Given that Cavendish has been getting a lot of love around here (and rightly so!), I thought readers of this blog might like to know that there will be a teaching edition of Margaret Cavendish’s Observations upon Experimental Philosophy published by Hackett (and edited by me).

I alluded to this in an earlier post asking what early modern texts are most in need of teaching editions. And I’m glad to see that I don’t need to make the case for the value of such an edition, which would make it easier to include her in early modern survey courses. Unfortunately, though, it likely won’t be available until 2016.

And if you are unfamiliar with Hackett’s series of teaching editions of key early modern texts, I’d recommend taking a look!

After putting together a small set of extracts from Margaret Cavendish’s Philosophical Letters for a class, I figured that others might find it interesting or useful, so I posted it online: Some of the Philosophical Letters.

That page presents five of the letters in part 1 of Cavendish’s book: letter 1 (which is introductory), letter 4 (the first letter on Hobbes, on the views about perception in ch.1 of Leviathan), letter 30 (the first letter on Descartes, on body and motion), letter 35 (on the alleged real distinction between mind and body), and letter 36 (on reason and non-human animals, discussing Descartes’s arguments in Discourse part 5). Together, they give examples of Cavendish’s criticisms of Descartes and Hobbes, while also introducing important aspects of her own views.

Some more textual details below (as well as on the page itself):

Continue Reading »

Steve Daniel’s extremely useful calendar of events in Early Modern Philosophy just got more useful!

Steve has added two new features to the Early Modern Calendar:

“Announced events”: a drop down listing of all posted events arranged in the order of posting. This will allow people to see what has been posted since the last time they consulted the Calendar (thus not having to go through the whole list all over again)

“Upcoming Submission Deadline Dates”: a drop down listing to remind visitors of upcoming deadlines for submitting papers or proposals

A lot of the things that make our lives easier in this profession are basically done as labors of love by people, and so, I want to take this opportunity to direct people to Steve’s really great calendar, and also to thank Steve for all the work he does making it easier for early modernists to know what events are going on and what the deadlines are for submitting to them.

The University of Rochester invites submission to the International Berkeley Essay Prize competition:


The deadline is November 1, 2014.

John Wright has organized an exciting conference later in September, on Hume and his 18th Century Critics.

The website for the conference is humeandhiscritics.com, and perhaps most exciting for anyone interested who does not live in Michigan is that folks are encouraged to attend and be involved through the conference livestream.




Cover 'The Divine Order'

Two historical papers made it into the Philosopher’s Annual 2014, as reported on Leiter:

Congratulations to the selected authors!

A quick glance at previous editions of PA suggests that this result is fairly standard. Papers in history of philosophy—not restricted to the modern period—have made up between zero and two items per issue, with texts on Kant and Frege doing especially well (respectively, eight and five papers in total over the 32 years surveyed). But does that mean that typically only a maximum of two historical works is among the ten ‘best papers’ published each year?

That is debatable. Meena Krishnamurthy at Philosop-her has raised questions about the methodology used in selecting the papers (here, and also last year here), and Eric Schliesser noted last year that for modern philosophy, inclusion in this list does not particularly reflect what is going on in the field. For good reason, then, on its website PA is characterized as ‘an attempt to pick the ten best articles of the year’, not as a final judgment on what work will push a field forward. Further, we may even wonder whether we should keep on ranking ‘best’ papers in the first place? Best in what respect anyway—persuasiveness, style, urgency?

More optimally, we view Philosopher’s Annual as a list of recommended reading from the papers published in the previous year. Stuff that you would do good to pay attention to, in case you had not yet gotten round to studying it. Viewing this list as recommended reading brings out that there is a specific group of philosophers doing the recommending, possibly even with a specific group of philosophers they are recommending the work to.

In the spirit of viewing these lists as ‘recommended reading’, are there any papers in modern philosophy published in 2013 you would suggest to a general philosophical audience?

Eric Schliesser has some remarks about the role of Jonathan Bennett’s translations at Earlymoderntexts.org in scholarship:


First, all translation is an interpretation. Translating complex philosophical texts is much, much harder than figuring out ‘gavagai.’ This is so, even if you have written the text yourself and are fluent in both languages. You should try translating some time; even if you are not a meaning holist, you’ll discover that a lot of philosophical jargon is not stable and uniform across cultural and temporal contexts. (Surprisingly enough, this is even  true of works in the history of physics.) So, leaving aside honest mistakes, all translations involve non-trivial judgments and trade-offs with a complex interplay among style, content, jargon, sentence structure, and even argumentative structure (this list is not exhaustive).

In earlymoderntexts.org, Jonathan Bennett, who is one of the greatest historians of philosophy of his generation and who should be praised for his dedication to the field and pedagogy, is refreshingly forthright that in his translations the aim is to make “the original thought more accessible than it is on the original page.” He uses many more ‘tricks of the trade’* than any other translator known to me to achieve this and he is refreshingly and admirably transparent about how he deploys them.


See the whole post here


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