Office Hours: on appointment
Person: I'm a PhD Candidate in Theoretical Philosophy (supervisor Matthias Vogel) and a research affiliate at the Center for Positive Sexuality (L.A., USA). I also have a job as a Faculty Manager in the Philosophical Faculty at the University of Rostock. I currently live in Rostock.
- Philosophy of Love
- Philosophy of Sexualities
- Philosophy of Emotion
- Philosophy of Mind
- training of creative and academic writing skills
Academic Education: I finished my studies in Philosophy, English and German as a teaching profession with a thesis on the question Is there an Aesthetic Pleasure?, in 2014. I was committed to university policy for many years during my studies and I founded the undergraduate conference Dia:logos in 2015.
My work and future writings
Phd Project: In 2016 I started working on my PhD project On the Capability to Love aiming to understand the role that so-called deficient loving of mutually suffering lovers has for the concept of love (Supervisor Matthias Vogel). I am working on an integrative concept of love that is capable of explaining in how far to love always implies both options of success and deficit. In order to understand how different emotions, abilities, actions, attitudes, dispositions and a certain loving posture hang together and contribute to a loving relation, I apply Aristotelian metaphysics and suggest to understand romantic love as one type of Aristotelian philia. This enables me to highlight learning and make sense of the possibility of failure in loving.
Project in development: In 2018 I started on a project with the working title Sex Speech. The Problems of Tabooed Speech and the Potential of Sex-Positivity and Sex-Positive Spaces. In this text I reflect the role that language and concepts have for different aspects of sexualities, sexual experiences and sexual identity and I locate this matter within the examination of a sex-negative socio-political climate and an emerging sex-positive subculture.
Essays that I would like to write:
What to Learn from Perverts and Sluts about Sex and Sex-Positivity:»The Pervert« as well as »The Slut« are historically negatively connoted concepts and terms. I want to develop a positive interpretation of both concepts as well as develop a train of thought, in which there is something to be learned from people the desires of whom are statistically less frequent. I treat »sluts« as people, who enjoy frequent sexual activities with different sexual partners. I treat »perverts« as people with deviant desires concerning conventional but not statistical standard since it is well possible that a desire might be commonly viewed as perverse but is statistically frequent without being revealed as such. The questions that I want to find answers to are the following: (1) Can sluts teach how to celebrate sexualities and sexual encounters and thus help to decrease sex-anxiety or panic and encourage sex-positivity? (2) Can perverts teach how to increase (precise) self-understanding about personal sexual desires as well as how to decrease moral judgment about minority desires? Concerning the latter question I want to take an exemplary look at the desire to be sexually objectified.
- »High Sensitivity, Autoeroticism, Promiscuity and Casual Sex«: I want to explore the correlation between the condition of high sensitivity, promiscuity, autoeroticism, and casual sex. Unlike autoeroticism promiscuity as well as casual sex might invite to believe the promiscuous person who engages in (frequent) casual sex to be exceptionally outgoing, which maybe seems to intuitively contradict a high sensitive possibly introvert person. I want to suggest that high sensitivity and promiscuity can go hand in hand with each other and that both sexual practices, autoeroticism and casual sex, might follow from high sensitivity. Since high sensitive people perceive more than average stimuli in quality as well as in quantity, one way to prevent social and emotional overload in a sexual encounter might be not to engage with another person at all apart from fantasising about her (autoeroticism). Another way to prevent such an overload might be to keep distance within the sexual encounter, which could be achieved by preventing emotional bonding before or after the encounter (casual sex).
»Someone else’s pain«: I’m interested in the role that language, expression and conversation have on personal and especially on sexual identity. Since I believe that sexual undergoings and experiences as well as undergoings and experiences of pain are especially hard to conceptualize, I’m curious about the experience of pain and its epistemic as well as intimate potential in a personal relation. I reflect up on the asynchronous sexual practice of an Impact Play, in which one person induces pain on another person within a consensual practice. Here, the difficulty to express experiences of physical pain and the difficulty to grasp and access someone else’s pain are intertwined in a playful and potentially erotic intimate pain practice.
»What is a body history?«: I try to describe why I think sexualities are abundant. Part of my answer is that the realm of the sexual involves people (at least) as sentient beings, who have the capability to have joyful bodily experiences. Sexual engagements also posit an opportunity of involvement and interconnection with the world to people as conscious beings, who relate to their surrounding and to other people. And as historic individuals, who have an awareness of their respective (body) history and who learn from this history, in sexuality we may find a rich area of exploration and individual development. As sexual beings we experience our body, we build connections and we learn about, as well as shape, our body history. In the course of personal development I find it an achievement rather than a byproduct of growing up to get and stay acquainted with oneself. In the course of these reflections I wonder what a body history is, how changes work upon bodily self-perception, how a body somewhat stores emotional undergoings, how a history of needs gets into being and influences behavior and what discrimination of the body does to a person’s self-perception. In the back of these questions lingers my intuition that bodily experiences form needs, which are being expressed in emotions. I wonder what role the connection between body experiences, needs and emotions play for a person’s sexuality.
