The History of Philosophy Program

The School of Athens

Choosing A Coherent Pathway

The Department of Philosophy offers students the opportunity to study the History of Philosophy in a unified program that brings together the expertise of a variety of renowned researchers and lecturers specializing in ancient, early modern, and 18th and 19th century philosophy. This program is very highly ranked: it was listed in the top fifty of the Philosophical Gourmet Report in the fields of early modern 17th century philosophy, early modern 18th century philosophy and 19th century continental philosophy.

By studying the History of Philosophy, students learn to see the broader picture of central philosophical debates, investigate the development of ideas over time, and understand better why today we discuss philosophical problems the way we do. The program’s individual units of study are designed to intersect with one another in order to facilitate deep engagement with the material and a positive learning experience by building up on previously acquired knowledge and skills. This means that each unit focuses on a specific philosophical problem (i.e. philosophy of mind, epistemology, political philosophy) within a specific historical period and at the same time integrates elements taught in other units of study.

Regular conferences, workshops and reading groups with international visitors complement the courses on offer and provide students with the opportunity to engage with innovative research. We have built strong networks with philosophers in the UK, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Japan, China, Canada, New Zealand and the US and encourage our students to participate in international exchange programs to study abroad.

Coordinator: Anik Waldow,

Studying History of Philosophy

While first-year units of study have particular elements that focus on the history of philosophy (e.g. the “Self” stream in PHIL 1013 Knowledge, Society and Self), a wide range of second- and third-year units of study are specifically designed to deliver an understanding of philosophical problems in a historical context. Honours seminars in the history of philosophy enable students to enter into more specialized debates and independent research.

  • philosophy of mind, knowledge, and metaphysics
  • ethics
  • political philosophy.

Many of the units combine elements of the different strands. The rationale for this is to enable students to see connections between ostensibly disparate questions, such as “What is consciousness?”, “What makes and action right or wrong?”, “How should we live?”.

List of units

For a list of units please see the Philosophy Department Unit Guide

Collaboration with Other Departments and Centres

Philosophy relates in profound and important ways with other disciplines: it draws on results from other fields and often explains their fundamental principles and problems. Thus, philosophy examines the role of history in our thinking, searches for connections between scientific worldview and our commonsense beliefs and explores the limits of our intellect in science, religion and everyday life. The History of Philosophy program is committed to interdisciplinary exchange and closely collaborates with:

If you choose to enroll in units of study of these departments, please contact the Philosophy Undergraduate Coordinator, David Macarthur: , or the The Honours co-ordinator Luke Russell: to ensure that you receive the credit points.

Lecturers and Researchers in the History of Philosophy Program

Professor Peter Anstey
Peter Anstey specialises in early modern philosophy. He is currently an ARC Future Fellow working on 'The nature and status of principles in early modern philosophy'. In addition he runs a blog on early modern experimental philosophy and is editing (with Lawrence Principe) John Locke's writings on natural philosophy and medicine.

View full research profile here

Peter Anstey
Professor Rick Benitez
I am interested in the different ways that philosophical problems are expressed and approached throughout history and what that can tell us about philosophy in general.  I am particularly interested in the origins of Western philosophy in Greece, and the connections between Greek philosophy and Greek science, myth, literature and religion.

View full research profile here
Professor Rick Benitez 
Professor Moira Gatens
Moira Gatens has research interests in the following broad areas: social and political philosophy, feminist philosophy, early modern philosophy, and philosophy and literature. Much of her most recent research focuses on Spinoza and George Eliot.

View full research profile here
Professor Moira Gatens 
Professor Stephen Gaukroger
Stephen's research is centred on a long-term project on the emergence and consolidation of a scientific culture in the West in the modern era. Two volumes have already appeared: The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1210 - 1685 (2005) and The Collapse of Mechanisim and the Rise of Sensibility: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760 (2010).

Stephen is currently in the early stages of work on the third volume of a study of this question, The Naturalisation of the Human and the Humanisation of Nature: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1750-1825. This will bring the project to the half-way stage.

See full research profile here
 Professor Stephen Gaukroger

Associate Professor John Grumley
For me philosophy has a key historical dimension. I'm a Hegelian in the sense that I think philosophy is its age expressed in thought. I have a strong interest in German Idealism and the social and political thought that issues from the specifically German critique of reason from Hegel to Habermas, through Nietzsche and Weber.

See full research profile here

 Assoc Prof John Grumley

Associate Professor David Macarthur
Philosophy depends on reflecting on the past, including its own past, and understanding which aspects of the past continue to animate the present. I am deeply interested in the Enlightenment projects of Kant and Hume, in particular, their different responses to the problem of metaphysics, the place of skepticism in philosophy, and the best way to account for the truth and objectivity of aesthetic judgment. I also have a abiding interest in the origins of analytic philosophy in the work of Frege and Russell and Wittgenstein’s critique of these origins in his later philosophy.

See full research profile here

 David Macarthur

Dr Dalia Nassar
Dalia Nassar is a DECRA Fellow in the Philosophy Department. From 2004-2007 she was a Graduate Research Fellow at the Philosophisches Seminar at the Karls-Eberhard Universität – Tübingen and in 2009-2010 a fellow of the Thyssen Stiftung at Universität Lüneburg. She is also assistant professor of philosophy at Villanova University. Her research interests are
Kant and German idealism; The idea of nature and natural philosophy;l Environmental philosophy and ethics; Aesthetics; Theories of Interpretation.

See full research profile here


Professor Paul Redding
Paul Redding works mainly in the areas of Kantian philosophy and the tradition of continental idealism. In particular he is interested in the relationship of this tradition to the later movements of analytic philosophy and pragmatism, and in issues in idealist logic, philosophical psychology and philosophy of religion. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

See full research proflie here

Professor Paul Redding 
Professor Paul Thom
Paul Thom is a specialist in the history of logic from ancient times to the nineteenth century. He is currently finishing a critical edition of Robert Kilwardby's commentary on Aristotle's Prior Analytics, and is working on a history of normative theories of reasoning. 

 Professor Paul Thom

Dr Anik Waldow
I mainly work in 17th and 18th century philosophy and have a special interest in David Hume, the belief-generating function of sympathy/empathy, the problem of other minds, the mind-body problem, scepticism and personal identity. My current research focuses on the role of sensibility, embodiment and experience in the Enlightenment.

See full research profile here

 Dr Anik Waldow


Visitors in 2015

  • Eckart Förster (John Hopkins)
  • Ada Bronowski (Oxford)
  • Sandra Field (Yale NUS College)
  • John Zammito (Rice)
  • Michael Hunter (Birkbeck College, University of London)
  • Justin Smith, Paris VII

Visitors in 2014

  • Richard Eldridge (Swarthmore College)
  • Yahei Kanayama (University of Nagoya, Japan)
  • Vili Lähteenmäki (University of Helsinki)
  • Sophie Roux, (École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France)