Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Nabeel Hamid

I am completing my PhD under the supervision of Gary Hatfield. My final year of dissertation work is supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. I am also a Fellow-in-residence at the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (CHSTM). 

My research focuses on the history of modern German philosophy (from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries). My dissertation, Being and the Good: Natural Teleology in Early Modern German Philosophy, studies three attempts in Enlightenment Germany to account for purpose and order in a mechanistic worldview: those of Leibniz, Wolff, and Kant. I frame these attempts by showing how the reception of the Scientific Revolution in Germany was conditioned by the metaphysics of Protestant scholasticism (covering figures such as Christoph Scheibler and Johann Clauberg). I argue that Leibniz, Wolff, and Kant inherit from neo-scholasticism the assumptions that 1) whatever exists by nature manifests goodness in some measure; and 2) that goal-directed processes require a capacity for intelligence. With that background, I show how, between Leibniz and Kant, the concept of natural ends shifts from being a metaphysical to an epistemological principle rooted in human subjectivity, and yet indispensable for the study of nature.

I also have an active research project in nineteenth-century German philosophy, centered around topics in the philosophy of mind and epistemology in figures such as Fichte, Helmholtz, Natorp, and Dilthey. I am especially interested in Wilhelm Dilthey's philosophical psychology and philosophy of history as developments of Kantian themes. 

I have further research interests in the Islamic intellectual tradition. I am interested particularly in theories of causation (Aristotelian and anti-Aristotelian) in the classical period, including figures such as ibn Sina, ibn Rushd, al-Ashari, and al-Ghazali. I am also interested in understanding the shifts in perceptions of Islam in early modern Europe, and the subsequent reconstructions of Islamic identities in response to European modernity. 


Here's a sample of papers in progress (excluding those currently under review). Please feel free to email me for abstracts. 

"Domesticating Descartes, Renovating Scholasticism: Johann Clauberg and the German Reception of Cartesianism"

"Leibniz and Wolff on Final Causes"

"From Final Causes to Purposiveness: Wolff, Baumgarten, and Kant on Ends in Nature"

"Organicity in Kant's Theory of the Cognitive Faculties"

"Law and Structure in Dilthey's Philosophy of History"

"Cognitivist and Realist Teleology between Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd: The Maier Thesis Revisited"

Research Interests

Early Modern Philosophy


19th-century Philosophy

History and Philosophy of Science

Islamic Philosophy

Selected Publications

2015. "Hume's (Berkeleyan) Language of Representation." Hume Studies, 41 (2):171-200. 

2016. "Dilthey on the Unity of Science." British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 24 (4):635-656.

(forthcoming). "Kant's Antinomy of Teleology: In Defense of a Traditional Interpretation." In Proceedings of the 12th International Kant Congress, edited by Violetta Waibel and Margit Ruffing.