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Experts in: Aesthetics

Dumouchel, Daniel


Professeur titulaire

My fields of interest essentially encompass the history of modern philosophical thought (17th and 18thcenturies) and the philosophy of art and aesthetics, from the 18th century to the present. My research subjects can be grouped into four themes.

  1. The first - and the most important in my past work - concerns the reconstruction of the main issues in 18th-century philosophical aesthetics. My initial university studies focused largely on the role of aesthetics in Kantian philosophy and the German Aufklärung; I then expanded my analysis to include the French, English and Scottish Enlightenment. Among the questions that interest me in this context are the birth of a specific philosophical discourse on art in the 18th century; the nature of aesthetic experience and critical judgment; the relationships between ethics and aesthetics; the relationships between passions and artistic experience; the status of fiction; models for explaining invention and creativity; the explanation of paradoxical emotions; and theories of tragic emotion.
  2. A second research theme concerns the problem of affectivity in modern philosophy and, in particular, the issue of the role of intersubjectivity in the engenderment and communication of passions. To study this question so obviously neglected by historians of the philosophical theories of passions, I start from the "model" of sympathy developed by David Hume and Adam Smith, to inventory the different philosophical explanations of passional life, from Spinoza to Rousseau, and examine their ethical and aesthetic implications.
  3. I am also interested in the use of fictions in philosophical discourse. I study the rich and diversified use that classical and Enlightenment philosophers make of experiences of thought, of epistemological fictions and fictional and rhetorical devices in discourses aimed at producing truth.
  4. Lastly, I have undertaken research that should lead, with the collaboration of my colleagues, to the publication and annotation of a selection of major philosophical texts by certain members of the "speculative philosophy" class of the Berlin Academy, including Johann Georg Sulzer and Jean Bernard Merian. Halfway between Leibnizianism and empiricism, the debates of the Berlin Academy, between 1748 and 1780, are an ideal laboratory for following the transformation of the key issues in the philosophical thought of the Enlightenment on the nature of knowledge, representation, action, feelings, etc.

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Macdonald, Iain


Professeur titulaire

My research interests lie mainly in the historical tension between critical theory (mainly Adorno) and phenomenology (mainly Heidegger and Husserl), and in the historical roots of this tension. More specifically, I am interested in the role played by the concept of possibility in these 2 great traditions of European philosophy. This issue is at the heart of my research in different areas: the dialectic heritage (temporality and Hegel), practical philosophy (Marx and the possibility of emancipation, Hegel and the concept of education, Adorno and the possibility of autonomy), aesthetics (works of art as expressions of human or social potentials) and metaphysics (the concept of horizon for Husserl, modality and the priority of actuality in the history of philosophy).

Winner of the Université de Montréal university-wide Teaching Prize, 2014

Winner of the Faculty of Arts and Science Teaching Prize, Université de Montréal, 2013.


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