Department of Philosophy

Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy

Sussex is home to some world-leading scholars and philosophers of Immanuel Kant, and has an international reputation in post-Kantian philosophy. At undergraduate level, Kant is central to much of our teaching, as we consider his thought on metaphysics and ethics to be central to both the analytic and continental philosophical traditions emerging after him. In research, we are interesting in tracing his thought and influence in relation to other seminar thinkers such as Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Adorno, Blanchot, Habermas and members of the Frankfurt School.

The Kantian and post-Kantian research group includes, Andrew Chitty, Paul Davies, Katerina Deligiorgi, Gordon Finlayson, Mahon O’Brien and Tanja Staehler. Current research projects include:

A Kantian philosophy of action

Autonomy, voluntarily and intentional action, and the exercise of free and rational agency are discussed in different branches of contemporary philosophy. As a result it is not always easy to see how these elements, which seem to be closely connected, fit together to form a coherent picture of human agency.

Approaching these issues from a Kantian perspective has two advantages. One is systematic: that is, addresses directly the need to fit together elements of metaphysics, meta-ethics, moral psychology, and action theory. Of course this would be a meagre reward if the emerging picture of human agency were unconvincing. The second advantage is substantive, attending to key features of Kant’s position, allows us to form a view of human agency that does justice to our abilities to shape our lives as according to ideas over which we have rational control, whilst at the same time recognising our social and natural existence.

Relevant publications

Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger all responded to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, requesting that more attention should be given to history and the concrete everyday world of life.

At Sussex, these three important post-Kantian thinkers are approached from a variety of perspectives. Ethical, political, and aesthetic dimensions of their thought have been examined both by faculty members and research students. We also investigate the relations between them and their different concepts of ‘phenomenology’. PhD students working in this area organise a successful international Postgraduate Phenomenology Conference, currently in its fifth year.

Relevant publications

The philosophy of Levinas

Within the general area of European philosophy, a special role may be attributed to the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. He holds a crucial position between phenomenology and movements such as deconstruction or the theological turn. Levinas is particularly well known for placing ethics at the centre of European philosophy, yet his concept of ethics is quite complex and calls for exploring it through other related themes: language, asymmetry, scepticism, ambiguity, sensibility. The work of Tanja Staehler and Paul Davies also focuses on Levinas’s relation to other philosophers, such as Plato, Kant, Hegel, and Blanchot.

Relevant publications

Other relevant Kantian and post-Kantian publications

See also The Hegel Bulletin, edited by Dr Katerina Deligiorgi.