Jon Stewart

Ph.d., Dr. habil. theol. & phil.
Institute of Philosophy
Slovak Academy of Sciences


Curriculum Vitae Publications Current Projects Papers Given Web Links and Gallery




Institute of Philosophy
Slovak Academy of Sciences               

Institute of Philosophy
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Klemensova 19
813 64 Bratislava
Slovak Republic


Upcoming Talks

“Recognition and Religion: Hegel’s Account of the Shapes of the Gods”
Institute for Philosophy, Matej Bel University, Banská Bystrica
November, 2019.

Forthcoming Publications

Forthcoming book:

The Emergence of Subjectivity in the Ancient and Medieval World:
An Interpretation of Western Civilization

Oxford: Oxford University Press 2020

This work presents a philosophical analysis of the development of Western Civilization from antiquity to the Middle Ages. It traces the various self-conceptions of the different cultures from ancient Mesopotamia to Medieval Christendom. The thesis is that as human civilization took its first tenuous steps, it had a very limited conception of the individual. Instead, the dominant principle was the wider group: the family, clan or people. Only in the course of history did the idea of individuality begin to emerge. The conception of human beings as having an inner sphere of subjectivity subsequently had a sweeping impact on all aspects of culture and largely constitutes what is today referred to as modernity.

Forthcoming articles:

“Kierkegaard as a Thinker of Alienation,” forthcoming in Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook, 2019.

“The Office of Philosophy: The Dialectic of Theory and Practice,” forthcoming in Intempestivas. Filosofía, psicoanálisis y cultura, 2019.

“Hegel, Comparative Religion and Religious Pluralism,” forthcoming in Philosophy of Religion: Analytic Researches, 2019.

“Hegel’s Analysis of Art for the Egyptian Religion,” forthcoming in The Owl of Minerva, 2019.

“Hegel’s Theory of the Emergence of Subjectivity and the Development of Human Rights”
forthcoming in
Filozofia, 2019.

“Hegel’s “note of discord”: The Cultural Crisis and the Inspiration for Heiberg’s On the Significance of Philosophy for the Present Age,” forthcoming in Scandinavian Studies, 2020.

Recent Publications

Faust, Romantic Irony, and System:
Kierkegaard and German culture cover
German Culture in the Thought of Søren Kierkegaard

Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press 2019

(Danish Golden Age Studies, vol. 11)

Kierkegaard readers are familiar with his dogged polemic with Hegelianism, his critique of Friedrich von Schlegel’s Romantic irony, and his visit to Schelling’s lectures in Berlin. However, these are only a few well-known examples of a much deeper relation of influence and inspiration. Kierkegaard read German fluently and was interested in many different authors and thinkers from the German-speaking countries. The auction catalogue of his personal library reveals a wealth of works in German from a number of different fields. Given his famous criticisms of the Hegelians, Schlegel, and Schelling, one might be tempted to believe that Kierkegaard was anti-German. But this is clearly not the case since he had high praise for some German thinkers such as Hamann, Lessing and Trendelenburg. The present work is dedicated to an exploration of Kierkegaard’s relation to different aspects of Germanophone culture. Its goal is to gain a better appreciation of the importance of the various German sources for his thought. The points of contact are so numerous that it can truly be said that if it were not for the influence of German culture, Kierkegaard would not have been Kierkegaard and the Danish Golden Age would not have been the Golden Age.

"This text leaves the reader with an entirely new perspective on Kierkegaard. Of course, Kierkegaard readers knew that the Dane was in dialogue with Hegel and that he occasionally refers to German theologians or literary figures, but the vast scope of this usage has gone unnoticed. Stewart demonstrates beyond a doubt that virtually all of Kierkegaard’s writings and indeed his academic agenda itself were in some way shaped by German thought. Indeed, Kierkegaard would never have been the thinker that he was without his interaction with the German intellectual tradition. This is an exciting new perspective that breaks with traditional wisdom....Jon Stewart’s new book Faust, Romantic Irony, and System: German Culture in the Thought of Søren Kierkegaard is of a very high academic standard, and it contributes in many respects new insights and promising perspectives to research in the field. The work will be highly relevant not only for researchers and scholars but for the general reader too."

