Niklas Forsberg

forskare vid Filosofiska institutionen, Teoretisk filosofi; Anknutna

Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 H
Box 627
751 26 UPPSALA

Mina kurser


I received my PhD at Uppsala University on a work which traces the philosophical importance of “literature” in Jacques Derrida’s philosophy back to its motivation in the central concerns of deconstruction; and critically investigates how that notion of “literature” hangs together with Derrida’s philosophy of language and the enormous question about what it means to inherit a language.

I have continued to (strive to) work broadly in philosophy, convinced that sharp and politically motivated delineations of philosophical “fields” (such as e.g. analytic vs. continental, exegetical vs. systematic, practical vs. theoretical, problem-oriented vs. meta-philosophical) are harmful to philosophy. Specific philosophical problems tend, if important and real, to love company – so what we say and think in one “field” of philosophical discourse matter to other “fields”. Thus, many of my philosophical interests can be found at the intersection between Theoretical Philosophy (Logic and Metaphysics), Practical Philosophy (Ethics) and Aesthetics.

Central themes of my research are questions about what carries philosophical conviction and of how our most fundamental beliefs are to be reconsidered or even expressed and elucidated.

My most recent monograph (2013; pbk 2015), Language Lost and Found: On Iris Murdoch and the Limits of Philosophical Discourse, ( examines the thought that some philosophical problems arise due to our having lost the sense of our own language and how that problem is dealt with in recent discussions of the relationship between philosophy and literature. In this monograph, Iris Murdoch is my main conversation partner. This work is the main outcome of a research project, funded by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

I am currently completing a monograph on J. L. Austin’s philosophy with the preliminary title Lectures on a Philosophy Less Ordinary: J. L. Austin and the Return to the Realities We Use Words to Talk About. In its most general formulation, the thesis of this book is that “the ordinary” – in Austin’s philosophy – is not an answer, it’s a problematic field; and “ordinary language” deserves to be problematized precisely because philosophers are prone to think they already know what the meaning of “ordinary language” is, and they thereby leave it behind prematurely. I want to show that if we want to learn to “philosophize usefully” we must be ready to let our thoughts linger here, and not “move on” to soon. Some of the focal points where my reading is in contention with the received view of Austin’s philosophy concern the way his thinking is related to contemporary philosophy of language and how Austin points us towards an ethics of speech that shows how ethics is rooted both in a linguistic communality as well as in a personal responsibility for our words.

Teaching Experience (in selection)

20th Century Philosophy

J. L. Austin and the Ordinary

Film and Philosophy

Philosophy and Literature

Introduction to Phenomenology

Narrative as a form of Human Understanding


Philosophy of the Human Sciences

Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy of Science

I am a docent in Theoretical Philosophy at Uppsala University, and a docent in philosophy at the University of Helsinki. I have been a visiting Researcher at Åbo Academy University (2009-2010), a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at the University of Chicago (2012-2013), and most recently a Research Fellow at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Study (2016-2017).

I am the editor of the book series Nordic Wittgenstein Studies, published by Springer ( ). I am also on the editorial board of the Nordic Wittgenstein Review.


Books (Monographs)

1. Language Lost and Found: On Iris Murdoch and the Limits of Philosophical Discourse (New York: Bloomsbury 2013 [paperback 2015])

2. Philosophy, Literature and the Inheritance of Language, diss. (Uppsala: Uppsala University, 2004)

Books (Anthologies)

3. Language, Ethics and Animal Life: Wittgenstein and Beyond, edited by Niklas Forsberg, Mikel Burley and Nora Hämäläinen (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012)

4. Making a Difference: Rethinking Humanism and the Humanities, edited by Niklas Forsberg & Susanne Jansson (Stockholm: Thales, 2011)

5. Acknowledging Stanley Cavell, with commentaries by Stanley Cavell, edited by Niklas Forsberg & Susanne Jansson (Uppsala: Uppsala Philosophical Studies 56, 2009)

6. Tankar tillägnade Sören Stenlund, edited by Niklas Forsberg, Sharon Rider och Pär Segerdahl (Uppsala: Uppsala Philosophical Studies 54, 2008)


1. “Taking the Linguistic Method Seriously: On Iris Murdoch on Language and Linguistic Philosophy” (forthcoming) in Murdoch on Truth and Love, edited by Gary Browning (London: Palgrave MacMillan 2018).

2. “Carver, Cavell and the Uncanniness of the Ordinary” (forthcoming) in The New Literary History, 2017.

