Religion and Reason

2 - Infinity and Beyond: Anaximander and Anaximenes

Posted on 23 December 2010

Peter discusses two very early Greek philosophers, both from Miletus: Anaximander and Anaximenes.

24 comments
79 - To the Lighthouse: Philo of Alexandria

Posted on 6 May 2012

We put the Philo in philosophy this week, as Philo of Alexandria reads the Bible through the lens of Middle Platonism.

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97 - A Tale of Two Cities: The Last Pagan Philosophers

Posted on 7 October 2012

Neoplatonism had a long-standing association with traditional Greek religion. How did philosophers respond when Christians gained ascendancy?

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102 - Please Accept Our Apologies: the Greek Church Fathers

Posted on 11 November 2012

Irenaeus, Clement, and Justin Martyr struggle to define Christian orthodoxy and claim philosophy back from the Greeks.

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104 - Let's Talk Turkey: the Cappadocians

Posted on 25 November 2012

Basil of Caesarea, his brother Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus use philosophy to help the poor and to defeat their theological opponents.

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106 - Double or Nothing: Maximus the Confessor

Posted on 9 December 2012

Maximus the Confessor brings us to the brink of the medieval Byzantine period with his philosophical defense of Christ’s full divinity and full humanity.

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108 - George Boys-Stones on the Greek Church Fathers

Posted on 23 December 2012

George Boys-Stones joins Peter to discuss philosophy in the Bible and the Greek Church Fathers.

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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.

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124 - The Chosen Ones: Judaism and Philosophy

Posted on 14 April 2013

The roots of Jewish philosophy in the Islamic world, focusing on the Rabbinic background in the Mishnah and Talmud, and the thought of early figures like Isaac Israeli.

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130 - State of Mind: al-Fārābī on Religion and Politics

Posted on 26 May 2013

Al-Fārābī combines Islam and Greek sources to present the ideal ruler as a philosopher who is also a prophet.

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144 - Miracle Worker: al-Ghazālī against the Philosophers

Posted on 6 October 2013

In his Incoherence of the Philosophers, al-Ghazālī attacks Avicenna’s theories about the eternity of the universe and insists on the possibility of miracles.

9 comments
145 - Frank Griffel on al-Ghazālī

Posted on 13 October 2013

Why did al-Ghazālī judge "the philosophers" to be apostates? Peter finds out from Frank Griffel.

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149 - Back to Basics: Averroes on Reason and Religion

Posted on 10 November 2013

An introduction to “the Commentator” Averroes, and his defense of philosophy in the Decisive Treatise

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157 - Choosing My Religion: Judah Hallevi

Posted on 5 January 2014

Judah Hallevi argues that Judaism has a better claim to belief than philosophy, Christianity, or Islam.

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163 - Burnt Offerings: The Maimonides Controversy

Posted on 16 February 2014

Maimonides’ works provoke a bitter dispute among Jews in France and Spain over the relation of philosophy to Judaism.

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164 - Man and Superman: Gersonides and the Jewish Reaction to Averroes

Posted on 23 February 2014

The super-commentator Gersonides and other Jews digest the ideas of Averroes.

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179 - Mohammed Rustom on Philosophical Sufism

Posted on 7 June 2014

Peter is joined by Mohammed Rustom in a discussion about Sufi authors including Ibn 'Arabī, al-Qūnawī, and Rūmī.

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189 - Subcontinental Drift: Philosophy in Islamic India

Posted on 17 August 2014

Ideas spread to Mughal India from Iran, and prince Dārā Shikūh seeks to unite the wisdom of the Upanishads with the Koran.

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191 - The Young Ones: Encounters with European Thought

Posted on 28 September 2014

18th and 19th century intellectuals in India and the Ottoman empire, from Shāh Walī Allāhto the Young Turks, continue Islamic traditions and grapple with European science.

