Andreas Rydberg: "Challenges to the analysis of the persona of the early modern philosopher"

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken Rausingrummet, House 6
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: Solveig Jülich
  • Seminarium

The Higher Seminar

Andreas Rydberg, Uppsala University, presents a draft article entitled "Challenges to the analysis of the persona of the early modern philosopher”. The text is part of a project that aims to examine how the French historian of philosophy Pierre Hadot’s reading of ancient philosophy as spiritual exercise has been applied to early modern philosophy.


Seminar material in English, discussion in English and Swedish.



This article addresses challenges related to the recent analysis of the persona of the early modern philosopher as an office. While sympathizing with the social constructivist assumption that there is no real self behind the socially constructed self, and that even the most personal believes therefore must be understood in relation to larger social contexts, the article problematizes the tendency to ascribe larger institutional and sociopolitical context a superior explanatory role. By presenting Bacon, Descartes and Leibniz as agents on a sociopolitical battlefield seeking to establish and defend their own respective accounts of the philosopher in relation to competing views, one runs the risk of trivializing the very core conception of philosophy as a transformative therapeutic exercise of a soul perceived as diseased and perturbed by passion and desire. To take this conception seriously does not mean to neglect or replace sociopolitical context with celebratory accounts of the philosophical sage but rather to open up for a complementary analysis of the philosopher as a divided subject, as someone who is forced to maneuver between the desire for the world and the ambition to follow an ideal that identifies this very desire as the core of corruption and vice.