Prof. Karen Ng

Prof. Karen Ng

Senior Humboldt Fellow

Period at the center: March 2023 – August 2023, June 2024 - August 2024, June 2025 - August 2025

Research Project: Species-Being: Ethical Life and Social Critique

Email: karen [dot] ng [at] Vanderbilt [dot] edu


Karen Ng is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. She received her B.A. from the University of Toronto, her M.A. from the University of Essex, and her PhD from The New School for Social Research. Her research area is 19th and 20th century European philosophy, focusing especially on Hegel, German idealism, Marx, and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. Her book, Hegel’s Concept of Life: Self-Consciousness, Freedom, Logic (OUP 2020) was awarded the 2021 Journal of the History of Philosophy Book Prize.

Research Project

Species-Being: Ethical Life and Social Critique

My research project aims to explore and reconsider the concept of species-being (Gattungswesen) as a framework for contemporary social critique, focusing on problems that arise within capitalism as a form of ethical life. Most famously associated with Feuerbach the early writings of Marx, I argue that the concept of species-being is most helpfully situated in connection with Hegel and German idealism, where it operates as a methodological framework that transforms the project of critique, first initiated by Kant. Formulated against the background of an organic conception of nature, species-being provides the horizon within which questions concerning the goodness and badness of a form of life become intelligible, from both a theoretical and practical point of view.

Selected publications


Hegel’s Concept of Life: Self-Consciousness, Freedom, Logic (Oxford University Press, 2020).


“Humanism: A Defense”, in: Philosophical Topics 49:1 (2021), 145–163.

“On Subjects, Objects, and Ground: Life as the Form of Judgment”, in: European Journal of Philosophy 29:4 (2021), 1162–1175.

“Public Opinion and Ideology in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”, in: Freedom, Right, Revolution: Practical Philosophy Between Kant and Hegel, ed. Gabriel Gottlieb and James Clarke (Cambridge University Press, 2021), 229–248.

“Social Freedom as Ideology”, Philosophy and Social Criticism 45:7 (2019): 795–818