Matthew Ratcliffe, Professor, Department of Philosophy

Matthew is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of York.

He joined the University in September 2018, having previously held positions at the University of Vienna (2015-2018), Durham University (2002-2015), and University College Cork (2000-2002).

He works in the field of Phenomenology (the philosophical study of experience).


Our 60-second interview with Matthew:

Could you please tell us what work you do in the field of mental health?

My work addresses forms of experience that are disorienting, poorly understood, and difficult to articulate. For example, the world as a whole might appear strange, unfamiliar, unreal, or devoid of significance. Such experiences are associated with various psychiatric diagnoses, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.

What do you find most rewarding and inspiring in this work?

Reflecting on how the structure of human experience can be profoundly disrupted and altogether transformed cultivates a sense of wonder – what was once taken for granted is revealed to be contingent, fragile, highly variable, and thoroughly puzzling.

What is the most challenging or complicated aspect of this work?

I am increasingly interested in how phenomenological disturbances involve changes in the sense of time. And, whenever I think about time, I end up feeling utterly bewildered.

What impact do you hope your work is having - or can potentially have?

My work casts light on forms of experience that are central to many psychiatric conditions. It has helped people to better understand and convey their own experiences, while also fostering empathy on the part of others. In addition, it has the potential to inform psychiatric classification, diagnosis, and treatment.

Could you share with us one piece of advice that you follow for your own mental health?

I give myself lots of advice but am not very good at following it. Recurring failures include “don’t check your email every ten minutes” and “just have the one glass of wine tonight”.

Read Matthew's staff profile