Chapter 15: Professor Dan Zahavi


“Dan Zahavi led the Center for Subjectivity Research (CFS) at the University of Copenhagen, which started out as a Center of Excellence during the period 2002-2012. He mentions three things that have had an impact on the subjects he has chosen to work with during his career: a gradually organic development of subjects he has been concerned with; some epoch-making meetings; and a few somewhat off-center invitations. One example of the last–mentioned item was an invitation to a conference in Spain about the so-called locked-in syndrome (LIS), a condition caused by damage to the brain where you are fully conscious, but paralyzed, and you can only communicate with eye movement. The meeting was the inspiration for an article Zahavi later wrote in which he discussed how living with LIS affects your self-identify.”

“Another example of how the direction of his research was decided by random meetings was when he first met a physiatrist, who, at first, he didn’t really consider a future collaborator but would end up having a crucial meaning for Zahavi’s research and the establishment of CFS.”

»After I held my first conference in Copenhagen back in 1996, I was contacted by physiatrist Josef Parnas, who said he was interested in phenomenology and asked if we could meet. At the time, I hadn’t worked with physiatry myself, and when Parnas arrived at my office with a big yellow Netto bag, I was a bit skeptical. But we have had a close collaboration over the past 20 years. With him, among others, I took the initiative to write an application to the Danish National Research Foundation, and if we hadn’t had the weird angle with both phenomenology and physiatry, I doubt we would have received the grant.”

You can read the whole portrait of Professor Dan Zahavi below (in Danish) by downloading the chapter below.

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