Conference in Early Modern European Intellectual History


Friday, April 8, 2016 (All day)


CES Lower Level Conference Room, 27 Kirkland St, Cambridge

Please RSVP by April 1st, sign up below. 

"God and the Philosophers in the seventeenth century"

a one-day workshop organized by Ann Blair and James Hankins for the Harvard Colloquium for Intellectual History, Friday April 8, 2016

This one-day workshop focuses on religious thought of philosophers in the seventeenth-century, particularly as they responded to some of the challenging questions posed by new sciences. E.g. What is the nature of God or of the immortal soul in a mechanistic universe? Are miracles possible? How should the Eucharist be interpreted? How was the religious thought of the ancient philosophers reinterpreted on the threshold of modernity? Six distinguished intellectual historians and historians of philosophy will give papers on the nature of the challenges to received reconciliations of philosophy and religion by considering Malebranche, Locke, and Spinoza among other major thinkers. The workshop itself is designed to foster discussion not only among the speakers, but also with the audience. Please see below for useful materials to read in advance.


Craig Martin (Oakland University), "Averroes, Averroism, and the New Sciences." Suggested reading: Pierre Bayle on Averroes --see below.

Debora Shuger (UCLA), "Place and Presence: the metaphysics of the Eucharist on the threshold of modernity"

Daniel Garber (Princeton University), "Spinoza: God of the Philosophers and God of the Bible"

12:30 lunch at CES


Steven Nadler (University of Wisconsin, Madison), "Malebranche's Miracles." Suggested reading: paper to read in advance (available below)

Lisa Downing (Ohio State University), "Locke on the Possibility of Thinking Matter and the Impossibility of a Material God." Suggested reading: Locke’s Essay Book IV, Chapter 10, sections 14-17 (available below), and Voltaire’s letter "On Mr. Locke", available here:

Jeff McDonough (Harvard University), "Spinoza on Personal Immortality". Suggested reading: Part V of Spinoza's Ethics. Available in an older translation through The Project Gutenberg here, and with parallel Latin and Dutch here.

4:30-5:30pm Reception at CES


nadler_malebranches_miracles.pdf154 KB
martin_averroes_bayle.pdf9.49 MB
lockes_essay_from_4.10.pdf485 KB
Registration Closed