler et al. – that can be analysed as the psychological state of individual adorers. Instead, we regard hero adoration as a prototypical case of an affective relationship that occurs as a dynamic, transpersonal process between a heroic figure and social formations.13Cf. the notion of affects as “dynamic transindividual processes” in Slaby, Jan / Mühlhoff, Rainer; Wüschner, Philipp: „Affective Arrangements“. In: Emotion Review 11.1 (2019), 3-12, 4. DOI: 10.1177/1754073917722214.Three agents, or agent groups, participate in this reciprocal affective process: the adored figure, the members of the community adoring that figure and lastly the external ‘audience’ observing the relationship between adorers and adored and possibly attempting to disrupt it. In following Slaby et al. (2019), the specific situational configurations of this process, such as certain places, settings and rituals for example, can be understood as “affective arrangements”.14Slaby et al.: “Affective Arrangements”, 2019, 4: “[A]ffective arrangements are heterogeneous ensembles of diverse materials forming a local layout that operates as a dynamic formation, comprising persons, things, artifacts, spaces, discourses, behaviors, and expressions in a characteristic mode of composition and dynamic relatedness. […] The proposed concept is an analytical tool […] to help researchers get a grip on complex inter- or intra-actional settings in which affect looms large.”

Viewing the adoration of heroes as a reciprocal affective process is not a new idea. Even Max Weber in his observations on charismatic rule focused on the “emotional communalisation” of leader figure and community, which manifests in reciprocal affective expectations. According to Weber, this form of rule can be seen as alien to rational and traditional rule, drawing its authority solely from the followers’ belief in the unfathomableness and exceptional powers of a leader who for them is a charismatically blessed personage.15Weber, Max: Economy and Society, 2019 [1922], 374-376. See also Weber, Max: Economy and Society. An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Vol. 2. Ed. by Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. Berkley/Los Angeles/London 1978: University of California Press, 1115: “The mere fact of recognizing the personal mission of a charismatic master establishes his power. Whether it is more active or passive, this recognition derives from the surrender of the faithful to the extraordinary and unheard-of, to what is alien to all regulation and tradition and therefore is viewed as divine – surrender which arises from distress or enthusiasm. Because of this mode of legitimation genuine charismatic domination knows no abstract laws and regulations and no formal adjudication. Its ‘objective’ law flows from the highly personal experience of divine grace and god-like heroic strength and rejects all external order solely for the sake of glorifying genuine prophetic and heroic ethos.” The charismatic leader demands from his followers “an ‘acknowledgement’ [that] is, psychologically, a quite personal dedication, a belief born of enthusiasm, or of despair and hope”. In return, the leader must provide personal proof of his charismatic ability, meaning he must demonstrate that he does in fact have “supernatural, superhuman, or at least exceptional powers or properties” that bring good fortune and “improve the lot of those over whom he rule[s]”. If that proof fails to materialise, there is a chance that his charismatic authority could vanish.16Weber, Max: Economy and Society, 2019 [1922], 374-375.

Veronika Zink (2014, 2019) presents a model for describing the affective dynamics between hero, adorers and audience, which builds on Weber’s charisma theory (and integrates further sociological classics).17Zink, Veronika: Von der Verehrung. Eine kultursoziologische Untersuchung. Frankfurt a. M. 2014: Campus; Zink, Veronika: “The Game of Devotion. On the Production of Idolatry”. In: helden. heroes. héros. E-Journal zu Kulturen des Heroischen, Special Issue 5 (2019), 57-68. DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2019/APH/07. For the German original see: Zink, Veronika: “Das Spiel der Hingabe. Zur Produktion des Idolatrischen”. In: Asch, Ronald G. / Butter, Michael (Eds.): Bewunderer, Verehrer, Zuschauer. Die Helden und ihr Publikum. Würzburg 2016: Ergon, 23-43. Besides Max Weber’s sociology of law, Zink particularly utilises Émile Durkheim’s sacral sociology, Marcel Mauss’s theory of gift exchange and Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of symbolic capital. Zink herself does not use the term ‘affective dynamics’, however, but describes adoration as an emotion. Zink disputes the widespread but, in her opinion, incorrect notion that adoration is nothing more than the community’s blind submission to a charismatic manipulator. On the contrary, according to Zink, adorers have an active, cooperative role in the construction of the adoration relationship, a role they assume in the expectation of receiving attention from and gaining proximity to the adored. While the adored must exhibit symbolically their exceptionality and portray themselves as unfathomable, they nevertheless require the adorers as their “enthusiastic counterpart […] that engages in the production of the extraordinary logic behind the validity of the charisma by emotionally affirming and stabilizing it in the social realm.”18Zink: “The Game of Devotion”, 2019, 59.

