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Last updated: August 2015

© Journal of the History of Philosophy, Inc.
Masters Classes in the History of Philosophy
Sponsored by The Journal of the History of Philosophy

Mindful of the challenges facing young scholars working in the history of philosophy, the Board of Directors of the Journal of the History of Philosophy has established a program of Master Classes in the History of Philosophy. The central idea of the program is that a senior scholar who works primarily in some area of the history of philosophy would undertake to direct an intensive week of master classes for the benefit of a small group of recent Ph.D.’s whose main research and teaching are in the relevant area. Normally, the classes will focus on one or more texts that are typically not part of material that the participants would have studied as graduate students. The goal of the program is the enhancement of the expertise and understanding of the young scholars in their area of specialization.

The JHP will select up to six individuals from among those who apply to participate in five days of intense classes on the announced subject. All travel and housing and food for the duration of the classes will be paid by JHP up to $1750. 


2016 Classes

Dates: July 11–15, 2016

Topic: Newtonianism and its Philosophical Aftermath

Instructor: Andrew Janiak (Duke University)


Course Description:

This master class will focus on Newton’s philosophical views and some significant 18th century reactions to them. It consists of three units. First, we will discuss Newton’s conception of space, time and motion; his “mathematical” treatment of force; his conception of the divine; and his ideas about the proper methodology for understanding natural phenomena. Our reading will include excerpts from Principia mathematica, the Opticks, De Gravitatione, and the correspondence with Bentley and Leibniz. We will especially emphasize Newton’s reaction to the failures of Cartesian natural philosophy. Second, we will consider Leibniz’s influential criticisms of Newtonianism, focusing especially on the Specimen dynamicum and the correspondence with Clarke. Intriguingly, Leibniz and Newton reacted to Cartesianism in similar ways, both emphasizing the importance of force for understanding nature, but Leibniz ultimately diverged sharply from Newton on fundamental philosophical grounds. In our third unit, we will discuss one of the 18th century’s first attempts to unify the disparate and seemingly incompatible approaches of Leibniz and Newton, that of Émilie Du Châtelet in the 1740s. We will read excerpts from her Foundations of Physics, along with some of her correspondence.

Texts (to be read prior to the class)

Ariew, editor, The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence (Hackett) and “Specimen dynamicum” (available in Ariew & Garber)
Janiak, editor, Newton: Philosophical Writings (Cambridge, 2nd edition)
Zinsser, editor, Châtelet: Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings (Chicago)


Application: Applicants should send a letter of interest along with a CV to Prof. Lloyd P. Gerson (lloyd.gerson@utoronto.ca).

Qualifications: Ph.D. in philosophy received no earlier than January 1, 2011 and no later than November 1, 2016. AOS: Early Modern.

Deadline for submission: Applications must be received no later than November 15, 2015.  Applicants will be notified by January 1, 2016 of those selected to participate.