British academy


Rationalism, Platonism and God:
A Symposium on early modern philosophy

Wednesday 26 May 2004, 11.00am
The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1

The Dawes Hicks symposium for 2004, hosted by the British Academy, will be on central themes in the thought of the three major ‘rationalists’, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, relating them to the wider philosophical and theological tradition. The main speakers will be John Cottingham, Robert M. Adams and Michael Ayers.

Professor John Cottingham, Reading University, will examine the role of Platonism in Descartes's thought, discussing, for example, Descartes’s conception of God as the source of both being and illumination, and the status of the eternal truths in his system.

Professor Michael Ayers, FBA, Wadham College, Oxford intends to consider Spinoza's relation to Platonism. He will focus in particular on Spinoza's monism and on his radical solutions to such issues as the relations between universals (eternal truths) and particular things, and between the divine mind and human minds.

Professor Robert M. Adams, Yale University, intends to present a paper centered on Leibniz's conception of God as ens realissimum, and on his view of the divine attributes and their relation to the properties of other things.

All three papers will be directed towards the analysis of the philosophical positions and motives of the authors discussed, in the light of their intellectual context. There will also be contributions from prepared discussants: Dr Douglas Hedley, Cambridge University, Dr Sarah Hutton, Middlesex University, and Dr Maria Rosa Antognazza, King’s College, London.



Coffee and Registration

Session 1


Welcome and Introduction


Plato's sun and Descartes' stove: contemplation and control in Cartesian philosophy [ABSTRACT]
Professor John Cottingham, Professor of Philosophy, University of Reading

Discussant: Dr Douglas Hedley, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge



Session 2


Spinoza and Platonism
Professor Michael Ayers, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Wadham College, Oxford

Discussant: Dr Sarah Hutton, School of Humanities and Cultural Studies, Middlesex University



Session 3


The Priority of the Perfect in Continental Philosophical Theology from Descartes to Kant [ABSTRACT]
Professor Robert M Adams, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Yale University

Discussant: Dr Maria Rosa Antognazza, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College, London

Drinks reception followed by Dinner for participants to be held at the British Academy