I’m a Professor of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University. 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.
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. Recently, I was the PI on a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant to establish new narratives in the history of philosophy that include many of these women. The grant period ran from 2015-2019, and we began to build research networks by supporting a series of workshops and conferences, have developmed of a new anthology of early modern philosophy which includes women thinkers (Broadview, forthcoming), and, created a new digital collection, among other activities. You can check out the website of the project here. SSHRC has recently awarded us a Partnership Grant to extend these new narratives, from the 14th century to the early 20th century. I am the PI on this 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). We will be updating the New Narratives website soon with more details.
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.