Announcement: The Sowerby Chair

We are delighted to announce that Elselijn Kingma has been appointed to KCL’s Peter Sowerby Chair in Philosophy and Medicine.

The Peter Sowerby Chair leads the Philosophy & Medicine Project, launched in 2015 with the generous support of the Peter Sowerby Foundation. The Project is a joint venture between King’s Department of Philosophy, the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, and The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery.

The Project seeks to foster interdisciplinary links between philosophy and medicine, by teaching philosophy as part of the medical curriculum, and by hosting a range of public lectures, events and activities.

The Project’s 2020 Annual Lecture, ‘What Does it Mean to Be Healthy?’, will be delivered by Robyn Bluhm (MSU), online, on December 16. For more information and to register, click here.

Professor Elselijn Kingma the newly-appointed Peter Sowerby Chair in Philosophy and Medicine

Professor Elselijn Kingma is the newly-appointed Peter Sowerby Chair in Philosophy and Medicine

The Peter Sowerby Chair leads the Philosophy & Medicine Project at King’s, launched in 2015 with the generous support of the Peter Sowerby Foundation. The Project is a joint venture between King’s Department of Philosophy, the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, and The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery.

The Project works to foster interdisciplinary links between philosophy and medicine, by teaching philosophy as part of the curriculum that trains clinicians, and by hosting a range of public lectures, events and activities, aiming to encourage dialogue and collaborative research across these fields.

Professor Kingma’s main research focuses on:

  • The philosophy of medicine: especially concepts of health and disease; the epistemology of evidence-based medicine; and the role of values in medical evidence and clinical decision-making.
  • The philosophy of pregnancy, birth and early motherhood: especially the rights and obligations of pregnant and birthing women, as well as those of their health care providers; the nature of pregnancy; and applications such as artificial gestation and contract pregnancy.

She said about her new appointment: “I look forward to consolidating the Project’s international profile as a centre of excellence in teaching and research in Philosophy and Medicine, and to advancing and disseminating Peter Sowerby’s vision for embedding philosophy in clinical teaching and training”.

Professor Kingma was previously Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Southampton. Between 2011 and 2019 she was Socrates Professor in Philosophy & Technology in the Humanist Tradition at the Technical University of Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Elselijn Kingma obtained undergraduate degrees in Medicine (2004) and Psychology (2004) at Leiden University, and MPhil (2005) and PhD (2008) in History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. She received post-doctoral training in the Department for Clinical Bioethics, National Institutes of Health (USA). Before working in Southampton she taught at King’s College London and the University of Cambridge.

Professor Kingma is lead-investigator on a five-year, 1.2 million Euro ERC Research Grant ‘Better Understanding the Metaphysics of Pregnancy (BUMP): a project at the intersection of philosophy of biology and metaphysics that investigates the metaphysical relationship between the fetus and the maternal organism. In November 2019, Kingma was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize to examine the metaphysical, ethical, epistemological and existential puzzles birth and pregnancy present.

The Project’s 2020 Annual Lecture will be held online on December 16. For more information and to register, click here

New Events: Philosophy & Visual Arts

The Centre for Philosophy and Visual Art at King’s College London is partnering with Institute of Psychoanalysis to host a public debate:


On the 11th of December, online on Zoom, from 7.30 to 9 pm. 

Book your ticket on

Panellists: Sacha Golob (Reader KCL; Director CPVA); Caterina Albano (curator and a Reader at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London); William Badenhorst (psychoanalyst with the British Psychoanalytical Society and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College London). Chaired by: Alla Rubitel, psychoanalyst with the British Psychoanalytical Society, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College London.

Coming up in 2021:

Spring 2021: “/Origin\Forward/Slash\ – In Response to Heidegger”. An exhibition hosted by the Flat Time House Gallery in collaboration with the CPVA.

Summer 2021: “Francis Bacon and Philosophy”. A two-day conference organised by the CPVA with King’s College London and the Estate of Francis Bacon.

Summer 2021: “Sound Pictures”. A mix of performances and academic papers on multi-modal appreciation, organised by the CPVA and King’s College London. Sponsored by the British Society of Aesthetics (BSA), King’s College London and the CPVA.

Website update:

The website for the Centre for Philosophy and Visual Art at King’s College London has recently been updated. It continues to bring together academics, artists and curators to explore the connections between philosophy, theory and the visual arts, but now there are also several new films, interviews and art reviews. For example, Colette Olive (PhD candidate) has just published a review of the most recent live event “A Philosophy of sin and art” which was chaired by Sacha Golob and organised in partnership with The National Gallery .

Amrou Al-Kadhi, Panellist ‘SIN’, CPVA & National Gallery, London

To find out more about future events, and in particular, our event FEAR which will run 11th December, check out our events page.

In addition, we have launched a new series of video-interviews about practitioners who combine professional philosophical research and the making of award-winning works of art. First up is Claire Anscomb.

As well as a new series of Φ-Critic reviews of art shows and art galleries from a philosophical perspective.

Does this all seem quite interesting? If so, the please follow us on twitter: @PhilosophyArts and instagram: @Philosophy_And_Visual_Arts

The Centre for Philosophy and Visual Arts is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Institute at King’s College London. 

Sin, Art and Philosophy

This week Sacha Golob (CPVA) and the National Gallery are hosting a panel discussion on Sin and Art.

Speakers include writer, drag performer and filmmaker Amrou Al-Kadhi; philosopher Deborah Casewell; art historian and Chaplain at King’s College, Cambridge, Ayla Lepine; and Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Visual Art Sacha Golob.

