Workshop information

November 3, 2016, 9:30 am-6:00 pm
Department of Philosophy, Utrecht University
Locations: Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06 (morning) and Drift 25, room 1.02 (late afternoon) [map]

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 investigate issues about perception in the early modern period.

Watch the livestream:


**Location: Janskerkhof 13a, room 0.06**

9:30 Doors open

Session 1 — Chair: Naomi van Steenbergen (Utrecht University)

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

Session 2 — Chair: Maarten Steenhagen (University of Cambridge, Queens’ College)

11:00 Lightning talks:

  • John Ashfield (Utrecht University): What Happened to the Distinction Between Proper and Common Sensibles?
  • Marin Kaufmann (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

Session 3 — Chair: Menno Lievers (Utrecht University)

13:30  Raphael Krut-Landau (Princeton University): Does the Ethics Undermine Itself?

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

**Afternoon location: Drift 25, room 1.02**

Session 4 — Chair: Albert Gootjes (Utrecht University)

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

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

Session 5 — Chair: Chris Meyns (Utrecht University)

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

18:00 Workshop End

** Reception in Janskerkhof 13a, room 0.06**


Attendance is free and open to all. Book your place here:

Eventbrite - Workshop Early Modern Perception


Morning session: Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06 (from 9:30 to 15:15)
Late afternoon session: Drift 25, room 1.02 (from 15:15 to 18:00)

Access and Conduct

  • Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06: Ground floor and accessible
  • Drift 25, room 1.02: First floor, lift accessible
  • Toilets located on the floors of the workshop rooms
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Large print information available on request

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

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.