dr. Clinton Peter Verdonschot

philosopher // aesthetician // critical theorist


As an academic philosopher and critical theorist, I work on topics at the intersection of aesthetics, the philosophy of art, political philosophy, and ethics. My pronouns are he/him. I received my PhD from the University of Essex for a dissertation on personal autonomy and its aesthetic preconditions. Currently, I am a lecturer in practical philosophy at Utrecht University’s Ethics Institute, where I also coordinate the minor programme in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. In addition, I am a board member of the Dutch Society for Aesthetics, as well as co-editor-in-chief for Aesthetic Investigations. In my spare time, I enjoy cycling: I love watching the pros on TV, but I can also be found braving the ‘alto de Amerongse Berg’ in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug.

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Areas of specialisation

(Frankfurt School) critical theory; contemporary aesthetics and philosophy of art; history of German aesthetics; (neo-)Aristotelian, Kantian, and Wittgensteinian ethics

Areas of competence

Political philosophy and theory; ethics; history of practical philosophy; history of aesthetics; philosophical anthropology; phenomenology

'Theory (Head of Goliath)' (2014) by Eduardo Basualdo, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris
‘Theory (Head of Goliath)’ (2014) by Eduardo Basualdo, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Research interests

Throughout my work, I am fascinated by the elusive connections that seem to hold between our practical attitudes and the ways in which we become capable of suspending those attitudes in favour of a contemplative, aesthetic mode of being. What is the value of this other-than-practical state of being? And what does it say about our human nature that we can, paradoxically, become practically capable of an impractical way of understanding the world?

In the past, I have worked on the phenomenon of disruptions of agency and their value from an ethical perspective. I have published on Wittgenstein’s ethics-cum-aesthetics and the key that aesthetics provides for Wittgenstein’s philosophical ambitions throughout his works.

Recently, I have published an essay on art-scientific works that combine practical with aesthetic aims. I argue for a negative-dialectical understanding of such works that illuminates the paradigm of art-science, provides a fruitful perspective on art in general, and a novel way of bringing Theodor W. Adorno’s aesthetics to bear on contemporary artistic concerns.

Currently, I am working on two separate but related projects. First, escapist art: what kind of escape is afforded by escapist works, and what might be good or bad about wanting to escape by means of artworks? Second, prefigurative political action: what ways are there for an act to prefigure a future practice, and under what conditions could actions like that be performed successfully?