3. “Thinking about a Word – Love, for Example,” in Metaphilosophy, Vol. 48, Nos. 1–2, January 2017.

4. “Narrativity in Variation: On Merleau-Ponty and Murdoch Literary and Philosophical Narratives” (forthcoming) in Palgrave Macmillan Handbook of Philosophy and Literature, eds. Michael Mack and Barry Stocker (MacMillan Palgrave 2017).

5. “M and D and Me: Iris Murdoch and Stanley Cavell on Perfectionism and Self-Transformation” (forthcoming), Iride. Journal of Philosophy and Public Debate, 2017)

6. “Where’s the Disagreement? J. L. Austin and A. J. Ayer on the Significance of the Ordinary,” in Language and Communication, 49, 2016.

7. “&c.: On Linguistic Regularity, Normativity and Language Acquisition” (forthcoming) in A Companion to Wittgenstein on Education: Pedagogical Investigations, edited by Michael A. Peters & Jeff Stickney (Springer, 2017).

8. “The Imperfect Soul and the Magnetic Perfection: Iris Murdoch on Love” (forthcoming), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Love, edited by Cristopher Grau & Aaron Smuts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)

9. “From Self-Reliance to that which Relies: Emerson and Critique as Self-Criticism” (forthcoming), Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2017.

10. “The Grammar of Pain,” Sats: Northern European Journal of Philosophy, Volume 16, Issue 2, 2015.

11. “A New Conception of Original Sin?” The Heythrop Journal, vol. 56, issue 2, 2015.

12. “The Categorical and the Everyday: On Coetzee, Murdoch and Cavell and the Presence of Philosophy in Novels,” Philosophy and Literature, Volume 39, No. 1A, September 2015.

13. “R. G. Collingwood on Philosophical and Literary Language,” Collingwood and British Idealism Studies, Vol. 18, No, 1, 2012.

14. “Different Forms of Forms of Life: A Philosophical Introduction”, in Language, Ethics and Animal Life: Wittgenstein and Beyond, edited by Niklas Forsberg, Mikel Burley and Nora Hämäläinen (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012)

15. “Knowing and Not Knowing What a Human Being Is,” pp. 1—17 in SATS: Northern European Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 12, 1/ 2011.

16. “Dogma: Vi är alla stygga barn” pp. 176–190 in Norsk filosofisk tidsskrift, vol. 44, nr 3–4, 2009.

17. “A Philosophy Less Ordinary”, pp. 123—146 in Acknowledging Stanley Cavell, ed. Niklas Forsberg and Susanne Jansson, including a commentary by Stanley Cavell, (Uppsala: Uppsala Philosophical Studies 56, 2009)

18. “Smärtans grammatik” in Att tänka smärtan, eds. Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback and Hans Ruin (Södertörn: Södertörn Philosophical Studies, 2009)*

19. “Filosofins ordblindhet eller Dyslexin som filosofins början” pp. 261—285 in Tankar tillägnade Sören Stenlund, eds. Niklas Forsberg, Sharon Rider and Pär Segerdahl (Uppsala: Uppsala Philosophical Studies 54, 2008)

20. “Den ensamma tankens tyngd. Ensamhet och språklig gemenskap” pp. 187—208 in Den moderna ensamheten, eds. Sharon Rider and Maria Karlsson (Stockholm: Symposion, 2006).


1. “From Positivist Rabbi to Resolute Reader. James Conant in Conversation with Niklas Forsberg, Part 1,” in Nordic Wittgenstein Review, 2 (2013).

2. “Inheriting Wittgenstein: James Conant in Conversation with Niklas Forsberg, Part 2” (forthcoming) in Nordic Wittgenstein Review (2017)


1. Review of Action, Decision-Making and Forms of Life, edited. by Padilla Gálvez, Jesús, in Notre Dame Philosophical Review NDPR, (2016).

Work in Progress (In selection)


1. Lectures on a Philosophy Less Ordinary: J. L. Austin and the Return to the Realities We Use Words to Talk About


1. “On the Call for a New Vocabulary: Rorty vs. Murdoch”

2. “The Virtues of Perfectionism and The Imperfections of Virtue Ethics”

3. “The Undesirability of the Eternal Sunshine and the Unfeasibility of the Spotless Mind”

4. “M and D and L and H: Iris Murdoch’s Conceptual Renegotiations in the Light of C. S. Lewis’ Work of Morning

5. “Sharing Your Sorrow”

6. “Logic – Grammar – Logic: On the Continuous Struggle for Conceptual Clarity in Wittgenstein’s Work”


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