My book Human Experience: Philosophy, Neurosis, and the Elements of Everyday Life is an attempt to sort out the basic structure of our experience of the world, focusing on this intersection of “perspective” with “world.” I intend this book, (written for any educated adult reader, and not just for philosophy specialists), to be of interest to anyone who is trying to make sense of his or her life, but it focuses especially on understanding the way in which people often find themselves developing neurotic problems as they try to navigate through the world. I focus on neurotic problems partially in an effort to contribute to the improvement of the mental health field, but more importantly because almost all of us will find ourselves grappling with some such problem at some point. These problems—our hangups, obsessions, phobias—are also specially helpful for revealing the “juncture” of perspective and world: they reveal, that is, the way we experience things as not quite “fitting” with each other, and they provide a powerful lens for understanding what is happening in all our everyday experience. In particular, I use the discussion of neurotic problems to tease out the importance of the formative role our family-experience plays in shaping our personalities. My goal in Human Experience is to put the reader in a powerful position for thinking about the nature of her or his own personality, about the nature of her or his family, and especially about how to approach changing her or his life and becoming happier.
My book Bearing Witness to Epiphany: Persons, Things, and the Nature of Erotic Life is again written for all adult readers (and not just philosophy specialists), and it is a study of “meaning”—how things come to be meaningful for us, and, in general, what is involved in making sense of the world and of our lives—and about the personal, interpersonal, and political structures that are interwoven with our practices of “making sense” of things. Bearing Witness to Epiphany has as its special focus a study of the nature of interpersonal relationships: in our sexual and romantic life, we grapple with the special challenges that come from the juncture of our perspective with the perspective of another, and the complex range of experiences, personal changes, and responsibilities that grow out of this is at the core of what makes our lives meaningful. The focus on this most intimate domain of personal and interpersonal experience leads into a study of the nature of self-expression, and Bearing Witness to Epiphany also investigates the nature and the central importance of art and language in our lives. Like Human Experience, Bearing Witness to Epiphany is intended not simply as a “scholarly study” of these matters, but as a book that contributes to personal growth and actually empowers the reader to engage in self-transformative change.
I am currently completing a third book that continues this general line of inquiry, tentatively called Sites of Exposure. This book focuses especially on the place of art, politics, and religion in our efforts to develop meaningful lives. I hope it will be available in 2012.
I have also published two books on the work of the 19th Century German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, and a third book is forthcoming. The second one, Reading Hegel’s Phenomenology is a step-by-step study of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. This work of Hegel’s is, to my mind, one of the most important and insightful works of philosophy ever written, but it is written in a very difficult and obscure style, with the consequence that its lessons are not easily available to most readers. I wrote Reading Hegel’s Philosophy in order to make Hegel’s ideas accessible to a broader reading audience, and to encourage scholars to recognize more so than they often do the power of Hegel’s insights. My new book, Infinite Phenomenology: The Lessons of Hegel’s Science of Experience continues this same project. Reading Hegel’s Phenomenology has been adopted by a number of teachers as a companion text for their course on Hegel’s philosophy, and I hope that Infinite Phenomenology will similarly provide a helpful route of entry into Hegel’s philosophy for students and that scholars will find it a provocative and insightful commentary on Hegel’s work. My earlier book on Hegel, The Self and Its Body in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, is a more specialized study, drawing out the interpretation of the nature of human embodiment that is implied in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.
I also publish articles on many topics in Ancient Philosophy and in Contemporary Continental Philosophy. I am currently working on a new book in each of these areas, one a set of studies of the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, the other an investigation of the project of philosophical inquiry as that is developed in the works of the French philosophers Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Derrida.
Currently, I teach philosophy at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada. I also direct the Toronto Summer Seminar in Philosophy, an annual workshop for philosophy professors and graduate students.