Author Archives: Sean D. Kelly

About Sean D. Kelly

Sean Dorrance Kelly is the Teresa G. and Ferdinand F. Martignetti Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also Faculty Dean at Dunster House, one of the twelve undergraduate Houses at Harvard. He served for six years as chair of Harvard's Department of Philosophy. Kelly earned an Sc.B. in Mathematics and Computer Science and an M.S. in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University in 1989. After three years as a Ph.D. student in Logic and Methodology of Science, he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. Before arriving at Harvard in 2006, Kelly taught at Stanford and Princeton, and he was a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Sean Kelly's work focuses on various aspects of the philosophical, phenomenological, and cognitive neuroscientific nature of human experience. He is a world authority on 20th century European Philosophy, specializing in the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He has also done influential work in philosophy of mind and philosophy of perception. Kelly has published articles in numerous journals and anthologies and he has received fellowships or awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the NSF and the James S. McDonnell Foundation, among others. Fun fact: He appeared on The Colbert Show in 2011 to talk about All Things Shining. Sean Kelly lives at Dunster House with his wife, the Harvard Philosopher Cheryl Kelly Chen, and their two boys, Benjamin and Nathaniel.


How much of your story must you know already to write its opening lines?  “I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. I am an unpleasant man. I think my liver is diseased.” A line like this contains … Continue reading

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A Genealogy of Redemption

I was honored to be interviewed recently by Charlie Taben of the American Philosophical Association about my forthcoming book with Harvard University Press, The Proper Dignity of Human Being. My contribution to the interview ended up being a kind of … Continue reading

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Lex Fridman Interview

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down to be interviewed by Lex Fridman, a former MIT roboticist and current podcaster. The interview went on for almost three hours without a break, and it is a testament … Continue reading

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The Comfort College?

I’m not a fan of certain narrow interpretations of the claim that human beings are the rational animal. In at least one form that I find objectionable, the claim builds too closely upon a scholastic account of God’s perfection that … Continue reading

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Being One’s Own: Heidegger and the Enlightenment

The notion of authenticity, of being one’s own, is central to Heidegger’s early work. Division II of Being and Time, for instance, is devoted primarily to spelling out what it would be for Dasein to be authentic. Whatever the details of this … Continue reading

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Politics and Philosophy

I want to talk about another aspect of the project I’m working on, one that makes it particularly difficult. Martin Heidegger was a schmuck. I use this term in a non-technical sense, but I hope it gives the appropriate impression. … Continue reading

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Ontological gratitude (and disjunctivism too)

There continues to be an incredibly interesting conversation happening in the comment section of my last post. I want to highlight one aspect of it here. Commenter dmf has identified a tricky and complicated issue about the circumstances under which … Continue reading

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How do you make a decision?

There’s a discussion that Terence Blake and I are having in the comments section for this post that I find fascinating. Terence is an Australian philosopher, living in France, who knows tons about contemporary European philosophy. I’m always grateful to him … Continue reading

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Gratitude for what has been

You are probably wondering where I have been for the last eight years. Let me try to fill in the gaps a bit, and to say why I am so grateful for what has been.

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Rising from the Ashes?

It has been almost eight years since I last posted to this blog. To be honest I had nearly forgotten that it exists. Life has been, well, sort of busy in the interim. Even in my absence, however, there has … Continue reading

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