Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Reading.
Professorial Research Fellow, Heythrop College, University of London.
Honorary Fellow, St John’s College, Oxford University.
For a brief career summary click here
Research and publications
John Cottingham has published thirty books – thirteen as sole author, a further nine editions and translations, plus (either as single or joint editor) eight edited collections – together with over 115 articles in learned journals or books. From 1993-2012 he was Editor of Ratio, the international journal of analytic philosophy. His main research interests are as follows:
Early Modern Philosophy, especially Descartes
Cartesian Reflections (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Western Philosophy (New augmented edition, Blackwell, 2007)
The Rationalists (Oxford University Press, 1988)
Philosophy of Religion
How to Believe (Bloomsbury, 2015).
Philosophy of Religion: Towards a More Humane Approach
(Cambridge University Press, 2014)
Why Believe? (Continuum, 2009)
The Spiritual Dimension (Cambridge University Press, 2005)
Partiality and Impartiality:
Morality, Special Relationships and the Wider World (Oxford University Press, 2010)
The Moral Life [Festschrift with Response] (Palgrave 2008)
On the Meaning of Life (Routledge, 2003)
Philosophy and the Good Life:
Reason and the Passions in Greek, Cartesian and Psychoanalytic Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
Click here for full list of books
Some recent and forthcoming articles:
‘Intuition and Genealogy’, in S. G. Chappell (ed.), Intuition, theory and anti-theory in ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 9-23.
‘Authority and Trust: Reflections on Linda Zagzebski’s Epistemic Authority.’ European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 6/4 (2014), pp. 25-38.
‘Spirituality, Self-Discovery and Moral Change’, in C. C. H. Cook (ed.), Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health (London: SCM Press, 2013), pp. 178-192.
‘Descartes and Darwin: Reflections on the Sixth Meditation’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume lxxxvii (2013), pp. 239-277. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8349.2013.00229.x
‘Meaningfulness, Eternity and Theism’, in Beatrix Himmelmann (ed.), On Meaning in Life (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2013), pp. 99-112.
‘Dignity, Autonomy and Embodiment’, Ars Disputandi, Supplement, series 6, ed. M. Sarot (2013), pp. 181-196. Dignity Autonomy Embodiment
‘Conscience, Guilt, and Shame’, in R. Crisp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 729-43.
‘Spirituality’, in C. Taliaferro, V. Harrison and S. Goetz (eds), The Routledge Companion to Theism (New York: Routledge, 2013), Ch 50, pp. 654-665.
‘Philosophy and Self-improvement: Continuity and Change in Philosophy’s Self-conception from the Classical to the Early-modern Era,’ in Michael Chase, Stephen Clark and Michael McGhee (eds), Philosophy as a Way of Life (Oxford: Blackwell, 2013), pp. 148-166.
‘The Question of Ageing’, Philosophical Papers, Vol. 41, No. 3 (November 2012), pp. 371-396. The Question of Ageing.pdf
‘Meaningful Life’, in Paul K. Moser and Michael T. McFall (eds), The Wisdom of the Christian Faith (Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 175-196. Meaningful Life.pdf
‘Religion and the Mystery of Existence’, European Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 4/3 (October 2012), pp. 15-31.
‘Human Nature and the Transcendent’, in Constantine Sandis and M. J. Cain (eds), Human Nature. Royal Institute of Philosophy supplement 70 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 233-254. Human nature and the Transcendent.pdf
‘The Desecularization of Descartes’, in Nathan Jacobs and Chris Firestone (eds), The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2012), pp. 15-37.
‘Freud’s Critique of Religion: How Damaging is his Account?’, in M. Andrew Holowchak (ed.), Radical Claims in Freudian Psychoanalysis (Lanham, MD, Aronson/Rowman and Littlefield, 2012), pp. 113-128.
‘Cosmos, Consciousness, Meaning.’ Series of PBS/TV interviews on the Philosophy of Religion with Robert Kuhn, published on the Closer to Truth website. http://www.closertotruth.com/contributor/john-cottingham/profile
‘Descartes, God and Secularism.’ Paper given at Benedictus Academic Research Forum, Burlington House, London, June 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfdtV31F7Lk
’‘Design in Nature.’ Talk and panel discussion with Sarah Coakley and John Worrall for CPNSS and Forum for European Philosophy Thinking in Public series, London School of Economics, February 2013. podcast
‘Philosophy, Spirituality, and the Good Life.’ An Interview with John Cottingham by David McPherson (Marquette University), Philosophy & Theology, 24.1 (2012), pp. 85-111.
Why Believe? Talk on philosophy of religion for St John’s Nottingham Video Timeline Project, January 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTxFrxmY9dg
Confronting the Cosmos: Scientific Rationality and Human Understanding. Talk at Ian Ramsey Centre, Oxford University, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en76K0bYvcY
Talk on René Descartes for St John’s Nottingham Video Timeline Project, January 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abVVKe5zObU
‘Descartes: Cogito ergo Sum’. Broadcast discussion with Melvin Bragg, Susan James, and Stephen Mulhall, BBC Radio Four, 28 April 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010mvcp
‘On the Meaning of Life’. Interview with Nigel Warburton; podcast produced by David Edmonds. May 2007.
‘Spinoza’. Broadcast discussion on In Our Time, with Melvin Bragg, Jonathan Rée and Sarah Hutton, BBC Radio Four, 3 May 2007.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0079ps2
Click here for full list of broadcasts interviews etc.
Recent talks and papers given
‘Conscience: what is its history, and does it have a future?’ Paper given at Symposium on The History of Moral Concepts held at Millbank House, Westminster, London, hosted by the Centre for Global Studies and the University of Exeter, October 2015
‘Understanding evil: analytic versus humane perspectives’. Paper given at International Conference on The Argument from Evil in Analytic Philosophy: Prospects and Limits held at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology, Frankfurt, September 2015.
‘Hope and the Virtues.’ Opening paper at Thirty-Fifth Annual Philosophy of Religion Conference, Claremont Graduate University, California, February 2014.
‘Philosophy of Religion: metaphysical or anthropological?’ Paper presented at Conference on The Future for Philosophy of Religion: an exploration of recent ‘turns to the human’ in thinking about religion. Centre for Philosophy of Religion, Heythrop College, University of London, June 2013.
‘The Meaningful Life and the Transcendent’. Paper presented at debate with Herman Philipse and Wijnand Mijnhardt on Religion and the Meaning of Life, Descartes Institute, Univesity of Utrecht, May 2013.
‘The passions: help or hindrance to the good life?’ Paper given at Israel-Atlantic Canada Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, Van Leer Institute Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University, May 2013.
‘Commands and reasons: can there be theistic foundations for morality?’. Paper given at conference on Does Morality Need Religion?, McDonald Centre, Christ Church, Oxford University, May 2013,
‘Descartes and Darwin: Reflections on the Sixth Meditation’. Philosophy Department Seminar, Rhodes University, February 2013, and University of Cape Town, March 2013.
‘Philosophy, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life’. Inaugural lecture in Royal Institute of Philosophy (Oxford Brookes branch) series on Why Philosophy Matters, Ashmolean Museum Education Centre, Oxford, November 2012.
‘Reason, the Emotions and the Good Life’. Opening keynote paper at Fifth International Conference on Ethics and Applied Ethics on the theme ‘Moral Sentiments’. Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM), Santa Maria, RS, Brazil, June 2012.