Research

My research falls on both sides of the analytic-continental divide, and I prefer not to let this divide get in the way of reading and writing about the things that most interest me. It’s hard to pin down into a neat formula anything quite as wild and ranging as one’s intellectual curiosity, but my current research interests fall into three somewhat overlapping regions.

Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Philosophical Method

I’m not a big fan of the term “metaphilosophy,” because it suggests that questions about the nature of philosophy are a distinct sub-discipline of philosophy. I’m inclined to think that these questions pervade any serious philosophy, and I’m most drawn to philosophers for whom doing philosophy is inseparable from reflecting on what philosophy is: Wittgenstein and Heidegger in the first instance, and additionally Nietzsche, Plato, Kierkegaard, Derrida, and St. Augustine, among others. A lot of my own work touches on the question of what we’re doing when we do philosophy, and how we can find the words to do this work with lucidity, and not get in our own way.

The later Wittgenstein is particularly interesting to me in this regard. Making sense of what Wittgenstein achieves in the Philosophical Investigations can’t be separated from the question of how and why he writes in the way that he does. And to my mind, the writing in his later philosophy represents a series of dazzling innovations in philosophical method that are well worth the effort to tease out.

I’ve found that this sort of work benefits from taking a comparative approach. In particular, I’ve given a lot of attention to the connections between Wittgenstein and Heidegger, and have found that thinking with these two very different philosophers side by side allows me to ask questions and find answers that would have been unavailable–or at least far more obscure–had I considered each one in isolation.

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