Events in UK

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.


Edwin Curley lecture, London

Edwin Curley on “Spinoza, the Enlightenment, and Religious Liberty”
Monday 29 April 2019
Conway Hall, London
World-renowned philosopher, Edwin Curley, brings Baruch Spinoza’s ideas on religious toleration to life.
Details and booking on Eventbrite.


What can Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) teach us about how to manage the ferocious divisions of identity, culture, ideology, and faith that riddle our politics today?

Come join us this April 29th to hear distinguished Professor, Edwin Curley’s answer. Curley is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the life and thought of Spinoza. He has just recently published the second volume of a complete translation of Spinoza’s works with Princeton University Press.

This is a public lecture, with free entrance, supported by the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs (CEPPA), at the University of St Andrews, as well as by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Spaces are limited so do book a ticket in advance.

This event is organized by Alexander Douglas (Philosophy, St Andrews) & Adam Etinson (Philosophy, St Andrews).

Note: the lecture will take place in the Brockway Room.

Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy X

University of St. Andrews: Senate Room, St. Mary’s, South Street

8-10 May 2019




Wednesday 8 May

11.00-11.15. Welcome

11.15-12.15. Key Note Speaker: Udo Thiel (University of Graz), “Christian Wolff on Animal Souls, Human Souls, and Personhood.”

12.15-1.00. Peter D. Larsen (Trinity College Dublin), “Berkeley, Plato, and the primary-secondary quality distinction”

1.00-2.15. Lunch

2.15-3.00. Adi Efal (University of Lille III, Charles De Gaulle), “The place of synthesis in methodical proceedings: Ramus and Zabarella’s Ccriticisms of Galen”

3.00-3.45. Lauren Slater (Birkbeck College, London), “Signs established by nature: Representation in Cartesian sensory ideas and the language analogy”

3.45-4.15. Coffee

4.15-5.00. Pedro Faria (Cambridge University), “Hume and the Académie des Inscriptions: the nature of historical evidence in the early eighteenth-century”

*Winner of the 2019 SSEMP Essay Prize, sponsored by the BSHP.


Thursday 9 May

10.00-10.45. Jonathan Shaheen (Ghent University), “Notions of substance in Cavendish’s metaphysics”

10.45-11.30. Sebastian Bender (Humboldt University, Berlin), “Conway on species and essences”

11.30-12.15. Qiu Lin (Duke University, Durham, NC), “Émilie du Châtelet’s views on space”

12.15-1.30. Lunch

1.30-2.15. Stefan Leicht (University of Tübingen), “Grotius and Locke on the political effectiveness of Christianity”

2.15-3.00. Adrián Canal (Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Rome): “The soul and mortalism in the writings of Faustus Socinius and its influence on Locke”

3.00-3.30. Coffee

3.30-4.15. Nabeel Hamid (Concordia University, Montreal), “Machine and mechanistic explanation in Wolff’s cosmology”

4.15-5.15. Key Note Speaker: Teresa Bejan (Oxford University), “Equality Before Egalitarianism”


Friday 10 May

10.00-10.45. Jonathan Cottrell (Wayne State University), “What s Humean reasoning?”

10.45-11.30. Brian Ball (Oxford University), “Reid on the nature of judgment”

11.30-12.30. Key Note Speaker: Craig Smith (University of Glasgow), “Re-evaluating Adam Ferguson on Commercial Society: from republican outlier to consummate Moderate”

12.30-1.45 Lunch

1.45-2.30. Adrian Guyot (IHRIM-ENS de Lyon), “The Machiavellian challenge: The reason of state debate in the Spanish Golden Age and the ubiquitous yet problematic presence of Machiavelli in baroque political literature”

2.30-3.15. Sarah Meier (Xavier University of Louisiana), “The political psychology of the Hobbesian Subject”

3.15-4.00. Akos Sivado (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), “Numbers made certain by the sovereign power: Rhetoric and arithmetic in Sir William Petty’s science of the state”


Organisation: James Harris (University of St. Andrews); Mogens Lærke (CNRS, IHRIM, ENS de Lyon)

Funding: University of St. Andrews; Scottish Philosophical Association (SPA); British Society for the History of Philosophy (BSHP); IHRIM (CNRS-UMR 5317), ENS de Lyon.

Michael A. Rosenthal at the London Spinoza Circle: 21st March 2019

michael_rosenthal_new_headshot_3-15At the next meeting of the London Spinoza Circle on Thursday 21st March, 3:00 – 5:00pm,  Prof. Michael A. Rosenthal (University of Washington) will speak on:

“Life as a Marionette:  The Role of the Imagination in Spinoza’s Ethics, Part V”

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


The goal of Part V of the Ethics is to show that humans possess the power to be free.  It must be a conception in which freedom is thoroughly compatible with necessity.  It is difficult for us as finite beings to understand this idea and to act in accordance with it.  Spinoza thinks that the main obstacle is the false idea of the free will, i.e., the power to act independently of any system of determinate causes.  Spinoza does not think that we can overcome this prejudice, rooted in our ignorance, so easily. One of the most interesting features of his system is that at key points of his arguments Spinoza has recourse to the very images and passions that he finds problematic in order to produce effects that ultimately make us more reasonable.  It may seem that when we arrive at Part V of the Ethics, the very last part in which he shows us that human freedom is tied to the power of the intellect, we should be able to dispense with these inadequate ideas and proceed solely according to reason.  In this paper, however, I want to argue that perhaps the most important idea—the definition of freedom as acting according to the necessity of our own nature within a determined system—is so difficult to grasp that Spinoza still has to have recourse to the imagination to make sense of it.  In the first propositions of Part V, Spinoza uses reason to sketch an imaginative picture of the self as a kind of marionette. It is not yet what it would be to live according to reason, but what it would be like to live—or as if we are living—according to reason.  Even though, strictly speaking, this image is false, it nonetheless useful.  This thought-image serves as a kind of aid to the individual to become free.