Find out more and/or book your tickets here:

To find out more about CPVA, a multi-disciplinary initiative based at King’s College London, click here.

New to the Department: Dr Adrian Alsmith

Dr Adrian Alsmith

Where were you before coming to Kings?

Before coming to King’s I worked at various universities across Europe. I was in the Philosophy Section at the University of Copenhagen for six years. I then joined the Jean Nicod Institute at the Department of Cognitive Studies at École Normale Supérieure, Paris, for a year. Most recently, before coming to King’s, I was a member of the LOGOS group at the University of Barcelona.

What will you be teaching this term?

This term I am teaching Neuroscience and the Mind, which is an introduction to philosophy of mind tailored specifically to students following the BSc in Neuroscience or other undergraduate courses in the Health Schools.

How did you get into philosophy?

At secondary school! My school generally encouraged reflection: lessons in “Scripture” were built into our curriculum and would involve the teacher leading a kind of seminar discussing concepts like justice, love, time, etc. as they are raised in various ancient texts, such as the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita. I had a fantastic English teacher, Katharine Watson, who took it upon herself to teach philosophy at AS and A-level. It was her first time teaching the material, which must have been a challenge, but I only realised this later on, as she did such a fantastic job introducing us to the distinctive framing and treatment of philosophical problems in academic philosophy.

In a recent article you argue that we can combine multiple first person perspectives under one unified perspective. What do you think is minimally required for a perspective to pertain?

Well, most of my work on the notion of perspective is in the context of thinking about perceptual experience. In that context, whenever there’s a perspectivally structured experience, there’s a perspective – for a perspectival structure is, I take it, an organisation of content determined by a perspective. That’s a slightly uninteresting answer though. Perhaps more interesting is to think about perspective more broadly. After all, being perspectivally structured is a property not only possessed by perceptual experiences. Here I am interested in the kinds of perspective structuring images and various other ways of representing time and space. Indeed, in a broader sense of the notion of a perspective, it characterises any representation which is structured in relation to some privileged something, such as a theory, a group-identity, or a set of political or social ideas.

How central is the notion of a perspective to your research?

Well my interest in perspective is really a part of my interest in problems to do with self-consciousness. Take, for instance, the problem elusiveness: self-consciousness is supposed to involve a special relation to oneself as a subject of thought and experience; but how is it that we are able to think about or experience that which is thinking the thought or having the experience? I am interested in the viability of an embodied approach here, according which each subject of experience is a special kind of object, a conscious, thinking body. If we assume this and we grant the obvious fact that we do experience our bodies, it would seem, then, that we have an obvious response to the problem. So my interest in perspective is really an interest in what is right (or wrong) with an account along these lines, one which appeals to the perspectival structure of perceptual experience as a means by which we can be aware of ourselves as embodied.

Your research goes beyond conceptual investigations and include a wide of pool of collaborations. Can you tell us about teh work you have done with the artist Mariam Zakarian?

Mariam was involved in a workshop that I organised at the University of Copenhagen on virtual reality (VR) technology. VR presents the promise of otherwise impossible forms of experience, unconstrained by the bounds of physical reality, stretching our current understanding of the limits of experience. I wanted to ground the theoretical discussion properly in the subject matter, so I worked with Kasper Hornbæk and Aske Mottelson at the Computer Science department to set up a demonstration area where participants could experience various virtual worlds for themselves. (Mariam’s demonstration was part of her Amaryllis series: ). I think that the experience of VR, especially the experience of its contents as plausible, are a great example of how some of our experiences are partly self-constructed, in virtue of our mental activity transforming incoming sensory experience to form a state of imaginative perception. I think that this will allow us to reconsider a wide range of illusions as really cases of imagining sensorially present objects to be things that they are not.

If not philosophy, then what?

Be a stay at home Dad!

Philosophy of Physics Talk: Emily Adlam on ‘Spooky Action at a Temporal Distance’ 19th November, 4:30pm GMT via Zoom

The Birmingham-Bristol-London-Oxford-Cambridge (BBLOC) Philosophy of Physics seminar, hosted by King’s College London will be meeting on 19th November 2020 4:30-6pm GMT. Emily Adlam will be giving a talk with the title ‘Spooky Action at a Temporal Distance’. 

More details and Zoom link here:

All are welcome!

Kneading Knowledge.

In May 2020, the Arts & Humanities Research Institute (AHRI) worked in collaboration with the charity Migrateful on the project Breaking Bread, providing King’s staff with the opportunity to participate in online cookery classes that were led by refugees, asylum seeker and migrants. Kneading Knowledge builds on the success and positive feedback from this project, and registration is now open for King’s student and staff to take part in eight online cookery classes running across October to November 2020

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To find out more about Migrateful, a charity supporting asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants on their journey to employment, independence and integration into the community, click here.

One of the key academics involved in this project is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy Dr. Sarah Fine.

To register for one of the delicious remaining classes, maximum 10 per class, please use the links below.

Read Sacha Golob in The New Statesman – taking down Stupidity.

Sacha Golob, writing in The New Statesman, says that “Stupidity is failure’s mental scaffolding: those in its grip worsen problems even as they try to think them through.”

He asks, how might your common or garden fool be differentiated from your naive dupes? Are useful idiots also dumb? Or, might they they be guilty of a sort of intellectual-idiocy? What does IQ have to do with ability? And why, when pointing an accusing finger as your opponent and charging them with stupidity-in-the-first-degree, should we pay attention to the way we simultaneously point three fingers back at ourselves?  

The entire article can be read here