Rethinking the concept of life. A dialogue with non-Western perspectives

Dr Tina Röck , Dr Oisín Keohane

Monday, February 28, 2022 

Self-Funded PhD Students Only

University of Dundee    School of Humanities

About the Project

We are currently experiencing a resurgence of interest in metaphysical concepts that often remain stuck in Western modes of thinking. In this project we want to investigate the metaphysical concept of life, as explored in philosophies of (neo-)vitalism, Lebensphilosophie or the phenomenological tradition, from distinctly non-Western perspectives.

The framework of decolonisation, understood as either a political process (with the aim of political emancipation) and/or an epistemological process (with the aim of ‘decolonising the mind’) is to guide this investigation into the metaphysical concept of life. For example, it has been suggested that the concept of ‘the animal’ emerges through the afterlives of slavery and the colonial encounters of indigenous peoples, that affect human and nonhuman forms of life. What other black or indigenous experiences can shed light on the concept of ‘life’? What other metaphysical structures, ontological beliefs or epistemological stances can aid our understanding of what it means to be alive? What social and political practices should follow from this understanding of life?

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Tina Röck (

For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent for non-UK qualifications), and/or a Masters degree in a relevant discipline. For international qualifications, please see equivalent entry requirements here:

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) overall score must be at least 7.0, with not less than 7.0 in any of the four components. The University of Dundee accepts a variety of equivalent qualifications; please see full details of the University’s English language requirements here:


Step 1: Email Dr Tina Röck ( to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Tina Röck, formal applications can be made via our direct application system. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

Candidates must apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Philosophy using our direct application system: apply for Philosophy.

Please select the study mode (full-time/part-time) and start date agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the Research Proposal section, please:

–       Enter the lead supervisor’s name in the ‘proposed supervisor’ box

–       Enter the project title listed at the top of this page in the ‘proposed project title’ box

In the ‘personal statement’ section, please outline your suitability for the project selected.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses, via external sponsorship or self-funding.

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