Steven Nadler

Position title: Senior Fellow (2013-2017)

William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy, UW-Madison

Portrait Image of Steven Nadler wearing a blue shirt and glasses with his hand on his chin in front of a bright window

Descartes’s Fable: The Book That Made Philosophy Modern

In 1663, Descartes’s works were placed by Catholic Church on the Index of Prohibited Books. One year later, now fourteen years after the philosopher’s death, the various parts of his treatise Le Monde—originally composed in the early 1630s but withheld from publication when Descartes learned about the Church’s condemnation of Galileo—were finally published in Paris by his friends and followers. The history of Le Monde—including the context of its composition, publication, and influence—is the subject of my current book project.

Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy and the Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities at UW-Madison, where he has been teaching since 1988. He specializes in the history of early modern philosophy (especially the seventeenth century) and in medieval Jewish philosophy. His books include Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge, 1999, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award); Rembrandt’s Jews (Chicago, 2003, named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize); The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2008); A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (Princeton, 2011); and The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes (Princeton, 2013). He is the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy.