A new research project at the University of Utrecht. Find out more on the Projects page.

Organized by the Research Centre for the Foundations of Modern Thought (FME), University of Bucharest, in collaboration with the Philosophy Department at Princeton University

8 – 13 July 2014
Bran, Romania

De rerum natura: Naturalism, Supernaturalism, Unnaturalism

Invited speakers include: Daniel Garber (Princeton), Roger Ariew (South Florida), Igor Agostini (Università del Salento), Peter Anstey (Sydney), Olivier Dubouclez (Liège), Justin E.H. Smith (Paris), Tamás Pavlovits (Szeged), Jennifer Rampling (Princeton), Charles T. Wolfe (Ghent).

This seminar is concerned with early-modern conceptions of nature in the broadest sense. We will inquire into definitions of the natural and of what lies beyond or goes against it within several quarters of early modern thought, from the late Renaissance up to the early eighteenth century. In line with the important influence that Lucretius’s great Epicurean poem, “De rerum natura,” had at the time, we will raise the issue of naturalism, and attempts in figures as diverse as Cardano, Telesio, Bacon, Hobbes, or Spinoza to explain everything or nearly everything in naturalistic terms. The Epicurean, as well as Stoic and Platonic, influences are also at work in the traditions of natural history, from Pliny to Bacon and beyond, as well as in the new trends of medicine, natural magic, astrology, and alchemy, where reflections on the scope of the natural went hand in hand with practical thinking about technological and experimental intervention into nature. Drawing the boundaries of the natural and exploring the territory of the un-natural, preter-natural or contra-natural (whether in the form of ghosts, demons, monsters, or diseases) was also a powerful early modern concern. There was also the key development of new definitions of nature articulated in terms of natural laws and of their relationship with God, as well as discussions of the infinite and the finite with reference to both the natural and the super-natural worlds, such as in Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, or Newton. Whether committed to vital(ist) or to mechanical frames of thought, and whether using the instruments of physics, metaphysics, or mathematics, of medicine, alchemy, or the interventionist arts, these early modern inquiries asked fundamental questions about the boundaries of the natural, the structure and potential of matter, the status of the mind and the status of the human being with respect to nature.

The Bucharest-Princeton Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy is an international annual meeting of scholars interested in various aspects of early modern thought. The aim of the seminar is to create a stimulating environment for discussing papers and ideas. It includes workshops in the morning and presentations of papers in the afternoon, where participants can present work in progress. While the morning sessions will focus on the theme of “De rerum natura: Naturalism, Supernaturalism, Unnaturalism,” the afternoon sessions seek to give participants the opportunity to discuss their own special interests with an open and sympathetic audience of students and scholars with broad interests in early modern thought. Throughout we try to maintain a balance between the high scholarly level and the informal friendly spirit of a colloquium.

The Seminar will take place in Bran, a small mountain resort near Brasov, in Transylvania. It will be hosted in a small, friendly Bed and Breakfast (single or double rooms). The participation fee is 150 EUR for faculty and 90 EUR for students (covering accommodation with breakfast). We invite applications for contributions (from researchers) and for attendance (from students). If you want to contribute a paper, please send a CV and a one-page abstract, and if you want to attend, a CV and a letter of intent – by April 20 – to Vlad Alexandrescu (valexandrescu@gmail.com), Dana Jalobeanu (dana.jalobeanu@celfis.ro).


Beth Lord’s and Peg Rawes’ project on Spinoza, equality, and housing design now has a new website: http://www.equalitiesofwellbeing.co.uk

Originally posted on Equalities of Wellbeing in Philosophy and Architecture:

Our project website is now live at www.equalitiesofwellbeing.co.uk . Check it out, and ‘Follow by Email’ to receive updates about the project.

New on the website:

  • The first two entries of architect Rae Whittow-Williams’ Housing Design Diary, responding to current issues in housing design and equality
  • Details of our upcoming Equalities of Wellbeing & Housing workshop at University College London, 29 April 2014
  • Find out more about the project team and our current research.

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The sixteenth annual meeting of the South Central Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy will be held Friday-Saturday, May 30-31, 2014 at Texas A&M University, College Station.

Confirmed speakers include Gary Hatfield (Penn), Roger Ariew (South Florida), Geoffrey Gorham (Macalester), Julie Walsh (Québec, Montréal), Kristen Primus (NYU), and Patrick Connolly (Iowa State).

Others who would like to be considered for inclusion on the program should submit completed papers of 3000-5000 words (including notes) to Stephen H. Daniel (sdaniel@tamu.edu) no later than April 15, 2014. The Texas A&M Early Modern Philosophy Initiative will cover the costs of accommodations, meals, and up to $500 for travel and speaker fees for those selected for inclusion on the program.

Information here: http://earlymodernphilosophy.tamu.edu/~sdaniel/seminar14cfp.html


The first event of the Equalities of Wellbeing project has been announced. This is not strictly a Spinoza event, but anyone interested in this project – on Spinoza, equality, and housing – may be interested in attending (London).