»Why I like perverts«: I want to reflect up on descriptions of perversion (for instance Thomas Nagel) and discuss the case of being (sexually) attracted by perverts. What kind of understanding and judgment underlie the attraction to a scene or a person one personally classifies as perverse? What is so exciting about perversion? Could it be that even people who use »perverse« as a dismissive judgement are somewhat drawn to the perversion? What is the pleasure behind this? Is it possible that people use the term »perverse« when they are secretly attracted or aroused by something deviant whereas they would use a more – for instance –juristic terminology when they clearly want to distance from an action?
»What is sexual change and what does it mean for an intimate personal relation?«: I’m interested in the development and change of sexual attraction. It seems like sometimes certain sexual practices open up a new world in someone’s personal sensual life. By gaining a concept of practices or phenomena such as kink, SM, fetish or Tantra people reorganise their self-perception and reorient in their sexual actions and possibilities. Often though it seems that certain sexual features have always been there: specific fantasies at young age or specific responses when being touched like this or that. What do such changes mean in one’s personal life and what do they mean for a relation?
Publications and readings
- Mense, Anna (2021), »Aristotelian Communal Love«, in: Love: Past, Present, Future, Saunders, J., McKeever, N. and Grahle, A. (Hrsg.), London, New York: Routledge [forthcoming].
- Mense, Anna (2021), »As Many Rules as Necessary, as few as Possible. The Traps of Deregulated Sex-Positive Spaces with a Focus on Gender Inequality«, in: Journal of Positive Sexuality [Link].
- Mense, Anna (2020), »Liebe und Emotionen. Erschöpft sich Lieben im Fühlen?«, in: Philokles. Zeitschrift für populäre Philosophie (24). [Link]
- Mense, Anna (2020), »Sexphilosophie«, Prae|faktisch. Ein Philosophieblog. [Link]
|February 2020||»Sex Speech: Problems of Tabooed Talk and the Potential of a Sex-positive Discourse and Sex-Positive Spaces«, Conference Positive-Sexuality Encourages Peacemaking, Woodbury University, Los Angeles, USA.|
|Sep. 2019||»Transparent Talk about Sexualities. Taboo, Shame and Discretion versus Open Speech and Sexpositivity«, Conference for Practical Philosophy, Salzburg, Austria|
|September 2019||»Touching Upon Sexpositive Spaces«, Workshop Love Etc., Leeds, Great Britain|
|June 2019||»Transparent Talk about Sexualities. Taboo, Shame and Discretion versus Open Speech and Sexpositivity«, Women in Philosophy Conference, Groningen, Netherlands|
Loving, Abilities and Habitus, Congreso international La filosofia y el amor, Universidad de Salamanca/Spain
|September 2018||Liebesfähigkeiten und Aristotelischer Habitus, VII. Tagung für Praktische Philosophie at Universität Salzburg/Austria|
|May 2018||Panel discussion Love - More - Better, Ewaldshof, Assenheim-Frankfurt/Germany|
|March 2018||Why Love might not be an Emotion, Philosophy of Emotions Conference at Marquette University, Milwaukee/USA|
Vom Vermögen zu Lieben, DoktorandInnen-Symposium, Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt/Austria
Video lecture: The Capability to Love, 2017 Klagenfurt [German]
|June 2016||Vermögen und Privation von Liebe, Institutskolloquium Darmstadt/Germany|
|2019/20||Schule und Sexualitäten, Universität Rostock|
|2019/20||Sexualitäten, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena|
|2018/19||Sexualities [English], L3, Bachelor and Master seminar, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen|
|2018/19||Close Reading: In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims, Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, Ruhama Goussinsky [German], Justus-Liebig-University Gießen|
|2018||New Philosophies of Love and Sex: Thinking through Desire [English], L3, Bachelor and Master seminar, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen|
|2018||Philosophy of Feelings [German], L3, Bachelor and Master seminar, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen|
|2017||Hexis und Steresis: How do we understand akrasia, self-deception and error? [German], L3, Bachelor and Master seminar, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen|
|2016/17||Sickness, Illness, Disease. Theories of Health and Disease [English], L3, Bachelor and Master seminar, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen|
|2015/16||Love. Survey of a Messy Feeling? [German], L3 and Bachelor seminar, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen. Funded by resources for Gender in Education, Equality Office, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen|
|2015||Pleasure in Philosophy and Literature [German], L3 and Bachelor seminar, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen. Funded by resources for Gender in Education, Equality Office, Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen|