The Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy (SSEMP) was created in 2010 at the University of Aberdeen as a yearly two-day event. After five successive editions at the University of Aberdeen and two editions at the University of St. Andrews, the next event, SSEMP VIII, is scheduled to take place at the University of Edinburgh in April 2017. The SSEMP brings together established scholars, young researchers and advanced graduate students working in the field of Early Modern Philosophy. The aim is to foster scholarly exchange among the different generations of academics in the UK and to strengthen international collaboration. See below for the papers features at previous seminars:


University of Aberdeen, 24-25 May 2018

Key Note Speakers:

  • Felicity Green (University of Edinburgh), “Freedom and Responsibility in Locke’s Account of Belief.”
  • Martin Lenz (University of Groningen), “What does it mean to share a view? Hume on the Transmission of Mental States.”

SSEMP Essay Prize Winner:

  • Jacob Hinze (University of St. Andrews), “Indeterminacies in Locke’s Concept of the State of Nature.”

Featured Speakers:

  • Brenda Basilico (University of Lille III), “Music, Mathematics, and Skepticism in Mersenne’s Writings.”
  • Margaret Matthews (Emory University, Atlanta), “The Place of Skepticism in Montaigne’s Essays.” 
  • Raphael Krut-Landau (University of Pennsylvania), “From History to Anagogy: Scriptural Modes of Reading in Spinoza’s Ethics.”
  • Anna Ortin Nadal (University of Edinburgh), “Descartes on a Semantic Model for Sensation”
  • James A. Harris (University of St Andrews), “Hume on political obligation: between Locke and Filmer.”
  • David Bartha (Central European University), “Two Routes to Idealism: Collier and Berkeley.”
  • Umrao Sethi (Lehman College, CUNY), “Mind-Dependence in Berkeley and the Problem of Perception.”
  • Dino Jakusic (University of Warwick), “Christian Wolff and the Invention of Ontology.”
  • Gaston Robert (King’s College London), “God, Aggregation, and the Collective Unity of All Substances: General Pre-Established Harmony Revisited.”
  • Keith Green (East Tennessee State University), “Hatred, Moral Motivation, and ‘Normativity’ in Spinoza and Hume”
  • Gabriel Watts (Oriel College, Oxford), “The Curious Place of Curiosity in Hume’s Theory of the Passions.”


University of Edinburgh, 10-11 April 2017

Key note speakers:

  • Beth Lord (Aberdeen), “The Free Man and the Free Market: Ethics, Politics, and Economics in Ethics
  • Peter Millican (Oxford), “Logic, Scepticism, and Egoism: Why Hume Disowned the Treatise of Human Nature

Essay Prize Winner:

  • Kathrine Cuccuru (UCL), “Style over Substance? Literary Criticism and the Origins of the British Philosophical Sublime”

Featured Speakers :

  • Francesca Rebasti (ENS de Lyon), “Reshaping Liberty of Conscience: Hobbes’s Heterodox Exegesis of the Gloss on Romans 14:23”
  • José Maria Sanchez de Leon (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), “Spinoza on Common Notions and the Order of Philosophizing”
  • Endre Szécsényi (Aberdeen), “The Birth of Modern Aesthetics from Spiritual Exercises”
  • Monica Uribe (Guanajuato), “Taste and Imagination in Addison’s Aesthetic Thought”
  • Norma B. Goethe (Cordoba), “Leibniz on the Value of Learning from Exploratory Research”
  • Carlos Portales (Edinburgh), “Leibniz’s Modal Metaphysics as Ground for Nature’s Objective Aesthetic Value”
  • Simone Webb (UCL), “Self-Revelation and Sociability: Reading Damaris Masham’s Letters to John Locke as Philosophical Autobiography”
  • Emilio Maria de Tommaso (Calabria), “The True Grounds of Morality in Catharine Trotter’s Defence of Mr. Locke’s Essay
  • Andrea Christofidou (Keble College, Oxford), “Descartes on the Mind-Body Relation: A Solution?”
  • Christian Barth (Humboldt University, Berlin), “Cognitio interna and Conscientia in Descartes’ Conception of the Mind”
  • Tim Stuart-Buttle (Cambridge), “Locke on the ‘Two Provinces of Knowledg’”
  • Christian Maurer (Lausanne), “Shaftesbury’s Manuscript Pathologia. Stoicism, the Passions and Virtue”
  • Miguel Palomo (Sevilla), “Christiaan Huygens, the Observer of the Cosmos”


