I am Andrew Dunstall, a philosopher based in Sydney, Australia. I am presently lecturer in the philosophy program at the University of Wollongong, where I teach contemporary political philosophy.
I completed my PhD in 2013 with a dissertation on the philosophy of history, at Macquarie University. My dissertation reconstructed two different concepts of history that were articulated in the early works of Jacques Derrida – especially in his studies of Husserl, Heidegger, and Rousseau. I then compared these two concepts to the theoretical attempts in recent philosophy of history, to see how they fared. I argued that Derrida’s work possesses under-utilised resources for both philosophical work, as well as concrete historiographical work. More broadly, I have argued for substantial revisions to the prevailing interpretations of Derrida’s work. He is a far more classical philosopher, with far more pedestrian interests (well, for philosophers) than most would believe. We need to leave the hyperbole behind and treat his arguments as arguments, re-incorporating them with the philosophical tradition that Derrida always drew inspiration from.
Today, I research in contemporary social and political philosophy, as well as French 20th Century thought. I teach a range of philosophical fields beyond my areas of specialisation, including philosophy of religion and moral philosophy. At present, I am pursuing two particular projects.
First, I seek to broaden the philosophical analysis of concepts of history that I began in in my doctoral work into a full account of historicity. Our presuppositions about the significance of history, the connection – or disconnection – that we purportedly have with respect to it, and the nature of those connections (moral, symbolic, causal, etc.) all play significant roles in ethical life and political action. Just as history itself, however, presents a bewildering diversity, so too is there little agreement on how to make sense of this field of phenomena at the philosophical level. I collect together the major attempts, and attempt to draw some of these threads into conceptual coherence.
My second project takes off from the need to understand the concrete reality of history. To do this, we are forced to focus on institutions of one stripe or another. In this project, I am particularly interested in how political philosophy understands the central role of educational institutions and practices in democratic societies. For curious reasons, and despite being a classical theme of political philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel…), education has been of far less philosophical interest in recent decades. I seek to revive this interest by showing the classical centrality of education in political theory. I then seek to confront the numerous issues that face the political theory of education today.