Solipsism and Otherness: Recognizing Minds in Early Modern Philosophy


Organized by Miriam Aiello (CNR-ILIESI) and Simone Guidi (CNR-ILIESI)

Due to the decline of the concept of the "soul", the rise of new sciences, and the noteworthy geographical and anthropological discoveries of the late fifteenth century, the entire early modern age became a locus for fundamental debates on human and non-human intelligence. These discussions play a pivotal role in shaping the notion of "mind". Such a reassessment also entails the repositioning of traditional theoretical and moral issues. Among these are inquiries into the relationship between the mind and the extra-mental world, the premises and mechanisms regulating mutual recognition between 'minds,' and the criteria for accurately identifying genuine 'minds' and sentient subjects. This involves distinguishing them from other entities exhibiting intelligent-like or emotion-driven behaviors.

This online seminar series is thus designed to reconstruct significant moments in the philosophy of intersubjectivity during the early modern age, with a particular focus on the period from 1630 to 1770. The emphasis will be on exploring the conceptual and terminological elements that, within the debates shaping the very concept of 'mind,' enable philosophers to address intersubjective, sympathetic, and social phenomena.

Program & Calendar
(January-May 2024)

SESSION 1 - 18 January, 4 PM CET Time
Martin Lenz (University of Groningen), The “Irresistible Contagion of Opinion”: Hume’s Medical Model of Sympathy
James Hill (Charles University), Berkeley and the Threat of Solipsism

SESSION 2 - 8 February, 4 PM CET Time
Fabrizio Baldassarri (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), The Mind of Plants: Vegetal Cognition in Pre-Modern Times
Jan Purnis (University of Regina), Cannibalism and Early Modern Theories of Mind

SESSION 3 - 22 February, 4 PM CET Time
Daniel Heider (University of South Bohemia), Suárez on the Involuntary Attention in Angelic Locution
Simone Guidi (CNR-ILIESI), Seeing the Other through the Self. Solipsistic and Sociable Angels in Early Modern Scholasticism

SESSION 4 - 21 March, 4 PM CET Time
Antonia LoLordo (University of Virginia), Self and World in Mary Shepherd
Andrew Platt (Villanova University), Norris and Astell: Occasionalism, Charity, and Moral Worth

SESSION 5 - 4 April, 4 PM CET Time
Raffaele Carbone (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II), Bodies, Minds and Social Relations in the Anthropology of the Montpellier School
Anita Avramides (St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford), Solipsism: J.S. Mill’s Response to Thomas Reid

SESSION 6 - 18 April, 4 PM CET Time
Giuliana Di Biase (Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” Chieti), Socialisation, Custom and Language in John Locke
Angela Ferraro (Université Laval), The Status of Otherness in Malebranche’s Thought

SESSION 7 - 24 April, 4 PM CET Time
Sébastien Charles (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières), Penser le solipsisme à l’âge classique : de la métaphysique cartésienne aux diatribes des Lumières
Alberto Frigo (Università degli Studi di Milano), Language, Community, Mortality: Condillac, Rousseau and the Sentiment of Mortality

SESSION 8 - 24 May, 4 PM CET Time
Cecilia Muratori (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), The Mind of the Philosopher: Physiognomics and the Body-Mind Problem in Early Modernity
Miriam Aiello (CNR-ILIESI), Leibniz on the Other Minds

The seminar series is online only, via Microsoft Teams. Attendance is totally free. Links for each session will be provided at the URL:
Organization: Miriam Aiello, Simone Guidi
Contact: [email protected]

This seminar series is organized within the PRIN project "Compassion in action: theories of sympathy and Construction of Otherness in the Long Eighteenth Century" (Prot. 2020KL3S9H - National Scientific Coordinator: Prof. Marco Menin, University of Turin). The Cnr-Iliesi Research Unit puts forward a historical-philosophical investigation on the terminological and conceptual evolution of the notions of 'sympathy', 'pity', 'charity', 'compassion', aimed at the construction of an Eighteenth-Century European Lexicon of Compassion. Planned initiatives include seminars and publications, as well as the organization of an International Conference (jointly with the Roma Tre University Research Unit). The scientific head of the Cnr-Iliesi Research Unit is Simone Guidi.
January 18, 2024
May 24, 2024
This online seminar series has ended.

Link for additional information


Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche

Sponsoring institution

Institute for the European Intellectual Lexicon and History of Ideas, National Research Council of Italy