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Please leave any general comments here, or if your comment relates to a particular podcast, please post it on the relevant podcast page. You can also leave comments on Peter's blog.

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In reply to by A.L.Duncan

Peter Adamson on 15 February 2015

The future

Well, that's the plan, or at least the plan is to keep going for the foreseeable future. Will take a me a while to get to those "early modern" figures though, I still have medieval to finish, then Byzantine and Renaissance - plus classical Indian thrown in there somewhere too!

bob on 15 February 2015

additional information for philosophers

what philosophers do you feel the 20-60 minute episode structure most constrained? which author would be most helped by reading a book on him instead of the short articles.

Plato and aristotle don't count.


ps your episode on al Farabi helped me. Thanks for that.

In reply to by bob

Peter Adamson on 15 February 2015


That's an interesting question. I guess I don't feel more constrained on any given episode than the others, because when I get to philosophers who need more coverage I just spread them across several episodes (albeit that it is hard to decide how many in some cases, especially if you start comparing; like should Ghazali get more/fewer than Averroes?). Generally speaking as far as reading goes, what I would most encourage is that people read the actual works of the philosopher, so I always try to list translations on the reading lists. My hope is that, having heard a podcast episode, you will have enough orientation to dive in (and in fact I also encourage my students to prioritize reading primary over secondary literature). But once you do turn to secondary literature I think the article-length studies are usually more relevant if you are interested in a particular theme. Like if you want to know only about Abelard's ethical theory, a great thing to read is Peter King's article (suggested on that page) but if you are interested in Abelard generally, then it's worth going through the Cambridge Companion to Abelard or Marenbon's book.

Denziloe on 15 February 2015

Sources / recommended supplements?

Hi Peter,

I was wondering which histories you've found particularly useful for this series? And which histories you might recommend? I'm sampling a few at the moment before committing. I've tried Russell's, but found it far too discursive; Kenny's, which is decent but perhaps a little too cursory; and Copleston's, which is good, but perhaps a little too technical, and it annoyingly doesn't translate Greek or Latin passages.

Apologies as I'm sure you've covered this question before -- which brings me to a secondary question. Might you consider a bit of a rejig of the website? It's a bit weirdly organised and hard to navigate at the moment. You've probably answered questions like this before in the big comments page, so a permanent FAQ page might serve better? Maybe there is an FAQ page or a resources page, but I can't find it. The drop-down menus for the episodes are also something of a pain (and something of an internet anachronism...); not that I want to tell you how to organise your own site of course, but it might be better to have a static version; basing the site around a central static hub which links to a separate page for each section, each section then linking to a page for each episode? I say this mainly because the site is currently impossible (literally) to navigate on mobile devices, which generally can't handle dynamic elements.

In reply to by Denziloe

Peter Adamson on 15 February 2015


Hi, thanks for the feedback! First to the technical issue: I actually am not the website designer, it was put together and recently re-jigged actually by Julian Rimmer who will probably understand your suggestion better. But, speaking as a relative ignoramus about web design, isn't the current website basically also what you are suggesting? I mean, you don't have to use the drop-down menus: you can click on "Islamic World" which takes you to a page listing the sub-menus, and clicking on them takes you to a list of all episodes on the relevant topic. So it seems to me like each page is already effectively a central hub via the menu at the top, and the drop-down menus are an added functionality which I do think is good (for non-mobile devices they are quite practical because you can see everything at a glance). Maybe though you could point me towards another site organized the way you are thinking about, so I can see better what you mean?

As far as the other histories to be honest I usually steer clear of them, because I don't want to be overly influence by the way they have set things up and to be honest they aren't detailed enough for my purposes; I have made great use of other resources like the Cambridge Companions and Cambridge Histories from Cambridge UP; Oxford Handbooks to whatever, from OUP, and so on, especially as a way into a body of literature and to figure out what I need to cover. Of course the most important thing is always to look at primary texts. But aside from that caveat, I'd say that Russell's and Copleston's are very badly dated, and Russell is of course in a way too brilliant a philosopher to be a good historian (it's worth reading to see how Russell thinks, rather than what Plato or whoever thought).

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Denziloe on 15 February 2015

Cheers for the reply,

Cheers for the reply,

I didn't actually realise they were URLs! So yes, the site already has the functionality I wanted. The main problem is with the mobile version (at least on my device), because the site displays a big vertical list of each section and subsection. If you click on a section, it does actually take you to the right page, but it's still beneath the big list, so it looks like nothing's happened. I'm sure this would be a trivial fix if you let Julian know.

Now I've found the section pages, I've also found the bibliographies! That's a shame about the histories... although you don't read them, I don't suppose you're aware of any which have a good reputation in the philosophy community? Perhaps there aren't any; when it comes to thorough histories, Copleston's seems to be the most recent out there. I guess you're filling the gap in the market, in that case! I'm mainly interested in the history of the modern period, so I wonder if instead you're able to give a rough "prior bibliography" of books you know you'll be referencing when you get to that point? Or is it way too early to tell?

Many thanks.

In reply to by Denziloe

Peter Adamson on 15 February 2015


I think that Copleston is generally regarded as a classic, albeit as I say rather outdated (just have a look at his minimal remarks on Islamic philosophy for instance). For modern philosophy I couldn't tell you much yet, but I would strongly recommend the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy which is free, online, and has ample bibliography on every page. Almost always a great place to start for any topic/figure.

Blrp on 11 February 2015

Is there a way to subscribe

Is there a way to subscribe to the blog via RSS?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Blrp on 12 February 2015

I mean the blog, as in the

I mean the blog, as in the place where you write posts with text in them.

Ahmad on 5 February 2015

Hey man please! Do a Podcast

Hey man please! Do a Podcast on Omar Khayyám
After all its HOPWithoutGaps
Plus Many Thanks For The Other Stuff
I'll be looking forward

In reply to by Ahmad

Peter Adamson on 7 February 2015

Omar Khayyam

Yeah, I kind of missed him didn't I? I actually heard an episode of "In Our Time" about him recently (on BBC Radio 4) and realized that may have been an oversight. I won't go back to the Islamic world at this point, but there would be the option of adding a chapter on him for the book version. However I suspect that that book may already be pushing the limits, length wise, so we'll have to see whether adding even more material is even an option. Anyway check out that In Our Time episode, it was good:

Augusto Ribas on 31 January 2015

Congratulations on the podcast

Congratulations on the podcast. I really enjoy it. At least once on the week i try to listen to one episode.
Thank you for putting something like this at diposal of everyone.
Fist time i tried to read a plato book, it was a little boring, but now with all the discussion, and ideas do search on the books, the reading are more pleasant.
Well thank you again for putting together such a nice podcast.

Matt on 25 January 2015

Concerning Transcription for Myself and Friends

I know that you've dealt with the general concern for the production of transcriptions to everyone, but I was wondering - would you mind if I personally transcribed these podcasts for myself and friends so that we can re-visit them via text as well as audio? I have a lot of trouble sometimes following along when it is audio, and it is quite unbearable for me to sit still and simply listen to a podcast. If I have the transcript in front of me, I become more involved and retain a lot more information that way. Thank you.

In reply to by Matt

Peter Adamson on 25 January 2015


Well, there's nothing to stop you from doing that but I don't think it would be a good use of your time, since the scripts (not interviews) are all appearing as books. The episodes on Classical Philosophy are already out as a book with Oxford University Press with more volumes to follow: the rest of ancient philosophy in a few months, then Islamic philosophy in 2016.

If you do make transcripts nonetheless please do keep them for private use, I wouldn't want a text version floating around on the net since it could undermine the book project. Thanks!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Matt on 25 January 2015

But I'm broke as a joke. :(

But I'm broke as a joke. :(
These things take about 2 hours to make per episode, so I can make one a day and be caught up before the end of the year. Then I can read them and retain more information.

JK Ellis on 19 January 2015


Hi Peter,

Recently I've begun reading with much relish Proclus' Commentary on the Parmenides. Not that I'm an expert, but it seems like in the past few decades there's been some significant effort to translate neoplatonic works into English--especially as of recent, what with Parmenides Publishing doing their series on Plotinus and the commentaries on Aristotle coming out. I'm curious, do you know if there's any interest in translating and publishing Proclus' essays on the Republic? Given the (relative) name recognition the Republic has, it seems like such a work would be an easier sell than, say, a commentary on the Elements.

