Anton Matytsin will receive his PhD in August 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also obtained his BA and MA. As an intellectual historian of the 17th and 18th centuries, he is interested in the history of philosophy (particularly epistemology and debates about the mind-body interaction), the history of political, economic, and religious thought, the history of science, the history of early modern historiography. His dissertation “The Specter of Skepticism and the Sources of Certainty in the 18th Century, 1697–1772,” explores the way in which thinkers in the French-speaking world of the early 18th century responded to the challenges posed by the revival and proliferation of philosophical and historical skepticism.
At Stanford, Anton will continue to develop his project on skepticism and anti-skepticism and investigate how, in attempting to preserve and to reconstruct the foundations of their worldviews, apologetic thinkers came to resemble their philosopher opponents and, ironically, became unintended agents of intellectual change. On the broadest level, the project explores the interactions among culture, philosophy, science, and theology in the 18th century. It attempts to explain how the transformations in the perceptions of the powers of human reason, of the natural world, and of humanity’s place in it impacted the understanding of the political and cultural realms. It thus questions and investigates the causal relationship between the philosophical ideas of the so-called Radical Enlightenment and their alleged political consequences.