Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does the podcast cover non-Western philosophy?
Why, yes! Starting in September 2015, I launched a series of episodes on philosophy in India, written together with expert Jonardon Ganeri. These appeared in alternating weeks with episodes on European philosophy. All episodes of course appear here on the website. Note that the Indian philosophy episodes appear on a second RSS feed (http://hopwag2.podbean.com/feed/) so that the narratives don’t get jumbled together – this means that you need to subscribe to that feed separately. Starting in April 2018 this same feed has hosted a series on Africana philosophy, co-authored with Chike Jeffers - these episodes are available here on the website. The plan is to keep covering non-Western philosophy after that, moving on to a series on ancient China with the help of co-author Karyn Lai.
Why, yes! The interviews have through the miracle of technology and a lot of help from volunteer listeners been turned into transcripts. Just click on the link for "Transcripts" at the bottom of the website page. The scripted episodes (i.e. the non-interviews) are are appearing as a series of books with Oxford University Press. In part to avoid undermining the book series, I am not making scripts available informally so you will have to wait for the books to appear. But if you only want a transcript of an episode or few episodes you're particularly interested and don't want the whole thing, as it were, just contact me by email (email@example.com) and I'd be happy to send that along.
Previous and planned publication dates of this book series are as follows (note that most of these have also appeared as paperbacks):
“Classical Philosophy,” taking the story up to Aristotle: 2014
“Philosophy in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds”: summer 2015
“Philosophy in the Islamic World”: 2016
“Medieval Philosophy”: 2019
"Classical Indian Philosophy" co-authored with Jonardon Ganeri: 2019
“Byzantine and Renaissance Philosophy”: 2022
"Africana Philosophy: Precolonial, Slavery, and Diaspora" co-authored with Chike Jeffers: 2024.
With more books to come after that on Africana Philosophy in the 20th Century, the Reformation, and then early Modern philosophy, and (co-authored with Karyn Lai) classical China.
3. What does the slogan “without any gaps” mean?
Basically it means that I cover minor figures as well as major ones, and try to tell a continuous story. I also take it to mean paying attention to material that is arguably not “philosophical,” but is at least of importance to the history of philosophy, such as natural science, theology and mysticism, as well as a fair amount of plain old historical context. On the blog I put up a series of “rules” for doing the history of philosophy, spelling out this methodology and its motivations at greater length. Two important consequences of the approach are that I am covering women in the history of philosophy as much as possible, and looking at non-Western cultures (apart from the aforementioned series on Indian and Africana philosophy, Islamic philosophy has already been dealt with in immense detail).
4. What is that music you’re using to introduce and end each episode?
The music changes from one historical period to another. The links and sources of the various clips are posted here.
5. Would you recommend any other podcasts?
Why, yes! That same links page includes a number of suggestions.
6. Can we follow you on Twitter and Facebook?
No one has ever asked me this, actually, but just in case: why, yes! Here:
7. How far will you keep going with this series?
No idea. I originally thought that I might stop with Kant, but nowadays I tend to think that the ambition should be to go into the twentieth century. In any case I have no immediate plans to stop.
8. Will you please add an episode on that thing you missed, that was really important and you should have covered it before?
No, sorry. I don’t want to move backwards and cover things out of chronological order. The books do give me a chance to add material to close unintentional gaps though, so if you get your suggestion in before it is too late I might be persuaded to add a chapter to the published version.
9. Will the books include all the episodes or only a selection?
All and only the scripted episodes – plus any material I decide to add for the book version. The books don’t include the interviews, for various reasons; the main one is that that would put a lot of pressure on the interview guests. And it’s hard enough to persuade them sometimes as it is!
10. Is it ok for listeners to post the .mp3 files elsewhere, like on YouTube?
Go for it – the more people hear them the better, and I am not trying to make money off them or anything. It would be nice though if you included a link to this website.
11. I’ve listened to all the podcasts, is there anything else you’ve done I can find on the internet?
Ok, no one has ever asked me this either. But just in case, you can find me as a guest on numerous other podcasts, which are listed here.
I also filmed a few short videos you can find on YouTube, called “History of Philosophy’s Greatest Hits.”
12. When will you get to [name of favorite modern philosopher]?
We are just in the midst of a long series on the Reformation which will take the story up to about 1600. So if you are waiting for, say, Descartes, Hume or Leibniz you will have to wait a year or two yet, but it will be worth it because having covered the Renaissance and Reformation we will have lots of context for understanding the early modern period.
13. When you (finally) get there, will you cover [name of favorite modern philosopher]?
Almost certainly! (No gaps.) But if you’re worried I won’t because the philosopher you have in mind is relatively obscure, by all means make suggestions. I keep notes on listener requests for periods I haven’t reached yet and have often included figures in the series because of encouragement from listeners.
14. What's with all the theology? I thought this was a philosophy podcast!
I discuss this issue at length in a blog post. The basic answer though is that even if you don't care about religion or theology as such, you have to take it seriously if you want to do the history of philosophy. This is because so many philosophers throughout history have done philosophy in a theological context; it is also because theological discussions turn out to have philosophical implications that can be "exported" from their original, theological context. Good examples from the medieval era (which is the most theological of all periods of philosophy) include Abelard's account of sameness and difference, which was developed within the context of explaining the Trinity, epistemological discussions inspired by the problem of how we can know God, the revolutions in modality devised by Avicenna and Scotus in order to explain the sense in which God is necessary and how He can act freely, the views on substances that emerged in the context of discussing the Eucharist and Incarnation, and theories of aesthetic representation put forward in Byzantium as part of the Iconoclast controversy.