Hübner wins prize for best article on Spinoza’s mind-body identity

The Journal of the History of Philosophy (JHP) has awarded its 2022 best article prize to Cornell philosopher Karolina Hübner for “Representation and Mind-Body Identity in Spinoza’s Philosophy,” which appeared in the quarterly journal in January 2022.

Karolina Hübner

Each year, JHP awards an Article Prize to an article published in the previous year’s volume, and a Book Prize to a book published in the previous year.

The winning article by Hübner, associate professor of philosophy in Cornell’s Sage School of Philosophy and Himan Brown Continuity Fellow for the Jewish Studies Program, gives a new reading of Spinoza’s claim that minds and bodies are “one and the same thing.”

This claim by the early modern philosopher Baruch Spinoza (also known as Bento or Benedict) is commonly understood as a claim about the identity of a referent under two different descriptions, Hübner wrote. Her paper proposes instead that Spinoza’s texts and his larger epistemological commitments show that he takes mind-body identity to be (1) an identity grounded in an intentional relation, and (2) an identity of one thing existing in two different ways.

The JHP article is part of a book Hübner is writing on Spinoza’s understanding of what it is to have a mind and to think, starting with big-picture questions about the place of mind in nature, and ending with particulars of human experience and consciousness. In related research on the mind, Hübner has received a New Frontier Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences to explore panpsychism – the theory of widespread, even generalized sentience – bringing together thought from philosophy, psychology, biology, neuroscience and AI research.

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