Dr Charles T. Wolfe

BA, MA New School for Social Research, DEA Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne;
PhD Boston University

Papers, talks and other material at http://ugent.academia.edu/CharlesWolfe

Current position

Research Fellow, Centre for History of Science, University of Ghent (2011-2018)

Charles is interested in the interrelation between early modern philosophy and the history and philosophy of the life sciences, centring on themes such as the man-machine, mechanism and organism, and vitalism; and figures such as Locke, La Mettrie, and Diderot. In addition, Charles works on topics in 'classical empiricism' and philosophy of mind with a historical focus.

Current projects

Charles is currently working on a monograph on the conceptual foundations of Enlightenment vitalism (for University of Pittsburgh Press). He is also working on a version of his PhD dissertation on determinism in early modern thought (to appear in French), as well as several edited volumes (on vitalism, and on theories of the brain).

Selected publications

Edited volumes

  • Vitalism and the Scientific Image in Post-Enlightenment Life Science, 1800-2010 (2013)
  • Brain Theory:Essays in Critical Neurophilosophy (2014)

    Editor, The Renewal of Materialism (Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 22:1, special thematic issue, New York, 2000)
  • Co-Editor (with Ubaldo Fadini & Antonio Negri), Desiderio del Mostro. Dal Circo al Laboratorio alla Politica (Rome: Manifestolibri, 2001)
  • Editor, Monsters and Philosophy (London: King’s College Publications, 2005)
  • Guest Editor, Vitalism Without Metaphysics? Medical Vitalism in the Enlightenment, special issue of Science in Context (Cambridge University Press), 21:4, December 2008
  • Co-Editor (with Ofer Gal), The Body as object and instrument of knowledge. Embodied Empiricism in early modern science (Dordrecht: Springer, 2010)
  • Co-Editor (with Philippe Huneman), The Concept of Organism: Historical, Philosophical, Scientific Perspectives, special issue of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (32:2-3, 2010)
  • Co-Editor (with Sebastian Normandin), Vitalism and the scientific image in post-Enlightenment life science, 1800-2010 (Dordrecht: Springer, planned for 2011)

Recent articles and book chapters

  • "'Epicuro-Cartesianism': La Mettrie’s Materialist Transformation of Early Modern Philosophy," in H. Hecht, ed., La Mettrie. Ansichten und Einsichten (Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2004)
  • "The Materialist Denial of Monsters," in C.T. Wolfe, ed., Monsters and Philosophy (2005)
  • "Materialism and Temporality. On Antonio Negri’s 'Constitutive' Ontology," in T.S. Murphy & A.-K. Mustapha, eds., The Philosophy of Antonio Negri 2: Revolution in Theory (London: Pluto Press, 2007)
  • "La catégorie d’‘organisme’ dans la philosophie de la biologie," Multitudes 16 (2004); reprinted in Y. Moulier-Boutang, ed., Multitudes. Une anthologie (Paris: Éditions Amsterdam, 2007)
  • "Le rire matérialiste," Multitudes 30 (2007)
  • "Determinism/Spinozism in the Radical Enlightenment: the cases of Anthony Collins and Denis Diderot," in Pasi Ihalainen et al., eds., Boundaries in the Eighteenth Century, International Review of Eighteenth-Century Studies (IRECS), Vol. 1 (Helsinki/Oxford, 2007)
  • "De-ontologizing the Brain: from the fictional self to the social brain," CTheory 30:1 (Winter 2007), online at: http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=572
  • (with Motoichi Terada), "The 'animal economy' as object and program in Montpellier vitalism," Science in Context, special issue: Medical Vitalism in the Enlightenment (21:4, December 2008)
  • "A happiness fit for organic bodies: La Mettrie’s medical Epicureanism," in N. Leddy & A. Lifschitz, eds., Epicurus in the Enlightenment, SVEC series (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2009)
  • "Cabinet d’Histoire Naturelle, or: The Interplay of Nature and Artifice in Diderot’s Naturalism," Perspectives on Science 17:1 (2009)
  • (with Alan Salter), "Empiricism contra Experiment: Harvey, Locke and the Revisionist View of Experimental Philosophy," Bulletin de la SHESVIE 19:2 (2009)
  • "Organisation ou organisme? L’individuation organique selon le vitalisme montpelliérain," invited article for special issue of Dix-Huitième Siècle, vol. 41, eds. Y. Citton & L. Loty: Individus et communautés dans la pensée et les pratiques des Lumières (2009)
  • "Empiricist heresies in early modern medical thought," in C.T. Wolfe & O. Gal, eds. The Body as object and instrument of knowledge. Embodied empiricism in early modern science (Dordrecht: Springer, 2010)
  • "Locke’s Compatibilism: Suspension of Desire or Suspension of Determinism?", in J. Keim Campbell & M. O’Rourke, eds., Action, Ethics and Responsibility (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2010)
  • "Endowed molecules and emergent organisation: the Maupertuis-Diderot debate," Early Science and Medicine 15 (2010)
  • "The Social Brain: a Spinozist Reconstruction," in ASCS 2009: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science, eds. W. Christensen, E. Schier, and J. Sutton (Sydney: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, 2010)
  • "Do organisms have an ontological status?", History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32: 2-3 (2010)
  • "Une biologie clandestine? Le projet d’un spinozisme biologique chez Diderot," La lettre clandestine 19 (2011)
  • "Antonio Negri’s Ontology of Empire and Multitude," Ideas in History 5:2 (forthcoming 2011)
  • "Why was there no controversy over Life in the Scientific Revolution?", in V. Boantza & M. Dascal, eds., Controversies in the Scientific Revolution (accepted March 2009; Amsterdam: John Benjamins, forthcoming)


  • (with Sean Dyde), "Introducing Darwin to the Uninitiated. Review of Michael Ruse, Darwin," Metascience 18:2 (July 2009)
  • "Epicureanism and Modernity" (on Catherine Wilson, Epicureanism at the origins of modernity), The Journal of Scottish Philosophy 8:1 (Spring 2010)
  • (with David Gilad), "The self-fashioning of French Newtonianism," review of J.B. Shank, The Newton Wars and the Beginning of the French Enlightenment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), Metascience (2011)
  • review of Grégoire Chamayou, Les corps vils: Expérimenter sur les êtres humains aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles (Paris: Les Empêcheurs de Penser en Rond / La Découverte, 2008) in Medical History 55 (forthcoming 2011)

Other professional contributions

Charles co-edits a new series in History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences (Springer). Charles served as Secretary of AAHPSS between 2008-2010.

Grants and fellowships received

Charles has received scholarships, grants and travel support from Boston University (1998-2001, 2004-2005), Nagoya City University, Nagoya, Japan (2001, 2005- 2006), the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (2007), the ARC (APD, 2007-2010), IHPST, Paris (2008), University of Grenoble, TU Delft and British Council (2009), and the Mellon Foundation (University of Pittsburgh, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, November 2010-May 2011).