Ethics

5 - Old Man River: Heraclitus

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Peter discusses the Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, and tries to discover whether it's possible to step into the same river twice.

9 - The Final Cut: Democritus and Leucippus

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In this episode Peter discusses the Atomists Democritus and Leucippus, and how they were responding to the ideas of Parmenides and his followers.

15 - Socrates without Plato: the Accounts of Aristophanes and Xenophon

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In the first of several episodes on Socrates, Peter discusses his portrayals in "The Clouds" of Aristophanes and in the works of the historian Xenophon.

16 - Method Man: Plato's Socrates

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In this episode, the second of three devoted to Socrates, Peter Adamson of King’s College London discusses the way he is portrayed in the early dialogues of Plato, especially the “Apology.” Topics include Socratic ignorance and Socrates' claim that no one does wrong willingly.

19 - Know Thyself: Two Unloved Platonic Dialogues

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Peter discusses virtue, self knowledge and some bad arguments in two lesser-known dialogues of Plato: the Charmides and the Euthydemus.

20 - Virtue Meets its Match: Plato's Gorgias

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Peter discusses one of Plato’s great dialogues on ethics, the Gorgias, in which Socrates compares rhetoric to pastry-making and squares off against the immoralist Callicles.

44 - The Goldilocks Theory: Aristotle's Ethics

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Peter looks at one of Aristotle’s most popular works, the Nicomachean Ethics, and its ideas about happiness and virtue.

45 - The Second Self: Aristotle On Pleasure And Friendship

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Peter continues to look at the Nicomachean Ethics, discussing Aristotle’s views about the role of pleasure and friendship in the good life.

46 - Dominic Scott on Aristotle's Ethics

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Peter chats with Dominic Scott of the University of Virginia, and talks about Aristotle's audience, method and conclusions in the Nicomachean Ethics.

52 - Fighting Over Socrates: the Hellenistic Schools

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Peter introduces the Hellenistic philosophical schools – the Cynics, Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics – and asks how they responded to earlier thinkers.

53 - Beware of the Philosopher: the Cynics

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In this episode we unleash the most outrageous ancient philosophers, Diogenes and the Cynics, and their quest to “deface the currency” by exposing the hypocrisy of Greek society.

54 - Instant Gratification: the Cyrenaics

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Peter considers Aristippus and the Cyrenaics, a group of hedonistic philosophers who were in touch with their feelings… but nothing else.

56 - Am I Bothered?: Epicurean Ethics

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Epicurus is infamous for thinking that pleasure is the good. But surprisingly, he says the highest pleasure is mere absence of pain. In this episode, Peter enjoys the challenge of trying to understand why.

63 - Like a Rolling Stone: Stoic Ethics

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Peter considers two of the Stoics’ most challenging ideas, a determinism that leaves room for moral responsibility, and the ideal of an ethically perfect sage.

65 - Anger Management: Seneca

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Peter starts to explore the Roman Stoics, beginning with Seneca and the Stoic attitude towards the emotions.

66 - You Can Chain My Leg: Epictetus

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The greatest of the Roman Stoics is Epictetus, arguably the first thinker to discuss the nature of human will, and author of some of the most powerful and demanding ethical writings in history.

67 - The Philosopher King: Marcus Aurelius

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The life and thought of Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and author of the classic text of Stoic self-examination, the Meditations.

68 - John Sellars on the Roman Stoics

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Peter chats about Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus with John Sellars, an expert on Roman Stoicism and the reception of Stoicism in the early modern era.

90 - A Decorated Corpse: Plotinus on Matter and Evil

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Plotinus struggles to explain the presence of suffering, evil and ugliness in a world caused by purely good principles – and tells us what role we should play in that world.

107 - Practice Makes Perfect: Christian Asceticism

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Christian ascetics like Antony, Macrina and Evagrius create a new ethical ideal by pushing the human capacity for self-control to its limits.

114 - Sarah Byers on Augustine's Ethics

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Peter speaks with Sarah Byers about the Stoic influence on Augustine's ethics and theory of action.

134 - Balancing Acts: Arabic Ethical Literature

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Drawing on Galen and Aristotle, philosophers from al-Kindi to Miskawayh compose ethical works designed us to achieve health in soul, as well as body.

