Victoria Welby

(2023) Victoria Welby. Cambridge University Press.

In 1880s Britain, Victoria Welby (1837–1912) began creating a rich, wide-ranging metaphysical system. At its heart lies Motion, ‘the great fact, the supreme category’. Drawing extensively on archive materials, this book offers the first study of Welby’s metaphysics. It portrays her science-motivated universe as a complex of motions: motions comprise material bodies, living beings, and conscious minds. It also explores her views on idealism, panpsychism, change, space, and time. This study significantly advances our understanding of Welby’s philosophy, opening paths for future scholarship.

The Meaning of Travel

(2020) The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad. Oxford University Press.

How can we think more deeply about our travels? Part philosophical ramble, part travelogue, this trade monograph traverses the places where philosophy and travel intersect. It investigates Michel de Montaigne on otherness, John Locke on cannibals, and Henry Thoreau on wilderness. We discover the dark side of maps, how the philosophy of space fuelled mountain tourism, and ask whether intergalactic travel will affect human significance in a leviathan universe.


The Meaning of Travel could not have come at a more poignant and appropriate time… profound… with verve and lilt” The Wall Street Journal 


“Thomas has used her command of the philosophical canon to extend our understanding of an impulse that many of us share but few examine in such depth. The Meaning of Travel is a manifesto for the virtues that travel can bestow on the traveller  — not just an increase in knowledge, but a deep humility at the scale and diversity of the world, and an enduring wonder that we live on such a planet.” The Spectator


“It is timely… to examine the philosophy of travel… [a] searching book… exceptionally thoughtful” Literary Review


“The byways and highways of Thomas’s subject are well-illuminated. Delineating, direct and droll by turns… Novelty, knowledge and insight can be found in travel. It can make us wiser as well as better-informed… having read this book, I am now both.”  Standpoint Magazine


“No one could ask for a more congenial companion than Emily Thomas on her 2,000-plus year journey through The Meaning of Travel for major Western philosophers from Plato to Simone de Beauvoir…  The Meaning of Travel succeeds in offering an engaging primer on how travel has transformed both what we know and how we think.” Times Higher Education “Book of the Week”


“This is the finest kind of travel: not just across continents, but through time, space and our infinite minds. The journey is the joy, and Emily Thomas a terrific guide.” Mike Parker, author of Map Addict


“At last – a  book not about where we travel, but why. The Meaning of Travel illuminates the reasons we’ve been tempted to set out on untrodden paths for centuries.” Dea Birkett, author of Serpent in Paradise


“An original, engaging book… Thomas has a lightness of touch that never undercuts the seriousness and complexities of the issues discussed.” Julian Baggini, author of How the World Thinks


“Brilliantly researched and detailed, while staying humorous throughout, ‘The Meaning of Travel’ is a fantastic exploration of how travel can broaden the mind.” Much Better Adventures


Full book reviews: Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal. Philip Marsden, The Spectator. Sara Wheeler, Literary Review. Richard Larschan, Times Higher Education. Stephen Leach, Philosophy Now. Graham Elliott, Standpoint. Stuart Kenny, Much Better Adventures Magazine. Five Books: Summer ReadingPeter Smith, Logic Matters. CouchfishThe Philosophical Quarterly.

Radio book interviews:  BBC Radio 4 Start the Week. Talk Radio Europe, TRE Bookshop. Nightlife (discussion) & Saturday Extra, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking. CBC Ideas, Canadian National Radio. BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed.

Podcast book interviews: CBS News Eye on Travel. Monocle ReadsNew Books NetworkPrimaphilosophy. Possible Podcast. Travel with Meaning. Dihedral. Travel Commons. Between the Mountains. Dilemma.The Philosopher and the News. You Should Have Been There. Rolf Potts’ Travel Podcast. The Soul of Travel Podcast.

Print book interviews: New Humanist. The Irish Times. Five Books. Psychology Today. Much Better Adventures Magazine.

Selected honourable mentions: Times Higher Education “Book of the Week”. Wall Street Journal “Best Books for Retirement”. Five Books “The Best Philosophy Books of 2020″.

Absolute Time

(2018) Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.

This scholarly monograph provides the first study of British absolute time theories, the view that time is a kind of mind-independent thing. It covers British philosophy from the 1640s to the 1730s, advancing new – and controversial! – readings of many thinkers, including Henry More, Walter Charleton, Isaac Barrow, Isaac Newton, John Locke, Samuel Clarke, and John Jackson.

“This is an excellent and provocative book… Thomas’s arguments are clear, though the same cannot always be said for the arguments she discusses; the writing is straightforward—sometimes pleasantly, wryly humorous—and the scholarship is exemplary without being heavy-handed. The space allotted to this review is far too little to do justice to the range, interest, and importance of Thomas’s work.” J. J. MacIntosh, H-Net Reviews

Full reviews: H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences (2019), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2018)Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2019: 557-8).

Early Modern Women on Metaphysics

(2018) Early Modern Women on Metaphysics. Cambridge University Press.

This edited collection offers the first sustained study of the metaphysics of neglected early modern women philosophers, discussing causation, natural laws, identity, freedom, and many other issues. It covers Anna Maria van Schurman, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Masham, Mary Astell, Catharine Cockburn, and Émilie du Chatelet.

“a cover-to-cover reading is highly recommended, as it powerfully conveys the richness and depth of early modern women’s contributions to an area of philosophy that is traditionally much less naturally thought of as one in which female thought could thrive — a preconception that the present volume should do much to dispel” Julia Borcherding, NDPR

Full reviews: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2018), Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2019: 167-168), the Times Literary Supplement (2019).