Biography

I knew already at school that I wanted to study philosophy. To get in the University of Helsinki I more or less learned by heart the entry examination book. At the University I developed an interest, first, in the philosophy of science and then philosophy of mind. (I studied cognitive science as a minor subject.) Towards the end of my studies I got interested in Wittgenstein, originally because he seemed to have something helpful to say about the philosophy of mind. During those days I also participated in several reading groups that were formed by students. That way I came to read Kant, Heidegger, Freud and Aristotle.

            Having completed my MA in early 1996 I took a job in secondary education where I taught mainly philosophy and psychology. (My oldest daughter was born around the same time.) Simultaneously, I started attempts to obtain funding for my PhD. Eventually I succeeded and commenced working in early 1997 on a PhD on Wittgenstein and the foundations of cognitive science. I soon realised, however, that already Wittgenstein was plenty for one PhD. I decided to focus on his conception of philosophy, and sought to explain what I thought was problematic in the interpretation of Wittgenstein as a transcendental philosopher, popular in Helsinki at the time. Though I didn’t originally intend to do the degree of a Licentiate in Philosophy, I ended up submitting this stuff as a dissertation for the Licentiate degree in 1999. That done, I travelled with my family to Oxford where I’d been accepted to study as a Visiting Student for one year. I arrived in the gown town with my then 6 month old son sleeping in my arms on the bus.

            At St. John’s College I discovered that I had got lucky. Due to their disagreements Gordon Baker and Peter Hacker had stopped collaborating on Wittgenstein. But this situation was ideal for a student who was able to talk to both of them. With Baker I could discuss my ideas on Wittgenstein which almost everybody prior to this had thought couldn’t be right. Hacker, in turn, gave me detailed criticisms that really helped me to improve my arguments. Soon I started making arrangements for prolonging my stay and eventually ended up completing my DPhil in Oxford in 2003. This was an eventful period that included Baker’s untimely death.

            After my DPhil I returned to Helsinki where my bank account was mostly empty. I got a half-time job as a research assistant at the Department of Philosophy where I also did some teaching. Later on I managed to obtain a little funding for postdoctoral research on ethics and Wittgenstein. The funding wasn’t enough, however, and I again had to apply for pretty much everything that could be applied for. This led to my appointment in visiting positions at the Wittgenstein Archives in Bergen, Norway and at the University of Chicago as a Fulbright Junior Scholar. Having got back from the States and after another summer of poverty I received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Academy of Finland for a project in meta-ethics. This position I held until taking up my current post at the UEA. Those two years (till September 2007) I spent engaged in research in Oxford and Athens. My youngest daughter was born in Athens.

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