I studied Philosophy, Dutch Language and Literature and Linguistics at Radboud University Nijmegen, passing the (pre-Bologna) Dutch doctoraalexamen in philosophy (MA) in 1993, with distinction. My MA dissertation in philosophy of language was supervised by Pieter Seuren, whose intellectual genius and whose love of language and the people who speak it inspired me. My first academic post was at Leiden University, where I was a researcher in the Philosophy Department until 1999, completing my doctorate, on Whitehead's metaphysics of process, in 1998, under supervision of Wouter Oudemans. He taught me the difference between, as he called it, "real philosophy", or "becoming empirical", and "philosophology". I was a visiting researcher at Memorial University Newfoundland and Leuven University, working with James Bradley, whose notion of speculative metaphysics as being concerned with strong theories of existence became formative for me as its own form of real philosophy. Then I left academia for a few years and I worked for Royal Dutch Shell in various roles between 1999 and 2006, learning about the forces that shape society, the futures we might make and how to imagine them, individually and collectively. During that period I was also a part-time lecturer in Leiden for a while. In 2006 I became senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, teaching communication theory, philosophy of language, rhetoric and English language. In 2013 I was appointed Reader in Philosophy and Critical Theory. I designed and led the MA in Rhetoric there, based in the Department of English Language, Literature and Cultures. The aim of that program was to educate conscious communicators, aware of what it means to be a speaking being, as we all are. In 2013 I joined Middlesex University. I have been an honorary visiting fellow, and later Associate Fellow, at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, since 2005, where my focus is on German thought. I have also held visiting appointments at the University of Bochum and, as Erasmus lecturer, at the University of Tübingen and Tel Aviv University. My interests in metaphysics, in language and in the flux of creative becoming are more and more coming together in a philosophy of communication.
Dutch, German, French, English, Latin, Greek (classical).
I can sum up my teaching philosophy in a few words. It's a remark a colleague made when I first started teaching: "teach on the verge of peril". Look for the places, the moments, where teacher and students are on unfamiliar terrain, where something new can happen and we are put in touch with our spontaneous and creative ability to perceive, to learn, to know, to think. Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin and in the best moments, which are always transgressive, unpredicatable and contingent, teacher and student enter a flux in which roles become interchangeable. If we develop a sensibility for these moments, learning-teaching (what's called "studying"!) can be an adventure; it is always a risk and as much unlearning as learning. We change ourselves and the world by becoming conscious learners, aware of our ignorance.
All of this requires what Joseph Beuys used to call "learning in freedom", a compass and value I use to shape my practice of learning, teaching and studying.
I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and in that capacity I mentor colleagues at Middlesex. I also have an interest in the future of higher education and regularly participate in seminars and other events on this topic.
I have taught widely in philosophy in HE and elsewhere, with a preference for metaphysics and history of philosophy, especially ancient philosophy and German post-Kantian thought, and philosophy of communication. Philosophy asks the question how to live and uses our capacity for critical and speculative thinking to address this question: as we think we live, said Whitehead. When you do it well, it opens the mind and enhances your sensibility. The questions of philosophy are questions we all ask and which affect all aspects of our lives, personal, professional and public. I believe that philosophy is valuable, exciting and worthwhile for everyone and that it should be taught to all students in HE.
I have also taught communication theory, critical theory, rhetoric, syntax, English language, critical thinking and argumentation theory and research methods in humanities and social sciences.
At the moment I teach Enhanced Study Skills and Communication in first year, Contemporary Social Theory and Religion, Self and Society in second year and I am available for BA and MA dissertation supervision, all in the Department of Criminology and Sociology.
My main research interest is Aristotle's age-old question "what is being?" and the role this question plays in human existence, culture and in our ways of knowing. I can't let go of this question, and, it seems, the question doesn' t let go of me. I draw my inspiration therefore mainly from the long classical tradition of speculative metaphysics (and its critics), that runs from Plato and Aristotle via Aquinas and Descartes to Kant, Hegel, Heidegger and Whitehead. But I also have an interest in Daoism and have explored the relations between Daoism and process philosophy. At the moment I am working on a study of the reception of Plato in German thought since Leibniz, in which I am interested in those moments at which the interpretation of Plato's philosophy became a catalyst for philosophical development and change. The idea of enthousiasm, and the transformations in the understanding and evaluation of it, plays a central role in this history.
In addition to this I am interested in Ernst Bloch and his futuristic philosophy of the unfinished world, of not-yet being. I am an honorary associate fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where I am based at the Ernst Bloch Centre for German Thought. I am Vice-President of the Ernst-Bloch-Gesellschaft, Ludwigshafen. With Keri Facer I edit Routledge Research in Anticipation and Futures.
I also work intensively on philosophical questions about communication. In this context I am the founding and principal editor of Empedocles: European Journal for Philosophy of Communication and founder and former chair of the Section for Philosophy of Communication of the European Communication Research and Education Association. Here at Middlesex I am a member of the Language and Communication Research Cluster.
I have an interest in philosophical practice as a way of doing philosophy with individuals, groups and organisations outside of the academy and I hope to develop this interest into concrete activities in future. Having worked outside of the university, I have experienced the value philosophical perspectives can bring to most areas of our lives. More people should be able to benefit from it and experience how exciting and enriching philosophy can be. That requires trained philosophers who make their expertise available to others, to think with them, not for them, about the question that animates all philosophical thinking, and which we all ask ourselves: how to live our lives?
I am available for doctoral supervision in these areas.
Siebers, Johan (2019) Editorial. Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication, 10 (1). pp. 3-5. ISSN 1757-1952
Pablé, Adrian and Siebers, Johan (2018) The Dao of communication. Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication, 9 (2). pp. 103-106. ISSN 1757-1952
Siebers, Johan and Cullen, Anthony and Guest, Carly and Kerin, Lughaidh and Peyrefitte, Magali and Rodriguez, Sara and Seoighe, Rachel (2018) Exploring the impact of contemplative methods in HE learning and teaching. In: 2018 Annual Learning and Teaching Conference: Pedagogies Fit for 21st Century Learning, 07 Sept 2018, Middlesex University, London, UK.
Siebers, Johan (2018) Being as communication: an exploratory model. In: Models of Communication: Theoretical and Philosophical Approaches. Bergman, Mats and Kirtiklis, Kęstas and Siebers, Johan , eds. Routledge Studies in European Communication Research and Education (15). Routledge, London. ISBN 9781138294554 (Accepted/In press)
Bergman, Mats and Kirtiklis, Kęstas and Siebers, Johan , eds. (2018) Models of communication: theoretical and philosophical approaches. Routledge Studies in European Communication Research and Education (15). Routledge, London. ISBN 9781138294554