Ethics

5 - Old Man River: Heraclitus

Posted on 28 December 2010

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

36 comments
9 - The Final Cut: Democritus and Leucippus

Posted on 16 January 2011

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

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

Posted on 23 January 2011

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.

13 comments
16 - Method Man: Plato's Socrates

Posted on 23 January 2011

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.

46 comments
19 - Know Thyself: Two Unloved Platonic Dialogues

Posted on 1 February 2011

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

19 comments
20 - Virtue Meets its Match: Plato's Gorgias

Posted on 6 February 2011

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.

19 comments
44 - The Goldilocks Theory: Aristotle's Ethics

Posted on 4 September 2011

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

15 comments
45 - The Second Self: Aristotle On Pleasure And Friendship

Posted on 11 September 2011

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

10 comments
46 - Dominic Scott on Aristotle's Ethics

Posted on 18 September 2011

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

25 comments
52 - Fighting Over Socrates: the Hellenistic Schools

Posted on 30 October 2011

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

10 comments
53 - Beware of the Philosopher: the Cynics

Posted on 6 November 2011

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.

16 comments
54 - Instant Gratification: the Cyrenaics

Posted on 13 November 2011

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

4 comments
56 - Am I Bothered?: Epicurean Ethics

Posted on 27 November 2011

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.

10 comments
63 - Like a Rolling Stone: Stoic Ethics

Posted on 15 January 2012

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.

59 comments
65 - Anger Management: Seneca

Posted on 29 January 2012

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

10 comments
66 - You Can Chain My Leg: Epictetus

Posted on 5 February 2012

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.

22 comments
67 - The Philosopher King: Marcus Aurelius

Posted on 12 February 2012

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

13 comments
68 - John Sellars on the Roman Stoics

Posted on 19 February 2012

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.

10 comments
90 - A Decorated Corpse: Plotinus on Matter and Evil

Posted on 22 July 2012

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.

27 comments
107 - Practice Makes Perfect: Christian Asceticism

Posted on 16 December 2012

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

12 comments
114 - Sarah Byers on Augustine's Ethics

Posted on 3 February 2013

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

18 comments
134 - Balancing Acts: Arabic Ethical Literature

Posted on 23 June 2013

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.

4 comments
159 - With All Your Heart: Ethics and Judaism

Posted on 19 January 2014

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

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

Posted on 27 April 2014

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

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

Posted on 31 January 2015

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

10 comments
229. Do the Right Thing: Thirteenth Century Ethics

Posted on 21 June 2015

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

13 comments
245. What Comes Naturally: Ethics in Albert and Aquinas

Posted on 17 January 2016

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

0 comments
13. Grand Illusion: Dharma and Deception in the Mahabharata

Posted on 6 March 2016

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

4 comments
15. Mostly Harmless: Non-Violence

Posted on 3 April 2016

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

10 comments
256. Frequently Asked Questions: Henry of Ghent

Posted on 19 June 2016

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.

10 comments
262. On Command: Scotus on Ethics

Posted on 8 October 2016

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

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

Posted on 12 February 2017

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

8 comments
287. Down to the Ground: Meister Eckhart

Posted on 22 October 2017

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

7 comments
290. Martin Pickavé on Emotions in Medieval Philosophy

Posted on 3 December 2017

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

7 comments
300a. The Relevance of Ancient Philosophy Today

Posted on 22 April 2018

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.

8 comments
4. Pyramid Schemes: Philosophy in Ancient Egypt

Posted on 13 May 2018

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.

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

Posted on 26 May 2018

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.

0 comments
6. Heated Exchanges: Philosophy in Egyptian Narratives and Dialogues

Posted on 9 June 2018

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.

3 comments
9. In You I Take Shelter: Zera Yacob

Posted on 22 July 2018

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

2 comments
10. Think for Yourself: Walda Heywat

Posted on 2 September 2018

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

0 comments
307. Consul of the Philosophers: Michael Psellos

Posted on 9 September 2018

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

11 comments
314. Katerina Ierodiakonou on Byzantine Commentaries

Posted on 16 December 2018

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

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

Posted on 20 January 2019

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

3 comments
327. Michele Trizio on Byzantine and Latin Medieval Philosophy

Posted on 16 June 2019

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

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

Posted on 15 September 2019

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

5 comments
333. Difficult to Be Good: Humanist Ethics

Posted on 6 October 2019

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

0 comments
334. Chance Encounters: Reviving Hellenistic Philosophy

Posted on 20 October 2019

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

7 comments
335. Sabrina Ebbersmeyer on Emotions in Renaissance Philosophy

Posted on 3 November 2019

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

1 comments
336. We Built This City: Christine de Pizan

Posted on 17 November 2019

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

3 comments
44. Religion and Pure Principles: Maria W. Stewart

Posted on 19 January 2020

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

0 comments
351. Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli

Posted on 14 June 2020

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

5 comments
354. Greed is Good: Economics in the Italian Renaissance

Posted on 26 July 2020

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

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

Posted on 11 October 2020

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

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

Posted on 13 December 2020

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

0 comments
373. Lords of Language: Northern Humanism

Posted on 23 May 2021

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

8 comments
376. Books That Last Forever: Erasmus

Posted on 4 July 2021

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

6 comments
377. One Way or Another: Northern Scholasticism

Posted on 18 July 2021

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.

0 comments
381. More Lutheran than Luther: Philip Melanchthon

Posted on 10 October 2021

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

4 comments
How Should We Treat Them? Animal Ethics

Posted on 13 November 2021

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).

0 comments
385. I Too Can Ask Questions: Protestant Scholasticism

Posted on 5 December 2021

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.

3 comments
392. John Sellars on Lipsius and Early Modern Stoicism

Posted on 12 March 2022

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

0 comments
98. Meena Krishnamurthy on Martin Luther King Jr

Posted on 17 April 2022

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

0 comments
99. American Nightmare: Malcolm X

Posted on 1 May 2022

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.

3 comments