Emily Esch, Ph.D.

I’m interested in anything and everything about how the human mind works, whether discovered by a philosopher, psychologist, anthropologist or neuroscientist. For a few years, my research focused on the nature of consciousness and the mind’s place in the natural world, but my interests have broadened considerably since I arrived at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s in 2006. In addition to my work on consciousness, I have projects in epistemology (the study of knowledge) and personal identity (the nature of the self). In epistemology, my work has primarily focused on the differences between ordinary “textbook” knowledge and know-how. (How is knowing how to ride a bike differ from knowing that Canada is north of Mexico?) I’m interested in how an account of know-how might resolve some of the debates in cognitive science, like how we know what other people are thinking and the basis of human language acquisition. In my work on personal identity, I’ve been especially concerned with incorporating empirical findings from psychologists and sociologists into the philosophical debate over how we should understand our human selves.

Before coming to Minnesota, I lived in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where I met my husband, Gavin. Before moving to New York, I spent a year living on Mt. Hood in Oregon and four years in Portland. I grew up in southwest Missouri and miss the warm weather. Gavin and I currently live in St. Cloud with our two dogs, Bubbles and Eva, and cat, Clea.  We love canoeing and camping and want to buy a boat someday. I love to cook and Gavin loves to garden and we both love to entertain.

I recently won an National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Enduring Questi0ns grant to develop an interdisciplinary course on changes in our conception of human nature in response to scientific discoveries.  I will be teaching the course in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. 

Teaching & Research Interests: 

Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, Experimental Philosophy, Philosophy of Science

Emily Esch, professor

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[email protected]

College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Erica Stonestreet
Chair, Philosophy Department
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Laura Schmitz
Department Coordinator
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