BiographyJan Bransen is Professor of Philosophy of Behavioural Science at Radboud University in the Netherlands.
Jan studied philosophy and sociology at Utrecht University and has always had an interest in applying an analytic style of reasoning to questions of human self-understanding, thus crossing – or rather neglecting – the so-called analytic-Continental divide. He wrote his MA-thesis on the philosophy of perception, discussing both Frank Jackson’s and Ernst Cassirer’s work, and arguing that perception is a mode of being rather than a means of acquiring information about one’s environment. In his doctoral dissertation Jan reconstructed Salomon Maimon’s criticism of Kant’s transcendental philosophy and turned it into a post-Kantian scepticism that he used to criticize assumptions underlying twentieth century Anglo-American philosophy of mind. The dissertation was published as The Antinomy of Thought. Maimonian Skepticism and the Relation between Thoughts and Objects, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1991.
After his graduation Jan worked for fifteen years at Utrecht University, teaching philosophical anthropology and publishing scholarly papers on autonomy, authenticity, and practical identity. At Utrecht he founded Philosophical Explorations. An International Journal of Mind and Action together with Anthonie Meijers and Stefaan E. Cuypers.
From 2000 to 2003 Jan was appointed to the Socrates Chair of Philosophical Anthropology at Leiden University before moving to Nijmegen where he became professor of philosophy at the Behavioural Science Institute of Radboud University.
At Nijmegen Jan got more interested in the philosophy of science which he came to think of as a variety of philosophical anthropology. After all, our contemporary culture has created a very dominant means of trying to improve our human self-understanding: behavioural science. Don’t be fooled is a testimony of this approach to science as a mode of being human.
Jan’s critical attitude to the alleged importance of scientific findings to living our ordinary life opened up a research interest in the differences, and the similiarities, between knowledge and love, resulting in a number of scholarly papers. But it also motivated him to turn to the writing of accessible books for a wider audience, the first of which was Become a Philosopher Yourself which appeared in Dutch in 2010. It was shortlisted for the Socrates Prize for the best Dutch philosophy book, the prize he actually won in 2014 with Don’t be fooled. Jan published three more books in Dutch since then: Your brain or your life (2014), Who will I be? (2015), and What philosophers love (2016).
Jan has three grown-up children and lives with his wife in a small village in the wooded area near Utrecht.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Philosophy of Behavioural Science, Philosophy of Common Sense, Philosophy of Mind and Action, Philosophy of Education