Academy Colloquium

The Human Soul and its Challenges. Controversy and Censorship in the Rise of Early Modern Psychology between 1513 and 1700

2 July 2015  -  3 July 2015
KNAW, Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
+31 20 551 0747
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In the Western philosophical and scientific tradition, intellectual debate manifested itself in a variety of forms: as a matter of pleasure, joy and entertainment, as a dialectical path to truth, and finally as conflict, contest, controversy or combat. This international conference will address the rise of early modern psychology by analysing major controversial issues associated with its development. The conference will be followed by a master class on 4 July 2015.


During the conference, we will focus on themes of controversy and conflict, including:

  • materialism and mortalism
  • the animal soul
  • the origin of the soul and animation
  • hylomorphism and dualism
  • human soul and world soul
  • freedom and will
  • emotions and passions.

We will cover the period extending roughly from the papal condemnation of Averroistic and Alexandrist doctrines in 1513 to the interconfessional uproar over Spinoza’s monistic view of body and soul.

The focus of this Academy Colloquium will lead us to investigate the emergence of modern psychology from the medieval ‘De Anima’ tradition, both from the disciplinary viewpoints of natural philosophy, metaphysics, theology and medicine and within the larger contexts of intellectual, Church and institutional histories – but always from the dynamic perspective of debate, controversy and censorship.

Speakers include:

  • Joël Biard (Tours)
  • Michael Edwards (Cambridge)
  • Guido Giglioni (Warburg Institute, London)
  • Gary Hatfield (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia)
  • Cecilia Muratori (Warwick)
  • Sidney Penner (Cornell) 
  • Han van Ruler (Rotterdam).


Prof. P.J.J.M. Bakker, Dr L. Spruit, and Prof. C.H. Lüthy ( Radboud Universiteit)