Early Modern Philosophy

photo of Donald RutherfordThe Sanders Prize in the History of Early Modern Philosophy is administered by Donald Rutherford, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego and editor of Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy.

The deadline for the 2018 competition is October 1st, 2018. 

Current Competition Details

The Sanders Prize in the History of Early Modern Philosophy is a biennial essay competition open to scholars who are within fifteen (15) years of receiving a Ph.D. or students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program. Independent scholars may also be eligible and should direct inquiries to Donald Rutherford, editor of Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy at drutherford@ucsd.edu.

The award for the prize-winning essay is $10,000. Winning essays will be published in Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy.

Submitted essays must present original research in the history of early modern philosophy, interpreted as the period that begins roughly with Descartes and his contemporaries and goes to the end of the eighteenth century. (Following customary disciplinary boundaries, papers on Kant will be considered only if they are primarily concerned with Kant’s relations to earlier seventeenth and eighteenth century figures.) The core of the subject matter is philosophy and its history, though philosophy in this period was much broader than today and included a great deal of what currently belongs to the natural sciences, theology, and politics. Essays should be between 7,500 and 15,000 words. Since winning essays will appear in Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, submissions must not be under review elsewhere. To be eligible for this year’s prize, submissions must be received, electronically, by October 1, 2018. Refereeing will be blind; authors should omit remarks and references that might disclose their identities. Receipt of submissions will be acknowledged by e-mail. The winner will be determined by a committee appointed by the editorial board of Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy and will be announced by the end of November. (The editorial board reserves the right to extend the deadline, if no essay is chosen.) At the author’s request, the editor will simultaneously consider entries in the prize competition as submissions for publication in Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy independently of the prize.

Submissions and inquiries should be directed to Donald Rutherford, editor of Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy at drutherford@ucsd.edu

Prize Winners

2016 Winner

photo of Julia JorátiJulia Joráti, Ohio State University
Title: “Leibniz’s Ontology of Force” (PDF)

The Marc Sanders Foundation wishes to congratulate Julia Joráti, winner of its inaugural prize in History of Early Modern Philosophy, for her paper “Leibniz’s Ontology of Force”.  The review panel, chaired by Steven Nadler  (Wisconsin), with Lisa Downing (Ohio), Susan James (Birkbeck), and Kenneth Winkler (Yale), unanimously selected Julia’s paper from a field of 70 quality submissions. Julia is an assistant professor of philosophy at Ohio State University. Her paper will be published in Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy.

Abstract: Leibniz portrays the most fundamental entities in his mature ontology in at least three different ways. In some places, he describes them as mind-like, immaterial substances that perceive and strive. Elsewhere, he presents them as hylomorphic compounds. In yet other passages, he characterizes them in terms of primitive and derivative forces. Interpreters often assume that the first description is the most accurate. In contrast, I will argue that the third characterization is more accurate than the other two. If that is correct, Leibniz’s monadological metaphysics is even more radical than it initially seems: his ontology is best understood not as a substance-mode ontology but as a force ontology. At the metaphysical ground floor, we do not find substances that possess force; instead, we just find forces. Interpreting Leibniz as a force ontologist has far-reaching consequences. For instance, it requires us to reconsider the status of time in Leibniz’s system and to revise our understanding of appetitions and perceptions.