Steven Nadler

Position title: IRH Director (2018--)


Phone: 608.262.8151, Room 215

Vilas Research Professor and William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy, UW–Madison

Portrait image of Steven Nadler wearing a dark green sweater seated in front of a poster

Steven Nadler has been teaching at UW-Madison since 1988. He has been a Senior Fellow at the IRH (2013-2017), and twice a Resident Fellow. He was the founding director of the Center for the Humanities and has served as director of the Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies and chair of the Department of Philosophy. He has held visiting appointments at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Amsterdam, the École Pratique des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), and the École Normal Supérieure (Paris), and was a Scholar-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome. His main area of research is early modern philosophy, especially the seventeenth century.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, his books include Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die (Princeton University Press, 2013); Menasseh ben Israel: Rabbi of Amsterdam (Yale University Press, “Jewish Lives” series, 2018); The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes (Princeton University Press, 2013); A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (Princeton University Press, 2011); Occasionalism: Causation Among the Cartesians (Oxford University Press, 2010); The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008; pb Princeton University Press, 2010); Spinoza’s Ethics: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2006); Rembrandt’s Jews (University of Chicago Press, 2003); Spinoza’s Heresy: Immortality and the Jewish Mind (Oxford University Press, 2002); Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge University Press, 1999; second edition, 2018); Malebranche and Ideas (Oxford University Press, 1992); and Arnauld and the Cartesian Philosophy of Ideas (Princeton University Press, 1989). With Ben Nadler, he also produced the graphic book Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy (Princeton, 2017). From 1995-2000, he was the North American editor of the Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie; and from 2009-2015 the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. In 2020, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.