History of Philosophy

Histories of How We Think

How did Greek philosophers see the good life? Which ideas were regarded as radical in the seventeenth century? Where does our concept of knowledge come from? Philosophers have long debated the big issues of society. In our work we analyse these discussions. Using historical and philological methods, we explain and contextualise philosophical texts. We study changes in the big ideas. 
Read more about research projects in History of Philosophy.

Where does our concept of
knowledge come from?


At Utrecht, we investigate the big conceptual shifts behind apparently self-evident concepts and divisions. Our research is specialised in several key areas:

  • Ancient Greek philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Hellenistic philosophy)
  • Early modern philosophy (Descartes, Spinoza, philosophy and the sciences)
  • German Idealism (Kant, Schelling, Hegel)
  • Continental philosophy (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida)
  • Comparative history of philosophy (European and Chinese, Japanese, and Russian philosophy)

Our research is part of the focus area History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities and the strategic theme Institutions for Open Societies. We have links to the Descartes Centre for history and philosophy of the sciences and humanities.

Website over Spinoza

Sharing knowledge

In our work we help both students and experts to critically assess the core concepts that structure people’s engagement with the world. 

Ways in which we share knowledge include:

  • Preserving philosophical heritage and making it publicly accessible, for example in the Spinoza’s Web project (prof. Piet Steenbakkers) and studying processes of heritage formation in the Anchoring Innovation project (prof. Teun Tieleman).
  • Developing lectures and workshops for policy makers and a wider public, such as a series on Science and the Future in collaboration with Studium Generale and The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy.
  • Widening participation by delivering teaching for groups outside the university, including training for Classics teachers and by advising on secondary education curricula. We also regularly contribute to HOVO education with lecture series on history of philosophy.

To discuss opportunities for collaboration between the History of Philosophy group and your organisation, please get in touch with one of our researchers.