In reply to by JK Ellis

Peter Adamson on 19 January 2015

Proclus on the Republic

Actually there has been a French translation for a long time already; but I believe that an English translation is underway, led by or at least involving Dirk Baltzly from U. Tasmania in Australia. Can't wait to see it!

Also there was a recent translation of just the essays on poetry. Here is a link:…

In reply to by Peter Adamson

JK Ellis on 23 January 2015

Oh, that sounds great. I

Oh, that sounds great. I imagine it'll be some years, but I look forward to it. Thanks again!

Aristotelis on 18 January 2015

Ancient Eastern Philosophy

Hi , Thanks for the great lecture series !
I was just wondering if you would do a new series on ancient eastern philosophy ( i.e., Zoroastrian , Taoist , Buddhist , Manichaeist , ... )

In reply to by Aristotelis

Peter Adamson on 18 January 2015

Ancient philosophies

Well, as I say just below I am tackling classical Indian later this year; Manicheanism and Gnosticism are already covered in the episodes on ancient Christianity, albeit mostly as opponents of the Christians and Platonists (but I think that's about right for a history of philosophy podcast). For Taoism we'll have to see whether I get on to Chinese thought after Indian, but I hope to do that.

Sanjiv Mehta on 15 January 2015

Asia Philosophy

Why is there no non-Western philosophy other than Islam on this blog? What about the philosophy that is derived from buddhist, hindu, jain, tao, etc. scholars?

In reply to by Sanjiv Mehta

Peter Adamson on 15 January 2015



If you just scroll down a bit you'll see another similar query. I will be tackling Indian philosophy starting later this year.


Jason Burke Murphy on 14 January 2015

A picture of a Giraffe

Thanks for the podcast. I enjoyed your article and agree with you. I think academics underestimate how interesting they can be. Radiolab surprised everyone by treating scientists as interesting. That same sort of magic could boost philosophy.

I give a handout to all my students that lists podcasts and on-line lectures they should consider. I love the medium.

Anyway here's a picture of a Giraffe as seen by a pigeon.

Carmen on 14 January 2015

Thomas Aquinas on women

I really enjoy your podcast, thank you so much for your effort!

I have a quick query, and I hope you can help me. I'm a biologist involved in science popularization and I'm preparing a post about sex determination. I need to know if Thomas Aquinas really said that female was a "mas occasionatus", and I cannot wait until Aquinas episode, so I would appreciate if you could just confirm that.


In reply to by Carmen

Peter Adamson on 17 January 2015

Mas occasionatus

This is something I hadn't come across before. I am actually planning to do an episode in the future on gender in the middle ages, though. As for Aquinas I can't tell you off the top of my head but there is an apparently well-informed, and skeptical, discussion of the supposed quote here including textual references that could be followed up easily enough:…

morgan on 14 January 2015

I just wanted to comment that

I just wanted to comment that I love your podcast, The History of Philosophy without any gaffs. I enjoy the writing, the humour and the mix of guests. The only problem is that I have been listening at the rate of 2 per day, which makes me a little bit anxious about the future. Thanks again for The History of Philosophy without kneecaps.

Rachelle on 18 December 2014

Eastern Philosophy

I'm loving this podcast, and I greatly appreciate the clarity of presentation and the inclusion of a bibliography. I'm wondering if you will be including any eastern philosophy? Confucianism, Taoism, and the like?

In reply to by Rachelle

Peter Adamson on 19 December 2014

Eastern philosophy

There was a special announcement a while back (on the blog, in a brief clip on the RSS feed and at the beginning of an episode somewhere... maybe 189) that in 2015 I'll launch a spin-off series on classical Indian philosophy, written together with Jonardon Ganeri. I may do Chinese philosophy too; I would like to do so but I'll need another collaborator, I think, since I wouldn't feel competent to tackle it on my own.

Ismail Kenessy on 15 December 2014

Communicating thx

Dear Professor Adamson,
I just wanted to thank you for the work you have done here putting these podcasts together. I discovered you 8 months ago and listen to your output again and again on evenings and during my commutes. I was working at the UN in Rome and had a long commute on the trains. I am back in the U.S. I hold no philosophy degree (BS in Accounting) but have found your podcasts in plain enough language for me to understand and enjoy...the jokes as well:).
At any rate, thanks for the content and knowledge.

Steve Cartledge on 12 December 2014

counterfactual property

Have you discussed counterfactual property, in any of the podcasts and; if so, which ones? Happy that Arsenal & City moved on to the knockout phase of the Champions League in the New Year; so that they cannot focus all of their attention on the Premier League, but it may not matter by then. (U.S Chelsea Fan)

In reply to by Steve Cartledge

Peter Adamson on 15 December 2014


I think Chelsea is safe from Arsenal, in any case. Unfortunately.

Regarding counterfactuals there is actually an episode just coming up on Peter Damian which talks about whether God can change the past, and this gets into the question of whether things that don't/haven't happened remain possible. So that's at least very related. Later on we'll get into similar issues with Scotus. You might also check out the older episode on Stoic physics since I discuss their determinism there.

Kevin on 10 December 2014

Great work!

I've just finished your series on the pre-socratics, and I have to say: great work! Your accessible style and sense of humor make the topic very easy to digest. Thanks again.

Pedro José on 7 December 2014

Medieval music

Hi Peter, thanks for your excellent podcast! I wanted to ask you if have any plans to dedicate an episode to music in the Medieval West, as you did for the Islamic world. I'm thinking mainly of Gregorian chant, but there's also Ambrosian or Mozarabic, and also other non-religious musical traditions to consider. There's also stuff relating to specific people who I know you will be treating, like St. Hildegard of Bingen, who was a noted composer. It would be really interesting to hear your take on the intellectual background and context for the devlopment of music in the Middle Ages (and also, if you plan to make podcasts on music or the arts a feature of the podcast for future ages, too). Thanks!

In reply to by Pedro José

Peter Adamson on 8 December 2014

Medieval music

Yes, I was thinking about that and even have a few notes on what to read about that. Nut then I also thought perhaps I should do "side topics" I didn't cover in the Islamic series, like magic and sexuality for instance. So I haven't really made up my mind. Do other people want to hear an episode about this?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Pedro José on 10 December 2014

Sounds very interesting. As

Sounds very interesting. As far as the arts are concerned, apart from music (which I would definitely love to see you take on), there's also medieval architecture. It's very good instance of philosophical/theological ideas, indeed, an entire worldview, being made physically present (a Henry Adams and Mont-Saint-Michel & Chartres kind of thing, but more up to date). Of course, there's a lot, so if I had to choose, I'd go for music.

In reply to by Pedro José

Peter Adamson on 11 December 2014

Music and art

I had actually been thinking I might do the double interview that comes up at episode 250 (!) on medieval art and philosophy, if I can get two good guests for that. So maybe I will do a scripted episode on music, or on aesthetics, plus that. Thanks for the suggestion!

Guest on 7 December 2014

Syriac Church Fathers


I am just wondering if you were willing to go back to your section on the late antiquity do an episode on Syriac literature. From 4th to 10th century AD, Syrian Aramaic was a major scholarly language and there was a flowering of Christian theology, philosophy and poetry that prefigured and laid the groundwork for the development of Classical Arabic as both a scholarly and poetic language. The Arabs got their Greek texts translated into Arabic from their Christian Syrian subjects who had a scholarly culture of continuing the Greek traditions of science, philosophy and theology. Although this is where I am getting my information from (, I am sure you can find more updated sources and thoroughly authenticated information.

One of the reasons I ask is that in studying the history of philosophy, one gets the idea that philosophical and theological scholarship dies in Europe and the middle east circa 4th century AD (much in a similar way that you have debunked that Islamic scholaship dies with Al-Ghazali) and that Islamic scholars miraculously revive the greek tradition of scholarship and all of a sudden have this beautiful classical Arabic to write eloquent prose and poetry in.

I would really appreciate if you could close this gap in philosophy.

In reply to by Guest

Peter Adamson on 7 December 2014


Actually I did talk about this a bit, back in episodes 120 and 122, and exactly as you say presented the Syriac tradition as a crucial transition between late ancient (Greek) philosophy and the Islamic tradition. I actually thought about having a whole episode on it at the time but decided to include it in the story of the translation movement more generally.