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233. Stairway to Heaven: Bonaventure

Posted on 16 July 2015

Bonaventure argues that human knowledge depends on an illumination from God.

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243. The Ox Heard Round the World: Thomas Aquinas

Posted on 20 December 2015

An introduction to Thomas Aquinas, his views on faith and reason, and his famous “five ways” of proving God’s existence.

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249. Paris When it Sizzles: the Condemnations

Posted on 13 March 2016

Two rounds of condemnations at Paris declare certain philosophical teachings as heretical. But what were the long term effects?

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251. Masters of the University: "Latin Averroism"

Posted on 10 April 2016

Did Siger of Brabant and Boethius of Dacia, who have been called “Latin Averroists” and “radical Aristotelians,” really embrace a doctrine of “double truth”?

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17. Jessica Frazier on Hinduism and Philosophy

Posted on 1 May 2016

An interview with Jessica Frazier about philosophical ideas and arguments in the Vedas, Upanisads and later Hindu texts.

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20. Master of Ceremonies: Jaimini’s Mimamsa-Sutra

Posted on 12 June 2016

In the Mīmāṃsā school’s founding text, Jaimini systematizes Vedic ritual and explores its theoretical basis.

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259. Richard Cross on Philosophy and the Trinity

Posted on 30 July 2016

Medieval discussions of the Trinity charted new metaphysical territory, as we see in this interview with Richard Cross.

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26. Francis Clooney on Vedanta

Posted on 1 October 2016

Francis Clooney joins us to discuss the religious and philosophical aspects of Vedānta.

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283. Jack Zupko on John Buridan

Posted on 30 July 2017

Peter speaks to Jack Zupko about John Buridan's secular and parsimonious approach to philosophy.

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289. A Wing and a Prayer: Angels in Medieval Philosophy

Posted on 19 November 2017

Be surprised by how many philosophical problems arise in connection with angels (how many can dance on the head of a pin is not one of them).

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298. Renaissance Men: Ramon Llull and Petrarch

Posted on 25 March 2018

The Renaissance ideals of humanism and universal science flourish already in the medieval period, in the works of Petrarch and Ramon Llull.

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2. It’s Only Human: Philosophy in Prehistoric Africa

Posted on 15 April 2018

Might philosophy be as old as humankind as we know it? We investigate the implications of findings concerning the origins of humankind in Africa.

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300b. The Relevance of Medieval Philosophy Today

Posted on 6 May 2018

Peter King, Catarina Dutilh Novaes, and Russ Friedman discuss their approaches to medieval philosophy and its contemporary relevance.

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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.

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301. The Empire Strikes Back: Introduction to Byzantine Philosophy

Posted on 19 May 2018

We begin to look at the third tradition of medieval philosophy, in which the heritage of classical antiquity is preserved and debated by the Byzantines.

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304. Behind Enemy Lines: John of Damascus

Posted on 1 July 2018

John of Damascus helps to shape the Byzantine understanding of humankind and the veneration of images, despite living in Islamic territory.

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8. Solomon, Socrates, and Other Sages: Early Ethiopian Philosophy

Posted on 8 July 2018

Translations of religious and philosophical texts into Ge’ez, a national epic called the Kebra Nagast, and other developments in the story of philosophy in Ethiopia.

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305. Andrew Louth on John of Damascus

Posted on 15 July 2018

Peter is joined by Andrew Louth for a discussion of John of Damascus and his theological use of philosophy.

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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.

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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.

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307. Consul of the Philosophers: Michael Psellos

Posted on 9 September 2018

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

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11. Teodros Kiros on Ethiopian Philosophy

Posted on 16 September 2018

Teodros Kiros discusses his work in political philosophy and the history of Ethiopian philosophical thought.

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308. Dominic O'Meara on Michael Psellos

Posted on 23 September 2018

Dominic O'Meara speaks to Peter about Michael Psellos, focusing especially on his political philosophy.

