Dr Jasper Reid
Lecturer in Philosophy
MA Programme Director
Tel +44 (0)20 7848 2291
Address Room 903, Philosophy Building
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS
Dr Jasper Reid has been a lecturer in the department since 2005, having previously been here as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow from 2000 to 2003, with sojourns at the Universities of Essex and Aberdeen in between. His PhD was entitled ‘Early Eighteenth-Century Immaterialism in its Philosophical Context’, and it was taken at Princeton in 2000, following a BA in Philosophy at Clare College, Cambridge (1995). His main interests in philosophy are historical ones, centring on the early modern period of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Other philosophical interests extend to other periods of the history of philosophy, and to contemporary discussions too, especially at the metaphysical end of the subject.
Philosophy and religion
Philosophy and science
Jasper Reid’s research is largely concerned with the history of philosophy in the early modern period of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It tends to focus on issues at the metaphysical and epistemological end of the subject, as opposed to the ethical or political end (although of course these things could never be severed from one another completely). Reid’s work has covered a number of different issues, and a number of different figures, but these can be gathered under a few general heads, as follows:
Reid takes seriously Descartes’ exhortation (to Burman) not to devote so much effort to the Meditations: in his view, the Principles of Philosophy was a far more important work, and far more interesting too. Reid also follows these strands from Descartes himself into the subsequent Cartesians. Nicolas Malebranche and Pierre-Sylvain Regis are particular sources of fascination, as are Antoine Arnauld and Gerauld de Cordemoy.
Reid has written a book on The Metaphysics of Henry More, plus a few further articles on More; and he also holds an interest in the other Cambridge Platonists such as Ralph Cudworth. He is keen to locate them in the cutting-edge debates of their own era, rather than writing them off (as they all too often have been written off) as mere backward-looking antiquarians.
This was the topic of Reid’s PhD dissertation, and it is one that remains close to his heart. Naturally, George Berkeley plays a prominent role in Reid’s work in this area; but he is also interested in the other immaterialists of the same period, such as Arthur Collier, Samuel Johnson (D.D.—not to be confused with Samuel Johnson, LL.D.), P-L. M. de Maupertuis, William Dudgeon, and especially Jonathan Edwards.
Philosophy and Religion
Reid is interested in the ways in which philosophical and religious commitments tended to inform one another in the early modern period, particularly in the various arguments that were offered for the existence of God, and in early modern views on the relationship between reason and faith. He is equally interested in the more devout and orthodox philosophers of the era, and in the more heretical or downright atheistic ones.
Philosophy and Science
Reid is concerned with the metaphysical underpinnings of early modern physics, from part two of Descartes’ Principles, through the works of the Gassendists, to Isaac Newton’s ‘De gravitatione’ and beyond. Of particular interest are any and all questions pertaining to extension: whether there is any such thing as empty space, and/or absolute space; the relation of immaterial spirits such as God or the human soul to the extended world; and whether extension can really exist at all.
Jasper Reid (forthcoming) ‘Descartes and the Individuation of Bodies’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie.
Jasper Reid (forthcoming) ‘Henry More and Nicolas Malebranche’s Critiques of Spinoza’, European Journal of Philosophy.
Jasper Reid (2012) The Metaphysics of Henry More (Dordrecht: Springer).
Jasper Reid (2008) ‘The Spatial Presence of Spirits among the Cartesians’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 46 (1), pp. 91–118.
Jasper Reid (2007) ‘The Evolution of Henry More’s Theory of Absolute Space’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 45 (1), pp. 79–102.
Jasper Reid is teaching the following modules
Expertise and public engagement
Jasper Reid welcomes PhD applications from anyone who intends to work on early modern philosophy, especially (but not exclusively) when their narrower research interests within that field happen to coincide with his own.
Jasper Reid makes occasional contributions as a panellist on the ‘Ask Philosophers’ website.