London Spinoza Circle: Common Notions and the Origin of Rational Ideas

At the next meeting of the London Spinoza Circle we are very pleased to have Dr Andrea Sangiacomo (University of Groningen) who will speak on Spinoza’s account of common notions and the origin of rational ideas.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 30th November, 3pm-5pm in the Paul Hirst Room, Department of Politics, Birkbeck College, at 10 Gower Street London WC1E 6HJ,


An everlasting controversy in Spinoza scholarship concerns the origin of rational ideas. Two parties have been opposing each other. According to the empiricist approach, ideas of reason somehow derive from imagination, while innatism holds that they are built upon innate ideas. In this paper, I propose a revised version of the empiricist approach that is capable of fully accounting for Spinoza’s position. I argue that reason and imagination express different ways in which the body interacts with external causes. Imaginative ideas are the mental counterpart of interactions based on some form of disagreement in nature between the human body and external causes, while rational ideas based on common notions are the mental expression of agreement in nature between the human body and external cases. This reading of common notions as an expression of some degree of “agreement in nature” (natura convenire) among things leads to appreciate of the often neglected difference between universal and proper common notions, which in turns enables Spinoza to account for different degrees of generality that rational ideas can have.

All are welcome and no registration is required.

Please put these dates of future meetings in your diary.

January 25th, 2018 – Christopher Thomas (University of Aberdeen)
February 15th, 2018 – Prof Yitzhak Melamed (Johns Hopkins University)
March 1st, 2018 – Dr Daniel Whistler (Royal Holloway)
March 22nd, 2018 – Dr Alexander Douglas (St Andrews University)

Assistant Professor in Shakespeare, Qatar University

Closing date: Open until filled

Assistant Professor in Shakespeare,
Department of English Literature and Linguistics,
Qatar University.

The Department of English Literature and Linguistics invites applications for an Assistant Professor of English Literature from candidates with specialization in Shakespeare. In addition to teaching introductory and upper-level undergraduate courses, the candidate will be expected to carry out excellent scholarly research, and contribute to the enhancement of the Department, College and University.

Qatar University Profile

Qatar University is the national institution of higher education in Qatar. It provides high quality undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare competent graduates, destined to shape the future of Qatar. The university community has a diverse and committed faculty that teaches and conducts research, which addresses relevant local and regional challenges, advances knowledge, and contributes actively to the needs and aspirations of society.

Qatar University is an intellectual and scholarly community characterized by open discussion, the free exchange of ideas, respectful debate, and a commitment to rigorous inquiry. All members of the University – faculty, staff, and students – are expected to advance the scholarly and social values embodied by the university.

College Profile

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) houses eleven departments, covering a wide range of undergraduate specializations in the Arts and Sciences including English Literature & Linguistics, Arabic Language, Humanities, Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, International Affairs, Policy, Planning & Development, Statistics, Chemistry, Mass Communication, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Material Science, and Sports Science. The College also houses five graduate programs in Environmental Sciences, Gulf Studies, Material Science, Statistics, and Arabic Language. Additionally, the College offers a Program of Arabic for Non- Native Speakers. There are also the newly established three research centers for Social Science and Humanities, Sustainable Development, and Gulf Studies.

It is worth mentioning that as members of QU, CAS faculty members have excellent opportunities to secure internal and external funding for their research ideas. Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) is major source of research funding, with individual project funding exceeding 1 million USD (and 5 million exceptional projects) along with programs for student research funding. As the national and largest University in the country, Qatar University is the recipient of most QNRF awards, with many research-active faculty members able to win multiple grants.

Duties & Responsibilities

1. Teach courses in the area of expertise
2. Contribute to various committees at the Program, College, and University level
3. Contribute to the research profile of College through publications
4. Serve as student advisor
5. Other responsibilities as assigned by the Head of Department


1. Ph.D. in the relevant disciplinary area
2. Strong peer reviewed publication record
3. Teaching experience at tertiary level
4. Familiar with educational technologies used in the higher education sector
5. Willingness to work with teams
6. Awareness of working with people from diverse backgrounds
7. Excellent written and oral communication skills

Required Documents

1. Current Curriculum Vitae
2. Statement of Teaching Philosophy
3. Research Plan
4. Contact details of three referees (physical and email addresses as well their telephone contact)
5. Academic transcript of the highest qualification
6. Any additional documentation deemed relevant to the application


1. A three-year renewable contract
2. Salary is commensurate with experience
3. Tax-free salary
4. Furnished accommodation in accordance with QU HR policies
5. Annual round trip air tickets for faculty member and dependents in accordance with QUHR policies
6. Educational allowance for candidate’s children (eligible candidates only) in accordance with QU HR policies
7. Private health care and health insurance in accordance with QU HR policies
8. Annual leave in accordance with QU HR policies
9. End-of-contract indemnity

To apply for this position, please send your curriculum vitae plus all other requested documents to Dr Ross Griffin, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Wellcome Collection: “Finding Lost Science in Early Modern Poetry”

Wellcome Collection, 22 November.

We are hosting an afternoon workshop here at Wellcome Collection on ‘Finding Lost Science in Early Modern Poetry’. The workshop is free to attend and open to all. We would be delighted to see you there! To register, please contact Prof. Gesine Manuwald:

The workshop will be followed by a public event with viewings of early printed books, forming part of the Being Human festival:

Didactic poetry of the early modern period can reveal fascinating insights about what people of the time thought about science and how they expressed these ideas in poetic form. Texts of this literary genre, however, tend to be neglected because they are regarded neither as ‘proper scientific texts’ nor as ‘proper poetry’. This workshop, organised by the Society for Neo-Latin Studies, Wellcome Collection and the Department of Greek & Latin at University College London, aims to bring this type of literature into focus again. Specialists from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will present case studies, looking at a variety of English and Latin texts, and there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion. The day will conclude with a public event as part of the Being Human festival.


12.45–1.00 pm: Registration

1.00–1.15 pm: Welcome and introduction

1.15–2.00 pm: Claire Preston (Queen Mary University of London), ‘The gallery, the eye, and the rhetoric of observation in some 17th-century descriptions’

2.00–2.45 pm: David McOmish (University of Glasgow), ‘Teaching the Scientific Revolution in verse: when poetry ruled the cosmos’

2.45–3.15 pm: Coffee/tea

3.15–4.00 pm: Victoria Moul (King’s College London), ‘Latin poetry and medicine’

4.00–4.15 pm: Closing discussion

4.30–6.00 pm: Public event as part of the Being Human festival

Location: Wellcome Library, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.

The workshop and public event are free to attend. To register to attend the workshop, contact Gesine Manuwald. No registration is needed to attend the public event.

Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK