Kristoffer Willert - New Voices Research Profile

My main research interest comes with the reception of Kantian philosophy, both in German Idealism and parts of more contemporary philosophy – from romantic thinkers (such as Novalis and Caroline Schlegel) to Günderrode and Schelling, as well as more contemporary thinkers such as Onora O’Neill and Markus Gabriel. Furthermore, I have published about environmental or climate philosophy, Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy, Gottlob Frege’s logic, Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, Simone Weil’s mystic thinking and Markus Gabriels fields of sense-ontology. I have also got some peripheral interests in historical Marxist theory, especially Rosa Luxemburgs writings.

These interests also make up the setting for my current PhD-projec, which is, in simple terms, the following: a critical engagement with and response to post-humanist ontological theories, such as reductive, scientific naturalism, and ‘speculative realism’. For this, I will turn to F. W. J. Schelling’s philosophy, and systematically stipulate what I take to be his naturalist existentialism: that human agency, thinking and aboutness (to mention just a few ‘states’) is dependent upon and part of what he calls Nature – his concept for the unrestricted totality of what there is, including irreducible human subjectivity – but that they cannot be exclusively reduced to certain basic physical, chemical or biological properties, states, interactions, processes etc. Since this position has similarities with certain anti-naturalist approaches within so-called ‘analytical’ philosophy, such as Timothy Williamson, Hilary Putnam and Thomas Nagel, the project will also bridge the gap between different traditions, that for many seem incompatible. This critical stance towards post-humanist shall finally provide a basis for engaging with questions of normativity and human responsibility that arise out of the idea that we live in the Anthropocene era – the natural-geological age where man impacts the Earth System as a powerful and fatal agent – by stipulating a confined locality of normativity. The overall aim is thus to provide an alternative to post-humanist ontology and display how such an alternative is not only more well-founded on its own, but also more fitting for the political and ethical queries that we presently find ourselves in.

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