Thomas Telios

Thomas Telios

Thomas Telios


Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Fachbereich Philosophie
Unterer Graben 21
9000 St. Gallen

Social and Political Philosophy

Social Ontology

Practical Philosophy

Feminist Philosophy

Scottish Enlightenment (Common Sense Philosophy)

German Idealism

Critical Theory (Frankfurt School)

Postwar French Philosophy (esp. Deconstruction and Post-Phenomenology)


Social and Political Philosophy

Social Ontology

Critical Theory

French post-war Philosophy

Feminist Philosophy (esp. Queer Theory and Theories of Intersectionality)

Weitere Forschungsgebiete

Philosophy of Subjectivity

Theories of Individual and Collective Agency

Theories of the Community

Queer Theory and Theories of Intersectionality

New Materialisms


(2010 – 2016) Ph.D. in Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany. 

  • Dissertation: “Subversion der Dialektik, Dialektik der Subversion: Zur Konstitution kollektiver Handlungsfähigkeit.” (eng: Subversion of Dialectics, Dialectics of Subversion. Towards a Constitution of Collective Agency). 
  • 1st Supervisor: Prof. Axel Honneth, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
  • 2nd Supervisor: Prof. Catherine Malabou, Kingston University London, UK.


(2007 – 2010) MA in Political Theory, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main and Technological University, Darmstadt, Germany.

  • Thesis: “Subject-Class-Crisis: Cross-ways of Subjectivity according to Butler, Hardt/Negri and Lukács.”
  • 1st Supervisor: Dr. Martin Saar, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany. 
  • 2nd Supervisor: Prof. Peter Niesen, Technological University, Darmstadt, Germany.


(2006 – 2009) MA in Music Performance (Piano and Chamber Music), Anton-Rubinstein-Akademie, Düsseldorf.


(2000 – 2005) BA in Law, Faculty of Law, Economics and Politics, National University of Athens, Greece.

  • Thesis: “The Freedom of the Arts, Art. 16 § 1 of the Greek Constitution.”
  • Supervisor: Prof. Andreas Dimitropoulos, National University of Athens, Greece.


(2000 – 2003) BA in Music Performance (Piano), State Conservatory of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece.



(02/2016 to date) Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS), University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

(10/2011 – 09/2013) Research Assistant, Department of Social Sciences, Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

(10/2010) Second Legal State Examination (Piraeus Bar Association, Greece).

(04/2010 – 09/2010) Teaching Assistant, Research Center “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

(04/2009 – 09/2010) Teaching Assistant, Department of Social Sciences, Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

(03/2009) Internship at medico international (NGO).

(12/2005 – 06/2006) Junior Lawyer (Senior Trainee), Fields of Expertise: Rights and Protection of Political Refugees.

(07/2005 – 12/2005) Junior Lawyer (Junior Trainee), Fields of Expertise: Human Rights and Law on Aliens.

(2005) First Legal State Examination (Piraeus Bar Association, Greece).



(exemplary list of taught courses) 


First Year Courses:    

Introduction to Philosophy: “Rethinking Solidarity” 

Introduction to Philosophy: “Social and Political Philosophy” 

Introduction to Philosophy: “What is Ethics?” 

Introduction to Philosophy: “What is Philosophy?” 



Undergraduate (second and third year) Courses: 

  • With a Social-Philosophical Thematic: 

“What Can Business School Students Learn from the Opera? Managing Diversity and In/Justice.”

"“I is Another”. Modern Subjectivity in Philosophy, Art, and Pop Culture."

“Socialism and its Discontents.”

“Critique of Law.”

“Critical Theory: An Introduction.”

“Democracy Revisited: Politics, Populism and the Political.”

“Body, Market, Society: Social-Philosophical Models.”  

“Hope and Utopia: Imagining another Social World.” 


  • With a PPE-Thematic: 

“Philosophy of the Market. On the Role and the Scope of Market Economy: Normative Perspectives."

"Philosophy of the Market: A Social-Ontological Perspective."

“A Clash of Giants: Adam Smith vs Karl Marx and the Ethical Content of Capitalism.” 

“Can there be a Democratic Capitalism? Forms of Critique for a Capitalism of the Future.”



Postgraduate Courses:  

“Rethinking Democracy – Against Extremism and Populism.” 

“From Neoliberalism to Financialization.” 

