Dr Maarten Steenhagen, M.Phil., PhD (London) and Director of Studies in Philosophy.
As Director of Studies in Philosophy I organise teaching for all undergraduates taking the subject. I host a fortnightly reading group on influential papers in philosophy open to Queens’ Philosophy undergraduates. In addition, I run a weekly seminar on Philosophy of Mind that is open to graduate students specialising in this area. Our teaching in Philosophy at Queens’ aims to encourage students’ interests and expand their intellectual ability. During their studies for the Philosophy Tripos, students work with a number of supervisors. Each of them guides students both intellectually and pastorally. In this way we help students both to achieve the best results, as well as to enliven their curiosity and to enjoy their studies. Most typically, it is an intellectual puzzle that gives rise to a philosophical idea or theory. Hence, the experience of puzzlement is central to the study of philosophy. The main challenge in studying philosophical texts is to learn how to be puzzled about matters that may at first seem entirely obvious, and to ask and understand questions that are not primarily your own. In my supervisions with students, I focus on training them to identify and understand philosophical questions, and to become sensitive to philosophical puzzles as they emerge in a variety of fields.
I recommend that anyone thinking of applying for Philosophy in Cambridge study the Faculty website (http://phil.cam.ac.uk/), and read the Undergraduate Handbook (http://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/curr-students/II/curr-students/ugrad-handbk). The course does not presuppose any prior training in philosophy, and is designed to include the many students taking philosophy for the first time. The best way to prepare is to read, listen to and watch as much philosophical material as possible in your areas of interest. I have compiled a short ‘Reading list for prospective Philosophy applicants’ (http://msteenhagen.github.io/post/prospective/) to help you with this.
My research focuses on perception and the mind. In particular, I concentrate on questions about the nature of perceptual experience as such, and the nature of experience in specific sensory modalities, such as vision, smell, and hearing. The kind of work we do in Philosophy covers an extraordinary spectrum. What is it to experience something? How does your perception help you connect with things in the world? I am also interested in the role of media, such as sounds, images, and optical technologies. My professional papers and publications have covered the experience of sounds, images, and mirror perception. I have also published on philosophical discussion and philosophical method.
In the Faculty of Philosophy I offer lectures on Philosophical Logic (Part Ia and II), Theory of Meaning (Part Ib), Metaphysics (Part 1a and II), and a number of lecture series in the Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science (Part Ib and II). In addition, I co-convene the MPhil Graduate Seminar, act as advisor for MPhil students, and supervise MPhil essays and dissertations on Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, and the History of Analytic Philosophy.