My grandparents were German Jews on one side and Brazilian communists on the other. The Jewish grandparents sought refuge in Brazil; my parents later fled Brazil's military dictatorship and found asylum back in Germany. I grew up between worlds that weren’t just different, but jarring: German, Brazilian, Jewish, Catholic, Marxist—a one-man-clash-of-civilizations. This sparked a great deal of questions: about right and wrong, truth and falsehood. As a teenager I would spend long afternoons in the library, searching for answers in a pile of philosophy books

After studying in Berlin and Jerusalem (with detours through São Paulo, Paris, and Cairo), I earned my doctorate in 2000. That same year, I started teaching at McGill University in Montreal where I was awarded the William Dawson Scholarship for Outstanding Young Professors. In 2013 I was appointed to a Professorship in Comparative Religion and Philosophy at Oxford University. I returned to McGill where I became James McGill Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies in 2016.

Visiting professorships took me to different parts of the world, including the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Al-Quds University, the Alauddin State Islamic University in Makassar (Indonesia), the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. I was also awarded numerous research fellowships, for example at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the German Humboldt Foundation, the Maimonides Center for Advanced Studies in Hamburg, the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin, and the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna.

My work lies at the intersection of philosophy, religion, ethics, and politics, informed by interlocking historical and systematic concerns. I've written on philosophers such as Plato, Themistius, al-Fârâbî, al-Ghazâlî, Maimonides, and Spinoza; on conducting philosophical discussions in places of conflict--for example with Palestinian students, lapsed Hasidic Jews, and members of a Native American community; on the norms that should govern our approach to diversity (cultural, religious etc.); and on the ancient concept of philosophy as a "craft" of living. My last book, Teaching Plato in Palestine: Philosophy in a Divided World, was awarded the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction. I am currently completing a book titled Radical Ancients: Philosophy as Experiments in Living.

Throughout my career I have intertwined academic and public scholarship, contributing to the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times, the Nation, Boston Review, the Jewish Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Dissent, The Point, Liberties, and other publications. In German, occasional essays appeared in Die Zeit, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and Lettre International.

The overarching goal of my public-facing work is to show how we can use philosophy and its history to spur debates in society and across languages and cultures, imparting a philosophical ethos and a set of techniques rather than a rigid body of doctrines.

See my full CV here.