Dieter Mersch studied mathematics and philosophy in Cologne and Bochum. In 1992, he earned a PhD in semiotics, rationalism and the critique of rationalism under the tutelage of Umberto Eco. He published his post-doctoral thesis Materialität, Präsenz, Ereignis. Untersuchungen zu den Grenzen des Symbolischen (Materialism, presence, occurrence. Investigating the boundaries of the symbolic) in 2000.
Mersch was visiting professor at many universities, and he has lectured full-time at the University of Potsdam since 2004 where he is professor of media theory and media studies. His research focuses on media philosophy, linguistic philosophy, philosophical aesthetics, the philosophy of art, semiotics, hermeneutics and post-structuralism, as well as on 19th and 20th century philosophy. In the broadest sense, his work revolves around the philosophy of art and art as philosophy – in this context a key role is played in particular by the concepts of presence and eventfulness.