Primary Academic Interests
Early Modern Philosophy (Particularly Spinoza, Cartesianism, History of Physics, and the Dutch Enlightenment)
The History and Philosophy of Science
Other Academic Interests
Asian Philosophies (particularly Buddhist and Daoist Philosophies and interactions between 17th century European and Chinese philosophical traditions)
Early Modern Philosophy
Philosophy of Science
The History of Scientific Thought
Senior Seminar in the History of Philosophy:
• Spinoza’s Politics
• Spinoza’s Ethics
• Women in Early Modern Philosophy: A Feminist Approach
Space, Time, and Motion (interdisciplinary course team-taught with physics professor)
Introduction to Philosophy
Contemporary Ethical Issues
• A Woman’s Place: Women in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy
• What Counts as Philosophy and Why?: Taking Non-European Wisdom Traditions Seriously
Mentored Advanced Projects:
• Unraveling Dualism (student: Patrick Laine)
• Newton’s Sciences (student: Ben Bowman)
• Language Thru Metaphysics (student: Daniel Miles)
• Moral Certainty (student: Camilla Barrios Camacho)
Plus-2 (2 credit individual extended study in conjunction with Early Modern Philosophy Course):
• Early Modern Ethical Theories (student: Camilla Barrios Camacho)
• Non-European 17th and 18th century philosophers (student: Vardges Khachatryan)
Spinoza's Radical Cartesian Mind (Continuum, 2007)
This book examines a political movement in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic called "Radical Cartesianism." This movement applies ideas from the New Philosophy (particular those of Hobbes and Descartes) to the political and theological debates of the time. On the basis of self-interest and a Cartesian understanding of the passions, Radical Cartesianism argues for religious, intellectual, and economic freedom, toleration and democracy. Spinoza was closely associated with members of the Radical Cartesian movement and his political philosophy presents the first philosophical systematization of its central ideas. This book reconstructs the development of Spinoza's thinking about the human mind, error, truth, and falsity and explains how this development allowed Spinoza to provide the philosophical foundations for Radical Cartesian political theory. I argue that Spinoza's rejection of Cartesian epistemology involves much more than the metaphysical problem of dualism--it involves, ironically, Spinoza's attempt to make coherent a political theory bearing Descartes' name.
"Experiment in Cartesian Courses: The Case of Professor Burchard de Volder," in The Circulation of Science and Technology: The Proceedings of the 4rth International Conference of the European Society of the History of Science (ESHS), 18-20 November 2010, Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC), Barcelona, Spain, forthcoming.
"The Case of Burchard de Volder: Pre-Newtonian, Dutch Cartesian Experiment in the University," in Thought in Science and Fiction: Proceedings of the 12th Conference of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI), 2-6 August 2010, Çankara University, Ankara, Turkey, forthcoming.
"Sankara, Spinoza, and Santaraksita," in Studies on the Philosophy of Santaraksita, eds. M. Friquegnon, P. Turenne, and N. Dinnerstein, Global Scholarly Publications, forthcoming.
"Radical Cartesian Politics: Van Velthuysen, De la Court, and Spinoza," Studia Spinozana, Volume 15, 2006 (journal dated 1999).
"Salvation in a Naturalized World: The Role of the Will and Intellect in the Philosophies of Nietzsche and Spinoza," NASS Monograph # 7, ed. Steven Barbone, North American Spinoza Society, 1999.
Notes, Reviews, Etc.
Entries for "Conscientia," and "Affectus: laetitia, tristitia, and cupiditas," in Continuum Companion to Spinoza, eds. W. van Bunge, H. Krop, J.M.M. van den Ven, and P. Steenbakkers. Continuum, 2011.
Book Review of Interpreting Spinoza: Critical Essays. Edited by Charles Huenemann. Cambridge University Press, 2008 in Philosophy in Review, Vol. 29, No. 1 (2009).
Book Review of Feminist Interpretations of Benedict Spinoza. Edited by Moira Gatens. The Pennsylvania University Press, 2009 in Notre Dame Philosophical Review, March 2010.
Bibliographies for Pierre Bayle, Giordano Bruno, Chuang-tzu, Hsun-tzu, Mencius, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, and Isaac Newton, World Philosophy, rev. ed., Salem Press, 2000.
Works in Progress
Leiden and the New Physics.
This book examines the University of Leiden's physics department's critical role in the acceptance and spread of pre- and post-Newtonian experimental scientific methodologies. By examining the writings and pedagogies of three Leiden Physics professors dedicated to experimentation (the Cartesian Burchard de Volder, the Aristotelian Wolferd Senguerd, and the Newtonian Willem J. 's Gravesande), this book complicates two grand narratives: that of the scientific revolution and that depicting early modern philosophy as an opposition between rationalism and empiricism. In doing so, it has important implications for both the history of philosophy and the history and philosophy of science.
Cartesian Empiricisms, eds. Tammy Nyden and Mihnea Dobre.
This book examines self-identified Cartesians who incorporated observation, experience, and / or experiments into their methods, doctrines, and pedagogies in the seventeenth century. This volume discusses over 25 Cartesian empiricists, drawing attention to the diversity of pre-Newtonian examples of empirical science and challenging traditional narratives of early modern philosophy and science. It contains 12 new articles by well-established and junior international scholars.
"De Volder’s Cartesian Physics and Experimental Pedagogy," in Cartesian Empiricisms, eds. Tammy Nyden and Mihnea Dobre.
"Living Force at Leiden: De Volder, ‘s Gravesande and the Reception of Newtonianism,” in Newton and Empiricism, eds. Zvi Biener and Eric Schliesser.
"From Moral Certainty to Moral Evidentia: an Epistemological Shift in Leiden Physics Theatre."
Selected Honors, Grants and Awards
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, Fall 2008.