Originally posted on Equalities of Wellbeing in Philosophy and Architecture:

Details of the project’s first public event:
Equalities of Wellbeing & Housing Workshop
Tuesday 29th April
10.00-4.00pm UCL
A one-day seminar that examines current issues of UK housing through panels on: space and housing standards, equality and affordability, and design and wellbeing.  
Speakers include:  Alex Ely (Mae Architects); Phil Hamilton (Peter Barber Architects); Brian Quinn (CABE); Maddy Powers (Equality Trust); Andrea Phillips (Goldsmiths); David Roberts (UCL). 
For more information contact: Peg Rawes: m.rawes@ucl.ac.uk
Booking is free, but places must be reserved. 

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University of Aberdeen, Scotland

14-15 May 2014

Sir Duncan Rice Library, Meeting Room 1 (7th floor, room 706)

Keynote Speakers:

  • Susan James (Birkbeck/ Princeton), Spinoza on Political and Individual Freedom
  • John Sellars (Birkbeck/Oxford), Shaftesbury, Stoicism, and Philosophy as a Way of Life

Other speakers:

  • Olivia Bailey (Harvard University), Empathy, Care, and Understanding in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments
  • Thomas D. Micklich and Roman Alexander Barton (Humboldt University, Berlin), Transformations of Sympathy: Shaftesbury and Adam Smith between Ancients and Moderns
  • J. D. Taylor (University of Roehampton), Collective Bodies, Collective Minds: Reason, Security and Power in Spinoza’s Tractatus Politicus
  • Arnaud Milanese (ENS-Lyon), Bacon’s Uses of the History of Philosophy
  • Rodolfo Garau (University of Torino / Max Planck institute for the History of Science, Berlin), The Sources and Strategies of Hobbes’s Mechanical Doctrine of Self-Preservation
  • Noa Naaman-Zauderer (Tel Aviv University), Self-Experience and the Imago Dei in Descartes and Spinoza
  • Gregor Kroupa (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), Truth Through Fiction: History Written by Philosophers
  • Donald Ainslie (University of Toronto), Hume’s Essential Fictions
  • Nausicaa Elena Milani (University of Parma, Italy), Cartesianism and Anticartesianism in the Régis-Huet Debate
  • Balint Kekedi (University of Aberdeen), The Role of Animal Passions in the Cognitive Economy of Humans and Higher Animals in Descartes

Registration: Attendance is free. For organizational purposes, please register by emailing s.b.lord@abdn.ac.uk with your name and institutional affiliation (if relevant).

The conference programme, including practical information, can be downloaded here: SSEMP V program


Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen) s.b.lord@abdn.ac.uk
and Mogens Lærke (University of Aberdeen / CNRS, UMR 5037, ENS-Lyon) m.laerke@abdn.ac.uk

The event is sponsored by: The Scots Philosophical Association; The School of Divinity, History and Philosophy (University of Aberdeen); The British Society for the History of Philosophy; ANR Anthopos (ENS-Lyon); Brill Academic Publishers

For those interested in attending both events, please note that the SSEMP V takes place on the two days immediately following the conference Three Hundred Years of Leibniz’s Monadology organized by Dr. Jeremy Dunham and Dr. Pauline Phemister at the University of Edinburgh on 12-13 May 2014.

Venice (Italy), March 20-21, 2014

University Ca’ Foscari Venice – Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage

THURSDAY, MARCH 20, Aula Baratto, Ca’ Foscari

2:30. Welcome Introduction by Emanuela Scribano.

2:45–3:45. Denis Moreau (Nantes): “Croisement, permutation: sur un schéma récurrent d’explication de l’erreur dans les philosophies de l’âge classique”.

3:45–4:45. Daniel Garber (Princeton): “Fact, Fiction and Error in Bacon and the Royal Society”.

5:00–6:00. Gianni Paganini (Piemonte Orientale): “Significato ed errore in Hobbes”.

FRIDAY, MARCH 21, Aula Milone, Palazzo Malcanton-Marcorà

9:00–10:00. Emanuela Scribano (Ca’ Foscari Venice): “Cartesio e l’errore: dalla fisiologia alla teodicea”.

10:00–11:00. Denis Kambouchner (Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne): “L’analyse morale de l’erreur chez Pierre Nicole”.

11:15–12:15. Delphine Kolesnik-Antoine (ENS-Lyon): “Imagination et erreur chez Malebranche”.

12.15–1.15. Filippo Mignini (Macerata): “Del diritto all’errore in Spinoza”.

3:00–4:00. Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero (Ca’ Foscari Venice): “D’où vient qu’on juge? Leibniz on the Ultimate Origin of Error”.

4:00–5:00. Stefano di Bella (Milano): “Between Descartes and Spinoza. Leibniz on Error”.

5:15–6:15. Mariangela Priarolo (Ca’ Foscari Venice): “Le conseguenze dell’errore. Alcuni presupposti della riflessione di Leibniz sulla tolleranza”.

Attendance is free.

Contacts: matteo.favaretti@unive.it or mariangela.priarolo@unive.it


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