Scholarship Awards (Academic Year 2023-24)

Theda Rehbock Philosophy Residency 2023 Scholarship Awards

We are thrilled to announce the recipients of the prestigious Theda Rehbock Philosophy Residency 2023 scholarships.
This year’s competition has awarded four young researchers for their innovative contributions to philosophical research and discourse.

Henri Otsing
Ove Averin

I Ove Averin and Henri Otsing

PhD Students, University of Tartu

Project: “Tõde, võim ja veenmiskunst: filosoofilise retoorika ajalugu” (in English: “Truth, Power, and the Art of Persuasion: The History of Philosophical Rhetoric”)

Going back to the ancient understanding of the world, everything consists of two parts – form and matter. A similar distinction could also be applied to a philosophical text. Matter is the claim or the content while the form is the way it has been presented. Now ever since Plato, philosophers have emphasized the importance of the first, while downplaying or even denying the role of the second. Still, regardless, rhetoric has been part of philosophy for as long as there has been philosophy, and so, to make that relation explicit, we are preparing a course on philosophical rhetoric for the University of Tartu. The general question of this course will be how to do philosophy with others and how to reflexively conceptualize this activity. This means that though the course is first and foremost a historical one, we still intend it to involve a high degree of practice – trying out different philosophical genres, in-class debate etc. – in order to benefit students’ understanding and participation in philosophical discourse. The bulk of our residency will be focused on developing these two aspects – the historical and the practical – but we also hope to finalize a relevant short translation necessary to teach the course in Estonian.

Residency Period: 20th November – 1st December 2023

Read about Ove’s and Henri’s residency experience at Susimetsa HERE.

II Markus Weckström
PhD Student, University of Helsinki/ University of Skövde

Project: “Life as an Anomaly, a Puzzle, and a Counterinstance”

During my residency at Susimetsa, I shall investigate the history of the question “What is life?”, and its role in shaping the physics-biology relation. I propose that in the 19th century, initially distinct biological fields started to converge, and hence life became sufficiently unified to be regarded, in Thomas Kuhn’s terminology, as an anomaly in the “physical world”. The 20th century, on its part, was characterized by the birth of modern biology, and by the optimistic idea that life had in essence been “explained”, almost like a Kuhnian puzzle. In the 21st century, however, a renewed critical interest towards the foundations of biology appears to be replacing such optimism. I interpret this as an indicator that life might be transforming from a (presumed) puzzle into a counterinstance, possibly forcing some of the most fundamental aspects of science and the scientific worldview into reconsideration. 

Residency Period: December 4- December 17,  2023

Read about Weckström’s residency experience at Susimetsa HERE.

III Oscar Talbot
PhD Student, University of Amsterdam

Project: “Abolition Democracies: Transnational Perspectives”

The climate crisis and our response to it raises important new questions for how we should organise society, and what climate justice might look like. Drawing on the history of radical thought I look to critical abolitionist philosophical traditions to argue that the climate crisis is intermeshed with broader economic and social injustices. In order to resolve our ecological inequality, these other divisions must also be ameliorated.

My research at the Dr Prof. Theda Rehbock’s Residency Program will involve an ecological reading of W.E.B. Du Bois’ work, in particular Black Reconstruction, in order to draw new insights in to the interconnectedness of climate and economic racial injustices. I will also look to understand how Du Bois’ notion of education provides an important path to a more just society.

Residency Period: April 3 – April 17, 2024