All welcome and no registration is required.

The following meeting on Thursday 2nd May, 3 – 5pm will be Prof. Edwin Curley (University of Michigan), title to be confirmed.


Moira Gatens at the London Spinoza Circle, 7th February 2019

At the next meeting of the London Spinoza Circle on Thursday 7th February 2019, 3:00 – 5:00pm, resourceProf. Moira Gatens (University of Sydney) will present her paper:

“Spinoza’s free citizen meets Wollstonecraft‘s feminist republican”

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


I offer an account of Spinoza’s free man as exemplifying the affective as well as rational capacities needed for autonomous self-realization, relationally conceived. But his account contains a sad flaw, namely, Spinoza’s inability to recognize women as co-entitled to political freedom and equality. I relate this limitation to his failure to realize the full potential of his relational ontology and the true scope of a virtue that he values highly: fortitudo (or strength of mind). Fortitudo has a double aspect: it embodies the virtue of self-care (animositas) and the correlative virtue of care for others (generositas). I then turn to Mary Wollstonecraft’s understanding of the co-constitution of self and other and the role such understanding plays in her conception of the attainment of genuine autonomy. For her, the exercise of virtue depends upon freedom in both one’s personal and one’s political life. Her vision of an inclusive commonwealth – one that recognises the need for all to develop fortitudo – stands as a corrective to Spinoza’s error. We cannot achieve a virtuous republic if the relationship between the sexes lacks virtue. When combined, Spinoza’s and Wollstonecraft’s republican views tell a rich story about individuals, affect, autonomy, and the institutional practices that constrain or enable the flourishing of important republican virtues.

All welcome and no registration required.

London Spinoza Circle: Clare Carlisle on 6th December 2018

clare pic 3

At the next meeting of the London Spinoza Circle on Thursday 6th December, 3:00 – 5:00pm, we are pleased to have Dr. Clare Carlisle (King’s College London) who will speak on

George Eliot’s Spinoza

Gordon Room (G34), Ground Floor, South Block, Senate House, London WC1E 7HU


In 1856, Marian Evans — the writer who would shortly become known as George Eliot — completed the first English translation of Spinoza’s Ethics.  This paper will explore the circumstances of George Eliot’s translation, discussing the reception of Spinoza’s philosophy in 19th-century England and identifying key areas of affinity between Spinozism and George Eliot’s own thinking.  It will also suggest how George Eliot’s close engagement with the Ethics influenced her fiction writing, giving particular attention to her emphasis on human interdependence, and her views on the formation of characters and relationships.

All welcome and no registration is required.

CFP: Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy X

CFP: Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy X (SSEMP X)

8-10 May 2019, University of St. Andrews


Keynote speakers:

Teresa Bejan (University of Oxford)

Craig Smith (University of Glasgow)

Udo Thiel (University of Graz)


SSEMP X is the tenth 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 particularly 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. SSEMP is conceived as a forum where established academics, early career researchers, and advanced PhD students can meet. We make an effort to assure a reasonable gender balance.

Abstracts for the regular program (approx. 300 words plus contact information in a single pdf or word file) should be sent by email to Mogens Lærke on Graduate students submitting to the regular program should include contact information for one referee (typically the supervisor.) Deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 January 2019. Due to very high numbers of submissions we cannot undertake to respond individually 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. 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 should be gathered in a single pdf or word file. Deadline for submissions is 15 January 2019. They should be sent by email to Mogens Lærke on 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. The SSEMP X will begin on May 8th, 11am, and finish on May 10th, 4pm. For further information about the SSEMP, see


James Harris (University of St. Andrews):

Mogens Lærke (CNRS-IHRIM 5317, ENS de Lyon):



Philosophy Department, University of St. Andrews

Scots Philosophical Association

British Society for the History of Philosophy

IHRIM, CNRS-UMR 5317, ENS de Lyon

London Spinoza Circle: Mogens Lærke on 1st November and other upcoming meetings

The next meetiIMG_6714ng of the London Spinoza Circle will be on Thursday 1st November 2018, 3:00-5:00pm, when Mogens Lærke (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)  will speak on:

The Apostolic Style: Spinoza on Fraternal Advice and the Freedom to Philosophize

Bloomsbury Room (G.35), Ground Floor, South Block, Senate House, London WC1E 7HU

(Please note change of location)



In this paper, I discuss a chapter of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus that is rarely commented on, namely Chapter XI. It is particular for the TTP in that it is exclusively dedicated to the interpretation of the New Testament, more specifically, the Apostles’ Letters. I will show how, in the first part of that chapter, Spinoza argues that the epistolary style of the apostles, and the discursive room it establishes, can serve as a paradigm for the exercise of the “liberty to philosophize” that he shall proceed to defend in Tractatus, chap. XX.

The following meeting will be on Thursday 6th December, 3 – 5pm, when Clare Carlisle (King’s College London) will speak on “George Eliot’s Spinoza.” 

Location: Bloomsbury Room (G.35), Ground Floor, South Block, Senate House, London WC1E 7HU 

Dates for Spring Term 2019 

Thursday 7th February, 3 – 5pm

Moira Gatens (University of Sydney)

Title and location tbc

Thursday 21st March, 3 – 5pm

Michael A. Rosenthal (University of Washington)

Title and location tbc

All welcome and no registration is required.

London Spinoza Circle site:

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

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