Dan Zahavi

Dan Zahavi (born 1967) is a Danish philosopher. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at University of Copenhagen and University of Oxford.

Dan Zahavi
Dan Zahavi, 2014.JPG
Dan Zahavi in Copenhagen, 2014
Born (1967-11-06) 6 November 1967 (age 53)
Alma mater
RegionWestern philosophy
InstitutionsUniversity of Copenhagen
University of Oxford
Main interests
Notable ideas
Collective intentionality
Coining the term "pre-reflective self-consciousness"


Dan Zahavi was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to an Israeli father and a Danish mother. He initially studied phenomenology at the University of Copenhagen. He obtained his PhD in 1994 from the Husserl Archives at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium, with Rudolf Bernet as his doctoral supervisor. In 1999 he defended his Danish Disputats (Habilitation) at the University of Copenhagen. In 2002, at the age of 34, he became Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen. In 2018, he also became Professor of Philosophy at University of Oxford.

Philosophical workEdit

Zahavi writes on phenomenology (especially the philosophy of Edmund Husserl) and philosophy of mind. In his writings, he has dealt extensively with topics such as self, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity and social cognition. He is co-editor of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. Zahavi's work has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Pre-reflective self-consciousnessEdit

In several books and articles, Zahavi has defended the existence and significance of pre-reflective self-consciousness, and argued in favor of the idea that our experiential life is characterized by a form of self-consciousness that is more primitive and more fundamental than the reflective form of self-consciousness that one finds in various kinds of introspection.[1][2][3] More generally speaking, Zahavi has spoken out against different reductionist approaches to consciousness, and insisted on the theoretical significance of subjectivity and the first-person perspective.[2][4]

In working on these issues, Zahavi has collaborated and debated with psychiatrists,[5][6] developmental psychologists,[7][8] and Buddhist scholars.[9] Critics have included those who either deny the existence of self[10] or the existence of pre-reflective self-consciousness.[11][12]

Empathy and social cognitionEdit

Another part of Zahavi's work has focused on problems related to intersubjectivity, empathy, and social cognition. His PhD thesis defended a phenomenological approach to intersubjectivity.[13] In various papers and books since then he has in particular focused on the role and structure of empathy.[14][15][16] He has argued in favor of the bodily and contextual character of interpersonal understanding, and criticized dominant positions within the so-called ’theory of mind’ debate, including simulation theory and theory-theory.[2][17][18][3]

Shame and collective intentionalityEdit

Since 2010, Zahavi has worked increasingly on social emotions and on issues in social ontology. He has written on shame,[19] on shared emotions, we-experiences, collective intentionality, and the importance of the I–thou relation.[20][21]


In parallel with his systematic work on the above-mentioned topics, Zahavi has also written on phenomenology, especially the work of Edmund Husserl. He has argued that phenomenology is a powerful and systematically convincing voice that contemporary philosophy and empirical science shouldn’t ignore. In addition to offering extensive analyses of Husserl’s analyses of intersubjectivity and self- and time-consciousness,[13][1] Zahavi has also discussed the nature of Husserl’s transcendental philosophy and the metaphysical implications of phenomenology in various publications.[22][23][24] Throughout his work, Zahavi has criticized what he takes to be overly simplistic interpretations of Husserl that depicts the latter as a solipsist and subjective idealist, and instead accentuated the continuity between Husserl’s phenomenology and the work of post-Husserlian phenomenologists, especially that of Merleau-Ponty.[25][24]

Center for Subjectivity ResearchEdit

Zahavi is the director of the Center for Subjectivity Research (CFS), established in 2002 on the basis of funding from the Danish National Research Foundation. Since 2002, CFS has been working on topics related to selfhood and sociality and has actively promoted a research strategy involving collaboration between different philosophical tradition and between philosophy and empirical science, in particular psychiatry. After the expiration of the funding from the Danish National Research Foundation in 2012, CFS has continued its research with support from a variety of both Danish and European public and private foundations. Since 2010, CFS has organized an annual summer school in phenomenology and philosophy of mind that typically attracts around 100 students from all over the world.

