We invite authors to contribute to a special issue of the Diametros "Medicine and Religion in Early Modern Philosophy".


Deadline for submissions: 31 October 2023

Editor: Anna Tomaszewska


The interest of early modern philosophers in medicine – as much as of some of their ancient predecessors – is a well-documented fact. For example, according to René Descartes, medicine crowns the “tree of philosophy,” and its development accompanies that of the “most perfect Ethics.” John Locke invested his skills, acquired under the guidance of a physician, Thomas Sydenham, in organizing an operation on Lord Shaftesbury. Late George Berkeley would become famous for his obsession with tar water as a panacea, which caused problems to his immaterialism. Julien de La Mettrie, a physician, became one of the most representative Enlightenment materialist thinkers. Arguably, though, it is in “Spinoza’s circle” – consisting of medical doctors from Leiden, such as Lodewijk Meijer, Johannes Bouwmeester, Adriaan Koerbagh, and Abraham van Berkel (the Dutch translator of Religio Medici) – where we can trace connections between philosophy and medicine followed by religious criticism and heterodoxy, characteristic of “radical Reformation.” Research in the history of the Radical Enlightenment would provide further examples of the association between religious critique and heterodoxy with medicine – illustrated ultimately by the saying “ubi tres medici, duo athei.”

Drawing on cases like the above-mentioned ones, we would like to inquire about the purport and possible consequences of this association of medicine and religion in early modernity. Would religious criticism and freethinking distinguish the early modern doctors’ mindset, or were they rather a fringe phenomenon? The exchange between Spinoza and his Leiden colleagues was formative of their understanding of ‘true’ Christianity as incompatible with hierarchical institutions, as well as of their ‘naturalistic’ reading of the Bible and granting to unprejudiced reason the role of “Scriptura interpres” – to draw on the title of Meijer’s treatise. Did their practice of medicine affect the formation of their heterodox views or was it rather tangential? Relating to those and similar facts from the history of ideas, we would also like to address the more general question concerning the interdependencies between religious views and medical practice in early modern times. What exactly was the direction of the dependency relation? For example, was it the (re-)emergence of pantheist or even materialist tendencies in philosophy throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, and not the Cartesian dualism, that encouraged the development of medical science? Or, did ideas originating in early modern medicine affect the way in which the philosophical and religious outlook of the times would be shaped?

Diametros – A Journal of Philosophy welcomes submissions addressing the above and related questions. For more details concerning the special issue and the editorial process, feel free to contact Dr. Anna Tomaszewska at diametros_en@uj.edu.pl.


Formal requirements

Papers should be submitted for double-blind peer review via the journal's online platform: https://diametros.uj.edu.pl. Before submitting your paper, please read our instructions for authors carefully: Instructions for authors.

The submitted essays should:

  • be in English;
  • present original research;
  • have not been published previously;
  • not exceed 40,000 characters in length (inclusive of spaces, footnotes and the bibliography);
  • fulfill the other submission criteria for the Diametros journal.

In assessing the essays, priority will be given to originality, their potential for advancing discussion, and clarity of expression. Submissions are invited from researchers at every stage in their career (including postgraduate students enrolled on PhD programs).