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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of HumanitiesPostgraduate study

Jenny Bunker MA Aesthetics

Jenny Bunker's Photo

Hi, I'm Jenny Bunker and I studied MA Aesthetics within Humanities at the University of Southampton.

The postgraduate community is small but lively, with a vigorous fortnightly MPhil/PhD research group which provides an opportunity to present work-in-progress to a critical but encouraging audience.

During my four years at Southampton I have found Philosophy to be friendly, supportive and intellectually engaging.

I chose the MA in Aesthetics here because of the range of options it offered, allowing me to divide my time between studying topics in contemporary analytic aesthetics and engaging with canonical philosophers from Plato through to Heidegger. The postgraduate community is small but lively, with a vigorous fortnightly MPhil/PhD research group which provides an opportunity to present work-in-progress to a critical but encouraging audience.

Useful experience

Evening talks by visiting speakers or members of staff take place several times a semester and are usually followed by a trip to the pub! The opportunity to help with organising Philosophy’s annual postgraduate conference and to take on undergraduate tutorial teaching provides very useful experience for those seeking a career in academia (or any other field in which organisational and communication skills are central). I would thoroughly recommend the department.

Research strengths

While Philosophy has a strong research profile in a diverse range of areas (including philosophy of art, Wittgenstein’s philosophy and the philosophy of action) it was its research strength in 19th century German philosophy which was the major factor in my decision to pursue a PhD here. This year, for instance, sees the launch of a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council project at Southampton entitled ‘Nietzsche and Modern Moral Philosophy’ as well as a conference on Schopenhauer’s philosophy of value.

My own thesis – ‘Schopenhauer’s Spinozism’ – argues that to interpret Schopenhauer as a misguided Kantian is to miss much that is of interest in his philosophy. While acknowledging Kant’s influence on Schopenhauer, I aim to show first, that central elements of the latter’s philosophy (for instance his monism and his emphasis on the willing as much as the knowing self) are much more plausibly in a Spinozist tradition and second, that reading Schopenhauer as a Spinozist helps us to make sense of certain tenets of his thought which otherwise remain puzzling.

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