Susan Mills

Associate Professor, Philosophy

PhD (Pennsylvania), MA (Pennsylvania), BA (Toronto)

7-352G, City Centre Campus
10700 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB


Susan Mills completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, where she was a philosophy major in the philosophy specialist program. Following that, she entered the PhD program in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her MA and PhD. Her main area of interest is in early modern philosophy, in particular the metaphysics and epistemology of the early modern period. She has a special interest in the philosophy of René Descartes, and in her principal research pursuits she examines Descartes’s medical philosophy in light of his claims regarding teleology and health. That research is part of a bigger picture project concerning issues of life, health and teleology in the history of philosophy. Traces of those issues can be found in her other research and teaching interests, which include the philosophy of death and ancient philosophy.

Available to supervise senior students' independent study.

Descartes, Early Modern Philosophy, History of Philosophy of Life Sciences, Philosophy of Death

Teaching and Research Interests

As a teacher, Susan Mills often tries to incorporate her research interests in the intersections of metaphysics, medicine and life into the design of her courses. In her classes, she puts a lot of emphasis on primary texts, drawing out and examining the development and consequences of the core concepts contained in those texts. She strives to clarify those concepts without sacrificing their complexity so that students can grasp how various philosophical ideas fit (or don't fit) together in a bigger whole.

Courses taught at MacEwan include:

  • PHIL 200 Metaphysics
  • PHIL 240 Descartes to Kant
  • PHIL 341 Continental Rationalism
  • PHIL 342 British Empiricism
  • PHIL 360 Philosophy of Death and Dying
  • PHIL 402 Topics in the History of Philosophy: Living Machines: Living Bodies and Early Modern Mechanism
  • PHIL 402 Topics in the History of Philosophy: Leibniz on the Individual PHIL 402 Topics in the History of Philosophy: Teleology: Ancient & Modern
  • PHIL 405 Topics in Contemporary Philosophy: Life and Death

Selected Publications / Presentations / Conference Papers

  • Mills, Susan. “Medicine in Meditation Six.” Teaching Core Texts Workshop: Descartes’ Meditations, the American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Teaching of Philosophy and the American Association of Philosophy Teachers Teaching Hub, APA Pacific Division Meeting, San Diego, 30 March 2018.
  • Mills, Susan. “The ‘best system’: Descartes on Natural Sensory Error and God’s Goodness.” The Department of Philosophy’s Speaker Series, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, 19 January 2018.
  • Mills, Susan. “Death to Death: Descartes, Living Bodies, and the Concept of Death.” Journal of Philosophy of Life, vol. 7, no. 2, August 2017, pp.338-360.
  • Mills, Susan. “The Challenging Patient: Descartes and Princess Elisabeth on the Preservation of Health.” Journal of Early Modern Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, Fall 2013, pp. 101-122.
  • Mills, Susan. Review of Death, by Todd May. Philosophy in Review, vol. 30, no. 4, June 2010, pp. 283-285.

Awards / Grants / Fellowships

  • MacEwan University, Dissemination Grant (2018)
  • MacEwan University, Publishing Grant (2017)
  • MacEwan University, Research, Scholarly Activity and Creative Achievement Fund (2013)
  • MacEwan University, Faculty of Arts and Science Faculty Development Additional Fund (2012)
  • MacEwan College, Conference Travel Special Fund (2009)
  • University of Pennsylvania, Graduate Student Associations Council Travel Grant (2006)
  • University of Pennsylvania, School of Arts and Science Travel Grant (received twice 2006)
  • University of Pennsylvania, Critical Writing Fellowship (2005 & 2006)
  • University of Pennsylvania, William Penn Fellow (2001-2006)
  • University of Toronto, Erindale College, E. A. Robinson Medal in Humanities (2001)
  • University of Toronto, Erindale College, The W. J. Huggett Prize in Philosophy (1999)