Universiteit Leiden

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Martijn Boven


Dr. M. Boven
+31 71 527 2727

Martijn Boven is a Lecturer at the Institute for Philosophy.

More information about Martijn Boven

I am currently working on three research projects: 

1. An ongoing thesis-to-book project: Metaphor and Metamorphosis: Ricoeur and Deleuze on Philosophy as the Invention of Concepts. 

2. Continuation of my Postdoc project: Dramatizing Repetition or What is at Stake in Continental Philosophy. Both (1) and (2) are closely knit together and concern my wider interest in the ambiguous nature of certain philosophical concepts. 

3. A collaborative project: The Paradox of Democratization: Towards a Philosophical and Artistic Pedagogy of Imaginative Dialogues. (see below for details)

Fields of interest 

  • Continental Philosophy
  • Aesthetics,
  • Phenomenology
  • Hermeneutics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Theatre
  • Film
  • Mythology


1. Thesis-to-book project: Metaphor and Metamorphosis: Ricoeur and Deleuze on Philosophy as the Invention of Concepts.
In 2018, I began re-working my PhD thesis for a book manuscript, provisionally titled Metaphor and Metamorphosis: Ricoeur and Deleuze on the Invention of Concepts. Versions of the thesis have been widely circulated, however, large parts of it remain unpublished. In the manuscript in progress, I am arguing that Deleuze and Ricoeur, despite the lack of interaction between them, are linked by their conception of philosophy as the invention of new concepts. They differ, however, in their explanation of how this invention comes about. What it is then that allows philosophy to invent new concepts and renew itself? The answer to that question is fourfold.

a) Both Ricoeur and Deleuze believe that the philosophical concept finds its starting point in a pre-philosophical domain that is animated by radical difference.
b) Ricoeur argues that philosophy draws its concepts from living metaphors that emerge in a poetical discourse; Deleuze claims that philosophical discourse itself has to undergo a continuous process of metamorphosis, turning the philosophical concept in a zone of variation that never finds a stable point but keeps fluctuating.
c) By situating difference in poetical discourse, Ricoeur hopes to keep it away from philosophy; whereas Deleuze places it in the heart of philosophical discourse itself.
d) If Deleuze is right, this radically affects the nature of philosophical concepts. Born from a radical difference that remains active within them, these concepts need to be dramatized. This dramatization of concepts sheds a new light on why continental philosophers feel the need to develop their thought in unstable and ambiguous discourses.

2. Continuation of my Postdoc: Dramatizing Repetition or What is at Stake in Continental Philosophy.
At the end of my PhD project, I received a one-year Post Doctoral fellowship from the Kierkegaard Library in Northfield, Minnesota, the largest available research collection of material on Kierkegaard. Building on Deleuze’s notion of ‘dramatizing concepts’, I have developed an interpretative framework that allowed me to read Kierkegaard’s works in a new way. I started by outlining the existential problem animating these works: the impossibility to articulate the inner in terms of the outer. Given this impossibility, is there any way to conceptualize human existence without immediately betraying it? In response to this question, I argued, Kierkegaard takes great pains to develop a series of writing strategies that confront his readers with unresolved contradictions that are not fully drawn into clarity, but are staged in a state of confusion and disorder. He dramatizes his concepts by engaging the reader in their final determination, ensuring that the incorporation of truth do es not destroy the reader’s own relation to it. The ultimate aim of the project was, however, to find a starting point for an investigation that concerns four points:

a) the deliberate ambiguous and unstable concepts that are introduced in continental philosophy by the heirs of Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche;
b) the writing strategies that they employ to dramatize these concepts;
c) why they believe that the problem they struggle with necessitates such an approach;
d) the idea of truth that follows from this.

To make such a project feasible, I will focus on one of the most slippery concepts in continental philosophy – ‘repetition’ (Gentagelsen, Ewige Wiederkunft, Répétition, etc.) as well as the various writing strategies that Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Adorno, Derrida and Deleuze develop to advance this concept. This approach allows me to illustrate what is at stake in continental philosophy and to explain why these philosophers felt compelled to write in a way that often places their texts at odds with established norms of academic scholarship. I plan to publish this research into a book, provisionally titled Dramatizing Repetition or What is at Stake in Continental Philosophy.

3. Collaborative project: The Paradox of Democratization: Towards a Philosophical and Artistic Pedagogy of Imaginative Dialogues.
In the last few decades most countries within the European Union have committed to an increased process of democratization, attempting to include more and more people, regardless of their social and political background, ethnicity, or gender. However, this process of increased democratization has a paradoxical effect that threatens to undermine it from within: the more inclusive a society becomes, the harder it is to find or construct shared values and common ideals. Recent developments in world politics have shown how easy it is for populist and demagogues to fill this gap with sweeping initiatives that are largely anti-democratic, threatening to slow down, halt, or even reverse the process of democratization.

