|Date:||08 March 2019|
In a previous post, I suggested that it may be helpful to look at Descartes’s Meditations as actual meditations. Over the past three weeks, I’ve been teaching the Meditations to first year students. I learned a lot from this experience. This post is an attempt...
|Date:||01 February 2019|
Second Meditation. The meditator just reflected that even if there is an evil demon who deceives him or her, then s/he necessarily exists in order to be deceived. Well known argument. Just after this famous statement of the Cogito, Descartes writes:
|Date:||07 December 2018|
It’s worth noting from the outset that in what follows I am interested in philosophical prejudice – i.e. a commitment or set of commitments which is either unargued-for or unacknowledged (or both) – rather than any other kind of prejudice. In the context of...
|Date:||16 November 2018|
In turns out that Laura Georgescu (the editor of this blog) and I happen to be working on somewhat convergent papers. In my terms (Laura, sensibly, wouldn't put it as grandiosely as this), they're both about metametaphysical pluralism—the position that multiple...
|Date:||02 November 2018|
I’m about to start a five-year project on “The Normalisation of Natural Philosophy: How teaching practices shaped the evolution of early modern science” (see description here). The leading intuition of the project is the following:
|Date:||28 September 2018|
|Author:||Doina Cristina Rusu|
|Date:||11 September 2018|
We’re obsessed with confidence. Glossy magazines and their online descendants, along with social media, YouTube, and the vast self-help literature are all swimming in exhortations to be more confident, and advice as to how. There's plenty of academic research...
|Date:||13 July 2018|
As a member of a Dutch university, perhaps I shouldn’t talk about the World Cup. But as a (casual) supporter of the English football team, I’ve been talking about it far more than I expected. England, of course, are out of the competition. Football is not coming...
|Date:||29 June 2018|
Despite its name, junk food is good, tasty and appealing to many people [*]. Many people consciously decide to eat junk food simply because they just like it. Doctors say that junk food is unhealthy, and that a junk food diet is going to have bad consequences...
|Date:||15 June 2018|
It will soon be exactly ten years since Nicholas Carr wrote his much discussed article “Is Google Making us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains”.* In it, Carr discusses the effects of extended internet use on his mind and that of his friends. A...
|Date:||01 June 2018|
The story of the Fall could be seen as a basic motif for early modern thinkers, for the story crystallizes mankind’s moral and intellectual struggle. Let’s look at what Spinoza says about it in the Ethics:
|Date:||18 May 2018|
In 1776, James Boswell visited David Hume on his deathbed and asked him about his religious beliefs. Hume famously replied that he hadn’t entertained any belief in religion, ever since he began reading Locke and Clarke. This anecdote has become famous for showing...
|Date:||04 May 2018|
Man errs. And, indeed, man cannot not err… because man is, fundamentally and unavoidably, of a “deceptible condition”, which is the “common infirmity of human nature” and the “first and father cause of common error”. This is the warning that sir Thomas Browne...
|Date:||20 April 2018|
**Today, most of us find it commonsensical to think that our minds are tucked away in our bodies, hidden from others, while the skin provides a boundary of our precious selves. But this is not the only way to think about ourselves. What if thoughts and feelings...
|Date:||06 April 2018|
Anne Conway rejected the existence of hell. A possible reason is theological: punishing finite sins with infinite suffering would be unjust and contradict the divine nature (see Hutton, SEP). But such an interpretation suggests that we have access to God’s...
|Date:||23 March 2018|
|Author:||Andrea Sangiacomo (Groningen)|
Habits are a key component of our daily life. Our habits are all those actions that we perform so often and so regularly that we do them almost automatically and without thinking. Now, no habit was a habit in the beginning. But because habits are so interiorized...
|Date:||09 March 2018|
In a time with unprecedented access to information, unraveling truth is sometimes overwhelming. When in an epistemic bubble, it is often easier to resign oneself either to that way of thinking, or to a sense of skepticism, than to experience the anxiety that...
|Date:||23 February 2018|
|Author:||Han Thomas Adriaenssen|
In the Principles, Descartes famously claimed that ‘the nature of matter, or body considered in general’ is to be ‘extended in length, breadth and depth’ (AT VIIA 42, CSM I 224). As the wording makes clear, what Descartes is offering here, is a general claim...
|Date:||09 February 2018|
"Wherefore I beseech my readers to be so charitable, and just, as not to bury my work in the monuments of other writers, but if they will bury them, let it be in their own dust, or oblivion, for I had rather be forgotten, then scrape acquaintance, or insinuate...
|Date:||26 January 2018|
When you walk to the shops, or take a train to Amsterdam, you are moving through space. From second to second, you are ageing in time. Yet what are space and time? Today, there are two popular answers.
|Date:||12 January 2018|
In a passage in the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, Spinoza claims that, under certain circumstances, some individuals "must be regarded as automata, completely lacking a mind" (TIE, 48; Curley 1985, 22). Examples that employ soulless automata...
|Date:||15 December 2017|
Within Aristotelian philosophy, imperfect mixtures occupy a singular place: they are the only bodies that do not have a substantial form of their own. This entails that bodies such as meteors and other meteorological bodies – which qualify as imperfect mixtures...
|Date:||01 December 2017|
|Author:||Charles T. Wolfe (Ghent University/IAS, CEU) (guest post)|
In some respects, the history of science is still written by the victors. Even if the categories of actors that we investigate have broadened – from artisans and magi to practitioners of ‘subaltern sciences’, or from Galileo and Descartes to Athanasius Kircher...
|Date:||17 November 2017|
Within natural theology, the heart and circulatory system has long been an icon of intelligent design. Not only does the heart so admirably show the craftsmanship of God, but William Harvey’s discovery of the circulatory system was considered exemplary of the...
|Date:||03 November 2017|
Imagine that you welcome your old friend Fred in your study. Pointing at the door, he asks you whether he should shut the window. You’re confused. Did Fred just call the door a window? He’s getting old, but surely not that old. You assume that Fred has made...
|Date:||20 October 2017|
In the last few weeks I attended two Spinoza conferences (on both sides of the Atlantic). I spent the last ten years working on Spinoza. I consider him a friend. Yet, for the first time, I felt that I was somehow disconnected from the surrounding conversations...
|Date:||06 October 2017|
There’s no history of the world without a history of ideas. Or even, perhaps – without a history of ideas, all knowledge is kind of useless. These seem to be the consequences of a brief, somewhat cryptic, and deceptively simple remark that Francis Bacon makes...