Honors and awardsEdit

Zahavi has received a number of honors and awards, including:

  • The Edward Goodwin Ballard Prize in Phenomenology (2000)
  • The Silver Medal from the Danish Royal Society of Sciences and Letters (2000)
  • Elected member of Institut International de Philosophie in 2001
  • The Elite Research Prize of the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (2006). The award is given to outstanding young researchers of the highest international standard, which have made an extraordinary contribution to strengthen Danish research.
  • Elected member of the Danish Royal Society of Sciences and Letters in 2007
  • The Carlsberg Foundation's Research Prize (2011) from the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. The prize was awarded in connection with the 200 year anniversary of brewer J.C. Jacobsen, founder of the Carlsberg Breweries and the Carlsberg Foundation.
  • The second revised edition of The Phenomenological Mind was selected by Choice as a 2012 Outstanding Academic Title.
  • The Danish Association of Masters and PhDs’ Humanities Research Award (2013)
  • Appointed Honorary President of The Nordic Society for Phenomenology (2014)
  • Appointed Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog by the Queen of Denmark (2017)
  • An Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (2019)

Selected publicationsEdit

Zahavi is the author of a number of books, including:

  • Intentionalität und Konstitution: Eine Einführung in Husserls Logische Untersuchungen. Museum Tusculanum Press 1992.
  • Husserl und die transzendentale Intersubjektivität. Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996. (Translated into English)
  • Self-awareness and Alterity. Northwestern University Press 1999. (Translated into Japanese)
  • Husserl's Phenomenology. Stanford University Press 2003. (Translated into Danish, Japanese, Chinese, German, Georgian, Greek, Italian, Croatian, Polish, Persian, Portuguese, Korean, Romanian, Turkish).
  • Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the first-person perspective. MIT Press 2005. (Translated into Chinese)
  • Phänomenologie für Einsteiger. Wilhelm Fink Verlag 2007. (Translated into Icelandic, Danish, Japanese)
  • The Phenomenological Mind (with Shaun Gallagher). Routledge 2008. (Translated into Hungarian, Danish, Italian, Japanese, Korean)
  • The Phenomenological Mind. 2nd Edition (with Shaun Gallagher). Routledge 2012. (Translated into Spanish, Polish)
  • Self and Other: Exploring Subjectivity, Empathy, and Shame. Oxford University Press 2014. (Translated into Japanese, Korean)
  • Husserl's Legacy: Phenomenology, Metaphysics, and Transcendental Philosophy. Oxford University Press 2017. (Translated into Japanese)
  • Phenomenology: The Basics. Routledge 2019. (Translated into Danish)

Zahavi is also the editor of more than 10 volumes, including:

  • The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology. Oxford University Press 2012.
  • The Oxford Handbook of the History of Phenomenology. Oxford University Press 2018.