“The Politics of Forced Migration and Fleeing.”

“Common Sense: The Struggle for Subjectivity.”





  • Das Subjekt als Gemeinwesen. Zur Konstitution kollektiver Handlungsfähigkeit. (The Subject as Common Being. Founding Collective Agency.) Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag, 2021, 326 pages. 

Following Marx' dictum that "in his individual existence" the subject “is at the same time a social being”, my first book explores the question of collective agency of the decentered and socially constructed subject. In a first step, I turn to Karl Marx’ concept of the subject as a social being and explicate it through the concept of “communist subjectivity” based on Jean-Luc Nancy. In a second step and by applying the theories of Georg Lukács, Louis Althusser and Judith Butler, I show how the subject emerges at the intersection between labor, language and body practices. In a third step, the concept of the plastic body, which I borrow from Catherine Malabou’s concept of plasticity, serves to illustrate how the different identities encounter each other and relate to one another within the subject's singular body. 

My argument is that the subject as a collective being possesses collective agency and can act collectively because it has originated as a collective, i.e., as the intersection and point of condensation of societal modes of subjectivity production. This social-ontological justification of collective agency brings with it an anti-normative view of collective struggles, that are no longer subjected to the burden of moral regulations and identical policies in order to be justified. 


  • Common Sense. A Declaration of Dependence (ongoing).

In my second, still-ongoing, book-project titled Common Sense: A Declaration of Dependence (which will serve as my habilitation thesis at the University of St. Gallen), I turn to the notion of common sense and start by retelling the concept’s rich and controversial intellectual history. In common sense, I do not see a faculty or set of innate concepts and notions. Rather, I revisit, in a first step, the different common-sense theories in order to read them as denoting narratives of subjectivation, where the concrete social Other is manifested as a constitutive factor of the subject’s be(com)ing; hence also the subtitle of my book. Further, I go on to extrapolate three characteristics of this common subjectivity: embeddedness, plurality, and processuality. Finally, I reconceptualize critique, solidarity, and utopia to reappropriate them as forms of holistic, collective, and inclusive practices that correspond to the type of common subjectivity. 

Consulting thinkers such as Aristotle, Cicero, Thomas Reid, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Hannah Arendt, Gilles Deleuze, Nira Yuval-Davis, Karen Barad, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Mignolo, Jean-Luc Nancy and Ernst Bloch, my aim is to recalibrate common sense as both an epistemological means of philosophical contemplation and a normative means of radical democratization of democracy. 




  • Con-Subjektum: Retelling the Subject's Collective Becoming.

In a first, smaller, book-project I intend to tackle systematically the disparate and fragmentary idea of the collective essence of the individual subject that runs like an undercurrent – even if a minoritarian one – throughout the whole of western philosophy. Starting with Plato’s notion of multiformity in his Phaedrus, through Spinoza’s understanding of a “plural” body, Gottfried W. Leibniz’ monadology, Kant’s “manifold”, G. W. F. Hegel’s “I, that is, We”, Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Dividuum” and Marx’ “common being” to Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of “network subjectivity,” Cornelius Castoriadis’s understanding of the psyche as convoluted chaos, Luciano Floridi’s technologized understanding of the subject as a “collective subject”, the different notions of “swarm intelligence” from the Science-and-Technology Studies, and last but not least Malabou’s understanding of the subject as a “collective event”, the series of notions designating collectivity and awaiting to be sewn together is long. My aim through this cartography is nevertheless not mere descriptive. 

More importantly, my objective is to provide a systematic argument according to which collectivity appears as an (i) methodological, (ii) a logical, and, last but not least, (iii) an ontological necessity. With collectivity as methodological necessity I draw attention to the fact that both an intra- and interdisciplinary approach is needed in order to approximate the subject’s plurality and diversity. With collectivity as a logical necessity, I point out the fact that collectivity is necessitated by the subject’s social-ontological construction at the intersection of more than mode of subjectivity production. Finally, the concept of ontological collectivity underscores collectivity as an operation that enables to think subjectivity not only in its incommensurable singularity but also as an entangled entity breaching through the individualist façade of the integral subject. 


  • Pluralizing the Juridical. Towards a Collective Philosophy of Law.

