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History of Modern Philosophy Research Group Talk (Harmen Grootenhuis, Toronto/Groningen)

Tuesday April 25, 2023, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The History of Modern Philosophy Research Group is pleased to welcome Harmen Grootenhuis, a visiting graduate student from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, where he is a PhD candidate working with Martin Lenz and Andrea Sangiacomo. He works on early modern philosophy, with a focus on the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. Thematically,  he is especially interested in monist metaphysics and the topic of relations. At the University of Toronto, he is writing about Spinoza and the imagination with Michael Rosenthal.

Talk Title

Spinoza on the Process of Imagination

Talk Abstract

Imagination, according to Spinoza, is an inadequate kind of knowledge (E2p40s2). However, recent scholarship is exploring  the nuances of the imagination and there are roughly two positions. One is that imagining is involved in knowing adequately and the other is that the imagination is an ambivalent form of thinking that, under the right circumstances, can be conducive to adequate knowledge. A notable defender of the former, stronger, claim is Genevieve Lloyd. The latter, more moderate, claim has recently been defended by Eugene Garver and Michael Rosenthal. I side with the moderates, but argue that the moderate interpretation presents a challenge. Spinoza holds that minds parallel bodies (E2p7) and the challenge of the moderate interpretation is to explain how the body as non-mental, extended thing can ‘imagine’ in parallel to the mind’s ambivalent imagination. Following up on Francesca Di Poppa’s suggestion to read Spinoza as a process philosopher, I argue that understanding both mind and body as dynamic processes enables an explanation of how bodies can imagine in parallel to the mind.

About the History of Philosophy Group

One of six departmental Research Interest Groups, the History of Philosophy Group is home to the History of Modern Philosophy Research Group, which focuses on the period, roughly, from Descartes to Kant.



Tuesday April 25, 2023
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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History of Modern Philosophy Research Group


Jackman Humanities Building, Room 418
170 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8 Canada
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