Jamie on 6 December 2014

These are engaging, funny, and comprehensive podcasts

Thank you for making and publishing these podcasts. I am a PhD student in chemistry who loves philosophy, but I have no time to take a course in the field. These podcasts are like taking a class with an eloquent lecturer, but I can listen to them while doing lab work or traveling to conferences. Thank you, again, for producing these podcasts.

Jeff Biggus on 3 December 2014

Added Medieval timeline

Hi, I added the timeline for the Medieval period. (I used the birth/death dates from Wikipedia, which agree with the death dates listed here.) Available here:

In reply to by Jeff Biggus

Peter Adamson on 4 December 2014


Hi Jeff,

Great, thanks - by the way the medieval timeline is a work in progress, I add more figures as I mention them. But the names for early medieval should be all there, or nearly all.


Gus on 29 November 2014


I've discovered your podcast recently and I'm really enjoying it. My major was in Literature, so it's also helping me contextualize many things I've learned. Thank you, Gustavo Brunetti

In reply to by Gus

Peter Adamson on 29 November 2014


Great, glad you are enjoying it. I was also a literature major, almost - one class short, my other major being in... well, you can probably guess.

Constantin on 27 November 2014

Reception of Aristotle and Neo Platonism in Persia

Hi Peter,

I just listened to your podcasts 135 and 136 (taking it in slowly and from the beginning to cherish it more) and I was wondering if you could recommend any further ressources about the reception of aristotelian and neo platonist thought in persian philosophy and culture? Maybe even something in German? I would very much appreciate that.

Please keep up the excellent work!


Ilan Geerlof-V… on 26 November 2014

Medieval Jewish philosophers

I enjoy your podcast very much and also you are done with Arabic and Jewish philosophy. I thought I add this tidbit.
I just learned on a forgotten book you might be interested in. It is an encyclopedia written by Moshe ben Yehuda (1353-1356) on physics, Aristotelian metaphysics and Jewish thought. The name can be translated as "Love with Delights", perhaps this is why it was forgotten.
"Ahavah ba-Ta'anugim: A Fourteenth-Century Encyclopedia of Science and Theology," in Steven Harvey, ed., The Medieval Hebrew Encyclopedias of Science and Philosophy (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000), pp. 429-440.
A commentary on the first 7 articles that deals with physics was published by Esthy Eisenman by Magnes Press The Hebrew University Jerusalem.

Irwan on 26 November 2014

Thanks for this amazing project

I was reading Seyyed Hossein Nasr and fascinated by his thoughts. I am not a philosophy student, so every time names of past philosophers came up, I said to myself:

"I wish they map out these great thinkers on one place, so even people like me can have a rough idea on who said what and when."

And then I came across this amazing website. The "without any gaps" commitment is very ambitious and, for me, the most wonderful part of it all. It helps us appreciate the great contributions by the non-western thinkers, and how they are a part of our collective intellectual history.

You and your team are doing an amazing job, Peter. Thank you so much.

In reply to by Irwan

Peter Adamson on 26 November 2014


Great, I'm glad you like the project! Did you notice that I discussed Nasr, albeit briefly, in a recent episode? Number 194.

In reply to by Irwan

Stephen Grossman on 19 April 2016


> The "without any gaps" commitment is very ambitious and, for me, the most wonderful part of it all.

Gaps, like everything else, are limited.  Thus, this history of philosophy, whatever its superior inclusiveness, has no gaps within a limit.  

oliver on 24 November 2014

where are the zip links?

Hi I can't seem to find the zip links for series of the podcasts. I am sure they were there last week.

In reply to by oliver

Peter Adamson on 26 November 2014

.zip files

We had to change software so we are still working to get all the functionality back, but the .zip files will return soon I hope! Of course you can also just subscribe via podcatching software (iTunes or something else) and then download everything in one go.

Andrew on 12 November 2014

So excited I found this!

Very grateful to Peter Adamson for creating this course! I was really hoping for something like this to appear on Coursera or a large scale documentary on youtube but someone on Coursera linked me to this and it has exceeded my expectations immensely. I shall get the book as well.

Thank you for the hard work! Really excited.


In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 12 November 2014


Great! I'm always excited to have an eager new listener as well. Hope you enjoy the series; please pass the word on to other people who might be interested!

Cody on 10 November 2014

Your Book

I really want a copy of your book but I'm sort of a paperback guy.. When will the first volume in the series come out in paperback?

In reply to by Cody

Peter Adamson on 12 November 2014


I think next year? I will check and report back.

I like paperbacks too actually. (But the hardback makes a nicer holiday gift. Just saying!)

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Cody on 13 November 2014

You're right I'll have to buy

You're right I'll have to buy my philosophy professor a copy of the hard back, and I'll wait for the paperback (possibly with a Peter Adamson signature? Maybe?).

In reply to by Cody

Yannick Kilberger on 13 November 2014

I heard you could get

I heard you could get autographed books at the HoP Peripatetic Summer Camp. People dressed in bedsheets crash at Peter's place for two weeks. Afternoons are spent hanging out in the Englischer Garten with the master and symposiums are held in the evening through the night at the Hofbräuhaus.

When is the 2015 edition, Peter?

In reply to by Yannick Kilberger

Peter Adamson on 16 November 2014


I hope that vol.2 will come out about one year after vol.1 which means late spring or summer 2015. I have already sent the final version to the press.

In reply to by Cody

Carol Andersen on 16 November 2014

Don't know if you're an ebook

Don't know if you're an ebook person, there is a version out from Amazon. You can read it on a tablet with their app if you don't like Kindles. Great for reading in bed!

Philonous on 10 November 2014

Dear peter, I think that you

Dear peter,
I think that you should also consider Abdolkarim Soroush, one of the important thinker in the Islamic world.
His site:

Thank you for this site.

Mohammad Raghfar on 7 November 2014

Aristotle and Plato's Unwritten Doctrines.

Hi Peter,

Recalling the episode you made some time ago about Aristotle's views on Plato, and you said that Aristotle wrote about Plato's Unwritten Doctrines.

You referred to a passage in Aristotle were he speaks about Plato's theory that reality first begins with Forms, and from Forms mathematics is derived and then from mathematics the sense-objects are derived.

Do you recall where in Aristotle's corpus he refers to this specific Unwritten Doctrine?
Additionally, Do you know of any scholarly work on the Unwritten Doctrines?

Thank you for the podcasts Peter.

In reply to by Mohammad Raghfar

Peter Adamson on 7 November 2014

Unwritten doctrines

Well, Aristotle refers to these views of Plato in various places but one is his Metaphysics, for instance in the last two books which are about mathematical objects.

The classic case for the "unwritten doctrines" was put forward by the so-called "Tübingen school" of scholarship in the 20th century, like Hans Joachim Kramer. See also J. N. Findlay, Plato: The Written and Unwritten Doctrine (London 1974).

Most Plato scholars in the English-speaking world (and in fact now also in Germany) are pretty skeptical. I would recommend Dillon's book in the bibliography for episode 51, as a good orientation on the whole issue and how it relates to Plato's immediate successors.

Darryl Nightingale on 5 November 2014

Recommended reading.

I am really enjoying the program Peter. I've listened all the way through to 108 so far.

I really appreciate the "Further Reading" list included with each episode.

However, I wonder if it might be possible to add a "If you only have time to read one book on this topic" section, or a "Recommended introductory text" section or similar? It would be very useful to those of us who do not have access to a well-stocked university library and must either buy the books if we want to read them.

Many thanks.

In reply to by Darryl Nightingale

Peter Adamson on 5 November 2014

Selected selected reading

Interesting idea. One thing you might do is, instead of looking at the individual episodes, look at the top menu for each season (e.g. Islamic world, medieval, etc), since that will have some really basic reading suggestions. Narrowing it down even further would be hard for me to do though; you might just work through those overall topic lists and compare prices and availability.

Nigel PJ on 28 October 2014

Thus far...

Peter, now that you have concluded the Islamic philosophy section I would like to say a big thank you. It was a very valuable contribution to the available knowledge on philosophy in the wider world. Avicenna and Averroes are well-known because of their impact in the evolution of "our" thought but most of the other thinkers including Mulla Sadra are too little known. I especially enjoyed the Suhrawardi/Illuminationist episodes.
If you get the chance to comment, after Aquinas say, on the relative developments taken by European Scholastics and Islamic and Jewish philosophers as heirs to Plato and Aristotle that would be very welcome.

