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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

Positive Philosophy

“There is more to us than meets the eye – more that is good.” Esa Saarinen emphasises a person’s potential for good. He won a lifetime achievement award for positivity in 2014.

On March 5, 2014, Saarinen was stabbed in front of the Dipoli Building in Otaniemi, the main campus of Aalto University, as he was on his way to deliver a lecture as part of his Philosophy and Systems Thinking lecture series. After a life or death struggle, Saarinen and his assistant, together with two students who came to the rescue, were able to disarm the attacker who was arrested on the spot.  The assailant was tried for attempted murder, but not convicted on medical grounds. He was sent to a medical institution for treatment. Before the stabbing, the assailant had sent the reporter Saska Saarikoski messages related to Saarinen in which he criticised “the extremely powerful speaker” for “supporting everything without being against anything”.    

Saarinen immediately forgave the assailant from his hospital bed and expressed his hope that the attacker would get the help he needed.

In a career spanning several decades, Esa Saarinen has been subjected to some stiff criticism from time to time. Saarinen himself calls his approach “the practice of positive philosophy”, at the core of which is “a tender and dynamic” style of life philosophical lecturing and “a movement of thought” that emerges in people that participate.

Esa Saarinen and the Queen of his life, the Special Lady Pipsa.​​
Esa Saarinen and the Queen of his life, the Special Lady Pipsa.​​



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