History of Philosophy


Uppsala Philosophy department features one of the rare permanent History of Philosophy positions in Scandinavia, and has been the home for several research projects in the field. History of philosophy teaching is available on all levels from first year to advanced studies, and at a time, ca. 1-4 doctoral students with the specialization in history of philosophy work at the department. A small but committed research group has developed around the research seminar in history of philosophy.

Uppsala history of philosophy research has been guided by the ideas that history of philosophy matters to philosophy, that it can be philosophically relevant without being unhistorical. The study of historical texts is predominantly problem-based, but the command of original language as well as understanding of relevant historical background is expected from those proceeding to do research on professional level.

In Uppsala, history of philosophy has mostly revolved around the history of philosophical psychology, theories of cognition, ethics and metaphysics in ancient, medieval, renaissance, and early modern philosophy. The chair was originally founded in 1998 and held until 2008 by Lilli Alanen, during which time medieval and early modern philosophy formed the core of research interests. The later changes in personnel have solidified a new area of interest, ancient philosophy, especially Platonism. Thematically, research has recently expanded more and more also into moral psychology, philosophy of language, methodology and epistemology, and even political philosophy. Administratively, history of philosophy functions under theoretical philosophy, but the research we do is both theoretical and practical – indeed, we maintain that to separate these two is a foreign conception for most historical authors before Kant.

The history of philosophy position is currently held (2007-) by professor Pauliina Remes. There are four docents, Lorenzo Casini, Tomas Ekenberg, Henrik Lagerlund and Olof Pettersson. Currently, there are three doctoral students, Ekrem Çetinkaya, Hallvard Stette and Oda Tvedt.

PhD Disssertations

During the past 20 years, 12 doctoral theses have been produced:

  • Henrik Lagerlund, Medieval Modal Syllogistics (1999), published by Brill in 2001
  • Tomas Ekenberg, Falling Freely, Anselm of Canterbury on the Will (2005)
  • Erik Eliasson, The Notion of That Which Depends On Us in Plotinus and Its Background (2005, a revised version published 2008 by Brill)
  • Jens Anfindsen, Aristotle on Contrariety as a Principle of First Philosophy (2006)
  • Lorenzo Casini, Cognitive and Moral Psychology in Renaissance Philosophy (2006)
  • Minna Koivuniemi, Towards Hilaritas. A Study of the Mind-Body Union, the Passions and the Mastery of the Passions in Descartes and Spinoza (2008)
  • Erik Åkerlund, Nisi temere agat: Francisco Suárez on Final Causes and Final Causation (2011)
  • Peter Myrdal, Leibniz on Agency and Force (2012)
  • Olof Pettersson, A Multiform Desire: A Study of Appetite in Plato's Timaeus, Republic and Phaedrus (2013)
  • Annika Wennersten, Back to The Woods or Into Ourselves: Kant, Rousseau and the Search for the Essence of Human Nature (2015) 
  • Tor Freyr, The Social Aspect in Plato's Ethics: The Significance of Human Being's Social Nature in Approaching Justice, Wisdom, and Partnership (2016)
  • Alexander Stöpfgeschoff, The Structure of the Virtues: A Study of Thomas Aquinas’s and Godfrey of Fontaines's Accounts of Moral Goodness (2018)

Staff and PhD Students

Emeritus professor Lilli Alanen is a leading expert on Descartes, with philosophy of mind, epistemology and moral psychology as her main interests. She is the author of Descartes’s Concept of Mind (Harvard University Press 2003, paperback in 2006) and has published numerous papers on early modern philosophy and philosophy of mind. She is also interested in feminist philosophy and feminist work in the history of philosophy. Lilli Alanen’s current interests are in the history of emotions and of the concepts of will and practical reason, and she is working on a monograph on Passions, Agency and the Self, exploring how the accounts of emotions given by Descartes, Spinoza and Hume respectively transform their conceptions of reason and self.

Lorenzo Casini works on philosophical psychology in Renaissance philosophy. In 2006, he defended his dissertation Cognitive and Moral Psychology in Renaissance Philosophy: A Study of Juan Luis Vives' De anima et vita. He is the author of several papers, published in anthologies or peer-reviewed journals, which discuss topics related to natural philosophy and moral psychology in authors such as Ficino, Pomponazzi, Porzio, Valla and Vives.

Tomas Ekenberg's main philosophical interests are logic, metaphysics, and the intersection of metaphysics and ethics, i.e. action theory and moral psychology. His work has chiefly centered on early medieval philosophy, but he is also interested in the relation between medieval and early modern thought, and the relation between medieval thought and that of late antiquity, especially with respect to theories of change, causation and action.

Olof Pettersson defended his thesis on Plato’s notion of appetite in Uppsala 2013. Since then he has been postdoctoral fellow at the department of philosophy in Bergen (Norway) within a NFR-sponsored project on Plato and Poetry. He is a RJ-financed researcher and dedicates his time to questions of integrity, self-knowledge and language in Plato and the Platonic tradition.

Pauliina Remes is specialist in late ancient philosophy, particularly neoplatonism and Plotinus. Her areas of research include philosophy of mind and soul, the notions of self, subject and agent, as well as ancient metaphysics and ethics. Her current projects revolve around self-knowledge and autonomy, as well as a new project on conversational norms and their epistemic significance in Plato.

PhD Students

Ekrem Çetinkaya works on Aristotle on sensible qualities.

Hallvard Stette works on a thesis preliminary entitled Philosophical education in Plato's Phaedrus

Oda Tvedt is writing her thesis on Plato’s critique of philosophy and her work draws upon both classics and political theory as well as ancient philosophy. She has also had a long-standing interest in feminist, continental and existentialist philosophy. She is founder and leader of Network for Women in Philosophy at Uppsala University. Visiting Student Researcher at University of Bologna 2019, UC Berkeley 2019/2020.

Former Staff and Collaborators

Erik Eliasson, PhD (Uppsala, 2005), is a specialist in ancient philosophy, especially ancient philosophy of mind and action. His recent research centres on the development of Platonist and Peripatetic school philosophy in the first two centuries AD, particularly on the Middle-Platonist theory of Fate.

Tor Freyr is an associate professor at Østfold University College, Norway.

Henrik Lagerlund is Professor at Stockholm University. He is a docent in Uppsala.

Alexander Stöpfgeshoff works on medieval moral psychology and ethics, and wrote his dissertation on Aquinas’ understanding of the unity of virtues.

Erik Åkerlund is a lecturer at the Newman Institute, Uppsala.

Annika Wennersten works on practical philosophy in Kant and Rousseau.