Go Back

Tommi Uschanov

Tommi Petteri Uschanov
Born March 27, 1975, Kontiolahti

Studies in Theoretical Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Helsinki, 1995–

Non-fiction author, 2008–
Freelance translator and publishing editor, 2002–
Research assistant at the Academy of Finland, 2001–3
Content creator of electronic study material at WSOY, 1999–2001
Assistant at Muutostehdas Oy, 1997–9

Hätä on tarpeen: kulttuuripessimismin nousu 1965–2015 (‘Neediness is needed: The rise of cultural pessimism 1965–2015’ – coming Fall 2015)
Miksi Suomi on Suomi (‘Why Finland is Finland’), Teos 2012
Suuri kaalihuijaus (‘The great cabbage hoax’), Teos 2010
Mikä vasemmistoa vaivaa? (‘What’s the matter with the Left’), Teos 2008
Wittgenstein in Finland: A Bibliography, niin & näin 2003

Photo: Heini Lehväslaiho
Written by Tommi Uschanov and Tero Juutilainen (ed.)
Translated by
Joe McVeigh

When Philosophy was Fashionable

I began my studies of Theoretical Philosophy in 1995. At the time philosophy was all the rage in Finland, something that in all likelihood will never be seen again. For a few years philosophy seemed to pop up everywhere.

The Prime Minister of Finland, Esko Aho, had two years earlier formed the so-called “Philosophers' Committee.” Led by Professor Ilkka Niiniluoto, the team of eminent citizens formulated a statement on the spiritual state and future of a Finland ravaged by recession. The Finnish translation of the philosophical novel Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder was a great success. The philosophical magazine niin & näin (‘one hand & other hand’) had just been founded in Tampere, and in the same city, plans were being made for an annual philosophers' gathering.

A kind of culmination point came only a month into my studies, when Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper in Finland, published an exposé on the Department of Philosophy at the University of Helsinki. My department was being treated as harshly as any nest of backdoor dealings and backstabbing. Behind all this lay the recent appointment of Esa Saarinen as the Senior Lecturer in Theoretical Philosophy. At the time he was at the height of his fame in women's magazines and the like, and his lectures were among the most popular at the University.

Neither I nor most of the other students were much moved by any of this. We were not especially enthusiastic about the way in which our academic subject of choice was the talk of the nation. But neither were we particularly bothered by it. It was, however, rather amusing when certain lecturers would refer dismissively to some philosophers they disliked, saying things like ‘I hear it is fashionable to be interested in X.’ It was a time when it was fashionable to be interested in almost any philosopher.

The Department of Philosophy is located at Metsätalo (‘Forest House’).​
The Department of Philosophy is located at Metsätalo (‘Forest House’).​


Go Back