Research

Boyle_Experiments_1660_Oxford_Air_Pump_CHFThe main focus of my research lies in moral, metaphysical, and epistemological themes in early modern philosophy, and in particular on the intriguing points at which they intersect. In my dissertation, Divine Minds: Leibniz on Knowledge and the Pursuit of Happiness, I investigate central aspects of Leibniz’s theory of knowledge, and show how they underpin his ethics, in particular his claim that morality is grounded in the imitation of divine justice. Through Leibniz, the philosophy of Cambridge Platonism has become a second focus of my research, in particular the work of female philosophers associated with the group, such as Anne Conway and Damaris Masham. Extending these interests, my next research project, The Metaphysics of Emotion, will investigate how metaphysical themes are bound up with epistemological and moral themes in early modern philosophical discussions of love.

In my research, I aim to illuminate the historical context, concepts and developments which frame these views, but I also want to draw out their philosophical potential by letting my work be informed by contemporary research. On a more historiographical level, much of my work aims to probe the historical and systematic boundaries of what is commonly called “early modern rationalism”, for example through looking at the role of subjectivity in Spinoza’s Ethics, through exploring surprising aspects of the dialectic between the “rationalist” Leibniz and the “empiricist” Locke in the New Essays, or through thinking about the fundamental commitment to the intelligibility of the world and its phenomena which is often taken to be a hallmark of rationalism.