In collaboration with colleagues from the University of Groningen, the Minerva Art, Universität Hildesheim, Uniarts Helsinki, University of Agder, and Iceland University of the arts, I developed a philosophical and artistic pedagogy to make this paradox of democratization fruitful. Drawing on the resources available in the field of arts education, this collaborative project aims to explore the paradox of democratization in order to find a way to get out of its potential pitfalls. To this end a new philosophical pedagogy will be developed: the pedagogy of imaginative dialogues. This new pedagogy takes the (potential) tension between seemingly incompatible cultural values as a productive and engaging starting point in order to open up a dialogical space between them.

The pedagogy is imaginative in the sense that it employs artistic forms and strategies, already available in the field of the arts (education), to play out the contrast between cultural values in a fruitful and no n-violen t manner. Once the contrasts have been properly drawn out, experimental variations will be developed in which the consequences of valuing one thing over another are explored in various settings. By taking the (radical) differences between cultural values seriously without immediately trying to overcome or mediate them, the pedagogy of imaginative dialogues will allow students and pupils to get a better insight in the process of valuing as such, highlighting its historical and social conditions.

Key publications 

Academic articles (Peer reviewed, internationally recognized scientific publishers)
Boven, M. 2019. “The Incognito of a Thief. Johannes Climacus and the Poetics of Self-Incrimination.” In The Kierkegaardian Mind, edited by Adam Buben, Eleanor Helms, and Patrick Stokes, 409-420. Oxon: Routledge.

———. 2018. “A Theater of Ideas: Performance and Performativity in Kierkegaard’s Repetition.” In Kierkegaard, Literature, and the Arts, edited by Eric Ziolkowski, 115-130. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

———. 2015. “The Site of Initiative: Towards a Hermeneutic Framework for Analysing the Imagination of Future Threats.” In Fear and Fantasy in a Global World, edited by S. Araújo, S. Bettencourt and M. Pinto, 99-121. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

———. 2015. “Psychological Experiment.” In Kierkegaard’s Concepts. Tome V: Objectivity to Sacrifice, edited by Steven M. Emmanuel, William McDonald and Jon Stewart, 159-166. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Ltd (Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources, vol. 15).

———. 2014. “A System of Heterogenesis: Deleuze on plurality.” In Thinking Plurality, 175-194. Boston/Leiden: Brill.

———. 2014. “Incognito.” In Kierkegaard’s Concepts. Tome III: Envy to Incognito, edited by Steven M. Emmanuel, William McDonald and Jon Stewart, 231–36. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Ltd (Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources, vol. 15).

Editor (Internationally reviewed academic journals)
Boven, M (editor). 2014. The International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 75.2: Special Issue on Paul Ricoeur. Co-edited with Gert-Jan van der Heiden and Eddo Evink. Boston/Leiden: Brill.

Academic books
Boven, M. 2016. Metaphor and Metamorphosis: Paul Ricoeur and Gilles Deleuze on the Emergence of Novelty. PhD Thesis. University of Groningen.

Academic reviews (Internationally recognized academic journals)
Boven, M. 2015. “Carl S. Hughes, Kierkegaard and the Staging of Desire: Rhetoric and Performance in a Theology of Eros.” Literature and Theology, 29(4), 469-472.

———. 2013. “Jack Reynolds, Chronopathologies: Time and Politics in Deleuze, Derrida, Analytic Philosophy, and Phenomenology.” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 21 (2), 297-301.

———. 2012. “Jay Lampert, Simultaneity and Delay: A Dialectical Theory of Staggered Time.” Radical Philosophy, (176), 66-7.

———. 2012. “Henry Somers-Hall, Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation: Dialectics of Negation and Difference.” The Review of Metaphysics, 66 (2), 384-386.

———. 2012. “Chris Danta, Literature Suspends Death: Sacrifice and Storytelling in Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot.” Radical Philosophy, (174), 51-2.

———. 2012. “Johann Georg Hamann and the Enlightenment Project.” Monatshefte, 104(4), 648-650.

Articles in other academic journals
Boven, M. 2018 “Agambens filosofische archeologie” Wijsgerig Perspectief 58 (4): 6-13.
———. 2017. “De onwetende meester als voorbeeld - Jacques Ranciere: van praktijk naar principe.” Wijsgerig Perspectief 57 (3): 6-15.

———. 2013. “De herhaling van het onherhaalbare: Constantin Constantius over vrijheid en subjectiviteit (Repeating the Unrepeatable: Constantin Constantius on Freedom and Subjectivity).” Wijsgerig Perspectief 53 (2), 30-37 (special issue on Kierkegaard).

———. 2008. “Wat vastgelegd is, misleidt ons: de Cahiers van Paul Valéry (What is Recorded Deceives Us: the Cahiers of Paul Valéry).” Deus ex Machina 32 (127), p. 4-7.


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte

Work address

P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden
Room number 2.04


  • Minerva Art Academy Teaching/research

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