Elinor Hållén

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My main research interests lies in the areas of epistemology, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of mind and philosophical method, all of which are present in my PhD thesis A Different Kind of Ignorance: Self-Deception as Flight from Self-Knowledge. Another line of research is philosophy of education, which I have explored in a project on "folkbildning" (popular education) as a researcher in the project What Must a Swede Know?


I received my PhD at Uppsala University in May, 2011 when I defended my dissertation, A Different Kind of Ignorance. Self-Deception as Flight From Self-Knowledge. (Opponent: Martin Gustafsson, Professor at Åbo Akademi). My dissertation is an investigation of self-deception in which I critically examine two recent and influential philosophical accounts of self-deception: Donald Davidson’s and Sebastian Gardner’s. Left unsatisfied with the view of self-deception that can be seen in both these accounts – as a rational form of irrationality in which the self-deceiver strategically deceives himself on the basis of having judged that this is the best thing to do, or, in order to achieve something advantageous (in short, the view of self-deception as a lie to oneself) I turn to Sigmund Freud and to contemporary philosophers inspired by his work for a different understanding of self-deception (in particular Jonathan Lear, and also, for example, Richard Moran). I argue that self-deception is better understood as motivated lack of self-knowledge and as a flight from anxiety.

My dissertation is electronically published at http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:408360/FULLTEXT01. It was reviewed in Svenska Dagbladet: http://www.svd.se/kultur/understrecket/sjalvbedrageriet-en-svar-not-for-filosoferna_6231192.svd

I have broad philosophical interests. My roots are in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy. My BA Thesis was a critique of Robert Brandom’s reading of the regress-of-rules argument (2003). The last few years I have been more interested in Wittgenstein’s method, especially in the similarities and differences between Wittgenstein’s and Freud’s methods and practices (I gave a talk on this topic in the Bergen Workshop Interpreting Wittgenstein in June, 2008, Wittgenstein, Freud and Unconscious Intentions).

Philosophy of psychology, in particular philosophy of psychoanalysis, is a field which I have explored in my dissertation and which I am eager to continue working in. After receiving my PhD I have presented a paper at the Philosophy of Psychotherapy Conference at University of East Anglia, (July, 2011) and I am applying for funding for a project in which I wish to continue to investigate the role of expression for conscious-making in Freud’s writings. I have received enough money to start working on this project in autumn, if all goes well at University of Chicago.

Modern German thought is another of my research interests, in particular Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud but also Max Weber and Max Stirner.

It is crucial to me that a philosophical problem is a problem that we can recognize as someone’s problem. What we write in philosophy should matter to ourselves as writers and at least to a small group of readers. It can matter by having an impact on our own personal lives, or it can matter by helping us understand a social phenomenon better, such as a form of life, a system or institution. As academics part of our world is the research and educational system. We have a privileged perspective on this world and, I believe, an obligation to critically examine it. I am interested in examining how and if the ideal of Bildung that is expressed in our official documents, by our political leaders etc. actually permeates the regulations for education and research.

During my PhD I have had the opportunity to visit University of Chicago and Potsdam Universität. Both visits were very fruitful experiences and I look forward to future collaborations with Chicago and hope to resume contacts with Potsdam.

I have taught many courses, both in Swedish and in English, at First-year to Master level. For example: philosophy of language, philosophy of science (for scientists, social scientists and humanists), phenomenology, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of literature, feminist ethics.



Hållén, E., A Different Kind of Ignorance. Self-Deception as Flight from Self-Knowledge (Dissertation), Uppsala University, Edita Västra Aros, 2011.


Hållén, E., ”Självbedrägeriet i den analytiska filosofin” (“Self-Deception within Analytic Philosophy”) in Tankar, tillägnade Sören Stenlund. Eds. Pär Segerdahl, Sharon Rider och Niklas Forsberg, Uppsala Philosophical Studies, 2008.

Work in Progress


Hållén, E., "Ignorance as Methodology; What could it be?" Part of the art/philosophy project "What is Ignorance?" Organized at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.


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Elinor Hållén