Ruud Welten
  • Warandelaan 2, Dante Building, room D 235

    5037 AB Tilburg


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

poststructuralism, existentialism


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Personal profile

Research interests

And Then There Was Nothing

The Birth of (Post-)Modern French Philosophy From The Spirit of Poetry


My research is about poetry and philosophy, two fully linguistic domains of the human mind. Both poetry and philosophy expand language, change it, in an attempt to say what could not yet be said. Yet, more than philosophy, poetry is capable of stripping language of its comforting meaning in order to build a new language. Towards the end of the 19th century, at about the same time as Nietzsche's declaration of the death of God, the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé observed that the umbilical cord between man and meaning had been almost imperceptibly severed. Mallarmé's diagnosis heralded a transition from Romanticism to modernity, where meaning of belief, feeling and expression would give way to the disappearance of meaning: hence the title And Then There Was Nothing. Instead of escaping it, poets such as Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, also known together with Mallarmé as the 'poètes maudits' (accursed poets), tried to bring this nothingness to full clarity. These accursed poets turned against the hypocrisy of the bourgeois spirit that sought refuge in false securities and in the all-objectifying gaze of science. What they were left with was a universe of symbols that held the promise of true meaning in the tragic realisation that this true meaning had long since been lost. The poetry of the accursed poets was dominated by the naked origins of human existence. The poets were not so much looking for a solution, but for a radical demolition of the language with which society had until then understood itself. Much later, French philosophers from Jean-Paul Sartre to Julia Kristeva seized upon this poetry to initiate the re-creative power of language, a power that goes beyond the merely philosophical.  In this research, modern and postmodern French philosophy is examined in the light of late-nineteenth-century French poetry. The research focuses on the work of among others Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, and the philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Hyppolite, Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, and Julia Kristeva.


  • 1985-1998 Musician, music teacher
  • 1998-2006 Lecturer Philosophy and Ethics, Catholic Theological University at Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 1998-2004 Lecturer Arts and Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2000-2005 Visiting Lecturer Contemporary Philosophy, Free University Amsterdam (VU), The Netherlands
  • 2005-2006 Lecturer Philosophy, University of Tilburg, Philosophy Faculty (Social and political philosophy, Aesthetics)
  • 2007-present Lecturer Philosophy, University of Tilburg, Faculty of Humanities, dpt. Religious Studies and Theology, dpt. Philosophy (since 2009) (0,5 fte)
  • 2006-2010 Liberal Arts institute Academia Vitae, Deventer (0,4 fte)
  • 2007-2009 Moderator of the Study Group of the Dutch Humanists working in prison for mental care, on account of the Ministerie van Justitie, Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen.
  • 2010-present Professor of Applied Sciences (lector) Ethics, Saxion University of Applied Sciences
  • 2015-present Professor of special appointment Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam vanwege Stichting Thomas More


Current courses

Click here for my courses.

External positions

Onderzoek en onderwijs (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)

1 Nov 20151 Mar 2025


  • Self (The)
  • Philosophy
  • Self Consciousness
  • Contemporary Philosophy; History Of
  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Psycho-analysis
  • Philosophy Of Culture
  • Levinas
  • Tourism
  • Aesthetics
  • Phenomenology
  • Poetry
  • Jacques Lacan
  • Julia Kristeva
  • Feminism
  • Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Simone de Beauvoir
  • Post-structuralism


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