István Czakó,  Pázmány Péter Catholic University
"The Scandinavian countries have long been receptive to cultural currents flowing northward from the south. This has been especially the case as concerns Denmark in its relation to German culture, and this influx of ideas was particularly intense during the Danish Golden Age. Stewart’s manuscript covers a broad swath of these influences in exploring Kierkegaard’s entanglement in various aspects of Germanophone culture. Stewart’s work intends to cultivate greater appreciation of the significance of these sources for Kierkegaard’s creative work. Therefore, source work research is the functioning methodology that has allowed Stewart to identify the nature, scope, and extent of effects streaming from particular authors, writings, topics, and issues to shape Kierkegaard’s deliberations.....In every chapter the probing into the subject matter runs deep. Generally, the reader learns much about the social location of each author considered, the primary writings this figure has produced, major themes that have been addressed, Kierkegaard’s awareness of the figure, writings, and themes, and ways in which Kierkegaard was influenced by them. The highest level of scholarship informs all of these queries. An unsurpassed level of academic excellence is at work in the employment of the chosen research methodology, in the careful textual analysis of writings influencing and influenced, in the lucid articulation of the findings, and in the steadfast pursuit of carrying out the investigation in a purposeful manner."
Curtis L. Thompson, Thiel College


Hegel’s Interpretation of the Religions of the World: The Logic of the Gods cover
The Logic of the Gods

Oxford University Press  2018

In his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Hegel treats the religions of the world under the rubric “the determinate religion.” This is a part of his corpus that has traditionally been neglected since scholars have struggled to understand what philosophical work it is supposed to do. The present study argues that Hegel’s rich analyses of Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Egyptian and Greek polytheism, and the Roman religion are not simply irrelevant historical material, as is often thought. Instead, they play a central role in Hegel’s argument for what he regards as the truth of Christianity. Hegel believes that the different conceptions of the gods in the world religions are reflections of individual peoples at specific periods in history. These conceptions might at first glance appear random and chaotic, but there is, Hegel claims, a discernible logic in them. Simultaneously a theory of mythology, history and philosophical anthropology, Hegel’s account of the world religions goes far beyond the field of philosophy of religion. The controversial issues surrounding his treatment of the nonEuropean religions are still very much with us today and make his account of religion an issue of continued topicality in the academic landscape of the 21st century.

"Hegel's Interpretation of the Religions of the World is a thorough study of a neglected aspect of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s philosophy of religion: the role of history in Hegel’s overall philosophical construction.  . . . Stewart’s book must be regarded as an extremely valuable piece of scholarship for both philosophers of religion and—more importantly—scholars of religion."

Nickolas P. Roubekas, Reading Religion

Read the full review here

trans. by Jon Stewart, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press 2018
(Texts from Golden Age Denmark, vol. 7)


One of Denmark’s greatest philosophers during its greatest philosophical period, Frederik Christian Sibbern (1785-1872) was a major figure on the landscape of the Danish Golden Age. Profoundly influenced by German philosophy, he was personally acquainted with figures such as Fichte, Schleiermacher, Goethe and Schelling. Sibbern had long been interested in the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel but had never written any extended analysis of it.

When Johan Ludvig Heiberg unveiled his new philosophical journal Perseus in 1837, as a part of his Hegelian campaign, he provided Sibbern with the occasion that he had been waiting for. In a series of eight installments in the journal, Maanedsskrift for Litteratur, Sibbern published an extensive critical account of Hegel’s philosophy under the guise of a review of the first volume of Heiberg’s Perseus. In the fall of 1838 he collected the first four installments of this review and published them as an independent monograph entitled, Remarks and Investigations Primarily Concerning Hegel’s Philosophy.

This work represents arguably the most exhaustive, detailed and profound analysis of Hegel’s philosophy ever to appear in the Danish language, anticipating many aspects of Kierkegaard’s famous criticism. With the present volume Sibbern appears in English for the first time. Now international readers can catch a glimpse of this towering philosophical genius and gain a deeper appreciation for the significance of his contributions to Golden Age Denmark.


Soren Kierkegaard: Subjetividade, ironia e a crise da modernidade
Translated by Humberto Araújo Quaglio de Souza
Petrópolis RJ: Editora Vozes 2017

(The Portuguese translation of Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony, and the Crisis of Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015).

