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 popular 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 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. The Philosophical Quarterly.

Radio & podcast interviews: CBS News Eye on Travel. Nightlife (discussion) & Saturday Extra, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Monocle ReadsBBC Radio 4 Start the Week. Talk Radio Europe, TRE Bookshop. New Books NetworkBBC Radio 3 Free Thinking. Primaphilosophy. Possible Podcast. Travel with Meaning. Dihedral. Travel Commons. Between the Mountains. Dilemma.

Print 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).

Journal Articles

(forthcoming) “Time and Subtle Pictures in the History of Philosophy”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society .

(forthcoming) “Anne Conway as a Priority Monist: A Reply to Gordon-Roth”. Journal of the American Philosophical Association.

(2019) “May Sinclair on Idealism and Pantheism”. Journal of the American Philosophical Association  5: 137-157.

(2019) “The Roots of C. D. Broad’s Growing Block Theory of Time”. Mind 128: 527–549.

(2017) “Time, Space, and Process in Anne Conway”. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25: 990-1010

(2016) “On the “Evolution” of Locke’s Space and Time Metaphysics”. History of Philosophy of Quarterly 33: 305-326. Download

(2015) “Henry More and the Development of Absolute Time”. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 54: 11-19. Download

(2015) “British Idealist Monadologies and the Reality of Time: Hilda Oakeley against McTaggart, Leibniz, and others”. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23: 1150-1168.  Download

(2015) “In Defence of Real Cartesian Motion: A Reply to Lennon”. Journal of the History of Philosophy 53: 747-762.  Download

(2015) “Hilda Oakeley on Idealism, History and the Real Past”. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23: 933-953.  Download

(2015) “Catharine Cockburn on Unthinking Immaterial Substance: On Souls, Space and Related Matters”. Philosophy Compass 10: 255–263.  Download

(2013) “Space, Time, and Samuel Alexander”. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21: 549-569.  Download

(2013) “Catharine Cockburn on Substantival Space”. History of Philosophy Quarterly 30: 195-214.  Download

(2013) “Baking with Kant and F. H. Bradley”. With Jessica Leech. Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 19: 75-94.  Download

Book Chapters

(forthcoming) “Space and its Relationship to God”, with Andrew Janiak. Cambridge History of the Scientific Revolution, edited by David Miller & Dana Jalobeanu. Cambridge University Press.

(forthcoming) “Cavendish, Conway, and Cockburn on Matter ”. The Routledge Handbook of Women and Early Modern European Philosophy, edited by Karen Detlefsen & Lisa Shapiro. Routledge. 

(forthcoming) “The History of Philosophy and its Disappeared Women”. Philosophy by Women: 23 Philosophers Reflect on Philosophy and Its Value, edited by Elly Vintiadis. Routledge.

(forthcoming) “Locke, Newton, and Edmund Law”. The Lockean Mind, edited by Jessica Gordon-Roth & Shelley Weinberg. Routledge.

(2018) “Anne Conway on the Identity of Creatures over Time”, in Emily Thomas (ed.), Early Modern Women on Metaphysics. Cambridge University Press.

(2017) “Creation, Divine Freedom, and Catharine Cockburn: An Intellectualist on Possible Worlds and Contingent Laws”, in Jacqueline Broad and Karen Detlefsen (eds.), Women and Liberty, 1600-1800. Oxford University Press.

(2016) “Samuel Alexander’s Spacetime God: A Naturalist Rival to Current Emergentist Theologies”, pp. 225-273, in Y. Nagasawa and A. Buckareff (eds.), Alternative Concepts of God. Oxford University Press: New York.

Encyclopaedia Articles

(2020) “Travel Writing and Early Modern Experimental Philosophy”. Springer Encyclopedia for Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences, edited by Dana Jalobeanu and Charles Wolfe.

(2018) “Samuel Alexander”. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

(2014) “Samuel Alexander”. Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford University Press.

(2014) “John McTaggart”. Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford University Press.

(2014) “John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart (1866—1925)”. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Book Reviews

(forthcoming). “The Unknowable: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Metaphysics, by W. J. Mander”. Mind.

(2016) “Descartes-agonistes: Physico-mathematics, method and corpuscular-mechanism 1618-33, by John Schuster”. Annals of Science 73: 112-114.

(2015). “Self, Reason, and Freedom: A New Light on Descartes’ Metaphysics, by Andrea Christofidou”. Mind 124: 616-619.