Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Over onsFaculteit WijsbegeerteOrganisatieVakgroep Geschiedenis van de FilosofieGroningen Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Thought
Header image Groningen Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Thought
Figure CLXXXVIII in Le diverse et artificiose machine del Capitano Agostino Ramelli, an illustration of a bookwheel (1588)

Pay attention! Early moderns on our mind’s (in)ability to focus

Datum:15 juni 2018
Auteur:Pieter Present

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...

Moni Ayou Nikolaou Adam naming animals (wikicommons)

Spinoza’s Retelling of the Story of the First Human

Datum:01 juni 2018
Auteur:Li-Chih Lin

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:

Caravaggio, Narcissus

The analogy of nature

Datum:18 mei 2018
Auteur:Lukas Wolf

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...

From The Whole Blooming Family, George McManus, 1916

We have always been wrong: Thomas Browne on the inescapability of error

Datum:04 mei 2018
Auteur:Laura Georgescu

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...

Steps (Martin Lenz)

Socialising Minds – Intersubjectivity in the History of Philosophy*

Datum:20 april 2018
Auteur:Martin Lenz

**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...

Wihelm Janson and Antonio Tempest, Proserpina Turning Ascalaphus into an Owl (Public Domain)

Limiting Infinity. Anne Conway and the Direction of the Universe

Datum:06 april 2018
Auteur:Doina-Cristina Rusu

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...

Composite by Lukas Wolf

Spinoza for a #PlantPoweredCommunity

Datum:23 maart 2018
Auteur: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...

Francesco de Goya, El sueño de la razón produce monstruos, Source: wiki commons

Descartes’s Provisional Skepticism, Morality, and Epistemic Bubbles

Datum:09 maart 2018
Auteur:Daniel Collette

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...

From Kerckring's Spicilegium anatomicum

Antoine Le Grand on Human Bodily Identity over Time

Datum:23 februari 2018
Auteur: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...

Cavendish, Reason and the thoughts (poem)

Cavendish contra contextualism

Datum:09 februari 2018
Auteur:Laura Georgescu

 "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...

Photo by erin walker on Unsplash

Are Space and Time Just Relations? On Early Modern British Relationists

Datum:26 januari 2018
Auteur:Emily Thomas

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.

Automaton Ben Franklin Museum - Philadelphia (licensed by Creative Commons)

If a robot lied to us

Datum:12 januari 2018
Auteur:Oberto Marrama

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...

CC0 Creative commons

Bacon on the classification of natural processes

Datum:15 december 2017
Auteur:Doina–Cristina Rusu

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...

“Slime Molds” by Maia Valenzuela is licensed under CC BY 2.0; converted to greyscale.

(Enlightenment) vitalism and mainstream science

Datum:01 december 2017
Auteur: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...

An anatomical drawing, showing the connection of the pericardium to the diaphragm

The Tell-Tale Heart

Datum:17 november 2017
Auteur:Lukas Wolf

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...

Philosophers lamp made by Lukas Wolf

What Is an Error? Wittgenstein’s Voluntarism

Datum:03 november 2017
Auteur:Martin Lenz

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...

Alta via dei monti liguri, M. Toraggio (Photo: Andrea Sangiacomo)

What did I learn from applying for an ERC Starting Grant? The half-full glass.

Datum:20 oktober 2017
Auteur:Andrea Sangiacomo

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...

Polyphemus by Hendrick van der Burgh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s the point of a history of ideas? Or, on Bacon and the cyclops

Datum:06 oktober 2017
Auteur:Laura Georgescu

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...