Jeff Malpas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jeffery Edward Malpas
Born (1958-08-21) 21 August 1958 (age 65)
EducationAustralian National University, Ph.D.
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy
Main interests
Place and Space
Philosophy of language
Critque of modernity
Notable ideas
Philosophical Topography: grounding of human thought, experience, and identity in place.

Jeff Malpas FAHA is an Australian philosopher and emeritus distinguished professor at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. Known internationally for his work across the analytic and continental traditions, Malpas is also at the forefront of contemporary philosophical research on the concept of "place" (topography or topology), as first and most comprehensively presented in his Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography[1]—now in its second edition—and further developed in numerous subsequent works.


BA, History and Philosophy (1980); MA, Philosophy (1982, with First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland (NZ); and PhD (1986) from the Australian National University (thesis: "Agreement and Interpretation").


Malpas joined the University of Tasmania in 1999 and, there, was actively engaged for twenty years. During that time, he held both academic and administrative positions, including professor and chair of philosophy, Australian Research Council (ARC) Professorial Fellow, and Director of University Collections. He founded the University of Tasmania's Centre for Applied Philosophy and Ethics (later, the Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society), and served as its director for five years. In 2011, Malpas was recognised as distinguished professor and continued with a university-wide appointment that spanned a broad range of disciplines, including architecture, geography, and environmental studies, and involved collaborative research projects in those as well as other disciplines, such as archaeology, design, the creative arts, history, sociology, anthropology, and medical humanities. His supervision of sixty doctoral students reflects similarly diverse disciplines and topics. Upon retirement, in 2018, he was made Emeritus Distinguished Professor. Prior to his work at the University of Tasmania, Malpas held an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship at Heidelberg University and was founder and head of the philosophy programme at Murdoch University (Western Australia). He also held positions at the University of New England (Australia) and the University of Auckland, and has been a visiting scholar at universities in the United States, Germany, England, and Sweden. He continues to hold positions as Visiting Distinguished Professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne and honorary professor at the University of Queensland. Current endeavours primarily focus on select research, publication, and consultancy activities, as well as commenting on issues of contemporary ethics and politics.[2][3]

Thinking and writing[edit]

Malpas's philosophical work is situated amid five major themes: (1) German Post-Kantian philosophy (especially Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer), (2) twentieth-century American philosophy (especially Donald Davidson and Richard Rorty), (3) hermeneutics and philosophy of language, (4) philosophy of place and space (including philosophy of art and philosophy of architecture, among others), and (5) the critique of modernity (including the critique of contemporary bureaucracy and management).

In its connections to both the analytic and continental traditions, Malpas’s work can be seen as also providing a connection between them. His readings of Heidegger and Gadamer are characterised by an emphasis on argumentative reconstruction and clarity of exposition, while his interpretation and development of Davidson’s thought emphasises the broader philosophical and meta-philosophical elements of the Davidsonian position (and, so, places greater emphasis on Davidson’s later writings as providing the framework for reading Davidson’s work as a whole).

Malpas has devoted considerable attention to the idea of the transcendental, particularly as it links with hermeneutic themes, and places special emphasis on notions of ground and limit. He sees the transcendental as providing an important point of connection between philosophers such as Davidson, Gadamer, and Heidegger, even as it also connects to Malpas’s own development of what he has termed “philosophical topography.”

The latter idea not only draws on phenomenological and hermeneutic resources but also is heavily indebted to analytic approaches in philosophy of mind and of language. Distinguishing his work, in this realm, is the detailed conceptual analysis of topographical and spatial notions, the methodological implications that it associates with the focus on place, and the topographical analysis of self and identity. As developed in his Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography, Malpas sees place as “a complex but unitary structure that encompasses self and other, space and time, subjectivity and objectivity.”[4] He argues for an “externalist” conception of self and mind, according to which human lives are indissolubly linked to the places in which those lives are lived. Indeed, he posits that the importance of place lies, not so much in the experience that one might have of place (or of a particular place), but in the fact that it is in place that all experience, thought, and identity are made possible—that place is that in and through which all things are grounded and all things happen.

Two of his subsequent volumes—Heidegger’s Topology: Being, Place, World (2006)[5] and Heidegger and the Thinking of Place: Explorations in the Topology of Being (2012)[6]—provide more specific analyses of the notions of place and “topology” found in the work of Martin Heidegger (who, himself, refers to his thinking as a “topology of Being”[7]). And, even more specifically, Malpas examines a central aspect of Heidegger’s topological thinking—particularly as related to architecture and other spatial disciplines—in his Rethinking Dwelling: Heidegger, Place, Architecture (2021).[8] His readings represent a distinctive position within the Heidegger literature.

