My main area of interest is German philosophy, specifically in the 19th century. I have a wide range of competences regarding this period, which I have specialised in to the greatest extend I could since my early days as an undergraduate.
From Kant and his copernican turn of critical philosophy, through the zenit of German Idealism with Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, and through to the likes of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, I find this period in the history of Western philosophy to be on par with classical Greece and Rennaissance Italy. Marking the beginning of Northern European modernity, this golden age of European culture continues to fascinate me — Hegel especially so.
Hegelians and Hegelianism
The first of my main interests and specific expertises within this field is thus Hegelianism. While I am also very fascinated by Hegel and his philosophy as such, my research interests actually lean more towards Hegelianism and the Hegelians, i.e. the philosophical school(s) he inspired and their pupils and the contemporaneous reception of his thought.
My main interest in this regard is Young Hegelianism. I am interested both in the philosophies and theories of the many individual Young Hegelians, but also more generally in trying to define what being a Young Hegelian really means — what sets Young Hegelianism apart from your average old Hegelianism? What makes it ‘Young’? In my opinion, there has been a tendency in the literature to uniformly employ the term ‘Young Hegelian’ as a common denominator while at the same time claiming that there was no unified theory to Young Hegelianism and that the Young Hegelians were ever locked in perpetual theoretical trench warfare. This is a conceptual deficiency in our historical understanding of mid-19th century German philosophy which bears rectifying.
The second of my main interests and specific expertises within the field of German 19th century philosophy is Karl Marx. Marx was, of course, part of the Young Hegelian group, but I find it fundamental to research within this field that we do not view the Young Hegelians through the twin lenses of Marx and Marxism.
However, I am also supremely interest in Marx himself. The claim that he was the only succesful Young Hegelian is not without merit, and his ideas and analyses continue to be fruitful and hold relevance to this day.
My Ph.D. project combines this interest in Marx with my intest in the Young Hegelians, mentioned above. In my dissertation, I attempt the argument that Marx continued to be a Young Hegelian throughout his life. As such, I challenge the commonly held notion of a ‘break’ in Marx’s thought. I do this by attempting to identify three central problems (the unification of the particular with the universal; the end of philosophy; the realisation of human freedom) and three central concepts (sublation; critique; praxis) that define Young Hegelianism and then tracing them in Marx’s mature work, specifically Capital, vol. 1.
Download a fuller desciption of my PhD project here.
A final research interest of mine — which is really my pet project turned major spare time obsession — is the Young Hegelian philosopher, writer, and political theorist (or terrorist), and Marx’s long-time drinking buddy, Edgar Bauer.
Edgar Bauer was the younger brother of the much more famous theologian and philosopher Bruno Bauer, Marx’s personal friend and Doktorvater and an outstanding leader in the Young Hegelian movement. Edgar was his staunch supporter (visible not least in one of his major early works, Bruno Bauer und seine Gegner, 1842), but as is often the case with epigones, his own variant of Bruno’s philosophy was much more radical. He is the Engels to Bruno’s Marx. But Edgar was also a bully, an Anarchist (before there was such a thing), a free-thinker, and a proponent of violent terrorism against the establishment. He got drunk all the time, got in fights with uppity law students, and had porn hanging on his bedroom walls.
He was also a police spy.
Between 1851 and 1860, Edgar Bauer wrote more than 2,000 manuscript pages of reports from his exile in London to the Copenhagen police commissioner, Cosmus Bræstrup, reporting mostly on the activities of exiled, continental revolutionaries in Britain. (These reports are now held in the Danish National Archives, and no-one has ever done a substantive investigation on them). Later, he became a staunch public advocate of the Danish state, a spin-doctor for ethnically Danish politicians in Prussia, and a reactionary propagandist working out of Northern Germany.
I can say with great confidence that I am one of the world’s top-5 experts on Edgar Bauer, but then again, that does not say much: I own and have read all scholarly literature ever written on Edgar Bauer, which amounts 500 pages altogether at the most. He is a completely fascinating character to me, and one day I am going to organise a conference on him and get together with the four other guys who have heard of him, at it is going to be amazing.