Associate Professor of Philosophy, Durham University
I’ve written a lot on space and time in early modern and early twentieth century philosophy. I’m also interested in the metaphysics of substance, change, motion, idealism, process, personal identity, and philosophy of religion. I'm fascinated by the philosophy of travel. 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.
I have published two scholarly books: Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics (2018, Oxford University Press) and Early Modern Women on Metaphysics (2018, Cambridge University Press). I have also written a popular book, The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad (2020, Oxford University Press). It explores philosophical issues around travel, from the “Age of Discovery” to the present day, including maps, climate change, and wilderness. You can read a review in The Spectator.
My earlier work has been 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.
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? This work is supported by an AHRC Leadership Fellows grant.
I am committed to getting philosophy out beyond the academy. You can listen to me talking about Bergson and time on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time; and about travel on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week. I tweet regularly about philosophy @emilytwrites
In addition to my position at Durham, I am an Honorary Fellow at the ACU Dianoia Institute of Philosophy. 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, please see my personal website www.emilythomaswrites.co.uk
In 2019, there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals globally and, given that the planet only holds 7.7 billion humans, this figure alone suggests that a lot of us are travelling. The World Tourism Organization...