Mike Olson


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Personal profile


Mike completed his PhD on Kant's conception of the mind in 2013 at Villanova University in the United States. He taught at Macquarie from 2014-2018 and he is now an Honorary Research Fellow. 

Research interests

My research focuses on Immanuel Kant’s analysis of the unity of human life.  As I see it, Kant’s views on the issue can be broken down into two broad phases.  In the first phase, which begins in the 1760s and peaks with the publication of the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781, Kant develops an explanation of the unity of consciousness that avoids the pitfalls of earlier metaphysical accounts bound up with ideas of the immortality and immateriality of the soul.  In what I see as the second phase of Kant’s thinking about human life, which overlaps the first in the 1770s but becomes more pronounced in the 1780s, he expands the scope of his investigation considerably.  Here he explores the political, moral, and cultural dimensions of human life, as well as asking questions about how biological structures and geographical variation impact our lives.  Kant’s approach to these areas of investigation is guided by the principles established in by the first phase of his work, but his study of the moral, political, and natural aspects of human life leads him to reconsider those principles at a number of points.  The goal of this research is, then, to provide a unified and historically sensitive explanation of Kant’s analyses of the many facets of the unity of a human life and of his efforts to reconcile the tensions that arise in trying to integrate those analyses into a systematic whole. 

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Immanuel Kant Arts & Humanities
Materialism Arts & Humanities
Transcendental Arts & Humanities
Metaphysics Arts & Humanities
Human Life Arts & Humanities
Transcendental philosophy Arts & Humanities
Logic Arts & Humanities
Immortality Arts & Humanities

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Projects 2016 2017

Research Outputs 2009 2019

  • 10 Article
  • 3 Chapter
  • 1 Book/Film/Article/Exhibition review

The work of art in the age of its digital distribution

Deranty, J-P. & Olson, M. J., Oct 2019, In : Angelaki : journal of the theoretical humanities. 24, 5, p. 104-123 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Works of Art
Walter Benjamin
Political Life

Literature in the German science of the soul: Johann Gottlob Krüger's Dreams

Olson, M. J., 4 Jul 2018, In : History of European Ideas. 44, 5, p. 528-542 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

eighteenth century

On the significance of the copernican revolution: transcendental philosophy and the object of metaphysics

Olson, M. J., 26 Jun 2018, In : Con-textos Kantianos: international journal of philosophy. 7, p. 89-127 39 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Transcendental philosophy
Immanuel Kant
Copernican Revolution

The metaphysics of the epigenesis of reason: on Jennifer Mensch's Kant's Organicism

Olson, M. J., 1 Jun 2017, In : Philosophy Today. 61, 3, p. 793-799 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Kant on anatomy and the status of the life sciences

Olson, M. J., 1 Aug 2016, In : Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. 58, p. 77-84 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Life Sciences
Immanuel Kant
Natural Science