Heinämaa Sara, Professor of Philosophy, Academy Professor 2017–2021

Heinämaa Sara, Professor of Philosophy, Academy Professor 2017–2021
Filosofia / Philosophy
Opinkivi 340.1


My main areas of research are in phenomenology, existentialism, philosophy of mind, history of philosophy and philosophical methodology.

My systematic work deals with the phenomena and concepts of embodiment, intersubjectivity, temporality, normality, emotions and sexual difference. Exegetically and hermeneutically, my work is focused on the philosophies of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Stein, Beauvoir, Levinas, and Irigaray, but I have also contributed to Descartes studies and discussion of classical existentialism.

My current research project, Marginalization and Experience: Phenomenological Analyses of Normality and Abnormality (MEPA), studies the foundations of human sociality and communality and the role of experiential normality and abnormality in the constitution of human Mitsein and intersubjectivity more generally. This project is funded by the Academy of Finland and by the University of Jyväskylä (webpage is under construction and will be published soon).

For more information about the project,
see: https://www.jyu.fi/hytk/fi/laitokset/yfi/en/research/projects/mepa/about

I have started my project by explicating the phenomenological concepts of normality and normativity and by studying the diverse ways in which emotions and feelings operate in human interaction. This has lead me to analyse the intentional structures of the feelings of lovedesire, attraction, repulsion and disgust. In contemporary debates, these feelings are often described as not properly moral or social since they lack an egoic focus and diverge from the paradigmatically social and moral emotions of shame and guilt. My hypothesis is that contrary to this common notion, a thorough intentional analysis of these feelings shows that they have crucial social functions.

My best known publications are probably Toward A Phenomenology of Sexual Difference (2003) and Birth, Death, and Femininity (2010, with Schott, Thorgirsdottir, and Songe-Møller), but I have also edited several collections in phenomenology and philosophy of mind and their historical starting points, including Phenomenology and the Transcendental (2014, with Miettinen and Hartimo), New Perspectives on Aristotelianism and Its Critics (2015, with Mäkinen and Tuominen), and Consciousness: From Perception to Reflection (2008, with Lähteenmäki and Remes).

I am co-founder and two-term president of the Nordic Society for Phenomenology (NoSP), with over 900 members from all over the world. At the moment, I also work as director of the research community Subjectivity, Historicity, Communality (SHC) which operates at the universities of Jyväskylä and Helsinki and organises philosophical and interdisciplinary research meetings and workshops.

Selected Recent Publications

“Epoché as a personal transformation: On the similarities between the philosophical change of attitude and religious conversions,” Phänomenologischen Forschungen, Special issue on Phenomenology and Pragmatism / Phänomenologie und Pragmatismus, eds. Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl, Niels Weidtmann and Sebastian Luft, forthcoming 2019.

“Normality,” with Joona Taipale, The Oxford Handbook of Phenomenological Psychopathology, eds. Giovanni Stanghellini, Anthony Fernandez, René Rosford et al., Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018.

“Strange vegetation: Emotive undercurrents of Tove Jansson’s Moominvalley in November,” SATS, Nordic Journal of Philosophy, forthcoming 2018.

“Embodiment and bodily becoming,” in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Phenomenology, ed. Dan Zahavi, Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018.

“Descartes’ notion of the mind-body union and its phenomenological elaborations,” with Timo Kaitaro, in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Phenomenology, ed. Dan Zahavi, Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018.

“On the complexity and wholeness of human beings: Husserlian perspectives,” International Journal of Philosophical Studies, vol. 25, no. 3, 2017, pp.393–406.

  “Love and admiration (wonder): Fundaments of the self-other relations,in Emotional Experiences: Ethical and Social Significance, eds. John Drummond and Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl, London: Rowan and Littlefield International, 2017, pp.155–174.

“Ambiguity and difference: Two feminist ethics of the present,” in Differences: Rereading Beauvoir and Irigaray, eds. Emily Anne Parker and Anne van Leeuwen, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp.137–173. 

Curriculum Vitae


  • Sara Heinämaa publications 2019 (pdf)
  • Julkaisut JyU:n TUTKA-julkaisurekisterissä / publications in University of Jyväskylä publication data base, TUTKA
  • Julkaisut vuoteen 2014 asti HY:n julkaisurekisterissä / publications till 2014 in University of Helsinki publication data base, TUHAT: