about me

I am an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University. I’ve written a lot on space and time in the history of philosophy, from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Along the way I’ve researched many other issues in metaphysics, including substance, change, idealism, process, identity, and God.

In 2018 I published two books. Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics (Oxford University Press) explores the view, popularised by Newton, that time or duration is a kind of thing. Early Modern Women on Metaphysics  (Cambridge University Press) recovers the views of women philosophers who have traditionally been neglected in the history of my discipline. Elsewhere, I authored the first scholarship ever on early twentieth century British philosopher Hilda Oakeley.

I’ve written popular philosophy articles and blog posts, and appeared on various radio shows and podcasts (see the Media page for details). In 2016 I was shortlisted for the BBC New Generation of Thinkers competition. In 2018 I edited two blog series, on “Time: Exploring its Philosophy and History” and on “Impact and Engagement for Early Career Philosophers”.  I’ve produced a couple of Youtube videos: the animation “Tangling Time with Its History” and the documentary “What is Absolute Time? Henry More on Time, God and Mountains”.

Recently I’ve been working on the philosophy of travel. What is travel? What is a map? What can travel teach philosophy, and how has philosophy affected travel? I’m writing a popular book about these kinds of questions, for which I am represented by United Agents.

For the future, I’m planning a new project on early twentieth century metaphysics of time. Does the present moment move? Is the future real? Does time have a direction? Why did philosophers become worried about these questions?

Previously, I studied at Christ’s College, Cambridge for my PhD (2013). Afterwards I held a postdoc at the University of Groningen (2013-2016). My work has been supported by a Netherlands Research Council “Veni” grant (€250,000) and a British Academy “Rising Star” grant (£9,000). I am an editor for the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, and an advisor to the International Association for the Philosophy of Time. At Durham, I am a Senior Fellow of University “Castle” College.


If you’d like to get in touch or request a copy of my CV, you can email me at emily.e.thomas [at] durham.ac.uk or use the form on my contact page.

You can also follow me on twitter @emilytwrites