Workshop Early Modern Perception
Workshop Early Modern Perception

Workshop Early Modern Perception

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Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06

3512 BL Utrecht


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What is it to perceive something? How is taste different from touch? Can instruments such as sticks or microscopes extend our senses? Issues about perception are at the heart of many Early Modern philosophical debates. They drive puzzles about what we can know, how we experience, what exists, as well as moral considerations about how we relate to others. In this workshop we will confront questions about early modern perception.

Watch the livestream:


9:30 Doors open

10:00 Anna Ortín (University of Edinburgh): Mental Activity in Descartes’ Causal Theory of Sensory Perception

10:30 Hanoch Ben-Yami (Central European University): Descartes on Structural Representation without Resemblance: From Mathematics to Perception

11:00 Lightning talks:

  • John Ashfield (Utrecht University): What Happened to the Distinction Between Proper and Common Sensibles?
  • Marin Kaufman (Utrecht University): Descartes on Responsibility and External Blame Attribution

11:30 Alexandra Ileana Bacalu (University of Bucharest): Early Modern Techniques for Managing Sense-Impressions: A ‘Sensitive’ or ‘Cognitive’ Cure?

12:00  Lunch

13:30  Raphael Krut-Landau (Princeton University): Spinoza on Numbing, Dawning, and Vagueness

14:00 Jenny Boulboullé (Utrecht University): Shifts Towards Experimentation in Early Modern Natural Philosophy

14:30 Lightning talks:

  • M.G. de Jong (Utrecht University): Brain Research in the Seventeenth Century: Innovations and Superstitions
  • Steven Kraaijeveld (Utrecht University): The Role of Perfection in Descartes’ Natural Philosophy
  • Lennard Pater (Utrecht University): The Birth and Development of Sir Isaac Newton’s Theory of Light and Colours

15:15 Break

15:30 Brian Glenney (Norwich University): Anticipation by Simulation: Adam Smith’s Theory of Perception

16:00 Lightning talks:

  • Theo de Jong (Utrecht University & University of Amsterdam): Language and Perception as the Foundation of Knowledge by Early Modern Philosophers
  • Mariëlle Ekkelenkamp (Utrecht University): The Tension Between Reason and Experience in Early Modern Aesthetics

16:30 Break

16:45 Keynote: Delphine Bellis (Ghent University): Perceiving Depth and Distance in Vision: Descartes’ Reversal of Kepler’s Optics

18:00 Workshop End / Reception

Access and Conduct

  • Workshop room: Ground floor and accessible.
  • Toilets located on ground floor opposite the workshop room.
  • Assistance dogs welcome.
  • Large print information available on request.

If you have any questions relating to access, contact the workshop organizers.

We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.


Feel free to get in touch with Chris Meyns ( if you have any questions.

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Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06

3512 BL Utrecht


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