upcoming events

Valtteri Viljanen at the London Spinoza Circle on Thursday 23rd January 2020

valtteri2013At the next meeting of the London Spinoza Circle on Thursday 23rd January 2020, 3 – 5pm, Valtteri Viljanen (University of Turku) will speak on

Spinoza on Scepticism, Truth, and Method

Location: Birkbeck, University of London, Dreyfus Room, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ



In this talk, I offer a new interpretation of Spinoza’s method of distinguishing the true ideas from the false, which shows that his answer to the sceptic is not a failure. This method, as presented in the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, combines analysis and synthesis as follows: if we can say of the object of an idea (a) which simple things underlie it, (b) how it can be constructed out of simple elements, and (c) what properties it has after it has been produced, doubt concerning the object simply makes no sense. I also discuss the distinction between the intrinsic and the extrinsic denomination of an idea and suggest a way in which the methodology of the Treatise connects to the ontology of the Ethics.

All welcome and no registration is required

London Spinoza Circle: Spring and Summer Terms 2020

The London Spinoza Circle have organised four meetings for the coming spring and summer terms. All meetings will take place from 3pm to 5pm.


Spring Term

Thursday 23rd January      

Valtteri Viljanen (University of Turku)


Thursday 6th February

Martin Lenz (University of Groningen)


Thursday 19th March        

Pina Totaro (Università di Roma Sapienza)

The three meetings above will take place in the Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, University of London, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ.


Summer Term

Thursday 25th June       

Kristin Primus (UC Berkeley)

Room location to be confirmed


The titles of the presentations will be announced closer to the date.


CFP: Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy XI

7-8 May 2020, French Institute/Institut Français, Edinburgh.


Keynote speakers:

Alix Cohen (University of Edinburgh)

Philip​pe Hamou (University of Paris X-Nanterre)


SSEMP XI is the eleventh edition of a yearly international workshop that brings together established scholars, young researchers and advanced graduate students working in the field of Early Modern Philosophy. SSEMP welcomes papers on any topic in early modern philosophy (broadly defined to mean pre-Kantian philosophy ranging from late Renaissance philosophy to the early Enlightenment). We encourage proposals which consider early modern philosophy in relation to related disciplines, such as theology, the history of literature, intellectual history and the history of science. Since the 2020 edition of the SSEMP takes place at the Institut Français at St. Giles, this year we welcome in particular contributions concerned with relations between Scottish and French philosophy. The SSEMP makes an effort to ensure a reasonable gender balance.

Submissions for the regular program should include a 300-word abstract + contact information gathered in A SINGLE PDF-FILE named: “your-surname.your-brief-title.abstract.pdf” (e.g. “smith.spinoza-and-essences.abstract.pdf’). Do not blind submissions. Graduate students submitting to the regular program should include contact information for one referee (typically the supervisor.) NB: BLINDED OR INCORRECTLY NAMED SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE REGISTERED. Deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 January 2020. They should be sent by email to Mogens Lærke on mogenslaerke@hotmail.com. Due to very high numbers of submissions we cannot undertake to provide individual answers to all of them. Applicants who have not been contacted by 15 February should consider their submission declined.

The SSEMP awards a Graduate Student Essay Prize which this year, as in previous years, is funded by The British Society for the History of Philosophy (BSHP). The prize includes an invitation to present the essay at the SSEMP and a bursary of £300 toward travel and accommodation. The bursary cannot be used for any other purpose. Submissions to the essay competition should include: (1) Name, affiliation, name and email of supervisor, and personal contact information; (2) the complete essay (max. 6000 words, including notes). Everything, including contact information should be gathered in a single pdf-file entitled as follows: “your-surname.your-brief-title.essay.pdf” (e.g “jones.hume-on-habit.essay.pdf”). Do not blind submissions. NB: BLINDED OR INCORRECTLY NAMED SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE REGISTERED. Deadline for submissions is 15 January 2020. They should be sent by email to Mogens Lærke on mogenslaerke@hotmail.com. Those who wish to submit a proposal both as a complete text for the essay competition and as a short abstract for the regular program are free to do so.

Please note that the SSEMP cannot provide funding for travel or accommodation for speakers. We do, however, hope to be able to offer sandwich lunches and a conference dinner. Participants should expect two full conference days on 7-8 May.



Jonathan Cottrell (University of Edinburgh): j.cottrell@ed.ac.uk

Mogens Lærke (Maison Française d’Oxford): mogenslaerke@hotmail.com



Institut Français, Edinburgh

Philosophy Department, Edinburgh University

Maison Française d’Oxford (MFO)

Scottish Philosophical Association (SPA)

British Society for the History of Philosophy (BSHP)


London Spinoza Circle Graduate Workshop on 21st November 2019

The London Spinoza Circle Graduate Workshop takes place on Thursday 21st November 2019 from 9:45am to 5:00pm at Birkbeck College, University of London, Dreyfus Room, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ.


9.45 – 10.00:      Welcome

10.00 – 10.30:    Weak Individuals: A Spinozist Perspective – Emanuele Costa, (Birkbeck College and Johns Hopkins University):

10.30 – 11.00   Discussion


11.00 – 11.30:     The Second Kind of Knowledge and the Activity of the Ethics – Andrea Ray (University of Chicago)

11.30 – 12.00     Discussion


12.00 – 12.30      ‘The Whole Earth is Full of His Glory’: Amor Dei Intellectualis

as Gloria in Ethics V – John Heyderman – (Birkbeck College)

12.30 – 1.00       Discussion


1.00 – 2.00          LUNCH BREAK


2.00 – 2.30           Hegel and Spinoza on Freedom – Jason Yonover (Johns Hopkins University)

2.30 – 3.00           Discussion


3.00 – 3.30           On Laws, Human Nature and Beings of Reason in Spinoza – Kasper Kristensen, Uppsala University

3.30 – 4.00           Discussion


4.00 – 4.30           Identity, Agreement and ‘Othering’: Spinoza’s Politics of Recognition –  Steph Marston (Birkbeck College)

4.30 – 5.00       Discussion


The full programme including abstracts can be found on the London Spinoza Circle site here.

