Conference of the European Society for Early Modern Philosophy and the British Society for the History of Philosophy

in association with the Birkbeck Department of Philosophy, KCL Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Wellcome Trust

Thursday 14th April to Saturday 16th April 2016

Birkbeck College London and Kings College London


During the early modern period, upheavals in science, theology and politics prompted philosophers to grapple with two highly-charged questions.  What are the limits of life? What are the possibilities of life?  Pursuing the first, they probed the relation between life and death. What is it to be a living thing?  What distinguishes life from death?  In what sense, if any, do living things survive death?  Exploring the second question, they turned their attention to the character of a truly human life.  What is it for human beings (or particular kinds of human beings) to live well? What role does philosophy play in this process?  Is living well an individual project, a political one, or both?

Each of these themes has recently attracted renewed interest among historians of early modern philosophy, and the conference aims to explore them as broadly as possible.

See the full programme here.



Thursday 14th April 2016

5.30pm – 7pm:  Michael Moriarty, The thought of death changes all our ideas and condemns our plans


Friday 15th April 2016

9.30am – 11am: Ursula Renz, Our Consciousness of Being Alive

2pm – 3.30pm: Martine Pécharman, The Moral Import of Afterlife Arguments in Pascal and Locke

5.30pm – 7pm: Mariafranca Spallanzani, ‘Tota  philosophorum vita commentatio mortis est’. Death of philosophers


Saturday 16th April 2016

11am – 12.30pm: Charles Wolfe, How I learned to love Vitalism

4.15pm – 5.45pm: Lisa Shapiro, Learning to Live a Fully Human Life