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Passions, Power and Representations in Early Modern Philosophy

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  • SSHRC IG awarded 2016 (2015 competition): My research is directed at clarifying the familiar, but poorly understood notions of passion, power and representation. These concepts play distinct roles in diverse branches of philosophy, but they intersect naturally in several places, and examined together, they may help explain puzzles in early modern views of perceptual intentionality and action, particularly about what fuels various mental acts, about the nature of mental content and about motivation to deeds. The results of this work will include a monograph on the genealogy of early modern passions, an article on Hobbes connecting social power, representation and the passion of "glory," another article on the (dys)functionality of the passions in Malebranche, an edited anthology on the history of the concept of power, and yet another edited volume on the concept of conatus. Although it is directed at retrieving and explaining early modern conceptual history, this research is informed by contemporary interests in representation and the emotions, particularly (though not exclusively) in the philosophy of mind, as well as by current political theory and (to a lesser degree) philosophy of science. As such, it should have a broadly interdisciplinary appeal, illuminating the origins of many current concepts. Let me emphasize, however, that I do not think that there is any single, overarching account about the relations among passions, power and representation in early modern philosophy: Showing the diversity of alternative conceptions should add a fruitful complexity to our grasp on our own concepts.

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    Research Material
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    © Schmitter, Amy. All rights reserved other than by permission. This document embargoed to those without UAlberta CCID until 2024.
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    Amy Schmitter