Faith in resonance
: Insights for spiritual leadership from Rosa’s resonance theory and Taylor’s philosophical anthropology

  • Rik Hospers

Student thesis: Master's Thesis: Humanistic Studies


The aim of this thesis is to philosophically research how Hartmut Rosa’ resonance theory can provide a framework for spiritual leadership in contemporary society and the modern conditions under which it might function, taking note of the developments that brought us here as described by Charles Taylor.
Through this a contribution is expected to be made to create a more robust theory of spiritual leadership and to identify topics for discussion and reflection that will assist practitioners to come to terms with relevant aspects such as purpose, worldview and identity.
Jody Fry’s and Otto Scharmer’s respective spiritual leadership approaches are taken as representative examples from which common and key features of spiritual leadership are distilled.
After exploring Rosa’s resonance theory, it turns out that resonance, like spiritual leadership, relies on a subject’s faith. Both in the sense of belief as well as in the sense of confidence in the world he lives in. Faith turns out to be an all-encompassing epistemic structure that not only determines our cognitive conception of the world, but thereby sets our expectations in relation to our self-efficacy, which is a key requirement for experiences of resonance to occur.
Reading Taylor it becomes clear that our cognitive understanding of the world is always accompanied by a moral orientation toward specific aspects of it or objects in it. This moral orientation manifests itself in so-called strong evaluations, which can be socially constructed and which social constructions may change over time.
It turns out that contemporary society is pre-occupied with a materialist ideology that closes itself off to transcendent sources of strong evaluations that are required to experience resonance. And it inhibits people in attaining higher ‘levels of being’ (Fry) or a different ‘structure of attention’ (Scharmer).
Fundamentally, society needs to open itself up to directing its attention to a more dialogical way of being. Recommendations are given on developing leadership practices that facilitate this change and further research opportunities to support this are identified.
Date of Award9 Feb 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorFernando Suárez Müller (Supervisor) & Patrick A. P. Nullens (Supervisor)

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