Hilma af Klint, The Swan (1914)
My research revolves around the nature and social conditions of individual freedom. Liberals often think of individual freedom as the possession of a set of rights: I am free by having the right to pursue a career of my choice, marry whoever I love, express my views, or spend my money on products I fancy. A social order affords the conditions for individual freedom insofar as its subjects can effectively exercise such rights. My work seeks to expand this “thin” conception of individual freedom. Drawing on Hegel’s (tacit and explicit) dialogue with other post-Kantian figures, I argue that full-fledged individual freedom includes aspects that will become central within 20th century existentialism and critical theory, such as a skeptical and critical attitude towards social norms, differentiation from others, creative engagement, and even apprehension of death.
I am espcially intrigued by Hegel’s optimism about the prospects of accommodating such freedoms while maintaining stable and well-organized social institutions. In my reading, Hegel offers a sophisticated framework for thinking through social heterogeneity and individual identity in the 21st century.
For a statement of my research program, please click here.
This program builds directly on my dissertation, Personal Freedom and Its Discontents: Hegel on the Ethical Basis of Modern Skepticism (Columbia, October 2017). For a brief summary click here.