In reply to by Nigel PJ

Peter Adamson on 29 October 2014

More on Muslims and Jews

Thanks, glad you enjoyed these episodes - I enjoyed writing them! Several of the figures covered, especially Averroes, Avicenna and Maimonides, will come back into the story for sure because Aquinas and others respond to them. (This is one reason I needed to do Islamic world before Latin medieval.) I'm not sure if I will do a compare and contrast but more generally, but it's an interesting idea.

Nicholas Gunn on 27 October 2014


I accidentally came across your website while doing some research for a presentation on St. Jerome for International Translator's Day (03-10-14) at the university where I teach.

I am thoroughly enjoying your podcasts. I have just completed your series on Stoic philosophy and I am moving into the Ancient Christian Church.

This extensive series is making my commute to work and home again much more enjoyable.

I hope you are planning to continue to expand these podcasts. Are you considering including Far Eastern philosophy (China & Japan)?

cheers, Nicholas J. Gunn-Santiago de Chile

In reply to by Nicholas Gunn

Peter Adamson on 27 October 2014

Blame it on Jerome

Wow, good thing I covered Jerome then!

You might have seen the announcement where I lay out plans to cover Indian philosophy next year with the help of Jonardon Ganeri. I'm not sure yet about China and Japan, India plus Europe is enough to worry about for now! But in principle I would like to, albeit that I would again want to find a suitable collaborator for that I think, rather than attempting it on my own.

Monir Birouk on 25 October 2014


Hello Peter,

I have just discovered your website and have already listened to a considerable number of podcasts. God knows how serviceable and eye-opening these podcasts are! Thanks a million.

As I was searching however in the list of Andalusian philosophers, I noticed that the great Ibn Hazm is not included. Well, by the rigorous measures of what a philosopher is, he can probably be excluded. However, taking into account his critique of Eastern philosophy and dialectical theology [Kalam] as well as the fact that some consider him as a precursor to the Averroesian enterprise, Ibn Hazm deserve to be placed well comfortably amongst the notables of Andalusia.

kind regards,
Monir Birouk

In reply to by Monir Birouk

Peter Adamson on 25 October 2014

Ibn Hazm

Thanks, glad zou like the series! I actually discuss Ibn Hazm fairly extensively in episode 147, the one on Islamic law, including a few words on his foreshadowing of the Aristotelian project of Averroes et al.

If you look at the "timeline" for the Islamic episodes you'll see that every name is linked to the episode where I discuss him/her; this is a good way to find where I have put various figures who don't actually have an episode named after them but have been discussed nonetheless.

jayarava on 23 October 2014


Seems the claim "without any gaps" is vastly overstated. There is nothing here on philosophy outside Europe and the Middle-East. There's more gap than content.

In reply to by jayarava

Peter Adamson on 25 October 2014

Philosophy elsewhere

Actually I announced recently (on the RSS feed and in several episodes) that I will be doing a series together with Jonardon Ganeri on classical Indian philosophy. I may eventually tackle Chinese philosophy too, though I have no concrete plans for that yet. But you can expect episodes on Indian philosophy sometime in 2015.

In reply to by jayarava

Yannick Kilberger on 25 October 2014

Not that Peter especially

Not that Peter especially needs to be defended, though in itself it may be full of gaps, relative to existing histories of Philosophy the podcast has a serious claim to thoroughness.

Of course Peter was unforgivably remiss in omitting the Seven Sages of Grece other than Thales. I considered for a time making the trip to Germany in order to slash his tires and carve "Remember Epimenide's Cave" on the hood of his car. Eventually I relented when I thought of the shame he must feel every time someone mentions Thales, how he must dread some student mentionning the Solon and Cresus bit...

That and he drew a total blank on the Spartans' invention of Philosophy too.

Now if he only had taken some time right at the beginning of the podcast to explain that and why he would only cover Western Philosophy, if he had only shown a little humility and frankly admitted that a name or too could occasionally be found to have been left out... Ah the folly, the hubris!

Jeff Biggus on 20 October 2014

Timeline graphs

Hi Peter,

Long time listener, first time caller. I am greatly enjoying this momentous serious you're engrossed in. Thank you for it.

In case you are interested, I wrote a little program that generates visual timelines and I have created them for your three timelines, in case you would like to see them. Feel free to post them for others if you would like. Just trying to contribute something. I have found them personally helpful when listening to your discussions. (And let me know if you'd like them updated in some way or if there are mistakes.)


In reply to by Jeff Biggus

Peter Adamson on 22 October 2014


Dear Jeff,

Wow, that's very cool! Thanks for doing this, I think it definitely helps to vizualise it like that. Of course it's slightly misleading becasue you're just going off death dates (which is all I provided) but still, I find it interesting to see how there are certain clusters (for instance the spike of figures in the 12th-13th century or so, which is large part because of the Jewish thinkers).

I hope you'll add one for the future timelines on Latin Christian thinkers, etc!


In reply to by Jeff Biggus

Monir Birouk on 25 October 2014

A question

Hi Jeff,

Many thanks Jeff, that's really interesting. I just wonder about the signification of the line [underlines] colours. Do they stand for something,or they random?

In reply to by Monir Birouk

Jeff Biggus on 27 October 2014


The colors are just random. I'm still creating the program and the final look should improve over time.

In reply to by Jeff Biggus

Monir Birouk on 28 October 2014


Good luck. What if the line colors are designed to indicate specific philosophical trends or disciplines. For example:

red: for philosophers who are interested in ethics; black for epistemology; . . . etc

Tom Roche on 16 October 2014

political Islam fights back 1.0

As HoPWaG enters the period where Western empires invade Islamic polities en masse, interested listeners might enjoy a recent ABC program…

with audio @

in which the inestimable Phillip Adams interviews Ben Hopkins

regarding his forthcoming book. Includes tidbits such as: the first use of the term "counterinsurgency" is in Imperial British Afghanistan! and is immediately followed by use of the term "hearts and minds" ...

In reply to by Yannick Kilberger

Czas on 23 October 2014

She's an animal rights

She's an animal rights activist, or a Spartacus. Hell yeah!

Per-Erik Milam on 28 September 2014

Text recommendations for philosophy in the Islamic world

Hi Doctor Adamson,

I was wondering if you have recommendations for books introducing the texts of major philosophers in the Islamic world. I'm looking for the selections of the texts themselves--with the aim of using them in intro classes--rather than introductions by another person. So far the best I've found is Classical Arabic Philosophy by McGinnis and Reisman. It's good, but I'd like something else if you have a recommendation. Also, do you have preferred translations or editions of Avicenna, specifically the Salvation?

Thanks and sorry if this question has already come up and been answered. I looked at some of the suggested readings for the early episodes in the Islamic World portion of the podcast, but found mostly secondary sources.


In reply to by Per-Erik Milam

Peter Adamson on 29 September 2014

Text recommendations

Well, I have often recommended translations on the podcast pages where they exist; the best collected reader is indeed the Reisman/McGinnis. More generally the translation and edition situation varies widely from thinker to thinker but there is a lot of room for improvement across the board. For the Najat specifically there is no full translation, for instance, though the logic has been translated. And you may have seen that (actually in the same series) al-Kindi is fully available in the translation by myself and P.E. Pormann. (I can't get the Oxford site to load at the moment so I'm just linking to Amazon.)

In reply to by Nigel PJ

Peter Adamson on 30 September 2014

another hopefully satisfied customer

Great! Hope you like the volume. If not, blame al-Kindi not me.

John Miers on 27 September 2014

A new adherent

Dear Peter,

I recently discovered the podcast and have been binging on it at every opportunity. It's wonderful, extremely engaging and thorough without ever labouring a point. I'm currently on ep. 39 and greatly relieved that there are many hours of listening ahead before I have to make the painful adjustment of waiting a week to hear a new episode. So this post really is just to say thank you for this great service.

