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Hello. Welcome to my personal website. Here is a little information about me. I was born and brought up in Barnet, a large and somewhat uninspiring suburb of North London of which I am nonetheless very fond. I lived through the era of punk rock, Thatcherism and the GLC, and seemed to spend a lot of time at free concerts in the Meanwhile Gardens.

After school, I went to study French and German at the University of St. Andrews, where I made some great friends, but where frankly I got a bit bored. Fortunately managed to spend a year at the F.U.Berlin, paid for by the D.A.A.D. (Thanks Adrian.)

I fell in love with that city, where I met a few wonderful people, started studying philosophy alongside Germanistik. By the time I went back to finish my degree in St. Andrews (with a short spell at Toulouse-le-Mirail) I had the bug. I went to do the M.A. in Continental Philosophy at the University of Essex, where I studied Hegel with Jay Bernstein, Kant with Onora O’Neill, and contemporary Continental philosophy with Peter Dews. I stayed on and wrote my Ph. D. there on Hegel’s Criticism of Kant. Afterwards, I held a post-doctoral fellowship in Berlin, where I attended Axel Honneth’s colloquium. Instead of writing my Ph.D. into a book, which I should have done and it was a mistake not to, I studied ancient Greek at the Humboldt University. I nevertheless managed to get a job in Philosophy and the School of P.E.P. at the University of York, where I taught  until 2004. I learnt a lot from my fantastic colleagues at York, Christian Piller, Joseph Melia, Tom Baldwin, Marie McGinn, Andrew Ward and Roger Woolhouse.

In 2004, I switched to University of Sussex, where I am now Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Convenor of the Social and Political Thought Programme, and Director of the Centre for Social and Political thought, I wear a couple of other administrative hats: I’m an elected member of the Executive Committee of the British Philosophical Association, on the Programme Committee of the Forum for European Philosophy and until recently (i.e. from 2007-20101) was Chair of the Society for European Philosophy.


I believe in the benefits of a humanities education. I dislike bullshit and management speak in particular. I hate the current banausic, narrowly economistic and anti-intellectual trend in Higher Education policy that is gradually succeeding in turning Universities from educational institutions and seats of learning into firms that sell education. I spend part of my time now fighting for the Humanities, in all kinds of different arenas, and writing about Higher Education policy.

I have a tendency to parrhesia and value admiration only from those whom I admire. I’m a little grudging about things. I don’t mean to be. I’m just tough as a marker, critic etc. although I don’t mean to be.

I live in a large Victorian building close to the sea front in Hove. Nick Cave lives over the road. (He doesn’t know we bumped into each other in Kreuzberg, Berlin in 1986, where he was hanging with Blixa Bargeld; but too bad. I’m not going to tell him. Besides, I think he might have moved. I Haven’t seen him around for months.) I spend my days reading (not solely philosophy) and writing. I play cricket and football – though I’ve recently had to announce my retirement from international football due to persistent ankle injury. I’m an Arsenal supporter, but am going off the game. I love books. I wish I had more time to read them. I like pens and stationery. I wish I spent more time writing with them. Computers make me anxious, although I seem to be addicted to them. I admire people who take the time to read and think and who write well.

One day I’ll give up University teaching and work with my hands or take up any profession, where one has does not have to answer emails and sit in front of a computer screen. That day is coming soon.





James Gordon Finlayson

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