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Jan Cover

Jan Cover

Professor // Philosophy

Curriculum vitae

Office and Contact

Room: BRNG 7142


Phone: (765) 494-4288

Cover (as his students call him) is a Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University.  He is the son of a scratch-dirt farmer and Dunkard preacher, who taught him almost everything he knows that is worth knowing.  Cover is also especially grateful to be a husband and father.  

Following his B.S. in biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California Davis, Cover left a research post and night-shift firefighter position in the dimming sun of CA to pursue a B.A. in philosophy at Syracuse University (NY), where he later received his M.A. and Ph.D.  His earlier-career work on Leibniz, Spinoza, causation, space and time, and modality found its way into book chapters and various journals such as Philosophical Studies, Noûs, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Synthese, and Australasian Journal of Philosophy; as for books, he is co-editor of Central Themes in Early Modern Philosophy (Hackett) and Leibniz: Nature and Freedom (Oxford), and he is co-author of Theories of Knowledge and Reality (McGraw-Hill, 2nd), Philosophy of Science: Central Issues (Norton, 2nd), and Leibniz on Substance and Individuation (Cambridge).   

Cover’s teaching assignments are in early modern philosophy, metaphysics, and philosophy of art; his thinking interests also include philosophy of religion, a narrow slice of philosophy of science, and an even narrower slice of the history and philosophy of art.  If the sins of his youth find him now moving more slowly (than back in his days on a frozen climbing rope at altitude), Cover hopes that thinking more slowly won’t doom efforts to someday finish a plodding, long-slog commentary on Leibniz’s Discourse on Metaphysics, and to bring some coherence to ongoing reflections on what early modern artists and art-theorists called “heads” (portraits).  In the first of those appear as many as two good arguments for why there are no physical objects, alongside inevitably bad arguments for compatibilism; the second is currently struggling with pictorial depiction de re, and questions such as this: if what we mean by “as” isn’t what we mean by ‘is”, can a single portrait P – of Jones, let us say – be a portrait of Smith (for Jones isn't Smith)?  Could the depicted head of Goliath (on the platter) be a self-portrait by Giorgione?  In his teaching and thinking, Cover remains un-apologetically committed to the old conceit that doing philosophy is an a priori business. 


Early Modern Philosophy, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Religion