PhD scholarships: Leibniz and the Perfection of Humankind (Manchester) / Kant on Imagination (Leuven)

We are glad to give word of two fully-founded PhD scholarships within the studies on Classical German Philosophy, whose applications are now open.

The two scholarships are dedicated respectively to Leibniz and the Perfection of Humankind and Kant on Imagination.

Further information on each scholarship’s requirements and application can be found below.

Leibniz and the Perfection of Humankind

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD scholarship at Manchester Metropolitan University on “Leibniz and the perfection of humankind.” The scholarship is open to UK, EU and International students with an expected starting date of September 2017. The supervisory team for this project will be Dr Lloyd Strickland and Dr Keith Crome.

Aims and objectives

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a polymath who made significant contributions to many fields of learning, among them mathematics, law, the study of history and languages, and of course every area of philosophy and the natural sciences. In recent years, many scholars have taken the view that what tied together many of Leibniz’s projects and innovations was the desire to improve humankind. Accepting this invites – indeed requires – one to adopt a more “holistic” view of Leibniz’s life and thought than has heretofore been offered; indeed, in the three hundred years since his death, scholarly attention has by and large focused on a specific parts of his philosophical thought, in particular his metaphysics and epistemology, to the detriment of all else. The neglect of Leibniz’s contributions outside of these narrow fields is unfortunate, as it leads to a poor understanding of someone who was perhaps the last true universal genius and who offered far more to his age (and ours) than just a handful of philosophical doctrines. Similarly, the lack of scholarly understanding of Leibniz’s motivations, and his reasons for directing his talents so widely, has led to a widespread belief that Leibniz was a genius without focus.

This project seeks to correct these misunderstandings by throwing light on areas of his thought that have been neglected. In doing so, it will reflect the emerging vision of Leibniz as someone who aimed to ameliorate the current state of humankind. Applications are invited from those who wish to focus on one or more of the ways in which Leibniz sought to achieve this aim. The aim will be not to produce an apology of Leibniz, but to contribute to a more well-rounded understanding of this universal genius, his thought, and the circumstances in which it was produced. Accordingly, the project will involve locating Leibniz and his various endeavours in their proper context, which will require an understanding of the social, political, theological, and scientific situations of his time.

For further details please see

Kant on Imagination

The Institute of Philosophy of KU Leuven is pleased to announce a Ph.D fellowship funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)

The candidate is to carry out the project Kant’s Multi-Layered Account of the Imagination in the Critique of Pure Reason under the supervision of prof. dr. Karin de Boer. The project brings Kant’s theory of the imagination to bear on the current debate on non-conceptual content so as to challenge the opposition between intuition and thought on which this debate is premised. See below for a detailed description of the project.


– MA in Philosophy
– Knowledge of Kant’s philosophy
– Independent and self-motivated
– Excellent writing skills
– A high level of proficiency in English and (preferably) German

The candidate will carry out the project described below with the aim of publishing a doctoral thesis and presenting the results of her/his research in journals and at conferences. Candidates are expected to assist in the organization of workshops and/or conferences. They will be charged with minor teaching responsabilities (up to 2 hours a week during the academic year) and/or administrative tasks (up to 4 hours a week during the academic year).

Duration: 2 years (extendable with another 2 years)

The KU Leuven pursues a policy of equal opportunity and diversity.

Applications can be submitted through

The deadline for applications is February 28, 2017. Starting date: September 1, 2017 (an earlier starting date is possible).

Please contact prof. dr. Karin de Boer for further information (


Project Description

The imagination is traditionally considered the capacity of the mind to make things present despite their actual absence. Since all knowledge requires that we retain the images of past things, any kind of knowledge can be said to rely on the imagination. Even though many philosophers have recognized this basic function of the imagination, most philosophical accounts of the way in which we come to know something are framed by the opposition between the senses and thought. This is true of classical empiricism and rationalism, but no less of the currently very vivid debate in Kant scholarship on the role of concepts in Kant’s theory of perception. At first sight, Kant seems to hold on to the opposition between sensibility and thought. Yet it gradually emerges from the Critique of Pure Reason (CPR) that, for him, any knowledge, whether empirical, mathematical or metaphysical, presupposes the imagination, which he regards as the capacity of the mind to unify representations in a way that is not purely intellectual. Kant scholars who have contributed to the so-called debate on non-conceptual content have largely eschewed the allegedly obscure account of the imagination in the CPR. The project aims to bring this account to bear on this debate so as to provide it with new conceptual resources and to move beyond the current divide between conceptualist and non-conceptualist readings of the CPR. This objective will be achieved by dissecting Kant’s account of the role played by the imagination in perception, empirical cognition, mathematics, and the a priori principles constitutive of any cognition of objects in the CPR and other relevant texts.

The project is formally embedded within the Center for Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Culture (, and will be carried out within the context of the Leuven Research Group in Classical German Philosophy ( The group hosts reading groups, talks, workshops, and conferences, among which the yearly Leuven Kant Conference (

For more information about the fellowship, see

The Institute of Philosophy of KU Leuven has a very large international program, enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide, and was ranked 26 by the QS World University Ranking 2016. Leuven is an historic and vibrant city located in the heart of Belgium, 20 minutes from Brussels and less than two hours from Paris, London, and Amsterdam.

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