159 - With All Your Heart: Ethics and Judaism

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Baḥya Ibn Paquda and Maimonides explore the ethical dimension of the Jewish scriptures and legal tradition.

173 - For the Sake of Argument: Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī

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The hugely influential Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī weaves Avicenna and Islamic theology into complex dialectical treatments of time, God, the soul, and ethics.

209. It’s the Thought that Counts: Abelard’s Ethics

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Peter Abelard sets out an innovative ethical theory that identifies intentions as the core of moral life.

229. Do the Right Thing: Thirteenth Century Ethics

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The scholastics explore Aristotle’s ethical teaching and the concept of moral conscience.

245. What Comes Naturally: Ethics in Albert and Aquinas

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Natural and supernatural virtue and happiness in Thomas Aquinas and his teacher, Albert the Great.

13. Grand Illusion: Dharma and Deception in the Mahabharata

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The great Hindu epic Mahābhārata explores moral dilemmas and the permissibilty of lying, against the background of the ethical concept of dharma.

15. Mostly Harmless: Non-Violence

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Vegetarianism and non-violence (ahimsa) in ancient Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

256. Frequently Asked Questions: Henry of Ghent

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Henry of Ghent, now little known but a leading scholastic in the late 13th century, makes influential proposals on all the debates of his time.

262. On Command: Scotus on Ethics

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Scotus argues that morality is a matter of freely choosing to follow God’s freely issued commands.

271. Do As You’re Told: Ockham on Ethics and Political Philosophy

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William of Ockham on freedom of action and freedom of thought.

287. Down to the Ground: Meister Eckhart

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The scholastic and mystic Meister Eckhart sets out his daring speculations about God and humankind in both Latin and German.

290. Martin Pickavé on Emotions in Medieval Philosophy

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Martin Pickavé returns to the podcast to talk about theories of the emotions in Aquinas, Scotus and Wodeham.

300a. The Relevance of Ancient Philosophy Today

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Three guests to celebrate 300 episodes! Rachel Barney, Christof Rapp, and Mark Kalderon join Peter to discuss the importance of ancient philosophy for today's philosophers.

4. Pyramid Schemes: Philosophy in Ancient Egypt

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Ancient Egyptian figures and writings including the Pyramid Texts, Imhotep, and the "first monotheist" Akhenaten reflect on the nature of things and questions of morality.

5. Father Knows Best: Moral and Political Philosophy in the Instructions

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Ethical reflection in ancient Egyptian grave inscriptions and in works of moral advice, such as the Maxims of Ptahhotep and the Instructions named for Amenemope, Ani, and Merikare.

6. Heated Exchanges: Philosophy in Egyptian Narratives and Dialogues

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Demands for ma’at (justice or truth) and a confrontation with the soul, in the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant and Dispute Between a Man and his Ba.

9. In You I Take Shelter: Zera Yacob

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The 17th century Ethiopian rationalist Zera Yacob, hailed as the first modern Africana philosopher.

10. Think for Yourself: Walda Heywat

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Walda Heywat’s reaction to the thought of his teacher Zera Yacob, and the dispute over the authenticity of these two Ethiopian philosophers.

307. Consul of the Philosophers: Michael Psellos

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Michael Psellos and his attitude towards pagan philosophy and the political life.

314. Katerina Ierodiakonou on Byzantine Commentaries

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Katerina Ierodiakonou discusses Byzantine commentators on Aristotle, including Michael of Ephesus.

20. I Am Because We Are: Communalism in African Ethics and Politics

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Emphasis on the value of community as a major theme in African philosophy.

327. Michele Trizio on Byzantine and Latin Medieval Philosophy

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The series on Byzantium concludes as guest Michele Trizio discusses the mutual influence of Byzantium and Latin Christendom.

35. Letters from the Heart: Ignatius Sancho and Benjamin Banneker

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Ignatius Sancho and Benjamin Banneker make their mark on the history of Africana thought through letters that reflect on the power of sentiment.

333. Difficult to Be Good: Humanist Ethics

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Humanists from Bruni and Valla to Pontano and Castiglione ask whether ancient ethical teachings can still help us learn how to live.

