upcoming events

Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Spinoza and Culture

Manchester Metropolitan University, Geoffrey Manton building, room 230

3 August 2018

9.30– Arrive: Coffee and Tea

9.45– Christopher Thomas (Manchester Metropolitan University): Welcome and Introduction

10.00 – Gilah Kletenik (New York University): ‘Interpreting Scripture like Nature or How to Read without a Telos

11.00 – Brynnar Swynson (Butler University): ‘Elective Affectivities: Modern Subjects and the Colonial “I”’

12.00 ­­– Susan James (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Feelings and Fictions’

13.00 ­– Lunch (GM 230 supplied for speakers)

14.00 – Christopher Norris (Cardiff University): Reading

14.30 – Moira Gatens (University of Sydney): ‘The Veracious Imagination: the fictions of Spinoza and George Eliot’

15.30 – Break

15.45 – Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen): ‘Spinoza and the Art of Reasoning’

16.45 – Martin Benson (Stony Brook University): ‘Knowledge Without Revelation: Reading Spinoza’s epistemological transitions through Beckett’s Endgame’

17.45 – End of Conference

19.00 – Conference Dinner (HOME, Manchester)

For more information please see www.spinozaandculture.wordpress.com

This conference has been generously supported by The British Society for the History of Philosophy and MIND.

Dr. Christopher Thomas

Lecturer in Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University

Contact: c.thomas@mmu.ac.uk


Michael Della Rocca at the London Spinoza Circle on 11.06.18

At our meeting on Monday 11th June, 3pm – 5pm, we are pleased to have Michael Della Rocca (Yale University) who will speak on

“Perseverence, Power, and Eternity: Purely Positive Essence in Spinoza”

3pm to 5pm,  Room 101, Birkbeck College, 30 Russell Square, WC1B 5DT


The alignment of affirmation, essence, and the absence of negation is evident very early on in Spinoza’s Ethics, in the definition of God.   In this paper, I seek to show how the purely positive character of essence is a feature not only of God’s essence but also, in some way, of the essences of things in general. I will also argue that appreciating the roles that the conception of essence as purely positive plays in Spinoza’s conatus doctrine offers us a new way into and a new way of defending a reading of Spinoza according to which modes – things that are dependent on God – do not really exist.  By endorsing in this new way such an extreme interpretation, I aim to provide new insight into the third kind of knowledge and the eternity of the mind, for Spinoza.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 7th June when Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen) will speak on Spinoza and the art of reasoning. Details here.

CFP: BSHP Annual Conference 2019




24 – 26 April 2019, King’s College London

Strand Campus, London



 Proposals for individual papers and for papers organized in themed symposia are invited on any period and aspect of the history of philosophy. In line with the BSHP’s commitment to broadening the canon, proposals on currently under-represented philosophical traditions, periods and authors are especially welcome. All proposals must be anonymized for blind peer-review.

Individual papers: please send an abstract of MAX 500 words (in word format) for a paper suitable for a 30 minute slot (20 mins for the paper, 10 mins for Q&A) to katharine.oreilly@kcl.ac.uk.

Symposia: please send a proposal of MAX 500 words (in word format) for a symposium of 3-4 papers (each paper suitable for a 30 minutes slot) with abstracts of MAX 300 words for each paper to katharine.oreilly@kcl.ac.uk. Please also submit, in a separate document, the email address and institution of each participant, and the name and email of the symposium organizer who will serve as contact person.

Deadline: Monday 10 September 2018.

Please note: all conference participants, including accepted speakers, must be BSHP members. For information on the BSHP and how to join please visit https://www.bshp.org.uk

As signatories of the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme, the BSHP will take steps to ensure gender balance among speakers and participants. As for all BSHP events, some funding is available for childcare. If you require childcare in order to attend the conference please contact katharine.oreilly@kcl.ac.uk.

Up to 10 bursaries of £100 will be available for speakers who are graduate students/unwaged members.

Conference Organizer:

Maria Rosa Antognazza, Chair, BSHP
Professor of Philosophy, KCL

Conference Assistant and contact for queries:

Katherine O’Reilly


Upcoming at the London Spinoza Circle

At our meeting on Thursday 7th June, 3pm – 5pm, we are pleased to have Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen), who will speak on

Spinoza and the art of reasoning

Room 629, Birkbeck College Main Building, Malet St,  London WC1E 7HX. (Entrance from Torrington Square).

Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/fEiSjhBphkQ2



For Spinoza, the fiction writer, the artist, and the prophet are skilled at imagining and engaging others in imaginative visions, but the architect is skilled at rational thinking. The architect has less in common with artists than she does with exemplars of reasoning such as the “free man” of Ethics Part IV. Like the free man, the architect deals in adequate ideas: she deduces properties and relations from the essences of geometrical figures, and understands what follows from those properties and relations. She knows how a structure will relate to its human inhabitants, and what physical and social relations it enables. In this sense, the architect’s purpose and “art” is to develop possibilities for human flourishing from geometrical understanding.

This is also the task of the Ethics: Spinoza works from definitions and axioms, in the style of Euclid, to develop propositions that reveal our ethical potentialities. At times, he takes specific geometrical concepts to be foundational for metaphysical, ethical, and political claims. Spinoza appears to believe that designing buildings, relationships, and polities for human flourishing begins in geometry. Yet the nature of the transition from geometry to flourishing is not very clear, and the grounding for such a transition is not well understood. In this paper I will argue that for Spinoza, being highly rational involves practising the “art” of deducing positive human outcomes from geometrical understanding. I will argue that this is indeed an art that involves interpretation, judgment, and design, which can be performed better or worse. This suggests that both the architect and the philosopher are artists of reasoning and designers of structures that augment human relations, and that the best religious and political leaders can be artists in this sense too.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


The following meeting will take place on Monday 11 June, 3pm – 5pm  (Room 101, 30 Russell Square)  Michael Della Rocca will speak on a topic to be circulated at a later date.


All are welcome and no registration is required.


London Spinoza Circle website: https://londonspinozacircle.wordpress.com

Netherlands-Israel Spinoza Seminar

July 1-2 2018 at the University of Haifa

Spinoza is often viewed through two distinct lenses. There is a Jewish Spinoza, the heretical critic of the Torah, and an opponent to the rabbis. This Spinoza is seen as a thinker seeped in the writings of Crescas, Maimonides, and Gersonides, and often thought of as the father to both the Haskalah and to secular Judaism. There is also a Dutch Spinoza, a freethinking member of the Amsterdam circle. This Spinoza, is seen as learned in Descartes and Hobbes, and as a philosopher of the Dutch Golden Age. Surrounded by a milieu of Liberal Protestant Christians, scientists, and doctors this Spinoza is embraced in the Netherlands today as a symbol of toleration, democracy, and liberalism.

The two Spinozas are jarringly brought together at Spinoza’s “burial site.” Spinoza’s bones rest somewhere within the yard of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) of The Hague, near a memorial (partially provided by the Haifa Spinozaem) inscribed with the Hebrew word “עמך” (your people).

Today, in both Israel and in the Netherlands, Spinoza is treated as a national heritage. In both countries the philosopher is honored with street names, stamps, and artworks. His name is invoked in the political discourse of both countries, and in both Israel and in the Netherlands, Spinoza is offered as an example of national genius.

The Netherlands-Israel Spinoza Seminar explores the Jewish and Dutch Spinoza together. The inaugural seminar shall be held this year at the University of Haifa, and will focus upon Spinoza’s TTP and its reception. Participants will have the opportunity to visit the “Klefman copy” of the Tractatus Theologico Politicus, which features five annotations written in Spinoza’s own hand (and which constitute the core of the Adnotationes ad Tractatum theologico-politicum included in all modern editions of the TTP.)



Henri Krop (Erasmus University): “The Tractates theologico-politicus and the Dutch: Its predecessors and critics.” (Keynote)

Elhanan Yakira  (Hebrew University): “Spinoza and the Religious” (Keynote)

Noa Lahav (University of Haifa): “Spinoza’s TTP and Jewish-Israeli Identity”

Piet Steenbakkers (Utrecht University): Models, Human and Divine, in Spinoza’s Ethics and Theological-Political Treatise” 

Yehuda Halper (Bar-Ilan University): “Second Temple Politics and the Composition of the Bible according to Spinoza.”

Jo Van Cauter (Leiden University): “Popular Enlightenment, a Dutch perspective”

Mark Malkovich (Hebrew University) “Spinoza’s use of Rhetoric in the Ethics and in the TTP

Atsuko Fukuoka (University of Tokyo): The Tractatus theologico-politicus and Dutch Debates on the Church-State Relationship”

Yoram Stein (Leiden University): “Spinoza and the Problem of Context, or, How to Interpret Spinoza Spinozistically.”

