Promoted to Professor
Department of Philosophy
Christopher Yeomans received his PhD at the University of California, Riverside in 2005. He began his academic career at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied primarily linguistics, literature, and literary theory. Eventually literary theory led him to critical theory and then to the classical German philosophy that serves as its foundation. After a dissertation on Hegel’s theory of free will, he then became an assistant professor of philosophy at Kenyon College, joining the Purdue faculty in 2009.
His broad project is to develop a political theory that integrates the conceptual riches of the Kantian theory of autonomy (free will), the phenomenological riches of an expressivist theory of moral psychology, and the political riches of concrete social and historical description. G.W.F. Hegel pursued a project of just this sort for his own time (turn of the 19th-century Germany), and thus since his dissertation, Christopher’s work has been primarily concerned with reconstructing Hegel’s views.
His first monograph, Freedom and Reflection: Hegel and the Logic of Agency (Oxford University Press, 2011) is an attempt to understand the conceptual structures that underlie Hegel’s conception of free will. His second monograph, The Expansion of Autonomy: Hegel’s Pluralistic Philosophy of Action (Oxford University Press, 2015) delves into the reconstruction of Hegel’s moral psychology. Here he develops the intermediate structures that tie together the basic concepts with the specific social forms in a series of steps by which the basic structure of autonomy is expanded into different forms of life in early 19th-century Europe as Hegel understood them.
His current work pushes beyond understanding Hegel’s own view to understanding the history of precisely those social, economic, and political forms of life that are relevant to autonomy conceived in this way. This work was supported by the Provost’s Faculty Fellowship for Study in a Second Discipline (history), and Yeomans will continue this line of research during the 2016–17 academic year as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.