Events in UK


A reminder that the call for papers for the Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy closes on 15 January.

See details in this earlier post.


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


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

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 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

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

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).




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:

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),

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


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,, by the 10th of May.

 For more info, please visit: