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Brian Tee

Pathways Mentors: Brian Tee

Brian came to philosophy due to his innate idleness. Originally wanting to pursue psychology he needed an additional A-level (Advanced level) subject which would overlap, saving him the extra work of two separate lines of study: Philosophy was that complimentary subject. But since his first lesson philosophy has gripped hold and refuses to let go. When his lecturer retired halfway through the course, Brian sought out additional philosophical tutorage and was lead to Geoffrey Klempner's WEA (Workers Education Association) 'Introduction to Philosophy' classes. It was during these classes that Brian experienced the 'Whoa factor' in philosophy for the first time: the complete amazement and excitement of philosophical discourse. It was also during these classes that Brian began his association with Pathways.

Since that time Brian has gained his BA and MA Degrees from the University of Sheffield and is currently tutor for the WEA 'Introduction to Philosophy' classes where he was once a student. Courses he has run have included 'Understanding the Body — a philosophical approach', 'Existentialism', 'Aesthetics', 'Kant's Moral Theory', 'The Philosophy of David Hume', 'Descartes', 'From Mythos to Logos'.

His experiences with Pathways and the WEA have given Brian a strong commitment to lifelong learning and his philosophical interests have led him to other areas of education: he is a trained counsellor and a film studies student.

Brian is self-employed, managing a second-hand bookshop in Sheffield, The Porter Bookshop.


Brian's philosophical interests are mainly metaphysical with a strong focus on continental European philosophy. He believes that every philosopher should have at least one obsession, one question that is too big to fit in their head: Brian's obsession is Time.

Philosophy is concerned with three things (1) the world — the Universe, Existence, Being, the fact that there is something which exists, with what this is which exists and with the how and why. (2) Us — human beings, or self-conscious beings aware of there own existence and that of others like them. (3) The relation between the world and us, figuring out if, how and why the world makes sense and how beings like us can understand the world. As such one may define philosophy (vaguely) as the attempt to understand, to come to terms with, what it is and what it means to be a person in the world, alongside other people. Brian regards this attempt ultimately as an ethical pursuit.

One such attempt to understand this relation was made in Brian's MA dissertation 'The Living Space of Dead Time: Levinas on the Relation Between Ethics and Time' dealing with the relation between ethical subjectivity and temporality in the work of Emmanuel Levinas.

Recently however Brian's interests have been directed by his work with the WEA classes where a main concern has been the question of the capabilities and extent of traditional conceptions of rationality in helping us understand our relation to the world: is reason/ rationality the only or best way we have for expressing meaning and intelligibility?

Currently Brian is researching (i) the 'animals question' — what kind of being do animals have? What is their way of relating to existence? How close are we to 'animal being'? (ii) post-human possibilities — cybernetics, artificial life/ intelligence, ethical obligations of the far-future, (iii) the works of Hans Jonas (1903-93).