Moreover, Malpas's engagement with the idea of place undergirds his thinking and writing about ethics, and especially about a perceived loss of ethical commitment in contemporary culture and society—the result, he contends, of the rise of corporatized, bureaucratic models within public life and institutions, and, with that, an ideology of compliance that undermines ethical conduct. In response to such loss, he proposes that ethics be seen as grounded in a prior commitment to the communities of which we are a part—fundamentally, therefore, as grounded in place.[2]

Teaching and invited presentations[edit]

Although his positions have been primarily in research, Malpas has also taught across nearly all areas of philosophy, from ethics to logic, and has additionally lectured in related fields, including architecture, landscape architecture, geography, and other spatial disciplines. He has also presented invited papers for at least twelve international university audiences. Beyond academe, he has been invited to lead workshops and seminars for groups in government and business.[2]

Engagement and critique by others[edit]

The main charge levelled against Malpas’s “philosophical topography” is that the notion of place is inherently regressive and conservative—as typified in an article by [1] John Wylie, for example.[9] Malpas has responded to such charges, contesting the assumptions about both place and belonging on which they rest, as well as their reliance on certain ideological presuppositions rather than genuine engagement with the issues at stake.[10]

Malpas’s emphasis on mortality and finitude as essential to the human, and to the very possibility of a life, has been specifically taken up in various discussions, including that in an essay by Nick Trakakis.[11]

A broader engagement and critique of Malpas’s work has appeared in papers presented in the International Journal of Philosophical Studies[12][13] and, by Paloma Puerte-Lozano, in Place, Space, and Hermeneutics.[14]

Such engagement has not been limited to philosophy, but has extended to other fields as well. In theology, for example, British theologian Mark Wynn has drawn on Malpas’s work in order to examine connections between the philosophy of place and philosophical theology.[15] And in sociology, Malpas has published with sociologists such as [2] Gary Wickham and [3] Keith Jacobs (see “Selected Publications” for examples).


Scholarly organizations[edit]

Grants, prizes, and awards[edit]

2016 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (for 2017–19), with Mark Burry, et al.: “Place and Parametricism: Provocations for the Rethinking of Design” (Architecture)
2015 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (for 2016-18), with Andrew Benjamin: “Place, Commonality, and the Human: Towards a New Philosophical Anthropology” (Philosophy)
2014 Henrietta Harvey Lecturer, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland
2010 Humboldt Research Fellowship (resumption), Husserl-Archiv, Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet, Freiburg
2008 Humboldt Research Fellowship (resumption), Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitaet, München
2007 Australian Research Council International Linkage Award (for 2008-09), with Karsten Thiel: “Genealogy and Topology: A Constellational Comparison of Nietzsche and Heidegger”
2006 University of Tasmania, Inaugural Postgraduate Supervision Award
2006 Australian Research Council, Australian Professorial Fellowship (for 2007-2012): “Ethos and Topos: Towards an Ethics and Politics of Place”
2005 University of Tasmania, Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Community Engagement
2005 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (for 2006-08), with Andrew Brennan: “Making Ethics Work: A New Model for Business and Organizational Ethics”
2004 Humboldt Research Fellowship (resumption), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München
2003 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (for 2004-06), with Andrew Benjamin: “Between the Outback and the Sea: The Place of Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary Australia”
2002 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (for 2003-04), with Jonathan Holmes, Paul Zika, David Hansen, and Maria Kunda: “The Shifting Locus of Artistic Practice”
2000 Australian Research Council Large Grant (for 2001-03): “Heidegger’s Topology of Being”
1999 Bill Myers Prize, Australasian Journal of Political Science (joint winner with Gary Wickham)
1997 Humboldt Research Fellowship (for 1998-1999), Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet, Heidelberg
1994 Australian Research Council Large Grant (for 1995-96): “Body and Place”
1989 and 1993 Murdoch University Special Research Grant

Visiting positions[edit]

2010 Humboldt Research Fellow: Husserl-Archiv, Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet, Freiburg, Germany
2008 Humboldt Research Fellow: Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitaet, München, Germany
2004 Humboldt Research Fellow: Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitaet, München, Germany
2004 (May) Visiting Professor: Department of Philosophy, University of Auckland, NZ
2000 Visiting Research Fellow: Humanities Research Center, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California, USA
1997 – 1999 Humboldt Research Fellow: Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet, Heidelberg, Germany
1998 (May) Visiting Professor: Department of Philosophy, Umeå University, Umea, Sweden
1997 Visiting Professor: Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
1992 and 1997 Visiting Scholar: Department of Philosophy, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

Significant appointments[edit]

