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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsOn CampusSean Winkler – Looking Forward to New Perspectives on Philosophy

Sean Winkler – Looking Forward to New Perspectives on Philosophy

On September 1, 2017, Sean Winkler joined the  School of Philosophy as a research fellow for one year. Originally from Chino Hills, California, he holds an undergraduate and Master’s degree in philosophy from Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, California), as well as a Master’s degree and PhD from KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium).

During his time at HSE, Winkler’s research will focus on early modern philosophy, specifically the use of mechanical metaphors to describe psychological processes in the works of thinkers from the 17th century.  

‘I was interested in the program at the HSE, because of the very diverse and wide-ranging interests of the professors and other researchers in the School of Philosophy’, he said in a recent interview with the HSE News Service shortly before his arrival in Moscow. ‘On an earlier occasion, I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Stefan Hessbruggen, an expert in early modern philosophy at HSE, and I was interested in the possibility of working with him on my new project. Finally, I am interested in the work of a Russian philosopher of early modern science named Boris Hessen, and the possibility of working in the context of a Russian university might provide me with greater access to and new perspectives on his work’.

A specific area of Winkler’s work will involve the Hessen-Grossmann thesis, a hypothesis on the rise of mechanical philosophy in light of the emergence of the growing prevalence of machine manufacturing in the early capitalist economy.

Over the next year, Winkler intends to write three articles; two of which develop the Hessen-Grossmann thesis and a third that serves as a case study aiming to apply and test the thesis. He is also looking forward to gaining additional teaching experience, advising undergraduate and Master’s students on their theses, and collaborating with other members of the School of Philosophy on mutual research interests.

Winkler is excited to be living in Moscow. ‘I am very much looking forward to spending the next year in this vibrant city’, he says. ‘I had the chance to visit Moscow last summer and really enjoyed the energy of the people in the city, the history and the city's beautiful architecture. I've just started learning Russian, mainly from my girlfriend who is from St. Petersburg, but I will be taking a Russian language course once I am settled in to begin developing a more comprehensive knowledge of the language’.

Sean Winkler’s recommended reading list on Russian history and literature

  • The Double, Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Viy, Nikolai Gogol
  • The Socio-Economic Roots of Newton's Principia, Boris Hessen
  • State and Revolution, Vladimir Lenin
  • Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev
  • Poems and Political Letters, Fyodor Tyuchev
  • Everything was Forever, until it Was No More, Alexei Yurchak

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service

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