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.

11 - All You Need is Love, and Five Other Things: Empedocles

Posted on 16 January 2011

Peter discusses the Presocratic philosopher Empedocles and his principles: Love, Strife, and the four “roots,” or elements.

39 - Form and Function: Aristotle's Four Causes

Posted on 26 June 2011

Aristotle's Physics presents four types of cause: formal, material, final and efficient. Peter looks at all four, and asks whether evolutionary theory undermines final causes in nature.

55 - The Constant Gardener: Epicurus and his Principles

Posted on 20 November 2011

Peter begins to examine the philosophy of Epicurus, focusing on his empiricist theory of knowledge and his atomic physics.

58 - Reaping the Harvest: Lucretius

Posted on 11 December 2011

Lucretius’ poem On the Nature of Things sets Epicureanism into verse. Peter takes a look at its treatment of the soul, free will and the swerve and human society.

62 - We Didn’t Start the Fire: the Stoics on Nature

Posted on 8 January 2012

Peter looks at the Stoic idea of god, a providential fire that pervades nature, and considers their idea of a deterministic and eternally recurring cosmos.

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.

121 - This is a Test: the Mu'tazilites

Posted on 24 March 2013

A first look at the philosophical contributions of Islamic theology (kalām) and its political context, focusing on the Mu'tazilites Abū l-Hudhayl and al-Naẓẓām.

126 - High Five: al-Rāzī

Posted on 28 April 2013

The doctor and philosopher Abū Bakr al-Rāzī sets out a daring philosophical theory involving five eternal principles: God, soul, matter, time and place.

155 - Matter over Mind: Ibn Gabirol

Posted on 22 December 2013

Neoplatonism returns in Ibn Gabirol (known in Latin as Avicebron), who controversially holds that everything apart from God has both matter and form.

263. One in a Million: Scotus on Universals and Individuals

Posted on 23 October 2016

Scotus explains how things can share a nature in common while being unique individuals.

37. The Whole Story: Vaiśeṣika on Complexity and Causation

Posted on 5 March 2017

The Vaiśeṣika response to Buddhist skepticism about wholes made up of parts.

40. Mind out of Matter: Materialist Theories of the Self

Posted on 16 April 2017

Pāyasi and the Cārvāka anticipate modern-day theories of mind by arguing that there is no independent soul; rather thought emerges from the body.

280. Get to the Point: Fourteenth Century Physics

Posted on 18 June 2017

Ockham, Buridan, Oresme and Francis of Marchia explore cosmology, atomism, and the impetus involved in motion.

299. Robert Pasnau on Substance in Scholasticism

Posted on 8 April 2018

Bob Pasnau joins Peter to discuss ideas about substance from Aquinas down to the time of Locke, Leibniz and Descartes.

309. Hooked on Classics: Italos and the Debate over Pagan Learning

Posted on 7 October 2018

The trial of John Italos and other signs of Byzantine disquiet with the pagan philosophical tradition.

322. Do the Math: Science in the Palaiologan Renaissance

Posted on 7 April 2019

Mathematics and the sciences in Byzantium, focusing on scholars of the Palaiologan period like Blemmydes and Metochites.

387. Helen Hattab on Protestant Philosophy

Posted on 2 January 2022

An interview with Helen Hattab on the scope and impact of scholastic philosophy among Protestants.

388. Just Add Salt: Paracelsus and Alchemy

Posted on 16 January 2022

Paracelsus adapts the tradition of alchemical science for use in medicine, and in the process overturns the scientific theories of Aristotle and Galen.

389. The Acid Test: Theories of Matter

Posted on 30 January 2022

Schegk, Taurellus, Gorlaeus, and Sennert revive atomism to explain chemical reactions, the composition of bodies, and the generation of organisms.

402. Life is Not Enough: Medicine in Renaissance France

Posted on 31 July 2022

Challenges to Galenic medical orthodoxy from natural philosophy: Jean Fernel with his idea of the human’s “total substance,” and the Paracelsans.