334. Chance Encounters: Reviving Hellenistic Philosophy

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The rediscovery of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Sextus Empiricus spreads challenging ideas about chance, atomism, and skepticism.

335. Sabrina Ebbersmeyer on Emotions in Renaissance Philosophy

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An interview with Sabrina Ebbersmeyer about the relation of emotion to reason and the body, and panpsychism, in the Renaissance.

336. We Built This City: Christine de Pizan

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Christine de Pizan's political philosophy, epistemology, and the refutation of misogyny in her "City of Ladies".

44. Religion and Pure Principles: Maria W. Stewart

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Maria W. Stewart’s public addresses bring the concerns of African American women into the struggle against racial prejudice.

351. Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli

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Leading Machiavelli scholar Quentin Skinner joins Peter to discuss morality, history, and religion in the Prince and the Discourses.

354. Greed is Good: Economics in the Italian Renaissance

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Leon Battista Alberti, Benedetto Cotrugli, and Poggio Bracciolini grapple with the moral and conceptual problems raised by the prospect of people getting filthy rich.

357. David Lines on Aristotle's Ethics in the Renaissance

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An interview with David Lines on the Renaissance reception of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.

65. Separate Fingers, One Hand: Booker T. Washington

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Was Booker T. Washington’s “accommodationist” approach to race relations a failure to stand up to injustice or a cunning strategy for incremental change?

373. Lords of Language: Northern Humanism

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Rudolph Agricola, Juan Luis Vives and other humanist scholars spread the study of classical antiquity across Europe and mock the technicalities of scholastic philosophy.

376. Books That Last Forever: Erasmus

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The “learned piety” of Desiderius Erasmus, the greatest figure of northern humanism.

377. One Way or Another: Northern Scholasticism

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Trends in Aristotelian philosophy in northern and eastern Europe in the fifteenth century, featuring discussion of the “Wegestreit” and the nominalist theology of Gabriel Biel.

381. More Lutheran than Luther: Philip Melanchthon

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Luther’s close ally Melanchthon uses his knowledge of ancient philosophy and rhetoric in the service of the Reformation.

How Should We Treat Them? Animal Ethics

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In this third of four bonus episodes on animals and Islamic philosophy, Peter looks at texts from the Islamic world arguing for benevolence towards animals.

These episodes draw on work done with the support of the project “Animals in the Philosophy of the Islamic World”, which has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC), under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 786762).

385. I Too Can Ask Questions: Protestant Scholasticism

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In a surprise twist, some Protestant thinkers embrace the methods of scholasticism, and even find something to admire in the work of Catholic authors like Aquinas.

392. John Sellars on Lipsius and Early Modern Stoicism

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John Sellars returns to the podcast to discuss Lipsius' work on Seneca and the early modern Neo-Stoic movement.

98. Meena Krishnamurthy on Martin Luther King Jr

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An interview about the role of the emotions, including anger and feelings of dignity, in the non-violent protest campaign of King.

99. American Nightmare: Malcolm X

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The life and career of Malcolm X up to 1963, with a focus on his separatist black nationalism and his critique of non-violent protest.

111. A Kwanzaa Story: Maulana Karenga

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The Pan-Africanist philosopher Maulana Karenga defends the importance of cultural revolution and invents the holiday Kwanzaa.

411. Pen Pals: Later French Humanism

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Joseph Scaliger, Isaac Casaubon, and Guillaume du Vair grapple with history and the events of their own day.

412. Not Matter, But Me: Michel de Montaigne

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In his Essays Montaigne uses wit, insight, and humanist training to tackle his favorite subject: Montaigne.

423. Heaven-Bred Poesy: Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser

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We begin to look at Elizabethan literature, as Sidney argues that poetry is superior to philosophy, and philosophy is put to use in Spenser’s Fairie Queene.

425. Patrick Gray on Shakespeare

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We're joined by Patrick Gray to discuss Shakespeare's knowledge of philosophy, his ethics, and his influence on such thinkers as Hegel.

426. A Face Without a Heart: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Individualism

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How the Renaissance turn towards individual identity is reflected in Shakespeare's most famous play. 

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