If it's not too picky, I do have one very small bugbear - your frequent use of the phrase "I know what you're thinking" to introduce a solution to an apparent paradox or contradiction. Apart from being an incautious claim for a philosopher with such a nuanced view of the nature of knowledge, when listening to a few episodes back-to-back it starts to feel like a repetitive rhetorical tic. I doubt I'd even have noticed this if listening in weekly bursts, however.

Right - back to Aristotle!

In reply to by John Miers

Peter Adamson on 27 September 2014

I no longer know what you're thinking

Great, glad you are enjoying it! You'll be glad to know that, in response to similar complaints, I dropped the catch phrase ages ago. In fact if you are up to 39 I think it will disappear pretty soon, maybe I stopped doing it in the Hellenistic episodes? Not quite sure. In any case it seems like a distant memory now.

Hope you stick with the series and catch up to the once a week schedule!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

John Miers on 28 September 2014

Ah, sorry if I opened old

Ah, sorry if I opened old wounds! I'll be sticking around for sure. Thanks again.

Charles Landrey on 23 September 2014

What line drawn between philosophy and religion

I am thoroughly enjoying the podcast series.

I appreciate the need for context, but I am curious if and where you draw the line between philosophy and religion. I know it reflects my ignorance, but I was surprised to see, for example, Augustine considered to be a philosopher.

Keep up the good work.

In reply to by Charles Landrey

Rhys William Roark on 23 September 2014

Augustine the Philosopher

This is so as Augustine’s own theology is strongly influenced by the Platonic / Neoplatonic tradition (in the same way later theoligian Thomas Aquinas is strongly influenced by the thought of Aristotle), given that Neoplatonismm itself has a notable relgious or mystical bent in its own philosophizing (cf. Plotinus—a significant influence for Augustine). Augustine has been described as the first person to provide the first autobiography of the human self (in his Confessions), elaborating on a dimension observed by Plotinus as a way of understanding the Real, but who was not interested in its personal biography (acc. to ER Dodds, Plotinus was the first, apparently, to distinguish betweent the total personality [the psyche] and ego consciousness, where the ego becomes a philosophical term: from Dodd’s Ancient Concepts of Progress, ch. 8. One can’t help think of Freud and Jung here . . . ).

Augustine, here, can be seen as furthering the philosophical discussions on the nature of subjectivity using this to combat skeptical thought later influential for Descartes: “Even if I am mistaken, I am.” Likewise, his religious understanding of human freedom, whereby in his later thought human beings cannot act morally in anyway without God’s underserved grace and his anthropology of predestination, can be seen as a larger part of the discussion concerning freewill v. determinism, even if this has a much more noted biological cast today (viz., genetics as destiny).

In reply to by Rhys William Roark

Peter Adamson on 23 September 2014

Religion vs philosophy

Of course this is a big issue and one that will be coming to the fore very soon as we get to medieval philosophy. I think a lot of people see a strong contrast between religion and philosophy, even assuming that texts written with an explicitly theological or religious purpose cannot be philosophical. Of course that would remove things like Aquinas' Summa, Augustine's On the Trinity, and even a lot of ancient pagan philosophy (Proclus, to take one example, is often talking about pagan religion as much as he is doing about philosophy, and he would have seen no firm distinction between the two).

My feeling is that there are plenty of reasons to think of such texts as belonging to the history of philosophy. Two are obvious: religious ideas influence philosophy, and religious texts contain plenty of philosophical ideas that can be exported for use in non-philosophical contexts. We've seen plenty of examples in late antiquity and the Islamic world, with many more to come. An irony of history is that many fundamental distinctions and ideas used nowadays by non-religious philosophers were first devised for the purposes of theological discussion.

Another thing to bear in mind is that there is philosophy about God, too - for instance Aristotle's discussion of God, or Leibniz', or Kant's. I think it makes sense to talk about "philosophical theology" where one is drawing on rational argument to explore the nature, existence, etc of God.

In light of these points (and one could go on to mention more), I think there is no way of separating off the history of religious inquiry or theology from the history of philosophy. Augustine, for me, is a slam dunk case of a philosopher; one of the greatest who has ever lived in fact. More marginal would be, say, the representatives of Kalam in the Islamic world, or mystics in the various traditions (like, Kabbalah works, or Rumi, or Hildegard of Bingen). But I count them in too, since their contributions are inextricably intertwined with the development of philosophy anyway and they are also often philosophically interesting, even if one might hesitate to call them "philosophers."

So, to go back to the original question I guess I would say that there is no firm line that can usefully be drawn between philosophy and religion. Rather a lot of fascinating stuff happens right along the borders of the two, or one could think of them as overlapping, with a lot of religious discourse being philosophical, and a lot of philosophy being about God. A good comparison would be philosophy and empirical science. For a long time science was just part of philosophy, and even now the two mutually inform each other and overlap; I don't think there is much to be gained by trying to lay down a firm boundary between the two.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Tom Roche on 23 September 2014

religion + philosophy = $

Peter Adamson on Tue, 2014-09-23 13:48: "a lot of fascinating stuff happens right along the borders of [philosophy and theology], or one could think of them as overlapping, with a lot of religious discourse being philosophical, and a lot of philosophy being about God. A good comparison would be philosophy and empirical science."

... and of course promoting "dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians"[1] definitely improves one's chances of getting a big Templeton check :-)


In reply to by Peter Adamson

Tom Roche on 24 September 2014


Peter Adamson on Wed, 2014-09-24 05:03: I wonder if [Templeton supports] podcasts..."

Get them to endow the "Templeton Chair for Peter Adamson's Studies at [your institution here/]" and you can do all the podcasting you want.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Tom Roche on 24 September 2014

give them some class

Peter Adamson on Wed, 2014-09-24 05:03: I wonder if [Templeton supports] podcasts..."

I note JTF supports[1] "On Being"[2], a steaming pile of "spirituality" airing on (or rather spewing from) NPR[3]. Unfortunately Krista Tippett is a philosopher like I am the Pope, so JTF's support for the yammering of qualia that passes for rational discourse on her show is not much predictive of funding for HoPWaG. You could pitch funding the podcast as providing JTF with an opportunity to redress the balance :-)


Dick Johnson on 17 September 2014

Inidan Philosophy

I am thrilled to learn that you will be lecturing on Indian philosophy. Classical Indian or Hindu Philosophy and especially Vedanta is profound and it is difficult to find any serious expositions of it on audiotape or podcast. Chinese philosophy by comparison seems rather shallow to me and much of Buddhist philosophy seems hell bent on demonstrating the futility of reason at arriving at any meaningful truth. But these are my prejudices. But do please lecture on the classical schools of Indian philosophy with a special emphasis on Vedanta.

questorer on 14 September 2014

a general problem.

Drawing on Vali Nasr's Shia Revival I'm having a hard time understanding how you will explain the modern islamic world (specifically Shia) without delving too deep into modern or semi-modern philosophy with people such as Hegel and Marx. also do you have a good history of Persia/eastern Islamic world for a general introduction? also: keep up the good work. I'm just bummed I can't use Shiraz as a way to transfer from wine to "the duel of Shiraz"

In reply to by questorer

Tom Roche on 14 September 2014

waaay too general problem

questorer on Sun, 2014-09-14 06:09: "I'm having a hard time understanding how you will explain the modern islamic world"

Umm ... this is a podcast about the history of philosophy. To "explain the modern islamic world" would be interesting, but off-topic.

In reply to by Tom Roche

Peter Adamson on 14 September 2014

Modern Islamic world

Well, let's assume the question concerns philosophy in the modern-day Islamic world, since I will indeed be covering that. Part of the answer is that there's an upcoming interview with an expert (Anke von Kügelgen) who will discuss quite a lot of figures and movements. Also I am indeed mentioning numerous figures who were influenced by Nietzsche and other European thinkers. To get really deeply into them one would need to talk more first about the figures exerting the influence, but I am just going to sketch the ideas as they become relevant.

A good introduction for the history of these later Islamic empires is:

S.F. Dale, The Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals (Cambridge: 2010).

Michael Dunn on 10 September 2014

Scottish Independence

I am leaving Scotland to go back home (Wales) in January having lived here for 10 years; were I to stay in Scotland I would vote Yes, for a variety of reasons. I believe that in the event of independence Scotland would suffer economically especially in the early years but it would not be disastrous in the current climate. It would however put Scotland at great risk if another big economic downturn took place; so I'm voting Yes despite my own economic predictions. Were I to be still living in Scotland I'd be willing to take that economic risk in favour of what I'd believe to be a better society.

