Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly

Faculty Dean
Sean Kelly Photo

I was born in Ohio, but spent most of my childhood in two different towns in Connecticut. Until I was 12, I lived in Danbury, just a mile or two from the Great Danbury State Fair. (It is now the Great Danbury State Fair Mall.) After that, I lived on a dirt road in West Redding, a rural town outside of Danbury. I managed to get lost in the woods a lot. I liked all kinds of sports growing up, but spent most of my time in the pool, swimming for the Wilton Y Wahoos. At Brown University, I continued to swim, while majoring in math and computer science, and doing a master’s degree in computational neuroscience. Finally, after a circuitous route (ask me about it sometime!), I found my way to philosophy. Once I graduated from UC Berkeley I taught at Stanford for a year, Princeton for seven years, and moved with Cheryl to Harvard in 2006. In Emerson Hall my office is across the corridor from Cheryl’s. I love teaching and thinking about philosophy there!

I was chair of the department for six years, and at the end of that time I led the committee to review the General Education program at the College. I used to teach a lot of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, but have lately started to focus my teaching on 19th and 20th century European philosophy. My research is in what might broadly be called “philosophical anthropology.” In short, I’m interested in what it means to be human. What makes our lives significant and worthwhile? What grounds the meaning in a life? What distinguishes us from God or the beasts? I love the history of philosophy and always wish I knew more about it.

Cheryl will say something about our two boys, Ben (15) and Nathaniel (9), so I’ll just add that in my spare time I like writing, music, travel, and sports.

My family and I are so excited to embark on our third year at Dunster House, and we can’t wait to get to know each of you. I hope you’ll introduce yourself in the Dining Hall or at the foosball table!


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