All are welcome and no registration is required.

Barnaby Hutchins and Ursula Renz at the London Spinoza Circle on 10th October 2019


At our meeting on Thursday 10th October 2019, 3.00 – 5.00pm, we are very pleased to have Barnaby Hutchins (Ghent University) and Ursula Renz, (University of Klagenfurt) who will speak on

Spinoza on Human Subjectivity and the Notion of God’s Intellect
Birkbeck, University of London, Dreyfus Room, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ



Spinoza’s Ethics is frequently interpreted, especially in recent scholarship, as maintaining that everything, including human subjects, is grounded in God or substance – that substance is the sole fundamental feature of reality. At the same time, the perspective of finite minds seems to play a non-trivial role in the constitution of reality. How can this (seeming) tension between these two positions be reconciled? In our paper, we argue for three claims: (1) both positions are necessary for Spinoza’s metaphysics, but neither is reducible to the other; (2) to account for both of them, given their mutual irreducibility, subjectivity itself must be comprehended as a function of finite beings; (3) the notion of infinite intellect plays a transcendental-philosophical role, and is not a metaphysical description of the nature of God. Through the elaboration of these three claims, we propose a new picture of Spinoza’s metaphysics, according to which human subjectivity is an integral, irreducible, and ineliminable – and thereby fundamental – feature of reality.

All welcome and no registration required.

Symposium: Spinoza and the arts: passionate reason

A 2-day international symposium, 4-5 October 2019
At West Den Haag art gallery, the Hague, the Netherlands

Featuring papers and discussion from Moira Gatens, Beth Lord, Katja Diefenbach, Mogens Laerke, Andrea Sangiacomo, and Torkild Thanem, moderated by Baruch Gottlieb.

Full information and registration available here

PDF with programme, paper abstracts, and further information here: Spinoza-Symposium-2019-final

Washington Spinoza Society

The 19th season of the Washington Spinoza Society will officially begin on Monday, September 9th at 6:30 p.m at the BCC Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD, Conference Room Norfolk (C).

The presenter will be Professor Yitzhak Melamed (Johns Hopkins University), speaking on “Spinoza’s ‘Atheism.’”  In this paper, Professor Melamed will attempt to show that the only sense in which Spinoza can be genuinely considered an atheist is one that is not particularly informative.

All welcome.

6th Finnish-Hungarian Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy

6th Finnish-Hungarian Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy https://fhsemp.wordpress.com<https://fhsemp.wordpress.com/>

6–7 June 2019

University of Helsinki

Main building, hall 8


Thursday June 6


9:30:Jack Stetter (Paris 8) Spinoza on Stupidity: The Power of False Ideas and Persistent Ignorance

11:00:Ericka Tucker (Marquette University) Hobbes and Spinoza on Conatus

13:30:Jessica Tizzard (University of Connecticut) Why does Kant Think We Must Believe in the Immortal Soul?

15:00:Jen Nguyen (Harvard) Leibniz on Distance

16:15:Zachary Agoff (San Francisco State University) A Metaphysical Method for Moral Development: Descartes and Elisabeth on Morally Relevant Knowledge


Friday June 7

9:30:Kevin R. Busch (Davidson College) Hume on the Origin and Limits of Thought

11:00:Timo Kaitaro (University of Helsinki) Hume and the Artificial Structures of the Human Mind

13:30:Nicholas Vallone (University of Wisconsin-Madison) Locke’s Theory of Memory

15:00:Matthew Leisinger (Cambridge) Cudworth on Freewill

16:30:Invited speaker Alison Simmons (Harvard) New Narratives in Early Modern Philosophy: The Road Ahead



Attendance is free and everyone is warmly welcome. Please write us so we can take your participation into consideration with practicalities: fhsemp2019@gmail.com<mailto:fhsemp2019@gmail.com>

The venue is the main building of University of Helsinki, lecture hall 8 on the third floor (Fabianinkatu 33, 00100 Helsinki).Professor Simmons’s talk will take place at Tiedekulma(Think Corner at Yliopistonkatu 4) right next to the main building.


Vili Lähteenmäki

Academy of Finland Research Fellow

University of Helsinki



Edwin Curley at the London Spinoza Circle: 2nd May 2019

At the meeting of the London Spinoza Circle on Thursday 2nd May, 3.00 – 5.00pm, Prof. curleyEdwin Curley (University of Michigan) will speak on:

Making Sense of Spinoza’s Metaphysics

Birkbeck, University of London, Dreyfus Room, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ


In this talk I shall revisit number of central themes in Spinoza’s metaphysics including the principle of charity, the difficulties associated with predicative interpretations of the mode-substance relation, the reason for adopting an interpretation that emphasises the laws of nature, and the roots of Spinoza’s theory of laws in Cartesian philosophy of science. My presentation will draw on two recent papers, ‘Spinoza’s Metaphysics Revisited’ and ‘Laws of Nature in Spinoza’.


A presentation of the paper ‘Spinoza’s Metaphysics Revisited’ is available here.


All welcome and no registration is required.