Este livro examina a vida e a obra desse famoso escritor religioso dinamarquês. Kierkegaard foi uma figura singular que tem inspirado, provocado, fascinado e irritado as pessoas desde os tempos em que andava pelas ruas de Copenhague. No fim de sua vida, Kierkegaard afirmou que o único modelo que ele teve para sua obra foi o filósofo grego Sócrates. Este livro faz dessa declaração seu ponto de partida. Jon Stewart investiga o que Kierkegaard quis dizer com essa afirmação, e mostra como diversos aspectos de seus escritos e de sua estratégia argumentativa remontam a Sócrates.

Read more


Soren Kierkegaard: subjetividad, ironía y la crisis de la Modernidad
Translated by Azucena Palavicini
Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana 2017. 222pp.

(The Spanish translation of Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony, and the Crisis of Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015).

En este libro el profesor Jon Stewart nos introduce en la originalidad filosófica de Kierkegaard por medio del estudio de la génisis de su pensamiento en dos ámbitos complementarios. Por una parte, hace un interesante estudio histórico de la vida intelectual y cultural danesa del siglo XIX, y la forma en que Kierkegaard asimiló y debatió muchas de sus ideas. Por otra parte, destaca la enorme influencia de Sócrates, en aspectos como la comunicación indirecta, el uso de seudónimos, la ironía, su crítica a la filosofía, entre otros. El profesor Jon Stewart es un reconocido especialista del filósofo danés, autor prolijo que ha contribuido como principal editor en los importantes proyectos: Kierkegaard Research y The Golden Age.

"Sorprende la brevedad del texto, pero esto, por supuesto, tiene la intención de acercar a lectores nuevos que no están familiarizados con Kierkegaard de forma inmediata y, a la vez, presenta un recurso pedagógico de enorme utilidad para los profesores que tienen que dar maromas para exponer un autor tan complejo. El texto se convierte en una fuente de primera mano obligada para toda curricula y una guía indispensable e invaluable. La obra es un puente entre el pasado socrático y el presente moderno, entre la autenticidad del maestro ateniense y la inautenticidad de nuestras sociedades contemporáneas, una introducción y una guía de estudio, pero también una exégesis fresca, original y novedosa."

Alejandro Cavallazzi Sánchez, Estudios Kierkegaardianos, vol. 4, 2018.


Magnús Eiríksson: A Forgotten Contemporary of Kierkegaard
ed. by Gerhard Schreiber and Jon Stewart

Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press 2017
(Danish Golden Age Studies, vol. 10)


The present volume is the first anthology devoted to the Icelandic theologian and religious author Magnús Eiríksson (1806-81), a forgotten contemporary of Søren Kierkegaard in Golden Age Denmark. With his remarkably modern views, thoughts and ideas of society, politics and religion, Eiríksson has taken on the role of a widely unknown pioneer in various contexts. As early as in his debut book, On Baptists and Infant Baptism (1844), Eiríksson made a name for himself as a devoted advocate of tolerance and freedom of thought and conscience in matters of religion. Although Eiríksson’s numerous and multifaceted writings provoked a wide spectrum of reactions by members of the Danish society, the central figures of that time constantly took care to avoid engaging Eiríksson or his ideas in public debate and instead met him with “lofty silence.”

The present volume aims to end this silence, which has continued after Eiríksson’s death, and it marks the beginning of a serious discussion of Eiríksson’s works and ideas. The articles featured in this anthology are written by international scholars from different fields. With its strategic organization, the collection covers the key topics of Eiríksson’s writings and provides insights into his historical-cultural background. Understanding Eiríksson’s polemics with his Copenhagen contemporaries—such as Hans Lassen Martensen, Henrik Nicolai Clausen, N.F.S. Grundtvig and Søren Kierkegaard—on some of the main theological issues of the day sheds light on the period as a whole and provides a new perspective on the complex and diverse discussions concerning religion in the Golden Age. With its first international bibliography on Eiríksson, an accurate and reliable edition of the auction catalogue of Eiríksson’s private library and its context-sensitive indices, this anthology will be a solid foundation and ideal starting point for any future research on this almost forgotten thinker.


Annual Book Prize of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

July 2, 2019

The book Hegel’s Interpretation of the Religions of the World: The Logic of the Gods (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018) was awarded the annual book prize of the Slovak Academy of Sciences under the category "Monograph in a Recognized Publishing House."


New Homepages
Launched for the Series, Texts from Golden Age Denmark
and Danish Golden Age Studies

See the new homepage for the series Texts from Golden Age Denmark here.

See the new homepage for the series Danish Golden Age Studies here.


