Socrates Professorship

Mens, natuur en onderwerpingOn 1 September 2004 I took up an additional obligation: that of Socrates Professor of Humanist Philosophy at Wageningen University. My appointment ended on 1 September 2009.

The full text of my inaugural lecture (in Dutch) Mens, natuur en onderwerping: Een humanistisch perspectief op de intrinsieke waarde van de natuur of 24 March 2005 is available for download:

PDF format Download inaugural lecture (308 KB)

See First reactions for a humorous reaction on this lecture, and my photoalbum for pictures of the occasion.

Socrates professorships are honorary professorships (the Dutch term is 'bijzonder hoogleraar') for a limited period of time, in this case five years with an option for extension by another five years. The size of the task is also limited - in this case to four hours a week. Socrates professorships are funded by the Socrates Foundation ('Stichting Socrates'), a foundation associated with the Dutch Humanists ('Humanistisch Verbond').

More information on the Dutch Humanists and the Socrates Foundation (in Dutch)

In Wageningen, I worked for the Applied Philosophy Group, where (apart from an internationally renowned 'normal' staff) two other honorary professors represent Protestantism and Catholicism.

More information on Wageningen University
More information on the Wageningen Applied Philosophy Group

From 2005 to 2009, I taught one course at the advanced Bachelor stage (6 ECTS):

Nature versus Environment: reasons (not) to care

Here's what the course guide said: "Topic of this course is the identification and assessment of the necessarily normative foundations of all 'reasons to care' for nature/ environment as expressed in politics, scientific practice and everyday life. Specific attention will be paid to the difference between nature and environment (leading to different conceptions of sustainability). In addition, by discussing and analysing the philosophical strategies to defend 'reasons for care', the course will highlight the 'humanist' element in these strategies, i.e. their challenge to one's individual intellectual and moral responsibility." The aims of the course were "Comprehensive understanding of 'reasons to care' for nature in a humanist context; and Critical reflection on 'environmentalist' assumptions in the student's discipline."

First reactions

Here is one person's take on my inaugural lecture (from Wageningen University Journal, Wb #11, 7 April 2005, by kind permission of the cartoonist, Loet van Moll):