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Esa Saarinen

Born July 27, 1953, Hyvinkää.

Master of Arts, 1975, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1976 and Doctor of Philosophy (Theoretical Philosophy), University of Helsinki, 1978
Docent teacher, Theoretical Philosophy, 1978-

Professor, University of Technology, with responsibility for Applied Philosophy and Creative Problem-solving, 2002- (tenured 2008-)

Occasional teacher in Philosophy, Assistant and Senior Assistant, University of Helsinki, 1973–1999
Acting Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 1982, 1992–1993
Research Assistant to Professor Jaakko Hintikka, 1975–1979

Managing Director and Board Member, Muutostehdas Ltd, 1989-
Board Member, Ensto Ltd, 1990-
Chair of the Board, Nostetuotanto Ltd, 1997-

External Member, Nobel Laureate Edmund S. Phelp’s Center on Capitalism and Society, Columbia University, New York, 2011-

Publications and other Academic Activities

Systems Intelligence Research Group, co-director with Professor Raimo P. Hämäläinen

University of Helsinki’s Eino Kaila Prize for University Teaching, 1990
Pro Me Naiset (’We Women’) medal, 1993
Knight of the White Rose of Finland, 1995
Sotainvalidien Veljesliitto (War veterans’ association) medal, 1997
University of Helsinki Bronze Medal, 1998
Iron Cross, Finnish Central Chamber of Commerce, 2003
Team Academician, Jyväskylä University of Applied Science’s Team Academy, 2003
Estonian Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, Third Class, 2014
Lifetime Award for Positivity, 2014

Written by Esa Saarinen (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by John Calton

Following Socrates

“Even more important than new knowledge is the movement of thought.” This mantra, often heard in Esa Saarinen’s lectures, underlines the philosopher’s aim to create environments where participants can think for themselves. Like Socrates, Saarinen doesn’t offer ready-made learning content. His approach to philosophy builds on human capabilities and the resources which everyone has within them as part of their shared human endowment.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Saarinen became something of a household name with his bold and colourful appearance in the Finnish media. In his Imagologies: Media Philosophy (1994, together with Mark C. Taylor) he wrote: “Where would Socrates hold his dialogues today? In the media and on the web”. In 1989, when the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper conducted a survey among Finland’s leading intellectuals, the 36-year-old Saarinen ranked highest among his generation, rising to fourth position right behind a troika of well-established senior wise men.

In the 1990s, Saarinen increasingly turned to live contexts for his philosophy.  The most notable of these live life-philosophical activities was the philosopher’s Pafos seminar in Cyprus. The week-long seminar has been organised more than forty times since 1995, and thousands of people of all stripes have taken part.



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