1999 – continuing Member, Editorial Board: International Journal of Philosophical Studies
2008 – continuing Member, Scientific Board: Tropos. Rivista di ermeneutica e critica filosofica
2009 – continuing Member, Scientific Board: Mimesis Group (international publishers)
2010 – continuing Member, Editorial Board: Interstices—Journal of Architecture and Related Arts
2013 – continuing Member, Editorial Board: Annals in Social Responsibility
2013 – continuing Member, Editorial Board: Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics
2014 – continuing Member, Editorial Board: Montreal Architectural Review, University of Montreal
2014 – continuing Co-editor (with Claude Romano): Contributions to Hermeneutics, Book Series, Dordrecht, Springer Verlag
2015 – continuing Member, Editorial Board: Études Phénoménologiques / Phenomenological Studies
2014 – continuing Co-editor (with Claude Romano): Contributions to Hermeneutics, Book Series, Dordrecht, Springer Verlag
2016 – continuing Member, Editorial Board: Journal of Philosophy of History
2021 – continuing Co-editor (with Jessica Dubow): Toposophia: Sustainability, Dwelling, Design, Book Series, Lanham, Rowman and Littlefield
2012 – 2019 Member, Editorial Board: Journal of Island Studies
2018, 2016, and 2014 European Research Council, Panel Member
2010 – 2012 Member, Editorial Board: Purliew
2005 – 2010 Member, Editorial Board: Ethics, Place and Environment
2009 Advisor, Future Fellowships Advisory Committee: Australian Research Council
1997 – 2008 Member, Editorial Board: Australasian Journal of Philosophy
2000 – 2008 Corresponding Editor: International Journal of Philosophical Studies
2004 – 2006 Advisor, Humanities and Creative Arts Panel: Australian Research Council
1999 – 2006 Director: Buddhist Studies in India Exchange Program
2000 – 2005 Director (and Founder): Centre for Applied Philosophy and Ethics, University of Tasmania
2000 – 2005 Member, Editorial Board: Philosophy and Geography
1999 – 2004, and 2005 Head, School of Philosophy, University of Tasmania
2001 – 2002 President: Australasian Association of Philosophy

Selected publications[edit]



Malpas has authored (or co-authored) eight monographs, including:

———. In the Brightness of Place: Topological Thinking In and After Heidegger. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, forthcoming 2022.

———. Rethinking Dwelling: Heidegger, Place, Architecture. London: Bloomsbury, 2021.

——— and Kenneth White. The Fundamental Field: Thought, Poetics, World. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021.

———. Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography. 2nd, rev. ed. London: Routledge, 2018. First published 1999, by Cambridge University Press.

———. Heidegger and the Thinking of Place: Explorations in the Topology of Being. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.

———. Heidegger’s Topology: Being, Place, World. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006. Rev. paperback edition, 2008. Translated in Italian, by Giulia Ballocca, as

Edited volumes[edit]

Malpas has edited (or co-edited) twenty-four volumes, including:

——— and Ingo Farin, eds. Heidegger and the Human. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, forthcoming 2022).

——— and Keith Jacobs, eds. Towards a Philosophy of the City. London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019.

——— and Ingo Farin, eds. Reading Heidegger’s Black Notebooks, 1931–1941. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016.

———, ed. The Intelligence of Place: Topographies and Poetics. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

———, ed. Dialogues with Davidson: New Perspectives on His Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.

Chapters in edited volumes[edit]

Malpas has authored (or co-authored) seventy-six chapters in edited volumes, including:

———. “Uprostorjenje oblikovanja: arhitektura v dobi tehnološkega kapitalizma—oblast, vertikalnost in ulica” [“The Spatialization of Design: Architecture in the Age of Technological Capitalism—Power, Verticality, and the Street”]. In O oblasti v arhitekturi [On Power in Architecture], Zbirka Transformacije, vol. 47, edited by Mateja Kurir, 99-112. Ljubljana: Maska, Društvo Igor Zabel za kulturo in teorijo, 2021.

———. “In the Presence of Things.” In After Discourse: Things, Affects, Ethics, edited by Bjørnar Olsen, Mats Burström, Caitlin DeSilvey, Þóra Pétursdóttir, 59-71. London: Routledge, 2020.

——— and Randall Lindstrom. “The Modesty of Architecture.” In Political Theory and Architecture, edited by Duncan Bell and Bernardo Zacka, 255-276. London: Bloomsbury, 2020.

———. “The House of Being: Poetry, Language, Place.” In Paths in Heidegger’s Later Thought, edited by Günter Figal, Diego D’Angelo, Tobias Keiling, and Guang Yang, 15-44. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2020.

———. “Dying in a Liberal Society.” In Considering Religions, Rights, and Bioethics: For Max Charlesworth, edited by P. Wong, S. Bloor, P. Hutchings, and P. P. Bilimoria, 51-62. Dordrecht: Springer, 2019.

——— and Edward Casey. “A Phenomenology of Thinking in Place.” In Thinking in the World, edited by Jill Bennett and Mary Zournazi, 39-63. London: Bloomsbury, 2019.

———. “Taking Everything in Hand: Managerialism and Technology.” In The Rise of Managerialism, edited by Anna Yeatman, 21-42. London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2018.

———. “Governing Theory: Ontology, Methodology, and the Critique of Metaphysics.” In Rethinking Law, Society, and Governance: Foucault’s Bequest, edited by Gary Wickham, 125-140. Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2001.

Journal articles[edit]

Malpas has authored (or co-authored) seventy-eight journal articles, including:

———. “From Place to Territory.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space: forthcoming 2022.

———. “Place and Philosophical Topography: Responding to Bubbio, Farin, and Satne.” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 28 (2020): 299–312.

———. “Spirit of Time/ Spirit of Place.” Journal of Continental Philosophy 1 (2020): 277-283. Originally published in Turkish as “Zamanın Ruhu/Yerin Ruhu,” Sabah Ülkesi [Quarterly Journal of Arts, Culture, and Philosophy] 58 (2019):36–39.

———. “Topologies of History.” History and Theory 58 (2019): 3–23.

———. “The Spatialization of the World: Technology, Modernity, and the Effacement of the Human.” Phainomena 27 (2018): 91–108.

———. “Five Theses on Place (and some associated remarks): A Reply to Peter Gratton.” Il Cannocchiale: rivista di studi filosofici 42 (2017): 69–81.

———. “Putting Space in Place: Relational Geography and Philosophical Topography.” Planning and Environment D: Space and Society 30 (2012): 226-242. Translated in Korean and reprinted in Space Theory and its Social Appropriation (2013): 15–53.

——— and Gary Wickham. “Democracy and Instrumentalism.” Australian Journal of Political Science 33 (1998): 345–362.

Other publications[edit]

In addition, Malpas has published review articles, encyclopaedia entries, electronic publications, magazine articles, conference proceedings, interviews, book forewords, reports, and book reviews, and has made other contributions via newspapers, radio, television, and online platforms.


  1. ^ Malpas, Jeff (2018). Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography. London: Routledge (originally published 1999, by Cambridge University Press). ISBN 978-1-138-29141-6.
  2. ^ a b c "Jeff Malpas". University of Tasmania, Australia (website). Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Malpas, Jeff. "Curriculum Vitae". Jeff Malpas (website). Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  4. ^ Malpas, Jeff (1999). Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (rev. 2nd ed. published in 2018 by Routledge). pp. cover notes. ISBN 0-521-64217-5.
  5. ^ Malpas, Jeff (2006). Heidegger's Topology: Being, Place, World. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-13470-5.
  6. ^ Malpas, Jeff (2012). Heidegger and the Thinking of Place: Explorations in the Topology of Being. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01684-1.
  7. ^ See, for example, Heidegger, Martin (1971). "The Thinker as Poet". Poetry, Language, Thought. Translated by Hofstadter, Albert. New York: Harper and Row. p. 12.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Malpas, Jeff (2021). Rethinking Dwelling: Heidegger, Place, Architecture. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-3501-7291-3.
  9. ^ Wylie, John W. (2016). "A Landscape Cannot be a Homeland". Landscape Research. 41 (4): 408–416. doi:10.1080/01426397.2016.1156067. hdl:10871/20355. S2CID 147446241.
  10. ^ See especially, Malpas, Jeff (2021). Rethinking Dwelling: Heidegger, Place, Architecture. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-3501-7291-3.
  11. ^ Trakakis, Nick (2013). "Deus Loci: The Place of God and the God of Place in Philosophy and Theology". Sophia. 52 (2): 315–333. doi:10.1007/s11841-012-0314-4. S2CID 255398978.
  12. ^ "Book Symposium (Jeff Malpas's Heidegger's Topology)". International Journal of Philosophical Studies. 19: 267–293. 2011.
  13. ^ "Book Symposium: Jeff Malpas's Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography, Second Edition (2018)". International Journal of Philosophical Studies. 28: 254–299. 2020. doi:10.1080/09672559.2020.1747679. S2CID 216254954.
  14. ^ Puerte-Lozano, Paloma (2017). "Jeff Malpas: From Hermeneutics to Topology". In Janz, Bruce (ed.). Place, Space, and Hermeneutics. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 301–318.
  15. ^ Wynn, Mark (2007). "Knowledge of Place and Knowledge of God: Contemporary Philosophies of Place and Some Questions in Philosophical Theology". International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. 62 (3): 149–169. doi:10.1007/s11153-007-9147-4. S2CID 170926948.
  16. ^ "Welcoming our 28 newly elected Fellows – Australian Academy of the Humanities". Retrieved 20 November 2018.

External links[edit]