Greetings and salutations


As of October 1, 2022, I will be joining McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Professor of Philosophy. This website concerns only my own research and opinions, and not those of any institution, including the one I will soon be joining.

Currently, I’m a Professor of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University, where I have been since September 2002. On this site you will find pdfs of published papers and works in progress. Below and at ‘About’ you can find out a bit more about my research. ‘Edited volumes’ provides links to the two very different volumes I’ve edited. And ‘Papers’ will provide you with links to PDF versions of papers. ‘New Narratives‘ takes you to the site of the SSHRC funded Partnership project, of which I am the PI.

My research focuses on accounts of human nature in the 17th and 18th centuries, along two general tracks.

First, I’m particularly interested in the place the passions (what we would call emotions) hold in these accounts as the loci of connection between individual human beings and the world around them. I’ve written a fair amount on how Descartes’s account of the passions impacts his account of the human being as a union of mind and body. I’m also particularly interested in how Spinoza and Malebranche respond to Descartes’s account and in Hume’s account of the passions in relation to his epistemology and moral philosophy.  I have also focused on the concept of pleasure in these philosophical views, and in particular how pleasure figures in accounts of human understanding (rather than action). I also have interests in 18th century empiricism, both the English and French traditions (in particular Condillac), and equally in the intersection of philosophy and medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Second, I’m invested in the efforts to rehabilitate the work of women thinkers of the early modern period — some of whom you may have heard of, others of whom you may have not. I am currently the PI of a SSHRC Partnership Grant to extend new narratives in the history of philosophy, from the 14th century to the early 20th century. The project, which is based at SFU, and involves 11 other partner institutions (McGill, Western, Guelph, Penn, Duke, Columbia, Monash, Sydney, Nanterre, Lyon-Jean Moulin, and Jyvaskyla). It follows on — extends! — the work of a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (PDG) to establish new narratives in the history of philosophy to revise the early modern philosophical canon to include women. The PDG ran from 2015-2019, and we began to build research networks by supporting a series of workshops and conferences, have developed of a new anthology of early modern philosophy which includes women thinkers (Broadview, forthcoming), and, created a new digital collection. You can find out more about them here. Many of these activities will be continuing in the Partnership project, along with new ones.

The image on the header of this blog comes from a photo of one of the manuscript letters from Elisabeth to Descartes. The manuscript is not in Elisabeth’s hand, but rather is a copy, thought to be from the early 18th century. You can read more about the mysteries of the provenance of the manuscript, and the story of how it was found, disappeared and retrieved, in the introduction to the volume of the correspondence.

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