New Chinese translation of Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity:

Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015) 的中译本将由北京华夏出版社出版,书名定为《克尔凯郭尔:丹麦黄金时代的苏格拉底》。本书已由田王晋健翻译完成,他目前在四川 大学文学与新闻学院攻读文艺学专业博士, 是一位克尔凯郭尔研究者。这本书将纳入“西方传统:经典与解释”丛书。

中译本面世后,将引领中国读者窥探索伦·克尔凯郭尔的思想以及他与现时代的关联。本书的蓝本是同名在线课程的字幕,大家可以 在Coursera平台免费观看: 这 部精益求精的中译本,将引领参与这门课程的中国学生更有效地学习这门课程。同时,这本书新增了阎嘉教授写的一篇序言,他曾经翻译过克尔凯郭尔的名作《或此 或彼》;译者在译后记中提及了访学丹麦时的相关经历;去年,在葡萄牙语译本出版之际,巴西的《浮士德》杂志专访了我,这篇采访稿将作为中译本的附录呈现在 中国读者面前。


Read more



The book Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony, and the Crisis of Modernity (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015) has recently appeared in a Portuguese translation.

See the interview with Jon Stewart in the Brazilian journal Fausto Mag. on occasion of the translation. (December 2017.)

Read the interview in English

Read the interview in Portuguese

Soren Kierkegaard: Subjetividade, ironia e a crise da modernidade,
trans. by Humberto Araújo Quaglio de Souza, Petrópolis RJ: Editora Vozes 2017.


Kierkegaard Research

The Completion of Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources

After more than a decade of work, the series Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources has now been completed.

The first tome of the series was published back in 2007, and now with the publication of volume 21, the three-tome Cumulative Index, the series is finally finished. In all, the series contains 58 individual tomes and a total of 1127 articles by more than 200 Kierkegaard scholars from around the world.

From 2007 until 2015 Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources was published by Ashgate Publishing (Aldershot). The final volumes of the series that appeared in 2016 and 2017 were published by Ashgate’s successor, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group (London and New York).

Read more about the project and the individual volumes

Download brochure


Søren Kierkegaard:
Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity

An online course in Coursera

It is often claimed that relativism, subjectivism and nihilism are typically modern philosophical problems that emerge with the breakdown of traditional values, customs and ways of life. The result is the absence of meaning, the lapse of religious faith, and feeling of alienation that is so widespread in modernity.

The Danish thinker Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55) gave one of the most penetrating analyses of this complex phenomenon of modernity. But somewhat surprisingly he seeks insight into it not in any modern thinker but rather in an ancient one, the Greek philosopher Socrates.

In this course we will explore how Kierkegaard deals with the problems associated with relativism, the lack of meaning and the undermining of religious faith that are typical of modern life. His penetrating analyses are still highly relevant today and have been seen as insightful for the leading figures of Existentialism, Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism.

To date more than 70,000 students from around the world have been involved in the course. The course is absolutely free of charge. No prior knowledge is required.
The course can now be taken on an on-demand basis, and thus students can start at any time and can follow the video lectures at their own pace.

Recent Events

Visiting Lectureship:

“Alienation in 19th-Century Philosophy: Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche”
University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
September 23-27, 2019.


Visiting Lectureship:

“Hegel’s Account of Subjectivity in the World Religions”
Prague Summer School in Continental Philosophy, Charles University, Prague

August 23, 2019.

“Reading Hegel: Subjectivity and Alienation in Judaism and Christianity”
Prague Summer School in Continental Philosophy, Charles University, Prague
August 23-24, 2019.


“The Discovery of Subjectivity as Reflected in Early Notions of the Afterlife

The Polish-Slovak Workshop:
“Individual and Collective Subjectivity:
Historical and Contemporary Issues”

Institute of Philosophy and Sociology
Polish Academy of Sciences

Warsaw, June 26, 2019


“Hegel’s Account of Christianity and Religious Alienation”

Pedagogical University, Crakow

June 24, 2019


“Feuerbach’s Conception of Philosophy of Religion as Anthropology”

Conference: “Memory and Anticipation as Anthropological Phenomena”

Modra Harmonia, Slovakia, May 13-14, 2019


“Hegel’s Theory of Mythology”

Faculty of Central European Studies

Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra

Slovakia, December 3, 2018


“Hegel’s Account of the Representations of the Gods in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion”