Adorers and adored thereby form a “dyad of adoration” in which both sides create the adoration relationship together and make themselves dependent on it. The adorers do this by acknowledging the exceptionality of the adored and actively affirming the asymmetric power structure established on it. Furthermore, the “construction of mysteriousness” and the “symbolic exchange” consummated by the adorers and the hero together are constitutive for the dyadic adoration relationship: on the one hand, the adorers contribute to perpetuating the aura of the ‘mystery’ with which the adored surround themselves by framing the relationship in a language and rhetoric of impenetrableness, incomprehensibility and indescribability and thereby contending that the adoration is something ineffable. On the other hand, through offering, honouring and devotion, the adorers seek closeness to the adored and receive in return “care, guidance, virtuosity and protection”. At the same time, the symbolic exchange contributes to social stratification since hierarchies within the adoring community are negotiated and the closeness to the adored is marked by the value of the offerings that are made.19Zink: “The Game of Devotion”, 2019, 59-63.

Adoration is not created in a single act, but must be reproduced and portrayed constantly through mystification and symbolic exchange. Zink points out that this precarious process can be disrupted by various dynamics. First and foremost, there is the risk of “becoming profane” or “routine”, where the adored is no longer seen as exceptional and extraordinary. That can happen for instance in the event of an “overproduction” of charisma, when the exaggerated portrayal of the adored inverts.20Zink: “The Game of Devotion”, 2019, 60. But the external, unaffected audience can also contribute to the deconstruction and profanation of the adoration by discrediting the exceptionality of the adored with critical-enlightening impetus; by exposing the supposed incomprehensibility of the relationship as rhetorical effect; by pointing out hidden financial and political interests of the adored or the adorers; and by other means. However, the profanation efforts of the audience often haven precisely the opposite effect because they motivate the adorers and the adored to strengthen the dyad of adoration all the more and to defend it against outside attacks.21Zink: “The Game of Devotion”, 2019, 63-64. To shield the adoration from external criticism, the alleged exceptionality of the adored is not seldom transferred onto the adoration relationship itself, meaning that the relationship between the adorers and the adored is claimed to be exclusive and predestined, and thereby elevated into the sphere of the sacral.22Zink: “The Game of Devotion”, 2019, 61.

But even if there are no external profanation attempts, adoration remains fragile. This fragility originates in particular in the relationship between the adorers and the adored itself, for the adorers must seek the proximity to the adored without relinquishing their respectful distance in the process: “Absolute closeness has a homologizing effect and erodes the constitutive difference between the adorer and the adored. Maintaining maximum distance, on the other hand, presents the danger that followers will see the Other in an objective and emotionless manner, because he or she is not perceived as important within their social sphere of influence.”23Zink: “The Game of Devotion”, 2019, 61. ⟶Attraction and untouchability must therefore be produced simultaneously in adoration. The adorers and the adored must encounter each other in a relationship of “proximity-distance”24Plessner, Helmuth: Grenzen der Gemeinschaft. Eine Kritik des sozialen Radikalismus. Frankfurt a. M. 2002 [1924]: Suhrkamp, 69. and thereby sustain the “playful tension between closeness and distance”.25Zink: “The Game of Devotion”, 2019, 61.

4. Admiration and adoration in heroization processes

It is not just heroines and heroes that can be an object of adoration; in principle, all things and persons can be adored – Émile Durkheim noted that “society constantly creat[es] sacred things out of ordinary ones”. The decisive factor, according to Durkheim, is that the society can see supposed answers to their collective needs and solutions to their problems: “If it happens to fall in love with a man and if it thinks it has found in him the principal aspirations that move it, as well as the means of satisfying them, this man will be raised above the others and, as it were, deified.”26Durkheim, Émile: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Oxford 1963 [Paris 1912]: Oxford University Press, 243.

