Beyond the scientist: Evert van Leeuwen


Where and when were you born?

In Haarlem, in 1954, born in a family with two older sisters and later a younger sister and a brother.

Where do you live and with whom?

Since September 2014 I live alone in Beek Ubbergen as a widower, having three children with two partners who live, work and study in Gouda, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

At a young age it was an uncle who was a farmer, later it developed into writers and philosophers like Russell, Sartre, Roland Barthes and Simone de Beauvoir. In music, my role models were Sjostakovitch, Tjaikovski, Albert de Clerq, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis.

Why aren’t you doing the same thing now as your role model (or do you?)

I decided late in my studies in philosophy that I wanted to contribute as a philosopher and ethicist to actual practices and not so much add more books. My musical talent was unfortunately limited by lack of a good sense of rhythm. Too philosophical as my music teacher told me.

What is the thing in your (work or other) history that you are most proud of?

It gives me much pleasure and pride when colleagues tell me that I have contributed to make morally responsible decisions in clinical situations as well in dealing with research protocols. I am proud of PhDs who realized my ideals of empirically based ethical reasoning.

What is it that you would like to achieve in work in the next 5 to 10 years?

Since I am 62, it will be short notice! I want to achieve that the Radboudumc has a Research Ethics Committee that is recognized in Europe for its expertise. Furthermore I hope to spread moral deliberation as a valuable activity. Last I hope to contribute to a development in healthcare that endorses human frailty and vulnerability.

For what can we wake you up?

Music, art, poetry and …. Fast cars.

What is your hobby and how good are you at it?

Cooking, rather well according to others, gardening, improving according to my gardener, car-driving in cities like Naples, New York, Paris, excellent. Gardening replaced construction work in renovating houses. Philosophers need to use their hands as well.

What is your biggest irritation?

What Sartre called mauvaise foi: lying and deceiving (yourself and others) for the ‘higher’ cause or ‘greater’ good.

Who would you like to invite for dinner, if you had the chance?

My wife and Sigmund Freud. Would be a tremendous debate.

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