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.

Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting free of charge. The meeting starts with coffee at 11am. All those attending are warmly encouraged to stay to lunch where there will be an opportunity to meet the speakers and continue discussion with other members of the company in an informal setting (lunch, including refreshments costs £11.00 per person). Please complete the online form to reserve a place, or contact the Academy's Lectures and Symposia Department. Please indicate whether you will require lunch.