American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant, Funding for travel and archival research in The Netherlands, Summer 2008.
Kristeller-Popkin Travel Fellowship—Awarded through the Journal of the History of Philosophy. Funding for travel and archival research in The Netherlands, June 2005.
Netherland-America Foundation Fellow—Awarded Through the Fulbright Program. Funding for travel, archival research and living expenses in The Netherlands, 2001-2002.
"From Moral Certainty to Moral Evidentia: an Epistemological Shift in the Leiden Physics Theatre." Passionate Minds: Knowledge and the Emotions in Intellectual History. 2011 Conference of the International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH), University of Bucharest, Romania, May 26-28, 2011.
"Experiment in Cartesian Courses: The Case of Professor Burchard de Volder." The Circulation of Science and Technology: 4th International Conference of the European Society of the History of Science (ESHS), Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC), Barcelona, Spain, November 18-20, 2010.
"The Case of Burchard de Volder: Pre-Newtonian, Dutch Cartesian Experiment in the University." Thought in Science and Fiction: 12th Conference of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI), Çankara University, Ankara, Turkey, 2-6 August 2010.
“De Volder and the Physics Theatre: Experimental Pedagogy, Cartesian Physics.” HOPOS (History of the Philosophy of Science) Biennial Conference, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, June 26, 2010.
“Living Force at Leiden: De Volder and ‘s Gravesande on the vis viva Controversy,” Newton and Empiricism Conference, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, April 10-11, 2010.
“De Volder’s Cartesian Reasons for Bringing Experiment to the Academy,” The Interactions between Philosophy and Physics in the 17th Century, Ankora, Turkey, August 2-6, 2010.
“De Volder’s Introduction of Experimental Physics To the University,” POROI (The Project on Rhetorics of Inquiry) Seminar, University of Iowa, January 28, 2010.
“De Volder’s Cartesian Reasons for Bringing Experiment to the Academy,” Princeton-Bucharest Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, Bran, Romania, July 2009.
“Spinoza’s Passionate Politics,” Passion & Body in Spinoza, University of Leiden, The Netherlands, July 2008.
“How Hobbes Got to Spinoza,” Early Modern Philosophy in Britain and the Netherlands 1500-1800: British Society for the History of Philosophy Conference, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, March 2007.
“Dutch Radical Cartesian Politics,” The Netherlandish Seventeenth Century and Its Afterlives. Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, March 2007.
“Parallelism à la Mode,” The North American Spinoza Society, American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting, New York, December 2005.
“Spinoza’s Radical Cartesian Roots: De la Court and Dutch Politics,” Iowa Philosophical Society, Simpson College, November 2005.
“Sankara, Spinoza, and Santaraksita,” International Conference on Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Fordham University, November 1, 2003.
“The Metaphysical Appendix and its Place in the Development of Spinoza’s Theories of Error and Falsity,” Le Contexte Intellectuel du Spinozism: Le Groupe de recherches spinozistes (CERPHI) and l’Association des Amis de Spinoza. Sorbonne, March 2002.
“Individuals and Singular Things: Spinoza’s Unified Account of Individuation and Identity,” Spinoza and Leibniz Symposium, University of Turku, Finland, November 2001.
“Where Did All the Laws Go?” Long Beach City College, April 2000.
“Self-identity in Spinoza,” Claremont Early Modern Studies Graduate Symposium, March 1999.
“Salvation in a Naturalized World: The Role of the Will and Intellect in the Philosophies of Nietzsche and Spinoza,” North American Spinoza Society, American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting, Chicago, May 1998.
Selected Professional Service
Elected member of Faculty Organizational Committee, 2011-2012
Member of Ad Hoc Campus Climate Committee, 2010-2011
Mellon Mays Fellowship Mentor, 2010-2011
Chair of Grinnell College Ad Hoc Ombuds Committee, 2009-2010
Member of Grinnell College Faculty Governance Committee, 2008-2010
Founding member of Mayflower Ethics Committee, 2008-present
President of Iowa Philosophical Society, 2009-2010
Secretary-Treasurer of Iowa Philosophical Society, 2005-2009
Member of Grinnell College EKI Advisory Board, 2007-2008
Member of Grinnell College Neuroscience Concentration Committee, 2007 Spring-present
Member of Grinnell College Scholarship Selection Committee, 2006-2007
Selected Professional Development
Daoxue Zhongguo Salon, Invited participant in the inaugural Daoist Salon in Zhengzhou, China, March 21-27, 2010
National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Institute: "The Intersection of Philosophy, Science, and Religion in the Seventeenth Century", July 2004
Princeton-Bucharest Early Modern Philosophy Seminar, Bran, Romania, August 2009
Grinnell Faculty Summer Workshops:
Gender, Women, and Sexuality (August 2009)
Advising as Teaching at Grinnell College (May 2009)
Teaching Race, Ethnicity, Class and Gender at Grinnell (May 2008)
Interdisciplinary Teaching (August 2006)
Case Study Faculty Writing Workshop (June 2006)
Advising and Mentoring (May 2006)
French, Dutch, and Latin
American Philosophical Association
International Society for the Study of European Ideas
European Society of the History of Science
International Society for Intellectual History
North American Spinoza Society
Society for the History of the Philosophy of Science
Primary Academic Interests
faculty info column 1
Education / Degrees:
Early Modern Philosophy; Philosophy of Science; The History of Scientific Thought; Space, Time, and Motion; Introduction to Philosophy; Contemporary Ethical Issues; Spinoza’s Politics; Spinoza’s Ethics; Women in Early Modern Philosophy: A Feminist Approach; Spinoza and Radical Enlightenment; Tutorial: A Woman’s Place: Women in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy; Tutorial: What Counts as Philosophy and Why?: Taking Non-European Wisdom Traditions Seriously