Research Projects

The following links should serve as a helpful resource guide to important research going on at universities around the world that is relevant to the purpose of this blog.

  • Universität Heidelberg: Dr. Christoph Strohm’s Althusius Forschungsprojekt. This project is designed to investigate the role that confessions (e.g., Lutheran or Reformed) play in the political thought of Johannes Althusius and other Early Modern jurists. Information auf Deutsch.
  • Oxford University: Dr. Howard Hotson et alia research the “cultures of knowledge” that connected Early Modern European and English intellectuals. This project researches the thought of men such as Johann Amos Comenius, Samuel Hartlib, and many others.
  • University of Copenhagen: Dr. Leo Catana at the Centre for Neoplatonic Virtue Theory heads up a project designed to contribute to the current academic discourse on virtue ethics. In their own words:

    In the present project, we examine this Neoplatonic variant of Ancient virtue theory and its influence on Medieval and Renaissance moral philosophy. The motivation is two-fold. First, Neoplatonic virtue theory is still uncharted territory in the history of philosophy, even though it had important ramifications in Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance thought. Second, an examination of Neoplatonic virtue theory, including its criticism of Aristotle’s virtue theory, may uncover problems inherent in modern virtue ethics inspired by Aristotle.

  • A joint research and translation team from Berlin and Florence work to produce a translated critical edition of the Kabbalistic library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who commissioned his translation (Hebrew to Latin) from the jewish convert Flavius Mithridates in 1486.

    In 1486 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola charged Flavius Mithridates – alias Raimundo Moncada, a converted Jew of Sicilian provenance – with the task of translating from Hebrew into Latin a whole kabbalistic library, encompassing most of the Jewish mystical works then available. Mithridates spent months, if not for years, filling thousands of folio pages. When Pico died in 1494, the manuscripts with the translations came to the Vatican Library in Rome, where they have remained almost untouched till today. The entire kabbalistic library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola is now being published in monographic volumes. The series is a joint project carried out by the Institut für Judaistik of the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany) and the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento (Firenze, Italy). It aims to bring to light the real contents of a central undertaking of the Renaissance that remained inaccessable for centuries: the translations of kabbalistic texts prepared in 1486 by Flavius Mithridates for Pico.

  • Saint Louis University: John Greco and Eleanore Stump are the directors for the project The Philosophy and Theology of Intellectual Humility. If you are familiar with their work then you will not be surprised by this multi-million dollar project regarding virtue and epistemology:

    Intellectual humility is an intellectual virtue, a character trait that allows the intellectually humble person to think and reason well.  It is plausibly related to open-mindedness, a sense of one’s own fallibility, and a healthy recognition of one’s intellectual debts to others. If intellectual humility marks a mean between extremes, then related vices would be (on the one side) intellectual arrogance, closed-mindedness, and overconfidence in one’s own opinions and intellectual powers, and (on the other side) undue timidity in one’s intellectual life, or even intellectual cowardice. The Philosophy and Theology of Intellectual Humility project will focus on a variety of philosophical and theological issues relevant to the topic of intellectual humility. This project aims to:  (1) Gain a better understanding of the nature and value of intellectual humility. (2) Employ and develop recent empirical research on intellectual humility and related subjects, especially the empirical investigation being conducted under the aegis of Fuller Theological Seminary’s “Science of Intellectual Humility” project.  (3) Investigate issues related to intellectual humility, such as its relation to other virtues and/or vices, its place in the broader context of virtue epistemology, the role of humility in disagreement, its connection to problems of religious pluralism, and its implications for issues of divine hiddenness.  (4) Lay the groundwork for further research on how to foster greater intellectual humility in individuals and civil society.

  • McGill University: A group of international scholars including Paul Yachnin, Torrance Kirby, Peter Marshal, and Mark Vessey are collaborating on the project entitled Early Modern Conversions: Religions, Cultures, Cognitive Ecologies.

    Whether it is an awakening to a new faith, an induction into a religious cult or radical political movement, a sexual transformation, or the re-engineering of human beings as bio-mechanical “cyborgs,” conversion is a source of fascination and a focus of anxiety for people in the 21st century. We do not know if such conversions are inward turnings toward a better life or monstrous impositions upon unwitting victims. We cannot fathom how individuals or groups of people are able to convert to a new politics, religion, or way of life all at once and quite completely, as if they had never been other than what they have become. We would not want to part with the freedom of self-determination embodied in conversion, which seems to be its purest expression, even though we are troubled by what radical transformations tell us about the instability and changeability of human beings. The Conversions project will develop an historical understanding that will enlighten modern debates about corporeal, sexual, psychological, political and spiritual kinds of transformation. The project will study how early modern Europeans changed their confessional, social, political, and even sexual identities. These subjective changes were of a piece with transformations in their world—the geopolitical reorientation of Europe in light of emerging relations with Islam and the Americas; the rethinking and the translation of the knowledge of Greek and Latin Antiquity, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; changes in and changing uses of the built environment; the reimagining of God. Indeed, early modern people changed the world and themselves in ways that have been lost to view on account of the discipline-boundedness of much recent study of the past. By examining forms of conversion across disciplinary boundaries as a network of movements and transformations, we will develop an understanding of religious, cultural, and cognitive change that will provide a new account of early modernity and a foundation for a renewed understanding of the present age. The project will make use of new ideas about extended mind and cognitive ecologies. Cognitive ecologies are, according to team members John Sutton and Evelyn Tribble, “the multidimensional contexts in which we remember, feel, think, sense, communicate, imagine, and act, often collaboratively, on the fly, and in rich ongoing interaction with our environments.”

  • Cambridge University: The Cambridge Platonist Research Group, directed by Douglas Headley, Sarah Hutton, and David Leech aims to revive the study of this intriguing group of 17th century English philosopher-theologians who include Peter Sterry, Benjamin Whichcote, John Smith, Ralph Cudworth, and Henry More.

    Cambridge Platonism is the term that has come to be used to identify the thought of a group of seventeenth-century English thinkers who had a major influence on modern thought, at a pivotal period in its development (between 1650 and 1830). The name (coined in the nineteenth century) derives from the fact that they were largely associated with the University of Cambridge and that there is a distinctively Platonist strand in their intellectual formation. The Cambridge Platonist Research group was set up in 2012 with the aim of reviving interest in the Cambridge Platonists and to initiate research into their thought and legacy.  The initial step to furtherance of these aims was made possible thanks to generous funding of by the AHRC, which financed the project ‘Revisioning Cambridge Platonism’. This took the form of a series of workshops in 2013, which brought together scholars from across disciplines and across the world. The first outcome of these meetings was the establishment of an interdisciplinary network of scholars with research interests in the Cambridge Platonists.  AIMS OF THE RESEARCH GROUP: (1) To maintain the network of people with research interests in the Cambridge Platonists. (2) To provide a forum for discussion of and disseminating information about the Cambridge Platonists. (3) Promote further research on all aspects of the thought and legacy of the Cambridge Platonists through the organisation of colloquia and editions of texts.

More to come…

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