Conference: “Image, Phenomenon, and Imagination in the Phenomenology of Religious Experience”

The Society for Phenomenology of Religious Experience (SOPHERE), Biennial Congress

Prague, November 2-4, 2018


“Hegel’s Parallel Story of the Development of World History and the Development
of the Religions of the World”

Internationaler Kongress: "Ethik, Politik und Weltgeschichte”

L’Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy

24-27, October, 2018


“Hegel, Comparative Religion and Religious Pluralism”

Conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Religion: "Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World"

Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University
U Krize 8, Prague

August 28-31, 2018


“Hegel’s Philosophical Anthropology as a Reflection of the Philosophy of Religion”

Journées philosophiques de Bratislava, “l’Historicité de l'homme?”

Modra-Harmonia, Slovakia

May 25-26, 2018


“La théorie de la liberté subjective et la modernité de Hegel”

Conference : “Homme nouveau, homme ancien: autour de figures émergentes et disparaissantes de l’humain”
XXVIIe Université d’été de l’Association Jan Hus organized by the Institute for Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, The Department of Roman and Slavic Languages of the Faculty of Applied Languages of the Economic University of Bratislava in cooperation with The Department of French Studies, the Faculty of Letter at the University of Szeged

Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia, July 1-6, 2018


“Kierkegaard’s Description of the Romantic Ironist as a Sign of the Times Then and Now”

Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Tárogató út 2-4. classroom 121/B

April 26, 2018, 2:15 to 3:45 p.m.

Read more


"Hegel’s Theory of the Emergence of Subjectivity and the Development of Human Rights"

Workshop: “The Image of Man in the Context of Anthropology and Human Rights”
Institute of Philosophy, Slovak Academy of Sciences
Klemensova 19, 813 64 Bratislava

April 9, 2018
The workshop takes place between 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.


“Globalization and Hegel’s Theory of the Emergence of Subjectivity”
Cultural Politics Seminar at The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
Harvard University, The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
December 5, 2017, 6pm to 7:30pm

Read more


“Hegel’s Theory of Recognition and Subjective Freedom and the Ethical Challenges
of a Globalized World”

The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall
27 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
November 15, 2017, 12:15pm-1:45pm

Read more


“The Problem of Nihilism in the Danish Golden Age”

“The Crisis of the Danish Golden Age and its Modern Resonance”
Conference for the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies (SASS)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 11-13, 2017.


Special Session for the

Conference for the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies (SASS)

May 11-13, 2017, Minneapolis. Organizers: Jon Stewart and Nathaniel Kramer

The Crisis of the Danish Golden Age and its Modern Resonance

Despite their many interesting debates and polemics, the leading figures of Golden Age Denmark were in agreement about the fact that their age was in a state of crisis. They believed that the quick pace of change since the Enlightenment had led to a sense of alienation from traditional values and ways of thinking. This produced uncertainty that resulted in different forms of relativism, subjectivism and nihilism.

The poet-philosopher, Johan Ludvig Heiberg, dramatically announced the great cultural crisis of the day in his treatise On the Significance of Philosophy for the Present Age from 1833. According to Heiberg, people in his generation had lost their belief in truth and beauty in any deeper sense. Likewise, in 1837 the classicist and philosopher, Poul Martin Møller followed this line of thinking in his influential article “Thoughts on the Possibility of Proofs of Human Immortality,” in which he claims that modern scientific and naturalistic thinking has undermined the traditional belief in the immortality of the soul. In this context he too explores the movement of nihilism that he believes characterizes the age. In 1842 the theologian Hans Lassen Martensen published an article entitled “The Present Religious Crisis,” where he argues that much of the uncertainty in religion is the result of the work of, among others, the German theologian David Friedrich Strauss, who argued that Christianity was a form of myth. The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard treated the idea of a cultural and religious crisis in a number of his famous works, such as The Concept of Irony, Either/Or, A Literary Review of Two Ages, and The Moment.

Many of the texts from the Golden Age strike the reader as profoundly modern since they seem to anticipate key characteristics of the crisis of the 21st century. In keeping with the conference theme—Nordic Connections: Old and New—we invite papers focused on the Danish Golden Age and its philosophical, literary and artistic heritage that explore the theme of crisis and examine the resemblances between the perils and crises of the Danish Golden Age and those of our own.

Read more on the homepage of SASS.


