Tilburg School of Humanities
Department of Philosophy
BA Philosophy, 1975; BA Anthropology, 1976; BA Psychology, 1979; MA Philosophy, 1982; PhD Philosophy, 1988 - all at Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
PhD thesis: De mens een dier? Scheler, Plessner en de crisis van het traditionele mensbeeld, on the reception and rebuttal of Darwinism in German (post-)Kantian philosophy in the 1920s, which shows up many similarities to present-day discussions.
1987-1990 junior lecturer of cultural philosophy, Departments of Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
1990-2007 lecturer (tenured) of philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Tilburg University.
2007- associate professor (tenured) of philosophy, Tilburg School of Humanities, Tilburg University.
1994-1999 and 2001-2004 senior researcher, Department of Archaeology (Palaeolithic Research Group) of Leiden University.
2005- Chair, Epistemology of Archaeology, Departments of Archeology and Philosophy of Leiden University.
My research deals with human and animal cognition, sociality, and culture in an evolutionary perspective. I look at philosophical views and their history, in particular how they guide research in ethnology, palaeoanthropology, and primatology as "domain assumptions" or implicit ontologies. I belief in the idea of "history and philosophy of science" and in anthropology as an integrated, holistic, interdisciplinary discipline, emerging out of its four fields, engaging with both evolutionary and interpretative approaches, and - its major challenge presently - struggling to work out how these two relate.
In particular I focus on the reception and rebuttal of evolutionary analysis in 20th-century and present-day continental-European philosophy and in the humanities, for example in research on reciprocal exchange and on narrative meaning (in myth, ritual, art). One angle of approach here is ethnozoology, specifically the relations between folk taxonomies and scientific taxonomy (e.g., of primates and humans). There is intensive cooperation with several anthropological/archaeological research programs at Leiden University, where I am an associate member of the Human Origins Group (http://humanoriginsleiden.org/) directed by Wil Roebroeks.
A second line of research concerns western representations and practices (stereotypes, photography, collecting, exhibiting, missions, image breaking) regarding nonwestern societies and, in particular, nonwestern ritual art. At the intersection of these two lines of research are such issues as the use of animal metaphors for cultural others and parallels between western domination over colonial others and human domination over (the rest of) nature.
For a 2012 interview (in Dutch) on some of my research interests, see
Supervision of PhD Research (all at Leiden U):
David van Reybrouck. From primitives to primates: A history of ethnographic and primatological analogies in the study of prehistory. Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University 2000 (supervised with Prof. W.Roebroeks)
Gerrit Dusseldorp. A view to a kill: Investigating middle palaeolithic subsistence using an optimal foraging perspective. Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University 2009 (supervised with Prof. W.Roebroeks)
Erik van Rossenberg. Cultural landscapes, social networks and historical trajectories: A data-rich synthesis of Early Bronze Age networks (c. 2200-1700 BC) in Abruzzo and Lazio, Central Italy. Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University 2012 (supervised with Prof. H. Fokkens)
Angus Mol. The connected Caribbean: A socio-material network approach to patterns of homogeneity and diversity in the pre-colonial period. Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University 2014 (supervised with Prof. C. Hofman)
Eva Paulsen. Animal imagery on pre-Columbian Antillean ceramics in ethnozoological perspective. Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University (supervised with Prof. C. Hofman)
Steven Frost, Gods, men and myth on the Han Chinese Frontier: Yangxi ritual performance in Fuquan, Guizhou (supervised with Prof. B. ter Haar, Oxford University)
Most of my teaching follows on from my research. I presently teach courses on naturalistic versus hermeneutic (Habermas, Ricoeur) views of humans and (other) animals; philosophy of science (in particular human/behavioural sciences and humanities, as well as life sciences); analytical metaphysics; and views of myth and narrative meaning.
Much of my activities can be thought of as catering anthropology to philosophers and philosophy to anthropologists (both not always easy but rewarding), with human evolution and cultural variability as major foci. I find most philosophy which does not relate intensively, in one way or another, to the empirical sciences sterile.
R.H.A. Corbey teaches the following subjects:
Teaching activities elsewhere
I also hold a CHAIR IN THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES (in particular anthropology, archaeology and related disciplines) in the Departments of Archaeology and Philosophy of Leiden University (http://hum.leiden.edu/philosophy/miscellaneous/corbey.html).
Next to my activities at Tilburg University I hold a chair in the epistemology of the human sciences in the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University (http://www.archaeology.leiden.edu/organisation/staff/corbey.html).
I have been and continue to be involved with several strongly interdisciplinary archaeological/ anthropological research programs at Leiden University (various regions and periods), focussing on theoretical and conceptual issues and co-supervising PhD research (mostly concerning ritual and myth, and always in collaboration with a co-supervising regional or period specialist). I am an associate member of the Human Origins Group (http://humanoriginsleiden.org/) at Leiden University, directed by Wil Roebroeks.
I have been visiting scholar for periods up to one year at the Husserl Institute of Leuven University (Belgium), the Smithsonian Institution (African Art/Natural History; Washington DC), the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity of University College London, and the Department of Anthropology of the University of British Columbia (Vancouver).
Regular advisorships to (mainly ethnological) museums and exhibitions in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany. Referee for various academic presses and journals on a regular basis.
Member of the Scientific Advisory Board (Wetenschappelijke Adviesraad) of the Limburgs Museum, Venlo, the Netherlands.
I have a keen interest in animal behaviour and spend part of my spare time watching birds.
Room D 111
PO Box 90153
5000 LE Tilburg
Last amended: 19 June 2014