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Spinoza Chair Department of Philosophy

Since 1995, the Philosophy Department of the University of Amsterdam has annually appointed a foreign philosopher to the Spinoza chair. As part of the appointment, the Spinoza professor gives a number of lectures intended for a broad audience that wants to stay informed about contemporary developments in philosophy.

Spinoza Lectures 2023: Decolonizing Epistemology

This year, the Spinoza Chair will be held by Linda Martín Alcoff, Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. The central topic is the impact op colonialism on current day epistemology. Alcoff will deliver two lectures.

The modern era of epistemology, from Descartes forward, emerged simultaneously with European colonial expansion. As we know from the sociological studies of science, knowledge projects have specific local genealogies and orientations, and the knowledge projects concerning knowledge itself have been no different. How has modern epistemology been impacted by colonialism, and how might we turn course?

Linda Martín Alcoff

About Linda Martín Alcoff

Linda Martín Alcoff, originally from Panama, is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. She earned her PhD at Brown University after doing undergraduate work at Florida State University and Georgia State University.

Her books include Rape and Resistance: Understanding the Complexities of Sexual Violation; The Future of Whiteness; Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self, which won the Frantz Fanon Award; and Real Knowing: New Versions of the Coherence Theory. She has published 12 edited books and over 100 articles. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, Aeon, the NY Indypendent, among others. For over a decade she has taught courses on decolonial philosophy and epistemology in Spain, Australia and South Africa. She was elected President of the American Philosophical Association in 2012, and in 2021 she was named by as one of the ten most influential philosophers today. In 2023, Alcoff was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lecture 1: Extractivism as a model for Modern Epistemology

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Extractivist epistemologies work analogously to extractivist capitalism: seeking an epistemic resource of some sort---such as a piece of pharmacological knowledge held by an indigenous community or rural healer concerning the medicinal potential of a given plant, or an artifact from an indigenous funeral site. The extractivist epistemic approach treats this epistemic resource as separable from its origin, and then renders it into a knowledge commodity with exchange value over which exclusive rights can be contractually defined, protected and enforced. But to do this involves a whole series of metaphysical and epistemological assumptions about the nature of knowing as well as the norms of good knowing.

Lecture 2: A Decolonial Dialogic Approach as a Corrective Epistemology

Thursday, 8 June 2023

Decolonial approaches emphasize the way that contexts inform and limit our knowing practices. This emphasis is meant to counter the hubris that claims a transcendent capacity for judgement. But after acknowledging context, how do we move to the next stage? Corrective approaches must expand on what it means to ‘know-with’ others. The ideal of responsiveness to an open, public sphere needs to factor in colonial histories and multiple, conflicting publics.

Spinoza Chair 1995-present

2022 - Charles Mills (Charles Mills passed away in late 2021, Lewis R. Gordon and Philomena Essed spoke in his place)
2021 - Robert Brandom (registration of lectures: A Rortyan Pragmatist Master-Argument and Hegel’s Recollective Account of Representation)
2019 - Catherine Malabou (registration of lectures: Beyond the 'archic' Principle and Morality and Horizontality)
2018 - Susan Wolf (registration of lectures: Aesthetic Responsibility and Selves Like Us)
2017 - Béatrice Longuenesse (registration of lectures: Perplexing I and Two unlikely bedfellows: Kant and Freud on Morality)
2016 - Jonathan Lear
2015 - Sally Haslanger
2014 - Quentin Skinner
2013 - Onora O’Neill 
2012 - Michael Friedmann
2011 - Cristina Lafont
2010 - Moira Gatens
2009 - Robert Pippin
2008 - Asma Barlas
2007 - Herman De Dijn, Jonathan Israel en Steven Nadler
2006 - John Dupré 
2005 - Bruno Latour 
2004 - Nancy Fraser
2003 - Hubert Dreyfus 
2002 - Judith Butler 
2001 - Hilary Putnam 
2000 - Seyla Benhabib 
1999 - Axel Honneth 
1998 - Stanley Cavell 
1997 - Richard Rorty 
1996 - Albrecht Wellmer 
1995 - Manfred Frank, Daniel C. Dennett en Will Kymlicka


The following texts of the Spinoza Lectures have been published by Van Gorcum:






Jonathan Lear

The Idea of a Philosophical Anthropology

9789023 255581


Sally Haslanger

Critical Theory and Practice

9789023 255574


Quentin Skinner 

Hobbes and the State

9789023 254591


Onora O'Neill

Speech Rights and Speech Wrongs

9789023 254584


Michael Friedman

A Post-Kuhnian Philosophy of Science

9789023 253044


Christina Lafont

Global Governance and Human Rights

9789023 250753


Moira Gatens

Spinoza's Hard Path to Freedom

9789023 249399


Robert Pippin

Hegel's Concept of Self-Consciousness

9789023 246220


Asma Barlas

Re-understanding Islam: a Double Critique

9789023 244585


John Dupré

The Constituents of Life

9789023 243809


Bruno Latour

What Is the Style of Matters of Concern?

9789023 243793


Nancy Fraser

Reframing Justice

9789023 241553


Hubert Dreyfus

Skilled Coping as Higher Intelligibility

9789023 243786


Judith Butler

Giving an Account of Oneself

9789023 239406


Hilary Putnam

Enlightenment and Pragmatism

9789023 237396


Seyla Benhabib

Transformations of Citizenship

9789023 237242


Axel Honneth

Suffering from Indeterminacy

9789023 235644


Richard Rorty

Truth, politics and 'post-modernism'

9789023 232797


Albrecht Wellmer

Revolution und Interpretation

9789023 234265


Will Kymlicka

States, Nations and Cultures

9789023 232247


Manfred Frank

Selbstbewußtsein und Argumentation

9789023 232780