University of St. Andrews, 5-6 May

Key note speaker:

  • Sylvana Tomaselli (Cambridge): “Women and Political Philosophy in Les siècles de la femme”

SSEMP Essay Prize winner:

  • Takaharu Oda (Groningen): “Berkeley’s Arguable Concurrentism”

Featured speakers:

  • Maximilian Jaede (St. Andrews), “Hobbes’s Critique of Natural Sociability Reconsidered”
  • Albert Gootjes (Utrecht), “How to Refute Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise: The Anti-Spinoza Campaign of the Utrecht Cartesians”
  • Matthew Leisinger (Yale): “Cudworth’s Moral Vision”
  • Alex Silverman (Chicago): “The Disappearance of “Substance”: A Textual Oddity in Spinoza’s Corpus”
  • Alexander Douglas (Heythrop College/St. Andrews): “Spinoza and Money”
  • Mara van der Lugt (Göttingen), “Pain, Pessimism and the Problem of Evil in Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire (1696)”
  • Christopher Noble (Villanova), “Leibniz on Knowledge and Action in Essais de théodicée, § 403”
  • Alessio Vaccari (Sapienza, Rome), “Hume on Resentment, Justice, and the Origins of Society”
  • Sonia Boussange-Andrei (Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne), “On Adam Ferguson’s Critique of Adam Smith’s Theory of Sympathy”
  • Jeremy Dunham (Sheffield),”Condillac on the Acquisition of Cognitive Habits”
  • Jared Holley (Chicago), “Refined Epicureanism and Rousseau’s Political Thought”

Organisation: James Harris (University of St. Andrews); Mogens Lærke (CNRS, UMR 5037, ENS de Lyon)


University of St. Andrews, 7-8 May

Key Note Speakers:

  • Moira Gatens (University of Sydney), “Spinoza and the Art of Fiction”
  • Thomas Ahnert (University of Edinburgh), “Habits of Virtue: ‘Moral Culture’ and Religion in Enlightenment Scotland”

Winner of the SSEMP Essay Prize:

  • Stephen Howard (Kingston University), “Why did Leibniz Fail to Complete his Dynamics?”

Featured papers:

  • Ruairidh J. Brown (St. Andrews), “The Peace of Prudence: The Concept of Authenticity in the Thought of Adam Smith”
  • Heikki Haara (Helsinki), “Pufendorf on the Desire for Esteem and Sociability”
  • Alzbeta Hajkova (Leuven), “The Foundations of Equality in Locke”
  • Alan Nelson (UNC-Chapel Hill), “Locke on Inner Sense and Ideas of Reflection”
  • Jason Fisette (New School of Social Reserach, New York), “Hume on the Stoic Rational Passions and ‘Original Existences’”
  • Sarah Patterson (Birkbeck), “Descartes’s Appeal to Devine Veracity”
  • Hannah Laurens (Oxford), “Reconsidering Spinoza’s Rationalism: Overcoming the Passions through Scientia Intuitiva
  • Han Thomas Adriaenssen and Sander de Boer (Groningen), “Aristotelian Responses to Mechanization. Kenelm Digby and John Sergeant on Natural Philosophy and Metaphysics”

Organisation: James Harris (University of St. Andrews); Mogens Lærke (CNRS, UMR 5037, ENS de Lyon)

