Thimo Heisenberg

Title | Organization: 
Graduate Student | Ph.D. program in Philosophy
Student Year: 
6th Year Ph.D. Student (Dissertation Phase)
Areas of Specialization: 

Kant and German Idealism, Ethics, Political Economy

Areas of Competence: 

20th century European Philosophy, Philosophy of History


My interests lie at the intersection of classical German Philosophy, Ethics and Political Economy. 

My dissertation reconstructs Hegel’s view that we human beings have a final purpose, which we ought to pursue in all our actions – a purpose, Hegel, following a long tradition, calls the ‘Highest Good’ (summum bonum). Even though versions of this idea play such a prominent role in the tradition that Hegel is part of (e.g. in Aristotle’s and in Kant’s work), and even though Hegel undeniably attempts to formulate his own version of this idea, Hegel’s conception of the Highest Good and of the role that it plays in his ethics has never been systematically reconstructed. It is the main thesis of my dissertation that this has been a mistake and that this mistake has been a major roadblock to understanding central aspects of Hegel’s conception of agency, his critique of the philosophical tradition and, perhaps most importantly, his conception of Ethical Life. Indeed, I think that Hegel’s theory of Ethical Life contains an evolutionary model of social critique that is still relevant today and that only becomes visible, if we take the Highest Good into view. 
My work has appeared or is scheduled to appear in the European Journal of Philosophy, the Philosophisches Jahrbuch, in two anthologies on Schelling and in the Cambridge Kant Lexicon. At Columbia, I have taught Ethics (as sole instructor) and have been a Teaching Assistant for courses in ethical theory and the history of philosophy.