Events Oct 2017

Seminar: “Meeting Spinoza”

Seminar: ‘Meeting Spinoza: Books, Letters, Networks, Personal Encounters’

Date: October 5-6, 2017

Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands

Confirmed invited speakers: Mogens Laerke (CNRS Lyon), Steven Nadler (Madison-Wisconsin), Antonella del Prete (Tuscia University)


While the old model of Spinoza as a recluse who developed a complete philosophical system in near isolation may no longer dominate scholarship as it once did, the full depth of his interaction with others remains largely unexplored. The seminar ‘Meeting Spinoza: Books, Letters, Networks, Personal Encounters’ seeks to fill this historiographical gap by bringing Spinoza specialists together with other early modern scholars who encounter him through the eyes of the historical figures at the basis of their own research. With the notion of ‘meeting’ in the main title we understand direct engagement with Spinoza during his own lifetime. Nevertheless, as the subtitle conveys, the modality of these meetings may be understood in a wide variety of ways. Papers may therefore consider the reception of Spinoza’s writings, either as they circulated in manuscript form or immediately upon their publication. They may seek to solve specific issues relating to Spinoza’s correspondence, or investigate patterns in his letter writing. We also encourage contributions on the networks in which Spinoza participated, ranging from the Jewish surroundings in which he was raised, to his ambivalent relationship with the Dutch Cartesians, and everything in between, such as the Dutch Collegiant community of his merchant years or even the prominent number of physicians figuring among his associates. A final, related area of interest is constituted by those contemporaries who are known to have met Spinoza in person. This category includes the famous meetings with Henry Oldenburg and Leibniz, but our interest extends also to chance or one-time encounters with lesser known figures, such as the Leiden theologian Salomon van Til. Papers should aim to contribute to our understanding of the man Spinoza, the development of his thought, and the response it evoked, all within the dynamics of the world in which he participated.


Anonymized abstracts (300-500 words) should be sent as a .docx file to Albert Gootjes ( by March 15, 2017; please include a separate attachment with contact information, affiliation, and professional status. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision by April 15, 2017.

Limited funds are available to cover travel and/or accommodations for presenters who receive no financial support from their institution. Please indicate in your cover letter if you would like to be considered for such a subsidy.

‘Spinoza’s Web’

This seminar is part of the ‘Spinoza’s Web’-projected directed by prof. dr. Piet Steenbakkers, and funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Organisers: Piet Steenbakkers, Jeroen van de Ven, Albert Gootjes