Lilli Alanen (née Gullichsen, born Pori, 1941) is a Finnish philosopher and Professor Emeritus of History of Philosophy at Department of Philosophy at Uppsala University, Sweden. She specialises in the history of philosophy — with particular interest in René Descartes and David Hume but she has also contributed to feminist philosophy. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, where she was a student of Ferdinand Alquié, and the University of Helsinki, where she was a student of Ingmar Pörn and Georg Henrik von Wright. In the 1980s she taught at the University of Pittsburgh in the USA and in Helsinki before being named professor of philosophy at Uppsala University in 1997.
In her critically received book on Descartes (2003), Alanen goes beyond mere history, drawing out the historical antecedents and the intellectual evolution of Descartes' thinking about the mind, showing how his emphasis on the embodiment of the mind has implications far more complex and interesting than the usual dualist account associated with his thinking suggests.
Lilli Alanen is a member of the industrialist Ahlström family. Her mother was Finnish art collector and patron of the arts Maire Gullichsen and her father the industrialist Harry Gullichsen. Her siblings are the renowned Finnish architect Kristian Gullichsen and Johan Gullichsen, a professor of engineering. The family home at Noormarkku near Pori is the world-famous modernist house Villa Mairea designed by architect Alvar Aalto. In 1964 she married the Finnish artist Sakari Alanen (b. 1940), and they have three children. They were divorced in 1989. In 1992 Alanen married the American philosopher Frederick Stoutland (1933–2011).
Selection of writings by Alanen
- Lilli Alanen, Descartes's Concept of Mind, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2003.
- Lilli Alanen and Charlotte Witt (eds.), Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy (The New Synthese Historical Library), Springer, New York, 2004.
- Lilli Alanen and Sara Heinämaa (eds.), Commonality and Particularity in Ethics, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 1997.
- Lilli Alanen, Studies in Cartesian epistemology and philosophy of mind, Acta philosophica Fennica, Helsinki, 1982.
- Jarkko S. Tuusvuori "Professori Lilli Alasen vieraana: Kokeillen ja tapellen omille teille", Niin&Nin, 1/2014: https://netn.fi/files/netn141-03.pdf (interview with Alanen in Finnish).
- See, for instance, Sean Crawford, "Descartes's Concept of Mind is a rigorous and imaginative work, and a worthy corrective to the popular image of Descartes's philosophy of mind as narrowly concerned only with the indubitably known immaterial mind of the solitary meditator." Metapsychology, Volume: 8, Number: 36, 2004.
- Kirsi Gullichsen and Ulla Kinnunen, Inside the Villa Mairea, Alvar Aalto Foundation, Jyväskylä, 2009.
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