Michael Della Rocca Named the Orrick Professor

Michael Della Rocca, newly designated as the Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy, is an authority on the history of early modern philosophy (particularly rationalism) and metaphysics, who is also interested in philosophy of mind and epistemology.

He is the author of “Spinoza,” part of the Routledge Philosophers Series, and “Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza.” He is the editor of the forthcoming “The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza.” His many articles have explored such topics as essentialism and judgment and will, as well as the philosophies of Spinoza. He has also written a number of reviews of books on philosophical issues.

A graduate of Harvard University, Della Rocca joined the Yale faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor after earning his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of California-Berkeley. He was named a full professor in 2000, and he has chaired the Department of Philosophy since 2001.

In 1998, Della Rocca was honored with the Sarai Ribicoff Award for the Encouragement of Teaching at Yale College. His citation read, in part: “[Y]our commitment to philosophical inquiry and the life of the mind is so absolute and intense that students in your courses on metaphysics and modern philosophy might be daunted by the complex materials you challenge them to analyze, were it not for your equal commitment to the students themselves. … You try to make sure that students in your classes don’t just sense your enjoyment of your subject, but come to experience it for themselves as well.”

Della Rocca’s other honors include a Graduate Mentor Award from Yale in 2006, a Yale Morse Fellowship, an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award from Berkeley and the William H. Fink Prize for the best essay by a graduate student in philosophy, also from Berkeley.

The Yale faculty member has been an invited speaker at a number of universities and conferences throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe and in Israel.

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