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Professor Andy Hamilton

Professor/Chair BoE/Director of Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics Research Cluster

MA, M.Phil, PhD

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Professor/Chair BoE/Director of Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics Research Cluster in the Department of Philosophy  
Member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture  
Member of the Centre for the History of Political Thought  


Andy Hamilton studied at St Andrews University for his MA, M.Phil and PhD. His PhD (1987), was "The Self and Self-Consciousness", supervised by Crispin Wright. He subsequently taught at every pre-Thatcherite university in Scotland except Aberdeen and Glasgow, was a Leverhulme Research Fellow at Sheffield 1988-90, and then a Lecturer at Stirling and Keele before arriving at Durham in 1994. He has supervised a range of PhD students in philosophy of mind and aesthetics. He has been working on the topic of self-consciousness since his Ph.D., although he now recognises that it is simply too difficult. However, he has published several articles on it in Philosophical Quarterly, European Journal of Philosophy and Australasian Journal of Philosophy; and a monograph, "The Self in Question: Memory, the Body and Self-Consciousness", is published by Palgrave Macmillan (2013). His areas of research are Philosophy of Mind, History of 19th and 20th Century Philosophy, and Wittgenstein, but he is now working more in Aesthetics and Political Philosophy, and has published articles in British Journal of Aesthetics. A monograph, "Aesthetics and Music", was published by Continuum in 2007, and a book on improvisation, "The Art of the Improviser", written with jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, appeared in the same year, published by Michigan University Press. The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook "Wittgenstein and On Certainty" appeared in 2014.

He is a jazz pianist and writes for "The Wire" and other contemporary music magazines, on jazz, contemporary composition and improvised music. This expertise has led to the creation of an Impact Case Study on "Aesthetics of Improvisation", for REF 2014. A workshop on the topic, involving leading musicians from jazz, improvised music and contemporary composition, was held in Durham in May 2013, and a further workshop will take place in April 2016, as part of a project for REF 2020.


Please visit for further information and articles on Philosophy, and music.

Research Interests

At the moment I am focussing on Wittgenstein, issues in aesthetics notably the autonomy of art, and political philosophy especially the relation of liberalism and conservatism.

Undergraduate Teaching
Administrative duties
  • Admissions Tutor
  • Second Year Tutor
  • Health and Safety Officer

My research interests are broad and I would welcome enquiries from students wishing to pursue research in

   Aesthetics, for instance:

  • "In what sense did Kant advocate a separation of the value spheres of aesthetic and ethical?"
  • "What light does Kant's distinction between free and dependent beauty cast on the nature of design and artefactual beauty?"
  • "Does art aim at truth?"
  • "Is architecture an autonomous artform?"
  • "In what sense did Art come into existence only with the Renaissance?"
  • "Is music the universal art of sound?"
  • "Is the concept of the acousmatic a useful one in the philosophy of music?"
  • "Is movement the fundamental form of conceptualisting music?

   Wittgenstein, for instance:

  • "In what ways did Wittgenstein's conception of nonsense change from his early to his later philosophy?"
  • "What are the contributions of On Certainty to contemporary epistemology?"
  • "Does On Certainty develop an original critique of scepticism?"
  • "Is there a convincing Kantian interpretation of Wittgenstein's notion of framework or hinge propositions?"

   Philosophy of mind, for instance:

  • "Is philosophical humanism simply a liberal form of naturalism?"
  • "In what ways might sceptical doubt be manifested in behaviour?"

   Political philosophy, for instance:

  • "Is conservatism simply a form of scepticism about the political applications of theoretical reason?"
  • "In what ways is Millian liberalism superior to Rawlsian liberalism?"
  • "Is liberal elitism defensible?"

Research interests

  • Aesthetics
  • Wittgenstein
  • History of 19th and 20th century philosophy
  • Political Philosophy especially liberalism and conservatism
  • Philosophy of mind especially self-consciousness


Authored book

  • Hamilton, Andy (2021). Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise Conversations with Steve Beresford. Bloomsbury.
  • Hamilton, Andy (2018). On Art and Entertainment.

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article


Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Hamilton, Andy (2016). Populism, Elitism, And Democracy: Authority And Expertise In The Age Of Brexit And Trump. The Critique (January/February 2017).