I am a philosopher working mostly on the history of ethics.  Currently, I am working on a long-term project on Stoic ethics, examining its influence on Kant and contemporary ethical thought.    

My previous work on Kant takes up various areas of his thought: his ethics and moral psychology; his contributions to the logical humanist tradition; his aesthetics and theory of the sublime; his philosophical methodology; and his understanding of the essentially reflective nature of the rational mind.  


I've become more and more interested, over the years, in Kant's concrete philosophical milieu — and above all the significance of the great Moses Mendelssohn for his philosophical development.  The study of the Stoic influence on Kant naturally needs to take account of the neo-Stoic elements of Mendelssohn's thought, and of early modern German rationalism generally — and of the ways in which Kant and his contemporaries tussled over what what to preserve and develop from Stoic thought for modern times.    



PhD, University of Pittsburgh


BA, Yale University 


University of New South Wales

School of Humanities and Languages

Sydney NSW 2052


email: m [dot] merritt [at] unsw [dot] edu [dot] au

 © 2019 by Melissa Merritt

The image of Minerva is from the frontispiece of Leonhard Cochius's 1769 essay Untersuchung über die Neigungen, which won the essay prize from the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin.  The phrase SAPERE AUDE ("dare to be wise") comes from Horace (Epistles I.ii.40), and was already the de facto motto of the German Enlightenment long before Kant officially christened it such in his famous 1783 essay "What is Enlightenment?".  

Melissa McBay Merritt

Associate Professor, University of New South Wales

Australian Research Council Future Fellow