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Maximilian Gregor Hepach MA

Maximilian Gregor Hepach MA

PhD Candidate

Maximilian's main interests lie in the philosophy of geography and geographical theory. His current research focuses on how we come to understand climate(-change) through the lenses of scientific, speculative, and phenomenological realism.



  • MA in Philosophy, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, 2017.
    • Dissertation: "The perceptibility of weather. Phenomenological approaches to weather in Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Günter Figal" (in German)
  • BA in Philosophy, Universität Wien, 2015.


  • Cambridge AHRC Studentship, October 2018.
  • Cambridge European Scholarship, October 2018.


External websites: TwitterPhilPeopleORCID

My research seeks to clarify the epistemologies and ontologies underlying our understanding of climate and its changes by reflecting on the ways climate is considered to be real.

I set out by investigating the constitutive role of scientific theory, measurement, and modelling in our understanding climate(-change). I argue that understanding climate as a global climate system is not the only way climate can be considered real. Constraining oneself to a scientific realist account of climate consequently limits our imagination concerning what it means to live with/through changing climates.

Building upon recent work in Anthropology (Ingold) and Human Geography (Hulme) concerning the interconnection between weather, climate, and culture, I develop a phenomenological account of climate which does not reduce climate to a set of variables, but considers the complex intertwinement of atmosphere, mood, perception, cultural adaptation, etc.

In my reading, Phenomenology is not concerned with a detailed description of subjective experience, but with uncovering the underlying structures of perception, experience, and existence (following Husserl, Watsuji, Merleau-Ponty, and Figal). Phenomenology is hence uniquely capable of accounting for climate, given that climate itself is a determinant of perception, experience, existence. Climate is–I aim to show–inherently phenomenological.

Within geographical theory, my research consequently aims to question the post-phenomenological turn in Geography, especially the usefulness of Speculative Realism/Object-Oriented Ontology for understanding climate and its changes. Hence, alongside my account of climate, I revaluate the history and role of Phenomenology in Geography (esp. German and Japanese Phenomenology) in order to show that Phenomenology's potential for Geography has not yet been fully realised.

I finally aim to critically evaluate the adequacy of my phenomenological account of climate through an investigation of Japanese cultural and philosophical concepts of climate, in particular of 風土 [fudō].



  • "A Phenomenology of Weather and Qi", in: The Journal of Japanese Philosophy, 5(1), 43-65, 2018.
  • "Dasein as an Answer from Nothingness", in: Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy, 13, 23-27, 2018.

Select conference presentations

  • "(In-)Conspicuous Climate." Paper presented at the Atmospheres of Shared Emotion Workshop, University of Vienna. Vienna, Austria, April 2019.
  • "Identity as mnemonic dialectic. The (dis-)entanglement of enlightenment." Paper presented at the Warwick Continental Philosophy Conference, University of Warwick. Coventry, United Kingdom, June 2018.
  • "Feeling, seeing, breathing air? Experiencing the (in-)conspicuousness of air." Paper presented at the Cultural Histories of Air and Illness Conference, University of Warwick. Coventry, United Kingdom, June 2018.
  • "A phenomenology of weather and ki." Paper presented at the European Network of Japanese Philosophy Conference, Université Libre de Bruxelles. Brussels, Belgium, December 2016.
  • "Attempting a philosophy of climate." Paper presented at the East-West Philosophers' Conference, University of Hawaii'i at Manoa. Honolulu, United States, May 2016.


  • Teaching assistant, State University of New York at Stony Brook
    • Logical and Critical Reasoning, Spring 2018
    • Introduction to Ancient Philosophy, Fall 2017

External activities

  • MCR Welfare Secretary at Girton College
  • Postgraduate fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
  • Member of the German Society for Philosophy
  • Member of German Society for Phenomenological Research