Philosophy

History of philosophy

The history of philosophy, from the ancient through modern to recent developments

Work in the history of philosophy is active and varied at Edinburgh, spanning ancient philosophy from the pre-socratics right up to the emergence of analytic philosophy and its linguistic turn.  Whether it is ancient metaphysics, philosophy of science in modern philosophy, British empiricists or analytic philosophy, our work in the history of philosophy profits from interacting with our colleagues working in the same areas of contemporary philosophy.  Naturally, scholarship is part of our practice of the history of philosophy and several of us have contributed to canonical editions of important works in the history of philosophy.

From antiquity to the twentieth century

In ancient philosophy our interests span a wide range of topics including philosophy in late antiquity, early medicine, science and, of course metaphysics.  We are working to understand early modern and modern philosophers who contributed to debates on ethics, language, science, and the nature of existence—to name a few. With expertise in early modern philosophy our interests also extend to subsequent developments such as the German Romantics and British Hegelians. In the twentieth century, we are working on phenomenology and early analytic philosophy.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

Our researchers collaborate across disciplines, especially with colleagues in Classics, Divinity, History, English, Politics and other inter-disciplinary venues such as the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH). Along with colleagues based in Classics, we have contributed to major projects such as the Oxford Classical Text of Plato and the Archelogos databases of ancient philosophy arguments. 

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

Emotions First

Embodied Values

Kant and the laws of nature

Archelogos website

People

Philosophy staff working in the history of philosophy at Edinburgh include:

  Research interests
Dr Alix Cohen Early modern philosophy, Kant, Kantian ethics, Rousseau, Hume
Dr Guy Fletcher Ethics, Mill
Dr Inna Kupreeva Ancient and medieval philosophy and science, Aristotelian tradition
Dr David Levy Platonic moral philosophy, Simone Weil, Wittgenstein
Dr Andrew Mason Ancient philosophy and aesthetics, Plato, 18th century Scottish Philosophy especially ethics, aesthetics and philosophy of religion
Professor Michela Massimi Kant, philosophy of science, early modern philosophy
Professor Pauline Phemister 17th century philosophy, Leibniz, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, philosophy and the natural world
Dr Bryan Pickel History of analytic philosophy
Dr Alasdair Richmond Berkeley, metaphysics of time, philosophy of science, British empiricists, epistemology, philosophy of explanation
Professor Theodore Scaltsas Ancient metaphysics, ancient ethics, contemporary metaphysics
Dr David Ward Kant, Hegel, Merleau-Ponty, phenomenology

Staff in other departments with interests in the history of philosophy include:

  Research interests
Dr Thomas Ahnert (History) Law and moral philosophy, intellectual history of early modern Europe, early modern religious thought, interdisciplinary connections in the early modern period, enlightenment responses to classical antiquity, reception of Newtonian science in Germany 
Professor Emily Brady (GeoSciences) Aesthetics and environmental ethics, especially: landscape and aesthetic values, aesthetics of nature in the history of philosophy, Kant's aesthetics, theories of imagination and emotion, environment and the self, aesthetics of the everyday, interdisciplinary animal studies
Professor Douglas Cairns (Classics) Greek society and ethics, emotions
Professor John Cairns (Law)    Legal thought and legal education in the Scottish enlightenment
Professor Andrew Erskine (Classics) Hellenistic political philosophy
Professor David Fergusson  (Divinity) Reformed theology from the 16th century to present day, relationship between church and society, political liberalism, natural sciences
Dr Benjamin Gray (Classics) Greek ethical and political thought, especially fourth-century BC and Hellenistic
Dr Sara Parvis (Divinity) Early Christian philosophy, patristics
Dr Nicholas Phillipson  (History) Cultural and intellectual history of early modern and modern Scotland, especially the Scottish enlightenment; early-modern British and French political thought
Dr Simon Trepanier (Classics) Presocratics, papyrology
Professor Charlie Withers (GeoSciences) Historical geography of science; geography, travel and exploration; geography and the Enlightenment; histories of cartography

Postgraduate study

MSc in Philosophy (specialisations in historical periods available)

PhD and MSc by Research programmes

Meetings and events

We regularly organise events around themes in the history of philosophy, including conferences, seminars and reading groups, for example:

Scottish Seminar for Early Modern Philosophy (April 2017)

Feeling Reasons: The Role of Emotions in Reasoning (May 2017)

Online Phenomenology Reading Group and Blog 

You can see a full list of philosophy reading groups and research seminars below. In addition, there are many relevant seminars within classics, theology, history, politics and other subjects that may also of interest to scholars and students of the history of philosophy. The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities compiles a list of these events across the college. 

Reading groups and seminars in philosophy

Reading groups and events in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences