John Morrison


I am an assistant professor of philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. I received my PhD from NYU in 2009. This semester I am teaching an introduction to logic (syllabus) and the history of philosophy from Aquinas to Kant (syllabus).

In March I was on MSNBC to talk about the color of "the dress": clip


My research is primarily in the philosophy of mind and the history of modern philosophy (esp. the seventeenth century). I also have strong secondary interests in metaphysics, medieval philosophy, and the philosophy of language.

I am currently working on three projects. The first is about how we perceive secondary qualities, such as redness. I argue that we perceive them in virtue of perceiving the differences and similarities between objects, thereby reversing the traditional order of explanation. I then develop similar explanations of how we perceive objects, kinds, and many primary qualities. The second is about uncertainty and perception. I argue that our perceptual experiences sometimes assign degrees of confidence. Both of these projects draw heavily on empirical psychology, particularly psychophysics and cognitive psychology. The third project is about the foundations of Spinoza's metaphysics. I hope to unravel his claims about minds, bodies, God, and their essences.


"Colour in a Physical World,"
Mind (2012), final, appendix

"Conception and Causation in Spinoza's Metaphysics,"
Philosophers' Imprint (2013), final

"Restricting Spinoza's Causal Axiom,"
Philosophical Quarterly (2015), final, penultimate

"Anti-Atomism about Color Representation,"
Noûs (2015), final

"Triangulating How Things Look,"
Mind & Language (2015), final

"Truth in the Emendation,"
The Young Spinoza, Melamed (ed.) (2015), final

"Perceptual Confidence,"
Analytic Philosophy (2016), final
*Winner of the 2015 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind

"Two puzzles about Thought and Identity in Spinoza"
Cambridge Critical Guide to Spinoza's Ethics, Melamed (ed.)

"Perceptual Structuralism"
Noûs, forthcoming, draft


"Spinoza on Mind, Body, and Numerical Identity," draft

In Progress

"Perceptual Variation and Ignorance"

"The Status of Essences in Spinoza's Metaphysics"

"Perceptual Relativism"
Epistemology after Sextus Empiricus, Vogt and Vlasits (ed.)

"Perceptual Structuralism: Objects, Kinds, and Qualities"


Review of Valtteri Viljanen's Spinoza's Geometry of Power, British Journal for the History of Philosophy (2013), final

Review of De Rosa's Descartes and the Puzzle of Sensory Representation (with Elliot Paul), Mind (2014), draft

John Morrison


jmorrison [at]

Barnard Faculty Profile

Columbia Faculty Profile


May, 2016

PhD Students

Nemira Gasiunas

Jorge Morales

Jeremy Wolos (Phd 2016)