Category Archives: phd

upcoming paper at UCF

In early April i’ll be leaving full-time residence in the UK and moving back to Orlando, FL to have free rent, finish writing my PhD, and hopefully get some teaching work. Luckily, I’ve been invited to give a colloqium paper in the department of philosophy at the University of Central Florida on April 14th. If any readers are in the central Florida area, I encourage you to come. Here are the details of the paper I’ll be giving:

Title: Anxious Ontology: Reading Søren Kierkegaard between Idealism and Materialism

Abstract: In much of the recent secondary literature, Søren Kierkegaard has been read as pre-figuring much of what took place in 20th century European philosophy. Often this reading places Kierkegaard in a philosophical lineage that came to be embodied in the ethical, hermeneutic, and deconstructive methods which are often considered to be parts of the larger post-modern sensibility of 20th century philosophy. In this paper I will break from this tradition of considering Kierkegaard’s relation to 20th century philosophical trends by considering him in both the 19th century context of German Idealism and the recent 21st century turn to speculative, or transcendental, materialism. In particular, I will focus on Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety, reading this text both as a response to theories of immediacy emerging in German Idealism and as pre-figuring recent materialist re-considerations of Idealism. Along with providing my own attempt at a 21st century reading of Kierkegaard, I will place my argument into dialogue with two recent interpretations of Kierkegaard offered by David Kangas and Slavoj Žižek. At the heart of my argument will be the claim that Kierkegaard’s potential relevance to 21st century debates is dependent on a rigorous re-consideration of his indebtedness to the philosophical climate of the early 19th century.

brilliant advice…

from Graham:

Anything that helps you be productive should be treated as holy. What that may be differs for each of us. For me, it’s long multi-volume history books, as well as certain public sites that have been “lucky” places for me for thinking and working– the now-closed Café Trevi on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, a specific cybercafe near Russell Square in London that still exists, etc. I do recommend treating these sorts of lucky rituals and places with a near-religious awe, because humans are all constantly within inches of turning into sulky, embittered procrastinators and aggressive resenters of the productive and the fulfilled. But you have to find your own holy places and holy relics. (OOP)

This is both brilliant advice, as well as utterly painful for me to read. While living in Nottingham for my MA I did most of my ‘good’ work at one of the many mellow pubs or cafes in the city. On moving to Dundee to start my PhD I figured I’d be able to do the same and find a few places possessing that certain ‘energy’ allowing me to work. Sadly, there is not even a shred of ‘cafe culture’ in this city, and the pubs are not the type of pubs that are used to people coming in mid-day with a stack of books under their arm. (A stack of alcoholism, maybe…)

Thus, I’ve been doing most of my outlining/writing in the small library cafe, and taking advantage of St. Andrews, which is right across the river, and being filled with mostly American and English students it has great cafes where you can buy one cup of coffee and sit for a couple hours comfortably working away. Although at times pretentious, at least St. Andrews ‘feels’ academic, and it’s not hard to walk into a pub and find an awkard looking academic with a pint of ale and a book.

Regardless, great advice.

request for advice.

I’m spending the next month writing a draft of the first chapter of my PhD, which broadly construed, is going to deal with issues of politics, ontology, subjectivity, and relationality within four of Kierkegaard’s works I find to be fundamental to my understanding of his work. Along with Kierkegaard, there will likely also be short sub-sections dealing with Marx, Hegel, and Zizek within this chapter.

One of the conceptual issues I’ve moved towards is relationality, and in the context of Kierkegaard, the relationship between internal self-relation, and external socio-political relation between self-relational subjects. I feel like I’m moving towards a steady argument within Kierkegaard’s texts, but would like to at least consider some recent work in European philosophy that deals with relationality, and am not so sure where to look. One figure who has been recommended is Nancy, but even there I’m not quite sure where to start, as I don’t have time to read his corpus anytime soon.

So, I come to you, whoever you are, to ask for recommendations on philosophers with interesting theories of relationality. All recommendations are highly appreciated.

Kierkegaard and Capital

My supervisor makes me write a lot. Here is an excerpt from a pile of notes on Kierkegaard I threw together for this week’s supervision:


In opposition to the present age, Kierkegaard provides the revolutionary age, which is “an age of action”, in opposition to the present age of “advertisement and publicity.”  This critique of the present age’s obsession with the press leads to one of Kierkegaard’s only direct critiques of the expanding grasp of capital in his age:

“In the end, therefore, money will be the one thing people will desire, which is moreover only representative, an abstraction. Nowadays a young man hardly envies anyone his gifts, his art, the love of a beautiful girl, or his fame; he only envies him his money. Give me money, he will say, and I am saved.”  (The Present Age)

By noting that the young man of the present age seeks salvation in money, Kierkegaard is one of the first authors to overtly critique the inherently religious nature of capital. This reliance on money is a sign of the overarching problem of the present age, a lack of passion and action. Because of this lack of ability to act passionately, “everything is transformed into representational ideas.”  Thus, the present age is one obsessed with nothing but reflection and representation, and this lack of anything real, or actual, is the cause of a lack of a passionate prior self-relation in the individual. Here it is clear that Kierkegaard’s conception of subjectivity in no way leads to stark a-social and a-political individualism, but is instead the necessary pre-condition for the individual to passionately exist in (and affect) reality.