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Dr Nabeel Hamid

Assistant Professor, Philosophy

Dr Nabeel Hamid
Office: S-M 110 
M Annex,
2135 Mackay
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2597

Research interests

I work on the history of European philosophy from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, especially in the German context. My main interests are in topics in metaphysics and philosophy of science. My primary research project (funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant) deals with the reception of Descartes in seventeenth- and early-eighteenth century German universities--a phenomenon sometimes called 'Cartesian Scholasticism'. I am tracing the development of theories of causation and substance through the confluence of Cartesian and Aristotelian ideas in the German scholastic tradition from Johann Clauberg (1622-65) to Christian Wolff (1679-1754). Of especial interest to me are the various attempts in this tradition to reconcile mechanistic and teleological forms of explanation. The project looks forward to (as well as back from) Kant. 

A second research project concerns the philosophy of the human sciences in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Germany. I am especially interested in Wilhelm Dilthey's (1833-1911) theory of historical understanding--its psychological foundations, its relation to natural scientific explanation, and its critical and empiricist underpinnings. The project aims to situate Dilthey's 'critique of historical reason' in the context of a) the emergence of new empirical sciences of human nature in nineteenth-century Germany, such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology; and b) contemporaneous currents in German philosophy to interpret the new scientific situation, such as positivism, idealism, materialism, and neo-Kantianism. 

I also have interests in the medieval period, in particular in debates on causation among authors in the Islamic world, such as ibn Sina, al-Ghazali, and ibn Rushd, and their impact on the development of both Aristotelian and anti-Aristotelian accounts of causation in the later medieval and early modern periods. 


I took my PhD (2018) from the University of Pennsylvania, with a dissertation titled "Being and the Good: Natural Teleology in Early Modern German Philosophy." Before that, I took MAs in Philosophy (University of British Columbia) and Applied Linguistics (Macquarie University), and a BA in Philosophy (University of Wisconsin). 

Research activities

Papers in progress

Below are brief descriptions of some of the papers I am currently working on or which are under review:

1. A series of papers on Wolff's cosmology, dealing with his account of corporeal substance, the distinction between power (potentia) and force (vis), and the respective roles of mechanism and teleology. These papers also aim to situate the significance of Wolff's cosmology within the distinction between general and special metaphysics as it had developed in the 17th century. 

2. A source-critical paper examining the textual bases of Anneliese Maier's influential thesis that Avicenna was the key source for cognitivist accounts of final causation--the view that all final causation requires rational intellect and will--in the later medieval period. The paper compares the crucial passages (Bk VI, Ch V) in Ibn Sina's Shifa and Avicenna Latinus's Liber de philosophia prima

3. Papers on Kant: on Kant's concept of purposiveness (Zweckmässigkeit) in the background of accounts of final causation in Wolff, Baumgarten, and Meier; on Kant's critique of physicotheology; on Kant's theory of ideas in the Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic as an inferentialist account of concept use. 

4. A paper on the development of Dilthey's hermeneutics, focused on his conception of the objects of historical inquiry in the context of materialist projects in German anthropology in the 1860s and 1870s.    


1. 2022. "The Cartesian Physiology of Johann Jakob Waldschmidt." In Descartes and Medicine, edited by Fabrizio Baldassarri (Turnhout: Brepols) (forthcoming)
2. 2022. "Substance, Causation, and the Mind-Body Problem in Johann Clauberg." Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, vol. 11. (forthcoming)
3. 2021. "Efficient Cause as Paradigm? From Suárez to Clauberg." Journal of Modern Philosophy. 3 (7):1-22
4. 2021. "Law and Structure in Dilthey's Philosophy of History." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 29 (4):633-651.
5. 2020. "Domesticating Descartes, Renovating Scholasticism: Johann Clauberg and the German Reception of Cartesianism." History of Universities 30 (2):57-84. 
6. 2019. "Wolff's Science of Teleology and Kant's Critique." Ergo 6 (17):489-515. 
7. 2019. "Teleology and Realism in Leibniz's Philosophy of Science." In Leibniz and the Structure of Sciences, edited by Vincenzo de Risi, 271-298 (Berlin: Springer). 
8. 2018. "Kant's Antinomy of Teleology: In Defense of a Traditional Interpretation." In Proceedings of the 12th International Kant Congress, edited by Violetta Waibel and Margit Ruffing, 1641-1648 (Berlin: de Gruyter).
9. 2016. "Dilthey on the Unity of Science." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (4):635-656.
10. 2015. "Hume's (Berkeleyan) Language of Representation." Hume Studies 41 (2):171-200.

Teaching activities

Regularly taught courses:

PHIL 281: Philosophy in the Islamic World (Winter semesters)
PHIL 360: 17th Century Philosophy (Fall semesters)
PHIL 361: 18th Century Philosophy (Winter semesters)

PHIL 4xx/6xx (upper undergrad/grad seminars): recent topics have included Kant's Critique of Pure Reason; Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment; Teleology in Early Modern Philosophy

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