Michael Steinmann (msteinma)

Michael Steinmann


School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Peirce 305
(201) 216-8245


  • PhD (1998) University Tübingen (Philosophy)
  • MA (1993) University Tübingen (Philosophy, French and Italian Literature)


Ethics, including Applied Ethics, 19th- and 20th-Century Continental Philosophy

General Information

I am a philosopher trained in the tradition of Continental philosophy. I am interested in continuing some of the fundamental questions that have been raised in this tradition, concerning, among others, the foundations and limits of moral ideas, the relation of body and mind, and the status of religion in an age determined by science. I am also interested in questions of applied ethics and in using philosophical ideas to address problems in modern society and technology.

I am currently working on a new monograph (preliminary title: "The Meaning of the Mind: Reclaiming the Question of the Purpose of Human Thought"), in which I argue that the almost exclusive focus on finding an explanation of the emergence of consciousness from the natural world makes us neglect the question of what conscious thinking is for. Since early modernity, philosophers and scientists have suspected that there is no or at least little positive value in conscious thought, either because thinking leads to unhappiness or because it remains deficient compared to standards of logic and rationality. Against this suspicion, I use approaches from philosophy, literature, and theology to explore different ways in which the question of the meaning of thinking can be raised again beyond the constraints of scientific analysis and explanation.

In my most recent monograph, "Reframing Ethics Through Dialectics. A New Understanding of the Moral Good" (Bloomsbury 2023), I argue that moral thinking is based on one fundamental notion, the notion of the absolute good. Moral rules as well as moral theories can be interpreted as limited realizations of the absolute good. In the book, I show how all positions in morality end up producing dialectical contradictions. Criticism, which since the beginning of philosophy has been directed at morality, can so be seen as an inherent factor of moral thinking itself. Being moral means to acknowledge the contradictions and limitations that all positions involve-


Professor of Philosophy, Stevens Institute of Philosophy, 2008-present (until 2013 as Associate Professor)

Lecturer for Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University, 2007-2008

Visiting Professor, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, 2007 and 2011

Co-Director of the Program for Basic Ethical-Philosophical Studies, University Freiburg, 2005-2007

“Habilitation” (second book) in Philosophy, University Freiburg, 2006

Research Fellow and Lecturer, University Tübingen and Freiburg, 1999-2007 (various positions in philosophy and the history and ethics of medicine)


Faculty Member, School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology, 2022-2025

Selected Publications

Reframing Ethics Through Dialectics. A New Understanding of the Moral Good. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2023.

Martin Heideggers „Sein und Zeit.“ Werkeinführung [Martin Heidegger’s “Being and Time”. An Introduction]. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2010.

Die Offenheit des Sinns. Untersuchungen zu Sprache und Logik bei Martin Heidegger [The Openness of Meaning. Investigations into Language and Logic in Martin Heidegger]. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

H. Raspe, A. Hüppe, M. Steinmann, Empfehlungen zur Begutachtung klinischer Studien durch Ethikkommissionen [Recommendations for the Assessment of Clinical Studies in IRBs]. Köln: Deutscher Ärzteverlag, 2005

Die Ethik Friedrich Nietzsches [The Ethics of Friedrich Nietzsche]. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter 2000.

Edited Books (selected)
A. Durakoglu, M. Steinmann, Y. Tuncel, Nietzsche and Music: Philosophical Thoughts and Musical Experiments. Nietzsche Now Series. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2022.

M. Steinmann, P. Sykora, U. Wiesing, Altruism Reconsidered: Exploring New Approaches to Property in Human Tissue Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009.

C. Nielsen, M. Steinmann, F. Töpfer, Das Leib-Seele-Problem und die Phänomenologie [The Mind-Body-Problem and Phenomenology]. Orbis Phaenomenologicus. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2007.

Journal Articles (selected)
“Alienation in a World of Data. Toward a Materialist Interpretation of Digital Information Technologies” Philosophy & Technology 35:99 (2022).

“The Aesthetics of the Posthuman Human. Remarks Based on Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” Journal for Posthumanism 1/2 (2022), 79-85.

“The Axial Age and the Quest for a Secular Religion in Modernity.” Existenz 14/1 (2019), 98-106.

“Nietzsche, Darwin, and the Greeks: On the Aesthetic Interpretation of Life.” The Agonist. A Nietzsche Circle Journal 9 (2015/16), 1-42.

Book Chapters (selected)
“Thinking Through Music. On Non-Propositional Thought in Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy.” Nietzsche and Music: Philosophical Thoughts and Musical Experiments, eds. A. Durakoglu, M. Steinmann, Y. Tuncel. Newcaste upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2022, 20-36.

M. Steinmann, S. Matei, J. Collmann, “A Theoretical Framework for Ethical Reflection in Big Data Research.” Jeff Collmann, Sorin Matei (eds.), Ethical Reasoning in Big Data. An Exploratory Analysis, New York et al.: Springer, 2016, 11-27.

“’But what do we matter!’ Nietzsche’s secret hopes and the prospects of transhumanism.” Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, Yunus Tuncel (eds.), Nietzsche and Transhumanism: Precursor or Enemy? Nietzsche Now, Volume 1, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2016, 172-190.

M. Steinmann, J. Shuster, J. Collmann, S. Matei, R. Tractenberg, K. FitzGerald, G. Morgan, D. Richardson, “Embedding Privacy and Ethical Values in Big Data Technology.” S. Mattei et al. (eds.), Transparency in Social Media. Tools, Methods, and Algorithms for Mediating Online Interactions, New York et al.: Springer, 2015, 277-301.