Registration is free, but must made in advance.

Website: https://nispinozaseminar.wordpress.com

Contact: Daniel Schneider (dschneidercaute@gmail.com)

Download the poster here: Spinoza main poster 2018-final

Psycho-Physical Causations seminar

We are pleased to announce Psycho-Physical Causations, a seminar with HENRI ATLAN, on occasion of the publication of his new book on Spinoza and Contemporary Biology (Odile Jacob, 2018).

Prof. Atlan will offer a reading of Spinoza’s Ethics, Part III, Proposition 2:

“The body cannot determine the mind to thinking, and the mind cannot determine the body to motion, to rest, or to anything else (if there is anything else).”

The seminar will include the response of Dr. Michael Mack (Durham University) and a Q&A.

Wednesday 16th May, 4pm to 6pm, University of Durham, UK (venue TBA)

Suggested reading: Henri Atlan, The Sparks of Randomness, Vol. II Chapter 6 (“A Spinozist Perspective on Evolution and The Theory of Action”)

Henri Atlan is an emeritus professor of biophysics, as well as the founder and director of the Research Centre in Human Biology at the Hadassah Hospital, in Jerusalem. He is also directeur d’études in philosophy of biology at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, in Paris. He is the author of seminal works such as Entre le cristal et la fumée (Editions du Seuil, 1979), Les Étincelles de hazard (Editions du Seuil, 1999; The Sparks of Randomness, Stanford University Press, 2011-2013), and Le Vivant post-génomique (Odile Jacob, 2011).

Michael Mack is the author of Spinoza and the Specters of Modernity: The Hidden Enlightenment of Diversity from Spinoza to Freud (New York: Continuum, 2010).

For more information, please contact Dr. Mauro Senatore (Durham University), mauro.senatore@durham.ac.uk

This seminar is organised thanks to the support received from the British Academy and the Centre for Cultural Ecology at Durham University.


Lektueretagung der Spinoza-Gesellschaft

Lektüretagung Spinoza Ethica II Programm 

Lektüretagung der Spinoza-Gesellschaft

22. – 24. Juni 2018

Leucorea Wittenberg

Spinoza: Ethik, Teil 2: Über die Natur und den Ursprung des Geistes.

 Mit einem Abendvortrag von J. Thomas Cook

Konzeption und Leitung: Thomas Kisser (München) und Robert Schnepf (Halle)

Die Tagung hat die Form einer gemeinsamen Lektüre des zweiten Teils der Ethica Spinozas im Sinne eines close-reading. Die 30-minütigen Referate sollen uns in die Diskussion des Textes einführen. Die Abhandlung über „die Natur und den Ursprung des Geistes“ (De Natura et Origine Mentis) zieht in 49 Lehrsätzen samt Scholien und Korollaren auf ca. 50 Seiten die Konsequenzen aus dem ersten Teil der Ethica, der von Gott (De Deo) handelt. Ihr Gegenstand ist dabei nicht nur die Erkenntnis des menschlichen Geistes sondern auch dessen – wie Spinoza gleich zu Beginn bemerkt –, was zu seiner höchsten Glückseligkeit, summa beatitudo, führen soll. Die Theorie der Erkenntnis wird also nicht nur um ihrer selbst willen betrachtet, sondern sie dient einem praktischen Interesse. So wird die Erkenntnistheorie in den Rahmen einer Ethik gestellt.



Steven Nadler at Seminaire Spinoza a Paris 8

You are invited to join us Thursday March 29th from 6pm-8pm at the University Paris 8 (room J103, metro line 13) for a talk by Steven Nadler on Spinoza and Menasseh ben Israel. Nadler’s talk will be in French. Please see below for more information.


*Séminaire Spinoza à Paris 8*

*Jeudi 29 MARS 2018, 18h-20h*

*Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, Salle J103*


*Steven NADLER*

*« Spinoza et Menasseh ben Israël : des fictions et des faits »*

“Il y a beaucoup de mythologie au sujet des relations entre Spinoza et Menasseh ben Israël, le rabbin de la congrégation portugaise d’Amsterdam et sans doute un des juifs les plus connus au monde pendant son vivant au dix-septième siècle. Menasseh, était-t-il vraiment l’inspirateur et le maître intellectuel du jeune Spinoza ? Dans cette communication, nous examinerons les faits et les fictions au sujet des rapports personnels et philosophiques entre le philosophe et le rabbin.” S.N.