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12. From Here to Timbuktu: Subsaharan Islamic Philosophy

Posted on 30 September 2018

The spread of Islamic scholarship in subsaharan Africa, focusing on intellectuals of the Songhay empire around the Niger River in the 15th-17th centuries.

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13. Renewing the Faith: the Sokoto Caliphate

Posted on 14 October 2018

Uthman Dan Fodio and his family were scholars, poets, and warriors whose jihad in 19th century Nigeria created the Sokoto Caliphate.

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14. Souleymane Bachir Diagne on Islam in Africa

Posted on 28 October 2018

Peter speaks to Souleymane Bachir Diagne about Islamic scholars in West Africa.

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21. The Doctor Will See You Now: Divination, Witchcraft, and Knowledge

Posted on 3 February 2019

Special forms of knowledge and the explanation of misfortunes in African tradition.

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319. Georgia on My Mind: Petritsi and the Proclus Revival

Posted on 24 February 2019

The Neoplatonist Proclus gets mixed reviews from Christians, as Nicholas of Methone refutes him but the Georgian philosopher Ioane Petritsi helps to revive his thought.

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320. People of the South: Byzantium and Islam

Posted on 10 March 2019

Intellectual exchange between Christians and Muslims, and the later flowering of Syriac literature including the philosopher Bar Hebraeus.

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323. Through His Works You Shall Know Him: Palamas and Hesychasm

Posted on 21 April 2019

Gregory Palamas and the controversy over his teaching that we can go beyond human reason by grasping God through his activities or “energies”.

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324. United We Fall: Latin Philosophy in Byzantium

Posted on 5 May 2019

Thomas Aquinas finds avid readers among Byzantines at the twilight of empire, and is used by both sides of the Hesychast controversy.

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326. Istanbul (Not Constantinople): the Later Orthodox Tradition

Posted on 2 June 2019

When the Byzantine empire ended in 1453, philosophy in Greek did not end with it. In this episode we bring the story up to the 20th century.

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340. Footnotes to Plato: Marsilio Ficino

Posted on 12 January 2020

Marsilio Ficino’s revival of Platonism, with a focus on his proofs for the soul’s immortality in his magnum opus, the Platonic Theology.

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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.

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342. Denis Robichaud on Plato in the Renaissance

Posted on 9 February 2020

An interview with Denis Robichaud on how, and why, Plato was read in the Italian Renaissance.

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343. As Far as East from West: Jewish Philosophy in Renaissance Italy

Posted on 23 February 2020

Jewish philosophers in Renaissance Italy, focusing on Leone Ebreo’s Dialogues of Love, the Averroism of Elijah del Medigo, and Italian Kabbalah.

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53. Pilgrim’s Progress: Alexander Crummell

Posted on 24 May 2020

From his time in Liberia to his later concentration on the reform of African American culture, Alexander Crummell identifies progressive “civilization” as a means of liberation.

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56. African Personality: Edward Blyden

Posted on 5 July 2020

Edward Blyden gains appreciation for Islam in West Africa and gradually moves from political nationalism to cultural nationalism.

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61. When and Where I Enter: Anna Julia Cooper

Posted on 17 October 2020

Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South, an unprecedented contribution to black feminist theory.

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358. Of Two Minds: Pomponazzi and Nifo on the Intellect

Posted on 25 October 2020

Pietro Pomponazzi and Agostino Nifo debate the immortality of the soul and the cogency of Averroes’ theory of intellect.

7 comments
71. In Blyden’s Wake: West African Intellectuals of the Early Twentieth Century

Posted on 7 March 2021

West African intellectuals like J.E. Casely-Hayford (pictured) and Mojola Agbebi build upon Edward Blyden’s ideas at the dawn of the twentieth century.

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368. Boundless Enthusiasm: Giordano Bruno

Posted on 14 March 2021

Giordano Bruno’s stunning vision of an infinite universe with infinite worlds, and his own untimely end.

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370. