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Philosophy Associate Professor to Spend Three Months at Soren Kierkegaard Research Center

Philosophy associate professor Eleanor Helms will spend three months of the 2018-19 school year researching Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s relationship to 19th century science and philosophy of science.

Eleanor Helms, Cal Poly Philosophy Associate Professor
Eleanor Helms

Helms received a $5,000 travel and research grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation to conduct research at the Soren Kierkegaard Research Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.

She was also awarded an additional $5,000 for her trip from The American Council of Learned Societies, an organization that funds research projects mainly in the humanities. This is a highly competitive award, which is offered only to faculty at teaching-intensive universities like Cal Poly.

“Faculty research is so important, and I appreciate how Dean Epperson maintained support for faculty research and travel even during the recent recession,” said Helms. “It enables us to stay rooted in the ideas that brought most of us to our disciplines, to stay current in our fields, to contribute to new research in the humanities, and of course to bring those new ideas back to our Cal Poly classrooms.”

While at the Kierkegaard Research Center, Helms will write the first few chapters of a book that will draw together ideas she has been working on over the past 5-6 years at Cal Poly with new concepts and materials from her research in Copenhagen.

She will have access to substantial materials including Kierkegaard's works in the original Danish. Helms will also be able to consult and network with Danish and American scholars who teach or conduct their own research at the Kierkegaard Research Center.

“In philosophy, ‘research’ usually means spending time with important and influential texts (and in my area of European or Continental philosophy, often in the original languages), discovering new ideas in texts people often overlook (for example, in Kierkegaard's journals and letters or in the writings of his contemporaries), and then drawing on those ideas to address contemporary philosophical questions,” wrote Helms. “My research question is how thought experiments, which are imaginary, can give us knowledge of the real world outside our minds.”


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