Public Release: 

Dutch philosophers compiled in substantial reference work

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

More than 400 philosophers once worked and published in the Dutch Republic of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These philosophers have now been compiled in the two volume 'Dictionary of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Dutch Philosophers', which was officially presented on 30 October 2003.

The philosophers' dictionary contains a considerable diversity of thinkers. The reference work covers international stars such as Hugo de Groot, Spinoza and Boerhaave, but also obscure pamphleteers, pedantic scribes and intractable village parsons. The English publisher will extend the series with reference works about French, German and Italian thinkers.

As well as Dutch philosophers, the new reference work describes famous foreign thinkers who stayed in the Netherlands such as René Descartes, Pierre Bayle and John Locke. For all of them, their stay in the Republic had a decisive influence on their work. For example, it was in the Netherlands that Cartesianism was first recognised as a serious alternative to Aristotelianism.

The Dutch biographical dictionary contains 401 articles, which cover 365 authors, 11 universities and city academies, 9 publishers and 16 journals from the Dutch Republic. These articles were edited by a group of researchers from the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam and were written by more than 110 authors in the Netherlands and abroad. Members of the editorial board also wrote many of the articles, which incorporated a significant proportion of the results from their research programme funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The most expert author was sought for each article.

Of course it was not possible to devote an equal amount of text to each philosopher. For example, Spinoza belongs to the A-category, and received more than 4000 words. The influential opponent of Spinoza, Bernard Nieuwentijt is a member of the B-category and received 1500 words. The completely unknown anti-spinozist Adrianus Raats, who published one book, is ranked in the C-category and was therefore only entitled to a maximum of 500 words.

Four of the dictionary's six editors are involved in the NWO research programme, 'The Early Enlightenment in the Dutch Republic'. This programme started in 2000 at the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam.


For further information please contact Prof. Wiep van Bunge (Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam), tel. 31-10-408-8995 or 31-10-461-4197, e-mail: On 30 October 2003, professor Wiep van Bunge presented the first copy of the book to the chair of the board of governors at Erasmus University, Dr José van Eijndhoven.

Review copies can be requested from the publisher, Thoemmes PRESS, tel. +44 (0) 117 929 1377, e-mail:, Internet: Book data: Dictionary of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Dutch Philosophers, 2 volumes. Edited by Wiep van Bunge, Henri Krop, Bart Leeuwenburgh, Han van Ruler, Paul Schuurman and Michiel Wielema, Bristol: Thoemmes PRESS, ISBN 1 85506 9660, price £350, $525).

The research for this publication was largely funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

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