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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Dr Emily Thomas

Associate Professor/History of Philosophy Research Cluster Director Michaelmas 2019/Tutor Manager/Delta Co-ordinator in the Department of Philosophy

(email at

Office Hours

Term-time office hours: Tuesdays 3:15-4:15pm, and Thursdays 3-5pm.


I’ve written a lot on space and time in early modern and early twentieth century philosophy. I’m also interested in lots of other metaphysical issues, including substance, change, motion, idealism, process, personal identity, and philosophy of religion. I like digging out the work of rich but under-studied figures, including women philosophers who have traditionally been neglected in the history of philosophy.

In 2018 I published two books: Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics (Oxford University Press) and Early Modern Women on Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press). My earlier work was supported by a Veni research grant from the Netherlands Research Council, a stipend from the John Templeton Foundation, and a Rising Star grant from the British Academy.

Over the last few years I’ve become fascinated by the philosophy of travel. What's involved in travel? What is a map? What can travel teach philosophy, and how has philosophy affected travel? My popular book on these issues is forthcoming in spring 2020 with Oxford University Press. 

Recently I’ve begun a new research project, into early twentieth century metaphysics of time. Does the present moment move? Is the future real? Does time have a direction? At the turn of the twentieth century, why did British philosophers become so worried about these questions? From 2020, this work will be supported by an AHRC Leadership Fellows grant.

Previously, I studied for my PhD at the University of Cambridge (2013), and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Groningen (2013-2016). I sit on editorial or advisory boards for the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, the International Association for the Philosophy of Time, and the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Philosophers. At Durham, I am a Senior Fellow of University "Castle" College. For my popular books I am represented by United Agents

For further information about my research and media work, see my personal website

You can also listen to me talking about Bergson and time on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time, and follow me on twitter @emilytwrites

Teaching (2019-2020)

  • Knowledge & Reality 
  • Modern Philosophy I
  • MA Philosophical Perspectives

Administration Roles (2019-2020)

  • Tutor Manager
  • DELTA Co-ordinator
  • Director, History of Philosophy Research Cluster (Michaelmas)

Research Interests

  • Space and time
  • Early modern metaphysics
  • Nineteenth & twentieth century metaphysics
  • Women in the history of philosophy
  • Philosophy of travel
  • Pictures in the history of philosophy


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article