If we assume all of the above is a given - can I vote and expose others to the economic risk which I am willing to personally undergo, but which in actual fact I will not undergo? I am also placing others in the position where they may not receive the perceived benefits of independence if I abstain. Does the extent of my emotional feeling for Scotland have any relevance here and how can you compare abstract ideas of what is 'just', 'right' or 'fair' with tangible economics? Should I vote or abstain? All responses are welcome, thank you

In reply to by Michael Dunn

Leonard Heidt on 14 September 2014

Scottish Independence

Interesting that you state 'were I stay in Scotland I would vote Yes' then go on to state your willingness to accept consequences if independence were obtained and if you were still living there and could vote.

It seems clear that you wish to vote 'yes' whether you live in Scotland either now or in the future; if then you believe this is in the best interest of Scotland and you are eligible to vote you should vote as you see fit. Most of us do and judge things not necessarily because we will receive the benefits or punishments, but because it is right.

Therefore, I believe you should vote and if 'yes' is your vote, do so as I certainly would were I in your situation.

Peter Adamson on 12 August 2014


Funny you should ask that, because another philosophy podcast, Philosophy Bites, just had a good episode on the topic of genealogy. You can hear that here.

I think that the term "genealogy" perhaps has connotations I wouldn't want to apply to the podcast: since Nietzsche it has come to be associated with a kind of debunking of some tradition, by showing its hidden roots (in his case, the historical account he gives is applied to Judeo-Christian morality). I think of what I'm doing as being something more neutral, which is a historical narrative. And I think this can serve various purposes: it is intrinsically interesting, as far as I'm concerned; it can be useful to people with broader historical interests, since the history of philosophy is part of history as a whole; and of course it resonates with contemporary philsophical concerns sometimes (or, it can be fascinating to see how much it doesn't resonate!). To be honest the connections to contemporary philosophy have never really motivated me that much, since I think of what is going on now as simply the most recent part of the history of philosophy, which isn't necessarily of more intrinsic interest to me personally than what was happening in, say, 9th century Baghdad. But I think it is definitely a legitimate and useful way to apply the history of philosophy if one does it carefully, and avoids anachronism.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Tom Roche on 12 August 2014


Peter Adamson on Tue, 2014-08-12 08:44: "I think of what is going on now as simply the most recent part of the history of philosophy"

So are there meaningful metrics along or against which one could claim philosophy to have progressed or be progressing? E.g., explanatory power, or epistemic parsimony?

Alternatively, it is sometimes claimed [citation needed :-] that human music has progressed only in the sense that humans now can make more different sounds than before, and combine and control sounds in more complex ways, but that (e.g.) Bach, bachata, and bhangra are sufficiently orthogonal as to defy ranking. Is philosophy like music in this sense?

In reply to by Tom Roche

Peter Adamson on 12 August 2014


Well, this question takes us deep into the issue of what philosophy is in the first place, which is not an easy one. I actually like your comparison to music, and maybe what I think about philosophy is similar. I tend to think it is more about seeing the relationships between different ideas, and not so much just finding out what is actually true - philosophical questions don't just get resolved and put to bed, to so speak. But we learn more about them by going ever deeper into the implications of certain assumptions, or of certain answers to standard philosophical questions. That's why I consider history of philosophy to be fully a kind of philosophy: we are studying the way that ideas and philosophical commitments actually interrelated in the works of previous philosophers. So progress is made, but only in terms of the accumulating insight into this complex web of ideas, if that makes sense; and of course on this understanding of philosophy what is going on now doesn't have any particularly privileged status. The one major caveat I'd make to this is that contemporary philosophy does have the advantage of being able to rule out some possible positions as non-starters, because of progress in other areas, notably the natural sciences and maybe also with respect to moral issues (for instance it isn't really interesting, apart from historically, to think about the justifications that have been offered for slavery, or for the belief in the inequality of women, since these are now obviously non-starters in terms of being beliefs or practices we would ever want to endorse).

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Tom Roche on 12 August 2014


Peter Adamson on Tue, 2014-08-12 20:17: "philosophical questions don't just get resolved and put to bed, to so speak."

Not ever? How 'bout Hume on causality or Nietzsche on causa sui? They seem to have put the fork (to mix metaphors :-) into their respective issues, no?

For that matter, is it not reasonable to judge that logic before Aristotle or Frege was poorer than logic after?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

W. Lindsay Wheeler on 19 August 2014

Progress or Obedience

There is no "belief" in the inequality of women, it is scientific. Women are not equal to men. That is biological, mental and spiritual science. I point to Yves Christian's book, "Sex Differences, Modern Biology and the Unisex Fallacy". You Peter, believe in the equality of women, but "the condition of what is" is that they are inequal to men. Philosophy is about science, not personal opinion.

This is an "obvious non-starter"? is ludicrous.

Second, Slavery is an institution. All civilizations of Classical Antiquity had slavery. The Bible condones it. The Early Church never condemned it neither did Christ.

I see Peter that you are "progressive", but that is not philosophy. Philosophy, true philosophy always holds to the same and second, is obedient to the teachings of God. "We are not in the world to give the laws but in order to obey the commands of the gods", Plutarch.

Today, the Greek Orthodox Church does not condemn slavery. So if the left is anti-dogmatic, why are you so dogmatic about slavery and the equality of women? Are you God--teaching us morality? What does your personal opinion have to do with true philosophy?

In reply to by W. Lindsay Wheeler

Paul on 19 August 2014

Manners please

Could comments please show some manners. I may not always agree with Peter but his efforts to help me understand all the matters he discusses commands my respect. I work in an area in constant contact with the public and I can assure you that nothing diminishes the respect you have for anyone as much as rudeness. So thank you for your comment and a thank you to Peter for the pod-casts.

Sara on 10 August 2014

how lovelier it could get

Hello, I suppose there's no need to say that I am very fond of the podcast. It is great, funny, informative, provocative. A true delight for my commuting journeys. My time is now measured by the lenght of the pods which I listen repeatedly. There's but one thing I would like to point out. Your tone and articulation are very good and pleasant, but the "S" are just too strong: in order to listen well I tune up the volume but the hissing is awful gets way too loud, overstaging the rest. It is a true dilema wether to listen or not in buses, subways or outdoor walks. I believe it could be edited somehow. If so, please do cut the hissing peaks. It would certainly become more delightful. Thank you so much.

In reply to by Sara

Tom Roche on 10 August 2014

a messsage from our sssponsssor

Sara on Sun, 2014-08-10 19:36: "the hissing is awful gets way too loud"

Unfortunately, Dr Adamssson is, like most philosophers not certified by the Templeton Foundation(tm), the ssspawn of SSSatan. Accordingly, filtering this sssignature of sssecularism from the audio band will require the asssissstance of the Dark Lord himssself.

In reply to by Sara

Peter Adamson on 11 August 2014


Yes, I know what you mean - though I think it is not so much the S's as what is known in the trade as "mouth noise". I have tried various things to eliminate this, it seems to get better once I've been reading into the microphone for longer, so I usually record 3 episodes at one sitting.

Hassan on 10 August 2014

Downfall of Muslim world

Hello and Salam Peter Adamson. I am an avid listner of your incredible podcasts. You have said that philosophy in Islamic world is your area of specialization. We all know that most of the Islamic world is not in a good state since quite a few centuries. Many scholars point out the downfall of Muslim empires started in 15th or 16th century. I just wanted to ask that did this downfall of civilization also reflected in the Muslim philosophy of the last 500 years? Did Muslim philosophers and thinkers pointed out that the Muslim world is heading towards the wrong direction? When did Muslim thought began to stagnate in your opinion?


In reply to by Hassan

Peter Adamson on 10 August 2014


Well, the basic answer to that is: stay tuned! I address that issue directly in some upcoming episodes, and will talk about the way that Muslim thinkers responded to ideas from Europe (sometimes heralding this as a way of reviving the fortunes of Islamic empires). My impression, having written most of these episodes already, is that yes, scholars did lament that their culture was in decline, but actually they probably weren't right to do so. Philosophy definitely changed but it didn't stand still or stagnate. Still, you can judge better maybe once I have gone through this material in the last few episodes on the Islamic world.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Hassan on 10 August 2014

Thanks for your kind reply.

