Dr Matthew Leisinger

Photo of Dr Matthew Leisinger

BA (Western Ontario), PhD (Yale)

Research Fellow


I grew up in northern British Columbia, Canada before moving south (and east) to attend The University of Western Ontario (BA) and Yale University (PhD). Despite the move, I have retained both a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of cold weather.


My research focuses primarily on early modern (17th- and 18th-century) European philosophy. In my dissertation, John Locke and the Demand for Self-Determination, I developed a new interpretation of the relation between reason and desire in Locke’s account of freedom, motivation, and personhood. For the latest on my research, please visit my website: www.matthewleisinger.com.

During my time at Emmanuel College, I plan to begin work on my next project, which will focus on one of the College’s distinguished alumni. Ralph Cudworth matriculated at Emmanuel College in 1632 and was elected to a fellowship in the College in 1639. He went on to be appointed Regius Professor of Hebrew and Master of Clare Hall (both in 1645) and then Master of Christ’s College (1654), a position that he held until his death in 1688. While Cudworth is best-known for his boldly-titled magnum opus, The True Intellectual System of the Universe, my project examines his less well-known (because largely unpublished) manuscripts on free will, in which he develops a radical new psychological framework in order to defend and explain the existence of human freedom and moral responsibility. While the manuscripts are full of philosophical treasure, I am particularly interested in what Cudworth has to say about the reflective structure of the mind, the ontology of personhood, the distinction between intellect and will, and the nature of moral knowledge and motivation.