  1. ^ a b Zahavi, Dan (1999). "Self-awareness and Alterity. A Phenomenological Investigation". Studies in Phenomenology & Existential Philosophy. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
  2. ^ a b c Zahavi, Dan (2005). Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the first-person perspective. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  3. ^ a b Zahavi, Dan (2014). Self and Other: Exploring subjectivity, empathy and shame. Oxford: Oxford University press.
  4. ^ Gallagher, S.; Zahavi, Dan (2012). The Phenomenological Mind. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge.
  5. ^ Zahavi, Dan; Parnas, J. (2003). "Conceptual Problems in Infantile Autism Research: Why Cognitive Science Needs Phenomenology". Journal of Consciousness Studies. 10/9: 53–71.
  6. ^ Parnas, J.; Sass, L.A.; Zahavi, Dan (2008). "Recent developments in philosophy of psychopathology". Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 21 (6): 578–584. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e32830e4610. PMID 18924253.
  7. ^ Rochat, Ph.; Zahavi, Dan (2011). "The uncanny mirror: A re-framing of mirror self-experience". Consciousness and Cognition. 20 (2): 204–213. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.06.007. PMID 20889353. S2CID 14046919.
  8. ^ Zahavi, Dan; Rochat, Ph. (2015). "Empathy ≠ sharing: Perspectives from phenomenology and developmental psychology" (PDF). Consciousness and Cognition. 36: 543–553. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2015.05.008. PMID 26070850. S2CID 140204214.
  9. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2011). "The Experiential Self: Objections and Clarifications". In Siderits, M.; Thompson, E.; Zahavi, Dan (eds.). Self, No Self? Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological, & Indian Traditions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 56–78.
  10. ^ Metzinger, T. (2006). "Reply to Zahavi: The Value of Historical Scholarship". Psyche. 12.
  11. ^ Schear, J. (2009). "Experience and Self-Consciousness". Philosophical Studies. 144 (1): 95–105. doi:10.1007/s11098-009-9381-y. S2CID 170752671.
  12. ^ Howell, R.J.; Thompson, B. (2017). "Phenomenally Mine: In Search of the Subjective Character of Consciousness". Review of Philosophy and Psycholo. 8: 103–127. doi:10.1007/s13164-016-0309-0. S2CID 147028514.
  13. ^ a b Zahavi, Dan (1996). "Husserl und die transzendentale Intersubjektivität: Eine Antwort auf die sprachpragmatische Kritik". Phaenomenologica. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 135. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-1585-5. ISBN 978-94-010-7209-0.
  14. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2010). "Empathy, Embodiment and Interpersonal Understanding: From Lipps to Schutz" (PDF). Inquiry. 53/3 (3): 285–306. doi:10.1080/00201741003784663. S2CID 55729173.
  15. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2001). "Empathy and Direct Social Perception: A Phenomenological Proposal". Review of Philosophy and Psychology. 2/3: 541–558.
  16. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2017). "Phenomenology, empathy, and mindreading". In Maibom, H.L. (ed.). The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy. New York: Routledge. pp. 33–43.
  17. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2007). "Expression and empathy.". In Hutto, D.D.; Ratcliffe, M. (eds.). Folk Psychology Re-Assessed. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 25–40.
  18. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2008). "Simulation, projection and empathy". Consciousness and Cognition. 17 (2): 514–522. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.03.010. PMID 18411058. S2CID 10365611.
  19. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2012). "Self, consciousness, and shame". The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology. Oxford: Oxford University press. pp. 304–323.
  20. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2015). "You, me, and we: The sharing of emotional experiences". Journal of Consciousness Studies. 22/1-2: 84–101.
  21. ^ Zahavi, Dan; Salice, A. (2017). "Phenomenology of the we: Stein, Walther, Gurwitsch". In Kiverstein, J. (ed.). The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the Social Mind. New York: Routledge. pp. 515–527.
  22. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2003). Husserl's Phenomenology. Stanford: Stanford University press.
  23. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2003). "Phenomenology and metaphysics". In Zahavi, Dan; Heinämaa, S.; Ruin, H. (eds.). Metaphysics, Facticity, Interpretation. Phenomenology in the Nordic Countries. Dordrecht-Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 3–22.
  24. ^ a b Zahavi, Dan (2008). "Internalism, Externalism, and Transcendental Idealism". Synthese. 160/3 (3): 355–374. doi:10.1007/s11229-006-9084-2. S2CID 33923256.
  25. ^ Zahavi, Dan (2002). "Merleau-Ponty on Husserl. A reappraisal.". In Toadvine, T.; Embree, L. (eds.). Merleau-Ponty's Reading of Husserl. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 3–29.


  • Zahavi, D. (2008), Phenomenology. In Moran, D. (ed.): Routledge Companion to Twentieth-Century Philosophy (pp. 661–692). London: Routledge.

External linksEdit