Lilli Alanen

professor emeritus at Department of Philosophy, Theoretical Philosophy; Affiliated

Visiting address:
Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 H
Postal address:
Box 627
751 26 UPPSALA

Also available at

My courses


Lilli Alanen (Ph.D. 1982, University of Helsinki), Professor emerita from the Chair in History Philosophy at the University of Uppsala (1997-2008).

Before moving to Uppsala I taught at the University of Helsinki and worked as Senior Researcher of the Academy of Finland. My main work is on metaphysics and philosophy of mind, modality, theory of knowledge and moral psychology in Early Modern Philosophy. I also have a longstanding interest in ancient philosophy, ethics and feminist philosophy. My present research is on early modern conceptions of agency, reason and passions in Descartes, Spinoza and Hume. I started and co-directed local, Nordic and international research projects in Helsinki and in Uppsala, including the Swedish Bank Tercentenary Foundation research program “Understanding Agency” at Uppsala 2008 -2012. I have taught as Invited Visiting Professor in the USA, at Wayne State University (1988), University of California at Irvine (1998), Carleton College (2003), University of Chicago (2004), and University of California at Berkeley (2009), and am a member of the APA and the Hume Society.

Elected member of Institut Internationale de Philosophie; Societas Scientiarum Fennica; Kungliga Humanistiska Vetenskaps-Samfundet i Uppsala; Norwegian Academy of Sciences, European Academy of Sciences. Elected Honorary International Member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences 2018.


Forthcoming and Ongoing Work

  • “Will and Self in Descartes’s Account of Love” in Martina Reuter and Frans Svensson (eds.) Mind, Body, and Morality: New Perspectives on Descartes and Spinoza, Routledge.

  • “The Nature of the Self” in Cecilia Lim and Jorge Secada (eds.), The Cartesian Mind, Routledge.

  • “Spinoza on Affectivity and Cognitive Perfection”, Noa Naaman-Zauderer (ed.), Freedom and the Passions in Spinoza, Cambridge University Press.

  • “Sympathy and Nature in Hume’s Anatomy of the Human Mind”, in progress.

  • “The Soul’s Extension-Elisabeth’s Solution to Descartes’s Mind-Body Problem”, in progress.

  • Descartes’s Moral Mind, monograph, in progress.


Publications (Selection)


  • Descartes's Concept of Mind, Harvard University Press (2003) 355 p.

  • Feminist Reflections on Method in the History of Philosophy, & Charlotte Witt, (editors), Kluwer Academic Publishers (2004).

Research Papers and Chapters in Books

  • “The Metaphysics of Affects and the Unbearable Reality of Confusion”, in Michael Della Rocca (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza”, Oxford University Press (2018) 314-342.

  • “Affects and Ideas in Spinoza’s Therapy of Passions”, in A. Cohen and R. Stern (eds.) Thinking About Emotions: A Philosophical History. Oxford University Press (2017) 83-108.

  • “Descartes’s Dualism and von Wright’s Philosophy of Mind”, in I. Niiniluoto and T. Wallgren (eds.) On the Human Condition-Philosophical Essays in Honour of the Centennial Anniversary of Georg Henrik von Wright, ACTA PHILOSOPHICA FENNICA, Vol. 93, (2017) 49-88.

  • “Self-Awareness and Cognitive Agency in Descartes’s Meditations” in Philosophical Topics, Vol. 44, Issue 1, (2016) 3-26.

  • “The Second Meditation and the Nature of the Human Mind” in David Cunning (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Descartes’ Meditations, Cambridge University Press, (2014) 88-106.

  • “Emotions in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth century” in S. Knuuttila and J. Sihvola (eds), Sourcebook in the History of Philosophy of Mind, Springer, (2014), 499-533.

  • “Personal Identity, Passions and ‘The True Idea of the Human Mind’”, Hume Studies, Vol 40, Number 1 (2014) 3-28.

  • “The Role of Will in Descartes’ Account of Judgment”, in K. Detlefsen (ed.) Descartes’ Meditations-A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press, (2013) 176-199.

  • “Spinoza on Passions and Self-Knowledge: The Case of Pride”, in Emotion and Reason in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy, eds. M.Pickavé and L. Shapiro, Oxford University Press, (2012) 234-254.

  • Spinoza on the Human Mind”, Midwest Studies in Philosophy XXXV, (2011) 4-25.

  • “The Metaphysic of Error and Will, in A. Kemmerling (ed.) Descartes’ Meditations, Akademie Verlag, Berlin, (2009) 81-100.

  • ”Omnipotence, Modality, and Conceivability”, in J. Broughton and J. Carriero, A Companion to Descartes’s Meditations, Blackwell Publishing, (2008) 335-352.

  • “Descartes’s Mind-Body Composites, Psychology and Naturalism”, M. Kisner (ed.) Special Issue on Early Modern Naturalism, Inquiry, 51,3, (2008)

  • “Cartesian Scientia and the Human Soul”, D. Perler (ed.) Transformations of the Soul: Aristotelian Psychology 1250-1650, Vivarium , vol. XLVI, (2008)/3 418-442.

  • ”The Powers and Mechanisms of the Passions”, in S. Traiger (ed.) A Companion to Hume’s Treatise, Blackwell Publishing Company, (2006) 179-198.

  • ”Reflection and Ideas in Hume’s Account of the Passions”, in J. Jenkins, J. Whiting, and C. Williams (eds.) Persons and Passions, University of Notre Dame Press, (2004) 117-142.

  • ”Descartes and Elisabeth: A Philosophical Dialogue?” .In L. Alanen & Charlotte Witt (eds.), Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Holland, (2004) 193-218.

  • “What Are Emotions About?”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. LXVII No.2, 2003.

  • The Intentionality of Cartesian Passions”, Byron Williston and André Gombay (eds.) Passion and Virtue in Descartes, Prometheus, Humanities Books, (2003) 107-108.

Artiklar på svenska (urval)

  • “Förstående och aktivitet i Spinoza’s Etiken”, ing. i Lorenzo Casini (red.) specialnummer av Filosofisk tidskrift (2014)

  • “Platonismen och könsfrågan”, ing. i Björk, Ulrika & Käll, Lisa Folkmarson (red.): Kropp, kön och andrahet. Tolv essäer i feministisk filosofi. Göteborg: Daidalos, 2010

  • Om den filosofiska filosofihistoriens idé”, Lychnos, Årsbok för idé- och lärdomshistoria, 2006.

  • “Om självkunskapens möjlighet”, Filosofisk Tidskrift , Årgång 27, 3, 2006,

  • ”Om tro, tvivel och intellektuell moral” , ingår i Olof Franck (red.), Mellan vidskepelse och vetenskap, Förening Lärare i religionsvetenskap, Årsbok 2002, årgång 34.

  • ”Descartes och Elisabeth- en filosofisk dialog?” ingår i Ulla Holm (red.) Om samtal – en nordiska antologi, Göteborg, Ulla Holm eget förlag 2002 ISBN 91-631-2747-4, 2002.

  • ”Betraktelse över stoiska moment i Spinoza’s Etiken”, Årsbok för Kungliga Humanistiska Vetenskapssamfundet i Uppsala 2003, red. Conny Svensson, Uppsala 2004.


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