Figuring Existence: A Postgraduate Conference in Existential Analysis


Keynote Speaker: Kate Kirkpatrick (King’s College London)

Organisers: Elizabeth Xiao-an Li and Nikolaas Deketelaere

Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought


The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno summarised the guiding motive of those intellectual approaches we might nowadays call existentialist by saying that “philosophy is a product of the humanity of each philosopher, and each philosopher is a man of flesh and bone who addresses himself to other men of flesh and bone like himself. And, let him do what he will, he philosophizes not with reason only, but with the will, with the feelings, with the flesh and with the bones, with the whole soul and the whole body. It is the man that philosophizes.” Yet, it is perhaps also because of definitions as broad as this one that Jean-Paul Sartre felt that “the word is now so loosely applied to so many things that it no longer means anything at all.” This conference aims to provide a sketch of the style of thinking that can broadly be conceived of as existential analysis.

In connection with the conference, we are also inviting submissions to a special edition of Open Theology on the topic "Existential Conceptions of the Relationship between Theology and Philosophy". The CFP is attached below and submissions are due in May.


For more information contact: Nikolaas ( or Elizabeth (



8.30: Registration and welcome

8.45: Opening words


9.00-10.30: Parallel panels 


Session 1: The Long 19th Century 

Chair: Stevan Veljkovic

Josh Roe (University of Münster): “The Rise of Enthusiasm: From Shaftesbury to Hamann”

Shari Dedier (University of Edinburgh): “Dieser Thorweg ‘Augenblick’: The Exalted Moment and Eternity in Nietzsche and Jaspers”

Levy Coudyser (KU Leuven): “The Will to Power and Suicide”


Session 2: Freedom

Chair: Travis La Couter

Dritero Demjaha (University of Oxford): “Existentialism and metanarrative or the atheist existentialist dilemma: Hegelian end of history or Christian end of philosophy?”

Piergiacomo Severini (Università G. D'Annunzio di Chieti-Pescara): “Jeanne Hersch’s Realist Existentialism: Reasoning on Human between Body and Freedom”

David Mark Dunning (Dublin City University): “A Decisively Free Existence: Negative Certainty in Jean-Luc Marion”


10.30   Coffee break


10.45-12.15: Parallel panels 


Session 3: The Place of Existentialism

Chair: Dr. Kate Kirkpatrick

Samuel Filby (University of Missouri): “Can there be an Existential Analytic Philosophy?”

Mimi Howard (University of Cambridge): “Heidegger’s Early Christianity and Place of Politics”

John Rayburn (University of Salamanca): “For the Sake of Soul: Existential Meaning in James Hillman's "Soul-Making" 


Session 4: Kierkegaard

Chair: Elizabeth Li

Lea Cantor (University of Oxford: “Hegel’s Concept of Freedom in the Light of Kierkegaard’s Critique”

Frederic Dubois (Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main / Free University Brussels): “Existentialism as a Development of Dialectical Metaphysics: The Case of Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety”

Barney Riggs (University of Sheffield): “Kierkegaard’s Concept of Busyness: A Preliminary Account”


12.30-13.30: Lunch


14.00-16.00     Parallel panels 


Session 5: Phenomenology

Chair: James Lorenz

Kevin Mager (Loyola University-Chicago): “Merleau-Ponty and the Existential Analysis of Discovery: Expression in Art and Science”

Maria-Nefeli Panetsos (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens): “Dance and Existential Phenomenology”

Renxiang Liu (McGill University): “Sartre’s Dualist Monism and Its Temporal Dimensions” 

Ed Willems (University of York): “Husserl’s Transcendental Ego and the Transition to Existentialism”


Session 6: Existential Experience

Chair: Naomi Irit Richman

Maja Vejic (University of Zagreb): “Anxiety in Philosophy, Literature and Life”

Maja Berseneva (Freie Universitaet Berlin): “Existential Vulnerability”

Michal Pawlowski (University of Warsaw): “Kitsch as an Existential Experience” 


16.00-17.00: Coffee break


17.00-18.30     Keynote Lecture — Dr. Kate Kirkpatrick: “Existentialism and Exemplars”, Wolfson Room


18.30-19.30: Dinner