Nevertheless, we think that hero adoration takes on a particular significance that is rooted in the relevance of heroes as figures on which collective aspirations are projected.27 Cf. von den Hoff, Ralf et al.: “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms: Transformations and Conjunctures from Antiquity to Modernity: Foundational Concepts of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 948”. In: Falkenhayner, Nicole / Meurer, Sebastian / Schlechtriemen, Tobias (Eds.): Analyzing Processes of Heroization. Theories, Methods, Histories (= helden. heroes. héros. E-Journal zu den Kulturen des Heroischen. Special Issue 5 [2019]), 9-16. DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2019/APH/02. All of the sociological studies on the phenomena of adoration and admiration cited above also discuss the relationship between hero and community as the virtually prototypical case of adoration. However, it seems problematic to us that those writings – particularly Schindler et al. and Zink – discuss heroization phenomena almost exclusively under the category of adoration while disregarding the aspect of admiration

In our opinion, both affective phenomena – adoration and admiration – play a constitutive role in heroization processes. In addition to singling out a figure that in its entirety forms the “Gestalt-like focus” of a community and can be a unifying part of a system of meaning28Plessner: Grenzen der Gemeinschaft, 2002 [1924], 48; von den Hoff et al.: “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms”, 2019, 10., there must therefore also be references to one or more specific deeds, achievements or attitudes of that figure that are deemed heroic and admirable. As liminal figures at the boundary between profane and sacral spheres29Cf. Giesen, Bernhard: Triumph and Trauma. Boulder, Colorado 2004: Paradigm., heroic figures combine both modes of the affective relationship in paradoxical fashion: with their exemplariness, they inspire their followers to admiring emulation, but due to the exceptionality ascribed to them, they simultaneously appear ‘inimitable’ in an illustrious way and removed from the everyday, which welcomes adoration. In this dual conditionality, heroes are different on the one hand from ‘mere’ role models, whose achievements are emulated by their admirers, but who do not function in the same way as figures on which collective needs are projected and who are adored by a community.

The distinction between heroes and saints on the other hand proves to be more difficult since although the veneration of saints, reinforced in collective rituals and practices, appears to outweigh the emulative connection to actual deeds in many cases, the admiring emulation of saints nevertheless plays a significant role in some religious contexts – the practice of imitatio Christi is just one example30Cf. e.g. Aurnhammer, Achim / Steiger, Johann Anselm (Eds.): Christus als Held und seine heroische Nachfolge. Zur ‘imitatio Christi’ in der Frühen Neuzeit. Berlin/Boston 2020: De Gruyter.: in the mystics’ view, it was no less than the maximum veneration of Christ that meant the best, if not the only way of coming especially close to the distant saviour. Thomas à Kempis has described such mechanisms:

“Christ was indeed scorned in the world by people; in his greatest hour of need, he was abandoned by his acquaintances and friends while being mocked. Christ wanted to suffer and be scorned – and you dare to complain about anything? Christ had adversaries and antagonists – and you want to have everyone as friends and benefactors? Why should your patience be crowned if nothing adverse happens? If you do not want to suffer any adversity, how do you wish to be a friend of Christ? Hold strong with and for Christ if you wish to reign with Christ.”31Thomas a Kempis: De imitatione Christi. Latinograecus. Augsburg 1615, 91-93 (Lib. II Cap. 1.3). Translation by Daniel Hefflebower.

Matching Christ in his suffering became an outright assignment in this regard. Conversely, trenchant philosophers of the Enlightenment such as David Hume later considered adoration to be downright counterproductive and motivation-inhibiting: “To know God, says Seneca, is to worship him. All other worship is indeed absurd, superstitious, and even impious. It degrades him to the low condition of ordinary men, who are delighted to be approached with entreaties, requests, presents, and flattery.”32Hume, David: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. 2nd edition. London 1779, 260.

These distinction difficulties indicate that a rigid and ahistorical understanding of admiration and adoration do not do justice to their shared function in heroization processes. Although heroizations are based on both adoration and admiration elements, their relative weighting and the meanings ascribed to them are historically and culturally variable: while the one community may seek primarily to be near to and resemble their heroes, the heroization can in another context be defined primarily by rituals of respectful submission to the ‘exceptional’ hero. For an understanding of heroizations that accounts for this variance, the concept of the arrangement can again be helpful. Admiration and adoration are to be understood as elements of a dynamic arrangement that play a shared role in heroizations and have reciprocal effects on one another, but that can be assigned meaning and emphasised differently depending on the cultural context. Historical dynamics and changes in heroization processes – such as the increasing translation of a heroic figure into the sacral sphere or, conversely, its profanation – can also be described as reconfigurations of the arrangement of admiration and adoration that is specific to a heroization. These changes are negotiated in the affective interplay between the involved actors, i.e. between the hero figure, its followers, its opponents and its audience. Lastly, this also renders the boundary between role models, heroes and saints fluid: the different figures no longer appear as an expression of a categorial difference, but as the result of distinct, yet mutable arrangements of adoration and admiration.

