Paul Fairfield

Paul Fairfield is Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario (Canada) and the author of nine sole-authored books on topics ranging from hermeneutics to education, politics, and death.

His writings fall within the tradition of existential phenomenology and hermeneutics as well as pragmatism, and major influences on his work to date include Friedrich Nietzsche, John Dewey, Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer. Current projects include a book on the philosophy of education entitled Teachability and Learnability: Can Thinking Be Taught? and one on the philosophy of history entitled Transitions: An Essay on Historical Change.

Fairfield was born in 1966 in Brockville, Ontario and attended J. L. Jordan and St. Mary Catholic schools and Brockville Collegiate Institute. He received a B.A. from McMaster University in 1989 and an M.A. from the University of Waterloo in 1991. In 1995 he completed a doctorate in philosophy at McMaster, following which he did postdoctoral work at Waterloo and held teaching positions at McMaster, Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier universities. He has taught at Queen's University since 2002. Email:


       Teachability and Learnability
        Can Thinking Be Taught?

        Routledge, forthcoming in 2016

cover image to come


        A Philosophical Inquiry
        Routledge, 2014



        Philosophical Hermeneutics Reinterpreted
        Dialogues with Existentialism, Pragmatism, Critical Theory, and Postmodernism

        Continuum, 2011



          Education After Dewey
          Continuum, 2009


Why Democracy?
State University of New York Press, 2008


Rowman and Littlefield, 2005


The Ways of Power
Hermeneutics, Ethics, and Social Criticism
Duquesne University Press, 2002


Moral Selfhood in the Liberal Tradition
The Politics of Individuality
University of Toronto Press, 2000



Theorizing Praxis
Studies in Hermeneutical Pragmatism
Peter Lang, 2000


Is There a Canadian Philosophy?
Reflections on the Canadian Identity
co-authored with G. B. Madison and I. Harris
University of Ottawa Press, 2000

Edited Volumes

     Relational Hermeneutics
       Essays in Comparative Philosophy

       Springer, forthcoming in 2016

cover image to come

       Hermeneutics and Phenomenology
        co-edited with Saulius Geniusas
        Springer, forthcoming in 2016

cover image to come


     Education and Conversation
        Exploring Oakeshott's Legacy
co-edited with David Bakhurst
        Bloomsbury, forthcoming in 2016



         Education, Dialogue and Hermeneutics
         Continuum, 2010


         John Dewey and Continental Philosophy
         Southern Illinois University Press, 2010




"Dewey's Hermeneutics." In Relational Hermeneutics: Essays in Comparative Philosophy, ed. Paul Fairfield (New York: Springer, 2016).

"Artistic Creation: On Mitscherling and Dylan." In Essays on Aesthetic Genesis, eds. Charlene Elsby and Aaron Massecar (Lanham: University Press of America, 2016).

"Make It Scientific: Education as a Social Science." In Hermeneutic Approaches to Social Science, ed. Babette Babich (New York: Springer, 2016).

"A Phenomenology of Listening." In Education and Conversation: Exploring Oakeshott's Legacy, eds. David Bakhurst and Paul Fairfield (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).

"Gary Madison and Communicative Rationality." In Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy (2015).

"Education, Conversation, and Listening." In Kwartalnik Pedagogiczny (2015).

"Educational Technology in the Humanities." In Kwartalnik Pedagogiczny (2015).

"Hermeneutical Themes in Education." In Routledge Companion to Hermeneutics, ed. Jeff Malpas (London: Routledge, 2014).

"Rationality, Knowledge, and Relativism." In A Companion to Hermeneutics, eds. Chris Lawn and Niall Keane (London: Blackwell, 2014).

 "Hermeneutics and Education." In A Companion to Hermeneutics, eds. Chris Lawn and Niall Keane (London: Blackwell, 2014).

"The Hermeneutics of Suspicion and Recovery and the Difference it Does Not Make: Gadamer and Foucault." In Gadamer's Hermeneutics and the Art of Conversation. Ed. Andrzej Wiercinski (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2011).

"Dialogical Education?" In Gadamer's Hermeneutics and the Art of Conversation. Ed. Andrzej Wiercinski (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2011).

"Dialogue in the Classroom" and "Introduction." In Education, Dialogue, and Hermeneutics. Ed. Paul Fairfield (London: Continuum, 2010).

"Dewey, Nietzsche, and the Self-Image of Philosophy" and "Introduction: Overdue Conversations." In John Dewey and Continental Philosophy. Ed. Paul Fairfield (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2010).

"On Ethical Expertise." Journal of the Interdisciplinary Crossroads. Vol. 3, No. 3. December 2006.

"A Modest Phenomenology of Democratic Speech." The European Legacy. Vol. 10, No. 4. 2005.

"La teorizzazione immanente alla pratica, o la pratica stessa." ("Practice-Immanent Theorizing, or To the Practices Themselves") Discipline Filosofiche. Vol. 14, No. 1. 2004.

"Gadamer, Ricoeur, and Practical Judgment." In Between Suspicion and Sympathy: Paul Ricoeur's Unstable Equilibrium. Ed. Andrzej Wiercinski (Toronto: The Hermeneutic Press, 2003).

"Hermeneutical Liberalism." Philosophy Today. Vol. 46, No. 4. Fall 2002.

"Hermeneutical Ethical Theory." In The Ethics of Postmodernity: Current Trends in Continental Thought. Eds. Gary B. Madison and Marty Fairbairn (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1999).
"Liberalism and Moral Selfhood." Philosophy Today. Vol. 40, No. 3. Fall 1996.

"Overcoming the Theory/Practice Opposition in Business Ethics." Business and Professional Ethics Journal. Vol. 14, No. 4. Winter 1995.

"Habermas, Lyotard, and Political Discourse." Reason Papers: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Normative Studies. Vol. 19. Fall 1994.

"Habermas, Kohlberg, and the Myth of Expertise." Eidos. Vol. XI, No.s 1 & 2. June/December 1993.

"Truth Without Methodologism: Gadamer and James." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. XVII, No. 3. Summer 1993.


The focus of my teaching at Queen’s is philosophy in the continental European traditions. I teach three undergraduate courses annually: Continental Philosophy 1800–1900 (Philosophy 273); Continental Philosophy 1900–1960 (Philosophy 373); and Continental Philosophy 1960–The Present (Philosophy 374). Each lecture course examines three philosophers, to each of whom is devoted four weeks of class time. Authors and texts vary from year to year, but for 2015-16 they are as follows. In Philosophy 273 we discuss Søren Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript (major portions), Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (in its entirety), and Wilhelm Dilthey’s Introduction to the Human Sciences (entirety). Philosophy 373 takes up a few essays from Martin Heidegger’s Basic Writings, Karl Jaspers’ Man in the Modern Age (entirety), and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (major portions); in other years we study Maurice Merleau-Ponty or Hannah Arendt. Philosophy 374 examines Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Reason in the Age of Science, Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality volume 1: An Introduction, and Calvin Schrag’s Reflections on the Religious, the Ethical, and the Political (all in their entirety); in other years Jean-François Lyotard or Judith Butler. In addition I teach an annual seminar for fourth-year philosophy majors and graduate students on one major figure in continental thought—in recent years Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, or Hans-Georg Gadamer.

Website by Gwyneth Fairfield