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Research interests

Prof. dr. J.A. (Han) van Ruler is Professor of Intellectual History and Vice-Dean at Erasmus School of Philosophy (ESPhil), Erasmus University Rotterdam.

In 2019, Han van Ruler was awarded an NWO 'Open Competition' Research Grant for the project Decoding Descartes. Formerly, he acted as President of the Dutch National ‘Philosophy Month’ Foundation (Stichting Maand van de Filosofie; 2014-2019), as Scientific Director of the Dutch Research School of Philosophy OZSW (2014-2018), as President of the OZSW History of Philosophy Section (2014-2018), as President of the Dutch National Philosophy Olympiad NFO (2012-2017) and as Co-organiser of the 25th International Philosophy Olympiad, Rotterdam, 25-28 May 2017.

Since 2011, Han van Ruler is General Editor of the prestigious book series Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History (BSIH) – founded by Arjo Vanderjagt in 1987. Brill's Studies in Intellectual History is a peer-reviewed book series that publishes new approaches to history, the history of philosophy and theology, and the history of ideas. Special attention is given to the use of interdisciplinary methods and insights, such as those of cultural anthropology, semiotics and linguistic analysis. Occasionally, volumes will contain papers of eminent scholars and proceedings of conferences that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

Recent publications by Han van Ruler include:

  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Dissertation on Combinatorial Art, Massimo Mugnai, Han van Ruler and Martin Wilson (eds), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020, 302 pp.;
  • ‘Beatitude and the Scope of Grace: Early-Modern Morals and the Paradoxes of Felicity’, in: Alberto Frigo (ed.), Inexcusabiles: Salvation and the Virtues of the Pagans in the Early Modern Period, Archives internationales d’histoire des idées, vol. 229, Cham: Springer, 2020, pp. 107-123; [];
  • 'Philosopher Defying the Philosophers: Descartes's Life and Works', in Steven Nadler, Tad M. Schmaltz and Delphine Antoine-Mahut (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Descartes and Cartesianism, Chapter 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-24;
  • ‘La découverte du domaine mental : Descartes et la naturalisation de la conscience’, Noctua 3 (2016-2; online 14 August 2017), pp. 239-294, [];
  • Together with Jeroen Hermkens: In de voetsporen van Erasmus, Beilen: Pharos uitgevers, 2017, 160 pp.;
  • Together with Giulia Sissa (UCLA): Utopia 1516-2016: More’s Eccentric Essay and its Activist Aftermath, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017, 243 pp.;
  • ‘Arnold Geulincx (1624-1669)’, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002, [][http_www.iep.utm.edu_geulincx]

Areas of PhD supervision

  1. History of Early Modern Western Philosophy
  2. Renaissance Moral Philosophy
  3. Descartes and Cartesianism
  4. Early Modern Feminism
  5. Erasmus; Thomas More
  6. Spinoza; Leibniz
  7. Western Cultural History
  8. History of Metaphysics
  9. Early Modern History of Science
  10. Early Modern Political Philosophy 


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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