Steven Nadler est Professeur de philosophie et d’études juives à l’Université de Wisconsin-Madison (États-Unis), où il est aussi Directeur de l’Institut de recherche en sciences humaines. Spécialiste de la philosophie moderne, et particulièrement de Spinoza, plusieurs de ses livres ont été déjà traduits en français, dont *Spinoza -une vie* (Paris :Bayard, 2003, tr. par Jean-François Sené), sa célèbre biographie ; *Le meilleur des mondes possibles -La rencontre entre Leibniz, Malebranche, et Arnaud* (Paris : Bayard, 2011, tr. de Sophie Gallé-Soas) ; et *Le philosophe, le prêtre et le peintre -Portrait de Descartes au Siècle d’Or* (Paris : Alma, 2015, tr. de Myriam Dennehy).


*Spinoza à Paris 8*

*Programme 2017-2018* (upcoming)


*Jeudi 12 avril 2018 : Daniel GARBER*

*« Y a-t-il une théorie de la conscience chez Spinoza ? »*


*Jeudi 17 mai 2018 : Yves CITTON*

*« Spinoza médiologue ? Spinoza écologue ? Discussion de Éthique II, 14-29 »*


*Jeudi 14 juin 2018 : Toni NEGRI*

*« Quelques réflexions sur la peur chez Spinoza »*


*Séminaire International et Interdisciplinaire de Recherches Spinozistes* <http://spinozaparis8.com/>


*Organisé par **Charles Ramond* <charles.ramond@univ-paris8.fr>* et **Jack Stetter* <jckstetter@gmail.com>*, avec le soutien de l’EA 4008 LLCP.*

Responsable Audio-Vidéo Carmen Alves <cavalcanti.carmen@gmail.com>*.*

02, rue de la Liberté, Saint-Denis (93). Métro « Saint-Denis Université ».

Entrée libre. Se munir d’une pièce d’identité.

CFA: Spinoza and British Idealism

Call for Abstracts:

 Spinoza & British Idealism

 8 & 9 June 2018, University of St Andrews

 This conference aims to bring together leading historians of philosophy who have simultaneously begun to reappraise a neglected area of philosophical scholarship. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the philosophy of Spinoza was taken very seriously by academic philosophers based in England and Scotland. Spinoza was seen as offering crucial insights on the relation between the natural sciences, religion, philosophy, and ordinary common experience. However, the tradition in which many of these philosophers worked, known as ‘British Idealism’, fell out of fashion when the new analytical approach defined itself in opposition to it. As a result, the importance of Spinoza was downgraded. Today, it is increasingly recognised that contemporary philosophers have much to learn from this once discarded school of philosophy. Spinoza’s reputation as a central figure has also been rehabilitated. It is high time to revisit what the British Idealists had to say about Spinoza, and many leading Spinoza scholars have recognised this. What better place to hold this conference than a university that was once a great hub of British Idealism?

 Please send 200-word abstracts to Alexander Douglas, axd@st-andrews.ac.uk, by the 10th of May.

 For more info, please visit:



Alexander Douglas at London Spinoza Circle

For the next meeting of the London Spinoza Circle, we are pleased to have Dr Alexander Douglas (University of St. Andrews) who will speak on:

Spinoza and the British Idealists: Acosmism, Determination, and Negation

Thursday 22nd March, 3pm to 5pm

Room 402, Birkbeck College Main Building, Malet St,  London WC1E 7HX. (Entrance from Torrington Square).

I examine the acosmist reading of Spinoza, first proposed by German philosophers and then developed in detail by British Idealist philosophers. According to this reading, Spinoza is implicitly committed to the view that nothing truly exists besides God. The cogency of this reading, as is well-known, depends on what Spinoza means in saying that “determination is negation”. While most schoålars have focussed on the meaning of “determination”, I propose an interpretation of “negation” that would Spinoza to avoid the conclusions pushed upon him by the British Idealists. I then speculate on why the British Idealists might have rejected this interpretation.

All welcome and no registration is required.

London Spinoza Circle website: https://londonspinozacircle.wordpress.com