SSEMP V 2014

University of Aberdeen, 14-15 May

Key note speakers:

  • Susan James (Birkbeck College/Princeton University), Spinoza on Political and Individual Freedom
  • John Sellars (Birkbeck and Oxford), Shaftesbury, Stoicism, and Philosophy as a Way of Life

SSEMP Essay Prize winner:

  • J. D. Taylor (University of Roehampton), Collective Bodies, Collective Minds: Reason, Security and Power in Spinoza’s Tractatus Politicus


Featured papers:

  • Olivia Bailey (Harvard University), Empathy, Care, and Understanding in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments
  • Thomas D. Micklich and Roman Alexander Barton (Humboldt Universitty, Berlin), Transformations of Sympathy: Shaftesbury and Adam Smith between Ancients and Moderns
  • Rodolfo Garau (University of Torino / Max Planck institute for the History of Science, Berlin), The Sources and Strategies of Hobbes’s Mechanical Doctrine of Self-Preservation
  • Noa Naaman-Zauderer (Tel Aviv University), Self-Experience and the Imago Dei in Descartes and Spinoza
  • Gregor Kroupa (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), Truth Through Fiction: History Written by Philosophers
  • Donald Ainslie (University of Toronto), Hume’s Essential Fictions
  • Nausicaa Elena Milani (University of Parma, Italy), Cartesianism and Anticartesianism in the Régis-Huet Debate
  • Balint Kekedi (University of Aberdeen), The Role of Animal Passions in the Cognitive Economy of Humans and Higher Animals in Descartes

Organisation: Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen); Mogens Lærke (University of Aberdeen / CNRS, UMR 5037, ENS-Lyon)


University of Aberdeen, 2-3 May

Key note speakers:

  • Leo Catana (University of Copenhagen), “Ficino on the philosopher persona and its demise in 18th-century philosophy”
  • James Harris (University of St. Andrews), “Late Hume: Between Liberty and Authority”

Featured papers:

  • Alissa MacMilllan (Institute for Advanced Study, Toulouse), “A Linguistic Key to Hobbes on Religion”
  • Raffaella Santi (University of Urbino), “Geometry and Politics in the philosophical System of Hobbes”
  • Stewart Duncan (University of Florida), “Toland and Locke in the Leibniz-Burnett Correspondence”
  • Matthew Kisner (University of South Carolina), “Spinoza on the Basis of Reason’s Dictates: Not so Common Notions”
  • Martin Lin (Rutgers University), “Spinoza’s Starting Points”
  • Sandrine Roux (University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne), “Another Way of Giving Sense to the Idea that we are not in our Bodies like a Pilot in a Ship: Descartes’ Conception of Voluntary Movements”
  • Anton Matytsin (University of Pennsylvania), “Anti-Skeptical Epistemology: The Challenge of Pyrrhonism and the Rise of Probability”
  • Paul Lodge (Oxford University), “The Nature and Role of the Critique of Dogmatism in the Thought of Joseph Glanvil”
  • Lisa Ievers (Auburn University), “Hume and Berkeley on the Nature of Philosophical Errors”
  • Emily Kelahan (Illinois Wesleyan University), “Hume’s Former opinions”

Organisation: Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen); Mogens Lærke (IHPC, UMR 5037, ENS de Lyon/University of Aberdeen)


University of Aberdeen, 9-10 May

Key Note Speakers:

  • Stephen Gaukroger (University of Aberdeen / University of Sydney), “Sensibility and Metaphysics: “Diderot, Hume, Baumgarten, and Herder”
  • Yitzhak Melamed (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore), “Spinoza’s Mereology”

Featured papers:

