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Varieties of Unity in Early Modern Philosophy

Call for Abstracts

Organizers: Marleen Rozemond (University of Toronto), Brian Embry (University of Groningen)
Date and Time: 12-13 April 2019, time TBA
Place: Groningen, room TBA


The issue of unity is an important topic both in scholastic and mainstream early modern philosophy. One set of questions centres on the idea that unity was supposed to be an essential feature of substances. But how are the parts of a composite—parts like matter and form—united? And how are composite substances distinguished from mere aggregates? Accidents and modes are also supposed to be united in some sense with their hosts: what accounts for the unity of a substance with its accidents? A different set of questions arose from the distinction between the material and the immaterial: human souls or minds were regarded as simple or indivisible, but matter as inherently composite and divisible. This distinction was important for the view that the human soul or mind is immortal – on account of its indivisibility. How should we understand these differences and how did various philosophers argue for them? How are mind and body united in a human being? And can material entities have any sort of real unity, especially on a mechanistic conception?


We propose a two-day conference on these and related questions in scholastic and nonscholastic thinkers in the 16th-17th century on April 12-13, 2019. One goal of the conference is to develop a deeper understanding of scholastic thought in this period, and its relationship to what we ordinarily think of as early modern thinkers.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Jeff McDonough (Harvard University)
  • Shane Duarte (Notre Dame)
  • Helen Hattab (University of Houston)
  • Calvin Normore (UCLA)
  • Marleen Rozemond (University of Toronto)

Submission instructions

Please submit blinded abstracts of 1-2 pages to Brian Embry before January 10, 2019.

Last modified:17 September 2020 5.27 p.m.