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Arto Haapala

Arto Kalervo Haapala
Born January 3, 1959, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts 1982 (theoretical philosophy), Master of Arts 1984 (aesthetics), University of Helsinki
PhD 1988 (Philosophy), Birkbeck College, University of London
Docent in aesthetics 1989–, University of Helsinki

Visiting Professor in Philosophy 2015, University of Murcia, Spain
Professor of aesthetics 2000–, University of Helsinki
Acting Professor of aesthetics, 1995–2000, University of Helsinki
Affiliated Professor in Philosophy 2001, Temple University, USA
Visiting Professor in Philosophy 1999–2000, Lancaster University, UK
Senior researcher 1999–2000 and research fellow 1993–1995, Academy of Finland
Teaching assistant in aesthetics 1989–1993, University of Helsinki

Publications, research projects and other academic activity
Research themes: ontological questions concerning works of art, the interpretation of art, everyday aesthetics, aesthetic well-being

The 2004 Yrjö Hirn prize, awarded by the Finnish Society for Aesthetics

Photo: Heikki Tuuli
Written by Arto Haapala (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Memorable moments from the University of Helsinki

This year it will have been 20 years since I became professor of aesthetics at the University of Helsinki. Then too, in the mid-1990s, the economic recession was at its worst, and the future of the subject of aesthetics rested on a knife-edge. My predecessor had retired from a personal supernumerary professorship and it looked doubtful that the funds for a professorship of aesthetics would be found. A temporary saviour was found in the form of a five-year professorship which allowed the worst of the storm to be weathered.

One of my most consoling memories is thus that the subject gained a permanent professorship after that period, in 2000. At that time I was a visiting professor in Philadelphia, USA, and I still remember how the news also sparked enthusiasm among my colleagues there. The professorship offered me the opportunity to begin to develop the subject systematically and with more vigour. I also recall something of those numerous degree reforms and administrative reorganisations which I have seen over these 20 years: sometimes consolidation was the byword, at other times things were fragmented into small units. It seems that things go in cycles, perhaps even by the logic of eternal return.

One of the most important sources of motivation for the work of a university lecturer and researcher is each year to see a new and enthusiastic group of students beginning their studies. If lecturers are able to maintain that enthusiasm and desire to study, they have already succeeded in their work. Guiding a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation to its completion is always a process that demands effort, and becoming a master or a PhD signifies a new phase in a student’s life. Now and then I meet former students, and I cannot deny the great satisfaction I feel on seeing what diverse and demanding roles they have been given.

Photo: Linda Tammisto.


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