Thanks for your kind reply.


Tom Roche on 4 August 2014

Sadra et al and the western Platonic revival

You've discussed Mulla Sadra's revival of Neoplatonism, but also that, apparently, he was still interacting with problematic texts like the "Theology of Aristotle." Am I missing something? Sadra is born nearly 150 years after the Council of Florence, and almost a century after Ficino publishes retranslations of Plato, the Hermetic Corpus, the Enneads, etc. Soooo ... why weren't guys like Sadra saying, "gotta get me somma that"? Did the Islamic Platonists not know, or not care, or what? Or was what they had already as good as what was coming out of the (former) Constantinople?

In reply to by Tom Roche

Peter Adamson on 5 August 2014

Renaissance texts and Sadra

That's a great question, especially since one could in fact compare the European Renaissance to what happened in the Safavid period, in some respects. I don't fully know the answer but I think basically the problem is lack of linguistic access on the part of the Safavid thinkers to any of the literature you are talking about. In other words, Sadra could read Arabic and Persian but not Greek, Latin or for that matter French or Italian (nor would such texts have existed in Persia at that time), so naturally when he and other thinkers of his time and place turned back to the Greeks they used the Arabic versions they had. Bear in mind that in Europe of the same time they hadn't the foggiest idea of what was happening intellectually in the Islamic world apart from reports by a few intrepid travelers who went out to the Ottoman or Safavid or Mughal empires and made cultural connections in both directions. Actually it looks like the Muslims had a better grasp of what was happening in Europe than the other way around. I talk about this a bit in the next few episodes in fact; but it wasn't enough, really, to transmit whole philosophical traditions back and forth, in either direction.

Grace on 2 August 2014


Can you please extensively focus and elaborate on Leibniz's conception of teleology/final causes when you cover him?

In reply to by Grace

Peter Adamson on 2 August 2014


Well that's getting your requests in early! He's a ways off so you might want to remind me when I get closer, but I think I can promise Leibniz will get a pretry lavish treatment including the issue you mention.


Chris HW on 30 July 2014

New listener just wanting to say thanks

Dr. Adamson,
As a relatively new listener (just into the Plato episodes), I wanted to say thank you for your efforts in producing this. I imagine I'm like many listeners and haven't though much about philosophy since courses as an undergraduate, and this is a welcome return. You make my car rides much more enjoyable.
Since you don't get the immediate feedback of a classroom audience, I thought the least I could do was take a few moments to say thanks.
Keep up the great work.

W Lindsay Wheeler on 14 July 2014

Where is Aesop?

You are missing Aesop. Phaedo 60c; 61b.

"So I availed myself of some of Aesop's fables which were ready to hand and familiar to me and I versified the first of them that suggested themselves."

Aesop is part of the Wisdom tradition in Greece. If Socrates read him, we, if we are philosophers, ought to read him too.

Aesop is a philosopher. Philosophy is "the goal of reality". Aesop's fables are parables that teach "How reality works". Aesop is a reader of nature and hence fablizes things that happen in reality in order to teach lessons. He does belong in the History of Philosophy. I hope that you will include him.

Since you have numbered your podcasts already, I recommend A, B, C for the much earlier philosophers that are missing from your record.

In reply to by W Lindsay Wheeler

Peter Adamson on 15 July 2014


I actually did mention him in passing at the start of the episode on Aristotle's Rhetoric.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Yannick Kilberger on 18 July 2014

You should totally do special

You should totally do special episodes Peter.

- The Seven Sages
- The Historiographers (Laërce, Plutarch, Cicero etc.). Yeah I know you already did something like this for History Podcasters but I thought, you know, something like 2 episodes would be better than a mere 12 minutes.
- The Orphic Conspiracy (one should count how many times it crops up in Russell)
- Homer vs Hesiod : who gets the tripod?
- A day in Plato's Academy (could be great as a crossover with twilight histories)
- A day in... (it's become a franchise, you get "a day at the Lyceum", "Epicurus' garden and so on...)

The best thing now would be to embrace the wife, say goodbye to the kids and close yourself up in your study for the next 10 years and just podcast away...

W. Lindsay Wheeler on 7 July 2014

The Case of the Barefoot Socrates

I see that there is never ending skepticism in regards to the Protagoras statement of Socrates. No one is going to accept that Crete and Sparta are the home of Greek philosophy.

Then answer this question: Why was Socrates going barefoot?

Here is Part I of my book "The Case of the Barefoot Socrates". My computer broke down and have not funds to fix it and because the skepticism is still there, I have uploaded this to…

This is the last nail to the coffin for skepticism regarding Doric Crete and Sparta as the home of Greek philosophy.

S.R. on 3 July 2014

The Vanished Wall

First, thank you for all the amazing podcasts Mr. Adamson. Secondly, really, thank you. Before i start mentioning why i am so thankful, let me write a bit about myself and excuse me for my probably poor grammar "english is not my first language". Never did i, until recently, expect to fall in love with philosophy. I was always the type of person to be somewhat on my on mind. Never learning in school, because i rather learned by questioning others or experiment myself, instead of just memorising like schools sadly ask for nowadays, i was always in awe with the world, but it seemed like no one else was. Additionally i did not grow up in a very "friendly" area, or rather, this area is not packed with people going "far" in life. Because of my ever hungry curiosity i always looked behind the courtain of the world, finding out how alarming our world actually is, while no one seemed to see, because its somehow more important to know what kind of jacket some famous person was wearing. Accepting the fate of being just a man, i just got a simple job with my lousy graduation. Using the wonderful invention called the internet, i used to browse and spent my time on entertainment, boards or random wikis, the time was flying. One day i accidently came across that quote you certainly know "You cant step into the same river twice" or similar. First thinking, "What nonsense", but as i lied in the bed, i was absolutely stunned that this was the kind of paradox way of thinking i always had in mind myself, so the next day i was looking where this quote came from. Basically drowning in history, because i always kind of was interested in romans and greeks, i found this site. "Philosophy? Isn't that the way too obscure thing, where old man just talk about crazy ideas that does not matter? Well lets just listen to Heraclitus". Half right about the "crazy" *laugh*, i found the other side philosophy, the genius side somehow kept hidden from everyone, the side that is infinitely interesting and never ending. I never thought i would find myself here, realising that philosophy is the place i always searched for, the kind of talk no one was able to talk with me, whishing i could have been living in these times of socrates and plato, maybe discussing with them. Listening to your podcasts, then reading books about philosophy, history, how our world functions and could function, i began to even read into fields i had absolutely no interest in like biology and physics. It felt like i was just drifting my life away before, for the first time being actually conscious, like i can be and learn everything from now on. You were one of the persons that led me to this place, and for that i thank you. While i am sad that my life before now feels like wasted, i am happy that given my background and distractions in our time, i could acquire this kind of understanding while i am still 22 years old and have time enough to reconstruct my life. At the moment i am regraduating school "this is possible in my country" and will be able to study maybe Architecture or some different interesting field, maybe even Philosophy or Physics.

Important is, that this place was one of the sparks to change my life, destroying the wall that was right in front of me, and probably for many different people too. Sincere thanks.


Abdelrahman Barakat on 2 July 2014

Translating podcast.

Hello Peter,

I really enjoy listening to your podcast, I find it very interesting and informative, I'm thinking of translating it into arabic (written) blog if it's ok with you.

In reply to by Abdelrahman Barakat

Peter Adamson on 2 July 2014


Well, the scripts are coming out as books so if you want to do a written version in Arabic it would make more sense to talk to the press about licensing an Arabic translation. If you are interested in pursuing that please send me an email about it. ( Glad you like the series by the way!

Constantin on 2 July 2014


Hello Peter,
I came across your podcast through a rather random search for good things to listen to while spending way too much time behind the wheel, and what a find it was! I used to have a rather vivid interest in philosophy in my undergraduate years which I neglected later on because of daily necessities. Having settled in nicely in my day job I was recently on the prowl for the juice of life again. What can I say? Now I am considering the options of going back to school for a M.A. in philosophy and it is partially your "fault". So thanks a lot and please, keep up the excellent work. Every new podcast of yours makes my day.
All the best,

In reply to by Constantin

Peter Adamson on 2 July 2014

Back to not so basics

That's great! Pretty much the definition of "mission accomplished" from my point of view. I hope the MA goes well, if you decide to pursue it!

