Lisa Shapiro

Professor of Philosophy
On research leave May 2020-April 2021.



  • B.A. 1988, Wesleyan University
  • Ph.D. 1997, University of Pittsburgh

Areas of Interest

Early Modern Philosophy, Feminism and Philosophy
Also: Philosophy of Mind (especially perception and emotions), Moral Psychology, Philosophy of Personal Identity

Current Research Interests

I am the Principal Investigator (PI) in SSHRC Partnership Development Grant to further develop network of researchers invested in developing New Narratives in the History of Philosophy. I will be working with colleagues Marguerite Deslauriers at McGill and Karen Detlefsen at University of Pennsylvania, as well as others in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, Finland, Sweden, France, Turkey and the Netherlands among others, to connect up researchers and their students to develop a set of activities and tools to stimulate both research in and teaching of the history of philosophy that incorporates women and currently non-canonical philosophers into the narratives that form the history of philosophy.

My research interests have focused on early modern philosophy, and in particular on how early modern conceptions of human nature impact accounts of human understanding, both of our perceptions of the world and in our ability to have knowledge of it. Of particular interest is the role of affective states, including pleasure, pain, and the passions or emotions, in our understanding (rather than in our motivations to action). To hone in on the problem I am interested in, I have focused on Descartes, Spinoza and Hume, as well as Condillac, but am growing interested in Malebranche.

Related to this interest, I am currently editing a volume on Pleasure for the new Oxford Philosophical Concepts series. Essays in the volume will examine philosophical accounts from Aristotle through contemporary philosophy that foreground aspects of pleasure other than its role in motivating action.  I am also hoping to return to my book manuscript, tentatively titled: Descartes through The Passions of the Soul. In it I aim to show how the Passions lends insight into Descartes' ontology, his account of body-mind causation (and causation generally) and his philosophy of mind.

I'm committed to current efforts to rehabilitate writings of the women philosophers of the early modern period. These women include (but are not limited to) Moderata Fonte, Marie de Gournay, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Mary Astell, Madame de Sevigne, Catherine Cockburn Trotter, Olympe de Gouges, Emilie du Chatelet, Gabrielle Suchon, Marie Thiroux D'Arconville, to name a few. To this end, I'm interested in historiographical and well as philosophical issues.

Electronic versions of publications, as well as drafts of works in progress, can be found at



  • Emotion and Cognitive Life in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy, (ed. with Martin Pickavé), Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • The correspondence between Elisabeth, Princess of Bohemia and Descartes (part of The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series), University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  •  "The Outward and Inward Beauty of Early Modern Women,” Revue philosophique, special issue on Femmes et Philosophie au 17ème siècle, ed. M-F Pellegrin (2013).
  •  "Élisabeth, Descartes et la psychologie morale du regret” Elisabeth de Bohème face à Descartes: Deux Philosophes (ed. MF Pellegrin and Delphine Kolesnik), Vrin, (forthcoming).
  •  “Cartesian Selves” in Descartes’s Meditations: A Critical Guide, ed. Karen Detlefsen, Cambridge UP, (January 2012), pp. 226-242.
  •  “How We Experience the World: Passionate Perception in Descartes and Spinoza”, in Emotion and Reason in Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Martin Pickavé and Lisa Shapiro, Oxford University Press, October 2012, pp. 193-216.
  •  "Spinoza on Imagination and Affect,” in Emotional Minds:Passions and the Limits of Pure Enquiry II:The Seventeenth Century, ed. Sabrina Ebbersmeyer, Berlin: DeGruyter, 2012, pp. 89-104.
  •  “Descartes’ Pineal Gland Reconsidered”, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, ed. John Carriero, 35, 2011, pp. 259-286.
  •  "Instrumental or Immersed Experience: Pleasure, Pain and Object Perception in Locke,” in The Body as Object and Instrument of Knowledge: Embodied Empiricism in Early Modern Science, eds. O. Gal and C.T. Wolfe, eds, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Springer, 25, 2010, pp. 265-285.
  •  “L’amour, l’ambition, and l’amitié: Marie Thiroux D’Arconville on Passion ,Agency and Virtue” for Essays on Early Modern Women Philosophers, eds. Eileen O’Neill and Marcy Lascano, Kluwer, (forthcoming).
  • "'Turn My Will in Completely the Opposite Direction": Radical Doubt and Descartes' Account of Free Will' for Festschrift for Vere Chappell, ed. Paul Hoffman, David Owen, and Gideon Yaffe, Broadview. (2008)
  • "Descartes's Ethics" in Blackwell Companion to Descartes, ed Janet Broughton and John Carriero, Blackwell, 2007.
  • "The Passions in the Meditations," in Persons and Passions: Essays in Honor of Annette Baier, eds. Joyce Jenkins and Christopher Williams, Notre Dame, 2005."The Place of Women in the History of Early Modern Philosophy" in Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy, ed. Lilli Alanen and Charlotte Witt, Kluwer, (2004), pp. 219-250.
  • "The Health of the Body-Machine? 17th Century Mechanism and the Concept of Health," Perspectives on Science,11,4 2003,pp.421-442.
  • "What Do the Expressions of the Passions Tell us?" Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, 1, 2003, pp.45-66.
  • "Descartes' Passions of the Soul and the Union of Soul and Body," Archiv fur Geschichte de Philosophie, 85, 2003, pp. 211-248.
  • "The Structure of the Passions of the Soul," invited paper, in Passion and Virtue in Descartes, ed. Byron Williston, Buffalo: Prometheus/Humanity Books, 2003, pp. 31-79.
  • "Princess Elisabeth and Descartes: The Union of Mind and Body and the Practice of Philosophy" in British Journal for the History of Philosophy , Volume 7, no. 3, October, 1999. Reprinted in Feminism and the History of Philosophy , ed. G. Lloyd, Oxford.
  • "Cartesian Generosity", in Acta Philosophica Fennica , vol. 64, 1999.


This instructor is currently not teaching any courses.