Hi. I’m Sean T. Murphy. I think and write about (late) 18th and 19th c. European philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics, and I teach courses in all of these areas.
I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Philosophy at Indiana University in 2021. At present, I am a Visiting Assistant Professor at Providence College. Before that, I was a Future Faculty Teaching Fellow at Butler University.
Some old historical favorites include: Kant, Schiller, Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, and Adorno. More recently: Herder, Dilthey, Salomé, and Stein.
In ethics, I explore questions about agency and persons. In a recent paper, I think about the ways in which we can come to feel estranged from our past selves, and whether (and if so when) it should matter that we do. What do I owe past me, anyways?
The basic guiding assumption of my work in aesthetics is that engagements with art (especially music) play a constitutive role in the formation and construction of our sense of who we are as a person. With that in mind, some recent work asks what it means to enjoy autonomy and individuality in one’s aesthetic life.
A recent project which combines several of these interests, and which I am really excited about explores the aesthetics of emotional hardcore music. For me, a lot of the value of emotional hardcore lies in its rejection of a longstanding view in the history of aesthetics which says that artistic expressions or representations of physical or emotional pain demand beautification, otherwise they will fail to be properly appreciated by the viewer. The historical strand of the beautification view that I am interested in can be located in the works of several modern German philosophers, including Lessing, Herder, Kant, and perhaps Schopenhauer. Part of this project involves working out their respective views on art’s beautifying power before turning to the rejection of beautification in some contemporary art.
Other projects include various papers on Schopenhauer’s ethics and an investigation of Salomé’s philosophical psychology and philosophy of life.
*In the picture above, I am unfortunately fifty years late for Adorno’s office hours.