W. Lindsay Wheeler on 1 July 2014

Sparta origin of Greek philosophy

I see that Peter Adamson has just published a book on "Classical Philosophy". The blurb mentions Socrates and Plato, but not the founders of philosophy--the Doric Greeks of Crete and Laconia. Is not Mr. Adamson up-to-date? Socrates said as much in the Protagoras. Published in London is a paper called "Doric Crete and Sparta, the home of Greek philosophy". So I am wondering is Peter Adamson really knowledgeable about "Classical Philosophy"? I'm wondering why "philosophers" are not knowledgeable about their own foundation and that as Socrates says, "philosophy holds always to the same". So I am wondering about this.

In reply to by Tom Roche

W. Lindsay Wheeler on 2 July 2014

Sparta is the home of Greek philosophy

Yes. I am the author of that paper that was published in 2007 and yet I see book after book published on Greek philosophy and all bypass this. I mean Socrates is quite clear in the Protagoras that Sparta and Crete are the home of Greek philosophy. He does this with two personal experiences and historical research. The Republic of Plato is based on the Spartan Republic. The Timaeus backs up the Republic and Plato's Laws only has a Cretan and a Spartan as interlocutors. As the Republic mentions that those who use "the principles of nature are wise", those principles of nature, i.e. the Natural Law, was in use by the Doric Greeks.

If philosophy is about knowing First Causes, why doesn't philosophy know its own cause of itself?!? If one doesn't understand that the Doric Greeks invented and created philosophy, then one is not a philosopher or know philosophy. There is a lot of junk out there. That paper "Doric Crete and Sparta, the home of Greek philosophy" has just destroyed 400 years of modern sophistry. There are sophists and then there are philosophers. There are very very few true philosophers.

In reply to by W. Lindsay Wheeler

Yannick Kilberger on 2 July 2014

Google Book's Anti-Spartan Propaganda

Alas there is a long tradition of Spartan neglect : to quote from William Stearns Davis - Professor of Ancient History in the University of Minnesota - in A day in Old Athens (1910): "Sparta,
for example, has left us some noble lessons in simple living
and devoted patriotism, but hardly a single great poet, and
certainly never a philosopher or a sculptor."

What can one do in the face of such harsh words?

In reply to by Yannick Kilberger

Peter Adamson on 2 July 2014

Crete and Sparta

I have to admit this proposal is a new one to me. However, while I don't know about Crete I would agree that Sparta was a major influence on Plato - he clearly has their constitution in mind in the Republic. He seems to have admired Spartan culture and seen it as superior, at least in some respects, to Athenian culture. In fact I think I might have mentioned that at some point in the podcast. But of course it's a long way from that to the claim that the Spartans invented philosophy (and bear in mind to give them priority you have to beat not Socrates and Plato, but the Milesians!).

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Yannick Kilberger on 2 July 2014

Daniel Robinson is

Daniel Robinson is illuminating in his interpretation as to Socrates' fascination with Sparta, in the Great Ideas of Philosophy audio lectures by The Teaching Company. More precisely Lecture 7, Socrates on the examined life.

However he fails to acknowledge the Spartan claim to the invention of Philosophy.

In reply to by Yannick Kilberger

Nigel Preston-Jones on 2 July 2014

Spartan outlook

"Daniel Robinson...fails to acknowledge the Spartan claim to the invention of Philosophy."
Those Spartans would have known how to deal with such an historic slight. As Groucho Marx said in A Night at the Opera (1935): "Of course you know this means war!"

In reply to by Peter Adamson

W. Lindsay Wheeler on 3 July 2014

The Spartan Republic

In order to know that Crete is the home of Greek philosophy, one must understand the true nature of their form of government. Plato talks of the necessity of three sovereigns and again a Three in One paradigm. By looking at the Spartan Republic, (google it {another paper of mine}) one can see the "principles of nature" at work. The principles of nature is the Natural Law. The Spartan Republic follows the Cretan republics. Only the Cretans got rid of their kings in the 6th century. The Doric Republics are a sign that the Doric Greeks had philosophy way before the Milesians. In the paper "Doric Crete and Sparta, the home of Greek philosophy" I point out that Thales went to Crete!

To further understand what philosophy is I point to my paper "Macrocosm/Microcosm in Doric Thought".…
Only by understanding Macrocosm/Microcosm can one understand what a politeia is.

In reply to by W. Lindsay Wheeler

Yannick Kilberger on 1 July 2014

And the giraffe is out of the bag.

Everybody knew yet we were also considerate enough not to point out Peter's obvious deficiencies. I fear this puts the entire podcast in jeopardy...

In reply to by Yannick Kilberger

W. Lindsay Wheeler on 2 July 2014

Buy the book?

Why buy a book that is fundamentally flawed that doesn't state the true origins of Classical Philosophy? Is not Philosophy a science? Then, if Science is "the condition of what is", then philosophy should state its origins truthfully. If one doesn't know the origins of a thing, doesn't know it at all.

In reply to by W. Lindsay Wheeler

Yannick Kilberger on 2 July 2014

Rem acu tetigisti my friend

This is exactly the problem with a delusional character such as Peter: he has ready made answers for all of your objections. He will begin by stating that Philosophy is neither science nor religion, add that science is the study of relations while Philosophy produces concepts and will wrap things up à la Socrate saying that nobody ever knows anything entirely and that knowledge must be understood in terms of familiarity.

Quid faciem? as Molière would have it...

Bahman on 1 July 2014


Dear Peter,

Thank you for your commitment in building this website and your efforts to keep the content streaming. I think this is THE most erudite site on the internet, to cultivate our humanism, in the Renaissance use of the word. Your attention to detail, your fascinating story lines, your never-ending threads are incredible! You are, without question, the most influential philosopher of ancient and medieval discipline in our time. As a lover of classical Persian and ancient thought myself, I am just thrilled by this undertaking and the wealth of information I have learned from you. Your website is the ONLY one I have bookmarked on my computer and smart phone. Every other website is just drab advertising bedizened with pictures of a random Kardashian...

Thank you again for this. I would give anything just to know the titles on your bookshelf. What do you read? What has formed you as a scholar? What is your bookmarked website? How does one cultivate the intellect of a Peter Adamson? Where should our society turn to as we run away from social media, from selfies of dinner plates and YouTube cat videos that infest our collective thought? Here you have a website where Epicurus and Rumi can sit side by side. Why has this not been done before? How can we contribute so this can continue unfettered? Thanks the Leverhume Trust in seeing this value!

I have recommended your site to so many as an example that hope is not lost. That the library at Alexandria did not perish. I look periodically at your links and pray you can guide us to even more resources that can cultivate the garden of our mind, and realize the selfsame uniqueness of human thought. The other resources and links are no where near as valuable as the HOPWAG. But surely, you must know of other sites that feed your mind. I got a subscription to the Cambridge Companions Series (at your recommendation) for all their content, and still felt I learned more from your 22 minute podcasts.

I hope this posting does not smack of wanton hyperbole. Your website is inspiring and a tremendous service for philologists and philosophers alike. I believe very strongly in your endeavors and congratulate you for expanding our collective thought.

Best wishes

In reply to by Bahman

Peter Adamson on 1 July 2014


Gosh, thanks! It's great that you enjoy the podcast so much. As for the titles on my shelf, a lot of them are just the readings I suggest on each episode page of the podcast - and in the face of such effusive praise I should emphasize that the podcasts are always drawing on work of other scholars which has made it possible for me to survey all this material.

Crystal on 30 June 2014

Enjoying the show

Hi. I just wanted to let you know how much I've been enjoying the podcast. I only discovered it recently, and am currently in the Late Antiquity section (Plotinus). I sometimes listen to episodes more than once, to really absorb them. I particularly enjoy the interview shows. Hope it continues for quite a while. Thanks very much.

In reply to by Crystal

Peter Adamson on 1 July 2014

The show goes on

Thanks! Hope you stick with the series and continue enjoying it.

Yannick Kilberger on 29 June 2014

Spam Attack

Is it me or the site gets targeted by spammers? I keep receiving mails about new comments by the fruitiest pseudos ever, and when I get there there is not any message... Am I the only one?