While legal philosophy operates with the concept of the individual will at its basis, the philosophical research in social ontology and collective intentionality questions the liberty and self-legislation of the individual’s autonomous will. Instead, they supplement the sovereign individual with an understanding of a subject that is socially constructed and therefore genuinely collective since it is brought forward through various processes of and modes of subjectivity production. This realization has two far-reaching and radical repercussions both for the subject’s collective agency and collective practices. First, collective agency, i.e., the subject’s capacity to engage in collective practices by attaching its practices to those of other subjects, becomes inherent to the subject’s becoming. Therefore, it is a primary mode of action and does not need to be derived by the individual’s – well-noted – metaphysically presupposed individual agency. Second, collective practices do not need to be legitimized or justified. Rather, they also become first-order practices that are necessarily collective. This means that collective practices do not require a normative reason – be that a certain identity, goal, or legal text – that could bring tendentially individuals together. On the contrary, collective actions are recalibrated, in this framework, as necessary actions that correspond to the subject’s emergence as a collective and plural entity. 

In this light, the social-ontological framework does not put only the legal concept of free will under pressure. Certain rights and freedoms, like the freedom of association and the freedom of assembly seem also to demand a resignification through the relations between individuals and social groups. Whereas philosophy of law sees therein an agreement based on interest, social-ontology and collective intentionality see in the group a condition of the subject’s self-realization that they call social freedom. Further, while legal philosophy takes off from the existence of a certain preexisting entity, i.e., the people, social-ontology and collective intentionality recognize in groups, such as the people, but not only, a set of open and contingent practices. The difference therein is that while – from a legal perspective – the people is a legally sanctioned entity, the people is – from a social-philosophical and social-ontological perspective – praxeologically determinable. If the former is ontological and positivist, then the latter is performative and immanent. Finally, these conceptual differences influence gravely the forms that the realization of the freedom of association or the freedom of assembly can acquire. While within legal philosophy the forms of those practices are pregiven by law, social ontology and collective intentionality plea for a more open horizon of practices that seem to subvert and challenge established legal frameworks. The nascent field of Legal Social Ontology, as well as the theoretical frameworks of Earth Jurisprudence and Wild Law from the t from the Political Ecology are called upon to assist in this endeavor.  


  • Pluriphony. A Social-Ontological Philosophy of Music.

Finally, a further prospective project centers on aesthetic collectivities. Thereby, I do not wish to tackle process of artistic creation, nor to address the collective character of works of art; two topics that have been excessively discussed within aesthetic philosophy. Rather, I want to go back to the various forms of collective, (chamber-)musical, performance from the early Renaissance to nowadays in order to highlight their theoretical structuration and evaluate their political status. My working hypothesis thereby is that both social-ontological and (radical-)democratic theorizations of collectivity have a lot to positively learn or negatively become aware of from the different constellations and types of work of musical groups. By treating the different forms of musical ensembles (from duos to full-fledged orchestras) as prototypical and exemplary forms of democratic organization, I scope on the one hand to illustrate how concepts stemming from the theoretical arsenal of social-ontology and social-philosophy can be rethought within artistic practice and on the other hand how historic forms of musical praxis can be rethought so as to reinvigorate current philosophical debates and political practices.


2023 Research grant from the Research Committee of the University of St. Gallen for the Conference “Resentment & Utopia” (14.300 CHF).

2020 Research grant from the Research Committee of the University of St. Gallen for the Conference “From Common Sense to Common Practices: The Timeliness of an old Concept” (12.700 CHF). 

2017 Research grant from the Swiss National Research Foundation (SNF) for the Conference A Hundred Years that Shook the World: Failures, Legacies, and Futures of the Russian Revolution (9.150 CHF).

2017 Research grant from the Research Committee of the University of St. Gallen for the Conference A Hundred Years that Shook the World: Failures, Legacies, and Futures of the Russian Revolution (15.000 CHF).

2015 Doctorate Scholarship from the Anna-Ruths-Foundation (4.050 EUR).

2015 Research grant from the Köhler-Foundation for the Conference Challenging Collectivities (5.000 EUR).

2015 Research grant from DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) for studies abroad (1.500 EUR).

2014 Publishing grant from the Georg-and-Franziska Speyer Foundation for the book Critical Matter. Diskussionen eines neuen Materialismus (1.800 EUR).

2011 – 2015 Doctorate Scholarship of the Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation (48.300 EUR).

2006 – 2008 Scholarship of the Academy of Athens (36.000 EUR).