“Kierkegaard’s Response to Hegel’s Interpretation of Antigone”

European Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature, Master of Arts in Comparative Humanities (MACH),

and the undergraduate Humanities Fellows

Brandeis University, DuBois Lounge (Rabb Graduate Center, Rm. 119)

March 30, 2017, 4pm


Hegel’s Use of Recognition and Subjective Freedom in His Interpretation of the Religions of the World

The Philosophy Department and the Institute of Liberal Arts

Boston College, Higgins Hall 225

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Read more


“Hegel’s Interpretation of the Greek Religion as a Religion of Spirit”
The Mahindra Humanities Center, Room 133, Barker Center, Harvard University
December 13, 2016, 6pm
Read more


“The Determinate Religions: Hegel's Interpretation of the Religions of the World”

Yeshiva University, New York

November 16, 2016, 12-1:15pm

Read more


“The Religion of the Sublime: Hegel’s Controversial Account of Judaism”

Yeshiva University, New York

November 16, 2016.


The Determinate Religions: Hegel's Interpretation of the Religions of the World

Philosophy Department, Boston University

November 4, 2016.

Read more


“The Crisis of Religion and the Logic of the Gods: Hegel’s Interpretation of the Religions of the World”

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

October 19, 2016.

Read more


Keynote Speech:

“Humanities Education in a Globalized World and Our Modern Prejudices”

at the conference “Classical Education in the 21st Century: Challenges, Continuity, and Change”

Thales Academy, Rolesville, North Carolina

October 7, 2016.

Read more

See the video of the lecture


The Conference, “The Registers of Philosophy II

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Pázmány Péter Catholic University,

Budapest, Hungary, May 14, 2016.

Read the article

Description of the conference:

Jon Stewart has recently argued in his book The Unity of Content and Form in Philosophical Writing (2013) that the style of contemporary philosophy – particularly in its Anglo-American version – is extremely impoverished. This homogeneity, according to Stewart, has its roots in the scientific model of philosophy and philosophical writing, in the philosophy of language that was popular in the beginning of the last century and in the fact that during the professionalization of philosophy a particular mode of writing proved to be the most useful one. Noting the deep similarities of current philosophical pieces would of course not cause any surprise – but Stewart went on to argue that this kind of uniformity in philosophical writing causes much harm to philosophy itself. The standardization not only causes some thoughts to be only ineffectively expressible in philosophy, but shifts the attention of courses both at undergraduate and graduate level to the regular type of philosophical texts. Irregular genres or styles are left out from the curriculum at many places, their own characteristics and the messages encoded in philosophical styles do not gain attention. ‘By insisting on a single form of writing – Stewart emphasized –, professional philosophy implicitly imposes a certain notion about how to read philosophy.’ The ability to read some classics is fading away. And works falling outside of the scope of the writing which people are now accustomed to are deemed to be unphilosophical, lacking rigor and therefore uninteresting.

Nevertheless one might argue that even nowadays various philosophical genres and styles are flourishing, and not only in continental philosophy. Philosophical novels and poems are being published, philosophy is present in theatres and cinemas, not to mention the different web pages that are dedicated to philosophical topics. Even analytic writings do not always use the same style. Furthermore, as Keith Allen noted in his review of The Unity of Content and Form in Philosophical Writing, ‘Stewart’s selection of case studies to illustrate the diversity of forms that philosophical writing can take raises interesting questions about when it is appropriate to describe a work as a work of philosophy.’

Now how uniform really is today’s philosophy? Is the homogeneity of styles dangerous for philosophy itself? What are the themes that only fit well with some genres or styles? What is the exact connection between content and form? Should philosophers pay attention to genres practiced outside of academia? The aim of our series of conferences is to investigate these questions and more. We would like to look at the problems of content and form in philosophy both from historical and contemporary perspectives, from the viewpoint of analytic and continental philosophy as well as from the standpoint of styles that fall outside the scope of academic philosophy. Stewart claimed that questions of form, genre and style should be entertained not only at the literature departments but by professional philosophers too. As he argued: ‘To read philosophical texts as literature is to miss the specifically philosophical meaning that they contain.’ We would like to give a joint occasion for both of these disciplines to discuss the problems introduced above. Like Stewart, we would like to bring philosophers to the edges of conformity, to explore the various forms and the diverse ways of not only writing, reading and interpreting philosophy but teaching, discussing, presenting, popularizing or doing it.


Jon Stewart©2007-2019