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Dr Joshua Spier is an honorary Research Associate at Flinders University (Australia), and the founder and curator of the Philosophy Exchange in Adelaide. He is the author of Heidegger and the Lived Experience of Being a University Educator (Palgrave Pivot 2018), which has received international praise for making the German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s work relevant and accessible. Josh’s personal website can be found at joshuaspier.com.

With a background in music and community development, Josh embarked on his PhD study with no formal training as a philosopher. However, while undertaking qualitative research for his doctoral study, his supervisor Professor David Giles introduced him to the writings of Heidegger and Gadamer. In 2014 Josh attended the Institute for Hermeneutic Phenomenology at Indiana University. This annual course (now held at the University at Buffalo, NY), enables researchers from all disciplines to engage with guest philosophers, to explore philosophical texts and current philosophical scholarship.

The year that Josh participated, visiting philosophers Andrew Mitchell and John Lysaker (Emory University) made philosophical texts (by Ricouer, Derrida, Gadamer and others) accessible for the participants. Andrew and John introduced the group to philosophical notions (e.g. Ricoeur’s notion of narratival identity, Derrida’s conception of witnessing), and guided participants to consider the implications these notions held for their own work.

This experience was instructive for Josh’s analysis of his interview data during his PhD, and sparked his ongoing desire to engage in future philosophical thinking. It was this experience, and others like it during his PhD (2012-2016), that inspired Josh to found the Philosophy Exchange, and stirred in him the desire to create opportunities for people in Adelaide to enjoy the same kind of opportunities.

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