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Brandon C. Look

Research Interests:
History of Early Modern Philosophy
Kant and post-Kantian German Idealism
History and Philosophy of Science
Ancient Philosophy

Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1997
M.A., University of Chicago, 1990
B.A. with General Honors, University of Chicago, 1988
Visiting student, Université de Paris-IV (Sorbonne), 1986-87


Professor Look's research focuses on the history of modern philosophy, especially on the metaphysics, epistemology and natural philosophy of Spinoza, Leibniz and Kant.  Work on Leibniz has resulted in three books: Leibniz and 'Vinculum Substantiale', The Leibniz-Des Bosses Correspondence, a critical edition and translation (with Donald Rutherford), and The Continuum Companion to Leibniz.  At the moment, he is engaged in a larger project, which examines Kant's Auseinandersetzung with Leibniz and the Leibnizian tradition.  He has edited an anthology of essays that explores the relation between Leibniz and Kant: Leibniz and Kant (Oxford, 2021).  And he is at work on a monograph, Leibniz, Kant and the Possibility of Metaphysics, which details Kant's critical reaction to Leibniz.  Look also works on a constellation of issues in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of science that have evident early modern roots: the nature of substance (or the nature of material constitution), the metaphysics of modality, the nature of causation, and the a priori.  He has additional active interests in ancient and medieval philosophy, epistemology, logic, aesthetics and the philosophy of film.

Professor Look has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung.  He spent 2011-12 at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) as the Hans Kohn Member of the School of Historical Studies.  Professor Look was awarded a research fellowship for 2012-13 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which he spent in Germany at the Universität Bielefeld and the Leibniz Archives in Hanover.

Professor Look received the College of Arts & Sciences' Outstanding Teaching Award for 2006-07.  In Spring 2011 he was named University Research Professor.

Selected Publications:




  • "Kant's Leibniz: A Historical and Philosophical Study," in Leibniz and Kant, ed. Brandon C. Look, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021, pp. 1-26.

  • "Sensibility and Understanding in Leibniz and Kant," in International Yearbook of German Idealism 16 (2018), pp. 25-45.

  • "Baumgarten's Rationalism," in Alexander Baumgarten's Metaphysics: Sources, Interpretation and Influence, eds. Courtney Fugate and John Hymers, Oxford: Oxford Unviersity Press, 2018, pp. 10-22.

  • "Maimon and Kant on the Nature of the Mind," in Kant and His Contemporaries, ed. Corey Dyck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 94-110.

  • "Leibniz's Arguments for the Existence of God," in The Oxford Handbook to Leibniz, ed. Maria Rosa Antognazza, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 701-16.

  • "The Ideal and the Real in Leibniz's Metaphysics," in Harmony and Reality in Leibniz's Late Metaphysics, ed. Thomas Leinkauf, Studia Leibnitiana:  Sonderheft 51 (2017): pp. 41-54.

  • "Leibnizian Necessity," in Logical Modalities from Aristotle to Carnap: The History of Necessity, ed. Max Cresswell, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016, pp. 194-217.

  • "Leibniz's Final Metaphysics," in 1716 -- Leibniz' letztes Lebensjahr. Unbekanntes zu einem bekannten Universalgenie, ed. Michael Kempe, Hannover: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek, Forschung (2) 2016: 319-341.

  • "Simplicity of Substance in Leibniz, Wolff and Baumgarten,'' in Monads after Leibniz, ed. François Duchesneau, Studia Leibnitiana 45:2 ("officially" 2013; actually 2015), pp. 191-208.

  • "Essence, existence, et expression: Leibniz sur 'toutes des absurdités du dieu de Spinoza'," in Spinoza/Leibniz: Rencontres, Controverses, Réceptions, eds. M. Laerke, R. Arnauld, P.-F. Moreau, Lyon: ENS Editions, 2014, pp. 57-82.

  • "Matter, Inertia and the Contingency of Laws of Nature in Leibniz and Kant," in Akten des XI. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013, vol. 5, 147-57.

  • "Idealism and Corporeal Substance in Leibniz's Metaphysics," in Debates in Early Modern Philosophy, eds. A. LoLordo and M.A. Stewart, London and New York: Routledge, 2012, pp. 132-41.

  • "Leibniz, Kant and Frege on the Existence Predicate,” in Natur und Subjekt: Akten des IX. Leibniz-Kongresses, eds. H. Breger, J. Herbst and S. Erdner, Hannover: Hartmann, 2011, pp. 616-24.

  • "Leibniz's Metaphysics: The Path to the Monadology," in The Continuum Companion to Leibniz, London and New York: Continuum, 2011, pp. 89-109.

  • "Leibniz's Theory of Causation," in The Continuum Companion to Leibniz, London and New York: Continuum, 2011, pp. 174-91..

  • "Grounding the Principle of Sufficient Reason: Leibnizian Rationalism versus the Humean Challenge," in The Rationalists: Between Tradition and Revolution, eds. Carlos Fraenkel et al., Dordrecht: Springer, 2011, pp. 201-19.

  • "Leibniz's Metaphysics and Metametaphysics: Idealism, Realism and the Nature of Substance," in Philosophy Compass 5/11 (October 2010), pp. 871-79.

  • "Leibniz and Locke on Natural Kinds," in Branching Off: The Early Moderns in Quest for the Unity of Knowledge, ed. Vlad Alexandrescu, Bucharest: Zeta Books, 2009, pp. 380-406.

  • "Perfection, Power, and the Passions in Spinoza and Leibniz," in Revue roumaine de philosophie 51:1 (2007), pp. 21-38.

  • "Some Remarks on the Ontological Arguments of Leibniz and Gödel," in Einheit in der Vielheit: Akten des VIII. Internationalen Leibniz-Kongresses, Hannover, 2006, pp. 510-17.

  • "Blumenbach and Kant on Mechanism and Teleology in Nature: The Case of the Formative Drive," in The Problem of Animal Generation in Modern Philosophy, ed. Justin E. H. Smith, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 355-72.

  • "Leibniz and the Shelf of Essence," in The Leibniz Review 15 (2005), pp. 27-47.

  • "On Substance and Relations in Leibniz's Correspondence with Des Bosses," in Leibniz and His Correspondents, ed. Paul Lodge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 238-61.

  • "On Monadic Domination in Leibniz's Metaphysics," in British Journal for the History of Philosophy 10:3 (August 2002), pp. 379-99.

  • "'Becoming Who One Is' in Spinoza and Nietzsche," in Iyyun: The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly 50 (July 2001), pp. 327-38.

  • "Leibniz and the Substance of the Vinculum Substantiale," in Journal of the History of Philosophy 38:2 (April 2000), pp. 203-220.