Professor Michael Hauskeller
MA (Bonn), PhD (Darmstadt)
Telephone: 01392 722047
OFFICE HOURS: Monday 9-11.
"Philosophy, like life, must keep the doors and windows open." (William James)
I wish I could say I had an agenda, a general philosophical purpose, but I don’t, or at least I think I don’t, and if I do then there is nothing programmatic about it. Mostly I want to have a good life. Yet unfortunately, when your place in the world has not been fixed for you, when you find yourself thrown, as many of us do, into what Heidegger called the openness of being, it is rather difficult to have a good life without some idea of what constitutes it. As Socrates was fond of pointing out, the unexamined life is not worth living. So I think what I’m basically trying to do is figure out what makes our life good, and possibly also what all philosophers, and not only they, ultimately seek to understand, namely what it all means, this whole business of living and loving and dying, and watching others live and love and die.
With this pretty vague and hardly conscious end in mind, I did some work on atmospheres (the way we find ourselves in different perceptual environments), the foundations of morality (which are aesthetic, perception-based, not reason-based), the history of ethics (from which I learned that the ethical realm is far more diverse and complex than the question that many bioethicists seem to be obsessed with suggests, namely what is morally permissible and what not), the philosophy of beauty and the philosophy of art (the latter mostly because I was asked to do so by someone who mistook my interest in the notion of beauty for an interest in art), and various philosophers whose work resonated with my own preoccupations (e.g. A.N. Whitehead, Schopenhauer, and Albert Schweitzer).
More recently I worked on the integrity of living beings (which basically captures the idea that some things we do to living beings may be bad even if there is no suffering involved), and most recently on transhumanism and human enhancement, which fascinates me because the debate highlights different conceptions of what it means to be human, and what it means to be a good human, which brings me back to where I started. My first book on the subject, Better Humans? Understanding the Enhancement Project was published in 2013, followed by Sex and the Posthuman Condition in 2014. A third one, Mythologies of Transhumanism, is scheduled to appear in autumn 2016.
If you fancy reading any of my papers, you may want to visit the following website, where many of them can be accessed online: http://exeter.academia.edu/MichaelHauskeller. I also have a (recently a bit neglected) blog called "Philosophical Reflections" which can be found here: http://hauskeller.blogspot.co.uk.