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Doctoral dissertation project of Niklas Grouls

Concept and experience (working title)

My dissertation is dedicated to the questions of a contemporary account to philosophical methodology. Felt to be one of the most threatening questions to an academic philosophy, which poses itself as a science, for almost one and a half centuries, the pressing need to find an answer and flesh out philosophy in a way according to the standards of science decayed since the beginning of postmodernist thought. For this reason, the aim of my dissertation is twofold, commanding a historiographic deconstruction of the main accounts to philosophical methodology since the death of Hegel in 1831 beforehand in order to ask this important question again and understand all constraints, which should gouvern a contemporary methodology.

Historiographically I claim a consistency between postmodernism and the three influential scientific schools of the 19th century, namely historism, scientific materialism and psychologism, which I believe to be of a philosophical dimension, since they worked on key topics of the former german idealism (History, Nature and Mind) and uttered a relativisitic verdict for speculation. In this perspective, the philosophical modernity of the continental and analytic tradition reacts to relativism methologically, rather than being struck by its postmodern variants. Postmodernism on the other hand can only then be challenged, when it is perceived as a rightful outcome of the philosophical modernity, which has to be examined and critized in both its analytic and continental tradition again in order to elaborate a methodology, which takes the challenge of relativism seriously, while still clinging to the ideal of philosophy as a science of life.

In the second part, it is my enterprise to propose such an account by harmonising the notorious strong knowledge claim of rationalistic philosophy with the actuality of our human cognitive faculties. The result should be a methodological program in the succession of Husserl's genetic phenomenology and Pierce's pragmatism, which tries to answer the central question of how to rise from human experiences to the level of concepts.

In a time of an erosion of scientific knowledge claims, in which persons of public interests ignore our stock of knowledge and every conclusion seems as good as another, it is neither less philosophic thought, that we need, nor a philosophy, which bases its knowledge upon speculative belief.


Short biography

Niklas Grouls studied Philosophy at the universities of Münster and Freiburg, working as a secretary of the Husserl-Archive, a tutor at the Department of Philosophy as well as being engaged in third party funded research, eventually completing his studies with an award-winning theses about methodological issues within phenomenology. Since January 2018 he is a scientific co-worker at the CRC 806 “Our way to Europe” and since April 2018 also a doctoral student within a.r.t.e.s. Integrated Track.

Contact: n.grouls(at)uni-koeln.de.



“Die Subjektivität entsubjektivieren. Reduktionistische Wesensforschung und subjektivistischer Relativismus”, 19. October 2018, Husserl-Arbeitstage Cologne, UoC.

“Das Reich der Wahrheit”, 11. November 2017, International Conference “Mathesis, Grund Vernunft. Von Leibniz zur Phänomenologie”, ALU Freiburg im Breisgau.


Organised events

In cooperation with Thiemo Breyer, Alexander Gerner and Johannes Schick: “Gestures and Artefacts: Diachronic Perspectives on Embodiment and Technology”, 29. November – 1. December 2018, International Conference, CRC 806, UoC.


Teaching experience

Summer semester 2019 

Research-Master-Seminar “Geschichte und Modelle des Geisteswissenschaftlichen", a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School, UoC.



2018:  Alumni-Award of the Faculty of Philosophy (ALU Freiburg) for the master thesis “Das Reich der Wahrheit”.


Cover photo: Oculus of the Pantheon in Rome. Credit: Digitalsignal. Licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Pantheon#/media/File:Roma_Pantheon_oculo_2.jpg // Portrait photo: Patric Fouad