Furthermore, the question must also be asked whether admiration and adoration produce their effect at different points in the heroization process. It makes immediate sense to see admiration for the heroic figure first at the individual level: the individual must feel an initial moment of appreciative wonder about the hero and his deed in order to gain an orientation for their own life and conduct from it. The step from private admiration to collective adoration establishes the heroization in the social realm and bolsters its persistence: the individual admirers join a community of adorers that keeps the heroization alive in collective practices, rituals and affective arrangements, and that defends it against the danger of profanation. The ritualised adoration of the hero alone is not enough, however, to guarantee the persistence of the heroization throughout generations. Instead, the affective power and relevance of the heroic figure must be proven again and again by the heroic deeds attributed to it triggering individual moments of marvelling admiration and thereby generating new followers who can become part of the community of admirers.

Nevertheless, belonging to a community of admirers does not need to be based on actually practiced admiration for the hero(es) in every single case; it can also be a question of expediency: an artist who designs a commissioned piece for heroization purposes does not need to believe in the relevant hero at all – it is sufficient that he knows the means that serve the purposes of the adoration in order to participate in the community of admirers.

5. Admiration and adoration as poses

In all of these configurations, ‘admiration’ and ‘adoration’ are to be understood as ideal-typical descriptions of poses, at least inasmuch as they are used to attempt to classify two types of behaviour or conduct that are always in the middle of manifold social, political and cultural contexts. Actors can change such poses quickly if necessary, especially since these poses fulfil social – and even literary – functions. An example of a fitting illustration for such mechanisms is the Staatslexicon, the major encyclopaedia of German liberalism from the mid-19th century. In the third edition, Karl von Rotteck and Karl Welcker present their “Buonaparte”, whereby they examine of course both Napoleon I and Napoleon III, who styled himself “emperor” following a plebiscite in 1852. They begin by offering an outright apotheosis: Napoleon “filled the world with the glory of his deeds, with the monuments of his strength of mind, his heroic power, his unparalleled good fortune and his shocking downfall”. They direct their readers’ attention to the “distinguished sensations and wonders that he brought forth”.33Rotteck, Karl von / Welcker, Karl: “Buonaparte”. In: Das Staats-Lexicon. Encyklopädie der sämmtlichen Staatswissenschaften für alle Stände. In Verbindung mit vielen der angesehensten Publicisten Deutschlands herausgegeben von Karl von Rotteck und Karl Welcker. 3rd edition. Vol. 3, Leipzig 1859, 162-178, 162. Translation of this and all following quotations from the lexicon by Daniel Hefflebower. They do of course encourage reflection as to “whether and to what extent he comprehended and truly lived up to that reputation, or failed to recognise, neglected or misused it, or pursued selfish interests”.34Rotteck/Welcker: “Buonaparte”, 1859, 162. They do indeed alternate between admiring and adoring descriptions. On the one hand, they outline Napoleon’s impressive career: “Fate paved the way for him to the most illustrious of goals, and all means were at his disposal to accomplish great and glorious things”. Furthermore, Napoleon had only needed to play his role purposefully, then “he would have been able to achieve all manner of good for France and the world”.35Rotteck / Welcker: “Buonaparte”, 1859, 163. On the other hand, only qualified admiration followed the unconditional adoration: Napoleon could have gone down in history as the one “who ever achieved all the boons and blessings of rule by reason and humanity”.36Rotteck / Welcker: “Buonaparte”, 1859, 164. But the directorial constitution revealed “the meanness and absolutist direction of his endeavouring as well as the turmoil of his own conscience”.37Rotteck / Welcker: “Buonaparte”, 1859, 166. Over the course of the article, Napoleon becomes a “tyrant”. A general reckoning with the betrayal of republican ideals follows the admiration: “The immense edifice that he constructed miraculously, the world throne that he erected, the fruit of so many victories, exploits and violations of the law, all has been subverted, the revolution for the prize of France and her triumphs betrayed”.38Rotteck / Welcker: “Buonaparte”, 1859, 172.

The initial heroic epic thus turns into a reflection on effects of the real and perceived heroic deeds: “according to the final outcome, partly nullified, partly wretched”. From Rotteck and Welcker’s perspective, Napoleon therefore in the end stood “on his own in history, a solitary figure, commensurate to an apparition. This figure shows us in an imposing example not only the astounding power of man for good and for evil, but also the limits set on it”.39Rotteck / Welcker: “Buonaparte”, 1859, 175. Adoration thus proves to be a literary strategy to generate a normative height for the fall to rock bottom: from adoration via admiration to destruction in a few short pages of one and the same text. Just as two authors show ideal-typical poses here, interpreting political actions similarly is also permitted: whoever participates in processes of admiration and adoration is not necessarily a sincere admirer or adorer. At any rate, these concepts are not to be seen as essentialist.

