Our department offers a rigorous and comprehensive education by drawing on a variety of philosophical traditions from analytic philosophy to pragmatism, German idealism, critical theory, and recent French philosophy. Our research and teaching covers the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind and theory of action, epistemology, metaphysics and ontology, ethics, social and political philosophy, applied ethics, philosophical anthropology, and aesthetics. The study of philosophy at the University of Potsdam is characterized by shared research interests across methodologies and disciplines, connecting the specialties of our faculty and researchers in productive ways (for more information, please see the websites of our chairs and their areas of specialization).
Research in the Philosophy of Mind constitutes a first area of specialization of the department shared by three of our chairs. From the theory of intentionality to the problem of self-knowledge to the sociality of the mind, we examine fundamental questions concerning the cognitive nature of human life.
Practical Philosophy forms a second area of specialization, and is also examined at our Department by three of the chairs. From meta-ethics to normative ethics, and social philosophy to applied ethics, we examine the foundations and applications of the normative character of human action.
A third, methodological, focus is the close relationship between systematic philosophy and the history of philosophy that defines our shared approach. Philosophical questions cannot be answered without knowledge of their history. Conversely, our examination of canonical philosophical texts is driven by a perspective which examines their systematic relationships and connections.
This applies in particular to the focus areas within the history of philosophy within the department: first, the philosophy of the early modern era from its origins (e.g. Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, and Berkeley), to the philosophy of the Enlightenment (e.g. Wolff, Mendelssohn), to classical German philosophy (especially Kant, Fichte, Hegel) and the philosophy of the nineteenth century (Marx, Nietzsche) which are being studied, among others, at the Center for Post-Kantian Philosophy; second, the tradition of classical pragmatism, which is represented notably by the William James Center; third, various currents of twentieth-century post-Kantian European philosophy (philosophical anthropology, critical theory, recent French philosophy) which are also the subject of research at the Center for Post-Kantian Philosophy.
Since philosophy is an inherently boundary-crossing discipline, the department also strongly encourages interdisciplinary engagement with adjacent disciplines, such as the cognitive sciences (which are a special focus at the University of Potsdam), medicine and medical humanities, history, religion, and law. The department maintains a close institutional connection with the faculty of law through the Potsdam Center for Human Rights, which is jointly supervised by the Chair of Ethics and Aesthetics and the Chair of Public Law (in particular European and International Law, and European and International Business Law). A cross-disciplinary interest in human life and its effects on human self-understanding also formed a key commitment of the Graduate Research Group Life Forms and Life Knowledge, which was supported by three of the four philosophy chairs in cooperation with the University of Viadrina. The interdisciplinary character of the department is also characterized by the teaching degree program in Ways of Life, Ethics, and Religious Studies (LER), which is administered by the Chair for Applied Ethics.
The members of the department are part of a broad international network, and collaborate with colleagues across the world. Important international partners include Eindhoven University of Technology as well as the Centre for Ethics and Technology at the four technical universities of the Netherlands (Eindhoven, Delft, Twente, Wageningen), Seoul National University, Tel Aviv University, the University of Chicago, the University of Essex, the University of Pittsburgh and Yale University. During your course of studies, you will have the opportunity to apply for one or several semesters abroad at one of our many Erasmus partner universities under the Erasmus program.