  • Ruth Boeker (University of St. Andrews), “’Locke on Persons and Personal Identity”
  • Dietmar Heidemann (University of Luxemburg), “Self-Knowledge and Intuition. Locke’s Critique of Descartes”
  • Matteo Favaretti Camposamieri (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), “De veris et falsis ideis. Leibniz on Ideas as Truth-Bearers”
  • Larry Jorgensen (Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY), “Leibnizian Naturalism.”
  • Markku Roinila (University of Edinburgh / University of Helsinki), “Leibniz and Spinoza on Affects and Perception”
  • Jon Miller (Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario), “Spinoza on the Life According to Nature”
  • Michael Olson (University of Villanova, Philadelphia), “The Camera Obscura and the Nature of the Soul: An Examination of Early 18th Century German Metaphysics and Natural Science”
  • Gabriel Alban-Zapata (ENS de Lyon), “Pierre Chanet’s Psychophysiology and Louis de La Forge’s reconstruction of the Cartesian theory of mind”
  • Martine Pecharman (CNRS – Maison Française d’Oxford), “Hobbes on Human Nature and Language”
  • Dario Perinetti (UQAM, Montreal), “Morality and the Historical Point of view: Reading Hume’s A Dialogue
  • Andrea Sangiacomo (ENS de Lyon), “What a Body can do: Spinoza against Occasionalism”
  • Eric Schliesser (University of Ghent), “Spinoza and the Newtonians on Motion and Matter (and God, of course)”

Organisation: Mogens Lærke (University of Aberdeen / CERPHI, ENS de Lyon).


University of Aberdeen, 24-25 March

Keynote speaker:

  • Maria Rosa Antognazza (Kings College London), “Leibniz’s doctrine of toleration: philosophical, theological, and pragmatic reasons.”

Featured papers:

  • Enrico Pasini (University of Turin), “The Genesis and Role of Leibniz’s Concept of the Virtual”
  • Andreas Blank (University of Paderborn), “Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Active Intellect.”
  • M. A. Stewart (University of Aberdeen), “’Locke on the Foundations of Religious Knowledge and Belief: A new Look at some Old Problems.”
  • Jacqueline Lagrée (University of Rennes ), “Politics and War in Neo-Stoicism.”
  • Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra (Oxford University), “Leibniz on Accidents.”
  • Filip Buyse (University of Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne), “On How Spinoza Unmasks Descartes’ Physics in his Principles of Cartesian Philosophy.
  • Jeffrey McDonough (Harvard University), “The Heyday of Teleology and Early Modern Philosophy.”
  • Gabor Boros (Eötvös University Budapest), “Representation and Passions.”
  • Omri Boehm (New School for Social Research, NYC / LMU, Munich), “Freedom and the Cogito.”

Organisation: Mogens Lærke (University of Aberdeen); Stephen Gaukroger (University of Aberdeen / University of Sydney)

SSEMP I 2010

University of Aberdeen, 5-6 March 2010

Key note speakers:

  • Catherine Wilson (University of Aberdeen), “Metaphysics and the sciences of life: Descartes and Leibniz”
  • Pauline Phemister (University of Edinburgh), “Leibniz and Ecology”

Featured papers:

  • John Whipple (University of Illinois at Chicago), “Malebranche and Descartes on Mind-Body Distinction”
  • Delphine Antoine-Mahut (ENS de Lyon), “What does it mean to study man ‘as a physicist?’ Regius and Descartes”
  • Justin E. H. Smith (Concordia University, Montreal), “Leibniz’s anti-vitalism”
  • Martine Pécharman (CNRS, Paris), “The Moral Psychology of Ralph Cudworth: What Place for Sympathy?”
  • Angelica Nuzzo (CUNY), “The relation between body and mind in Spinoza’s ‘Intellectual love of God’ (Ethica V P33-39)”
  • Julie Henry (ENS de Lyon), “How does a child become a man? Descartes, Spinoza”
  • Ohad Nachtomy (Bar Ilan/Fordham), “Uniqueness, Unity and Infinity in Spinoza and Leibniz”

Organisation: Mogens Lærke (University of Aberdeen); Stephen Gaukroger (University of Aberdeen/University of Sydney)