6. Criticism and scholarship desiderata

The heuristics outlined herein is based in particular on previous sociological and psychological research that has proven to be conducive for the study of heroization processes. To make the phenomena of the admiration and adoration of heroic figures theoretically comprehensible, more relevant aspects must be added to the heuristics: by integrating a theoretical perspective on rituals, a better understanding of the collective practices might be achieved that are constitutive for admiration and in particular for adoration. From the perspective of media studies, intensifying affective aesthetics (such as representations of the sublime for example) and medial affordances that facilitate the production of an adoration relationship require investigation. Not least, a historicisation and comparative classification of the understanding of hero adoration presented herein is necessary, especially in comparing it to saint veneration, but also regarding non-European cultures.

Last but not least, attention needs to be given to the perspective of each of the actors. The languages of the scholarship and of the source material occasionally diverge considerably. This is evident from such examples as the imitatio Christi. Therefore, it also remains a desideratum to understand from a cultural history perspective in what terms contemporaries categorised their own heroizing practices as well those of others. After all, even Thomas Carlyle, the originator of modern hero scholarship, distinguished between the two: “Such is to me the secret of all forms of Paganism. Worship is transcendent wonder; wonder for which there is now no limit or measure; that is worship.”40Carlyle, Thomas: On Heroes, Hero-Worship, & The Heroic in History. Notes and introduction by Michael K. Goldberg. Berkeley / Los Angeles 1993 [1841]: California University Press, 10.

7. References

8. Selected literature

  • Asch, Ronald G. / Butter, Michael (Eds.): Bewunderer, Verehrer, Zuschauer. Die Helden und ihr Publikum. Würzburg 2016: Ergon.
  • Carlyle, Thomas: On Heroes, Hero-Worship, & The Heroic in History. Notes and introduction by Michael K. Goldberg. Berkeley / Los Angeles 1993 [1841]: California University Press.
  • Durkheim, Émile: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Oxford 1963 [Paris 1912]: Oxford University Press.
  • Giesen, Bernhard: Triumph and Trauma. Boulder, Colorado 2004: Paradigm.
  • Plessner, Helmuth: Grenzen der Gemeinschaft. Eine Kritik des sozialen Radikalismus. Frankfurt a. M. 2002 [1924]: Suhrkamp.
  • Schindler, Ines / Zink, Veronika / Windrich, Johannes / Menninghaus, Winfried: “Admiration and Adoration. Their Different Ways of Showing and Shaping Who We Are”. In: Cognition and Emotion 27.1 (2013), 85-118.
  • Slaby, Jan / Mühlhoff, Rainer / Wüschner, Philipp: “Affective Arrangements”. In: Emotion Review 11.1 (2019), 3-12. DOI: 10.1177/1754073917722214
  • von den Hoff, Ralf et al.: “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms: Transformations and Conjunctures from Antiquity to Modernity: Foundational Concepts of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 948”. In: Falkenhayner, Nicole / Meurer, Sebastian / Schlechtriemen, Tobias (Eds.): Analyzing Processes of Heroization. Theories, Methods, Histories (= helden. heroes. héros. E-Journal zu den Kulturen des Heroischen. Special Issue 5 [2019]), 9-16. DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2019/APH/02.
  • Weber, Max: Economy and Society. A new Translation. Ed. and transl. by Keith Tribe. Cambridge, Massachusetts 2019: Harvard University Press.
  • Zink, Veronika: “Bewunderung und Verehrung”. In: Kappelhoff, Hermann et al. (Eds.): Emotionen. Ein interdisziplinäres Handbuch. Berlin 2019: J.B. Metzler, 210-214.
  • Zink, Veronika: “The Game of Devotion. On the Production of Idolatry”. In: helden. heroes. héros. E-Journal zu Kulturen des Heroischen, Special Issue 5 (2019), 57-68. DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2019/APH/07
  • Zink, Veronika: Von der Verehrung. Eine kultursoziologische Untersuchung. Frankfurt a. M. 2014: Campus.


Sonderforschungsbereich 948: Admiration and Adoration. In: Compendium heroicum, ed. by Ronald G. Asch, Achim Aurnhammer, Georg Feitscher, Anna Schreurs-Morét, and Ralf von den Hoff, published by Sonderforschungsbereich 948, University of Freiburg, Freiburg 2022-11-11. DOI: 10.6094/heroicum/buve1.0.20221111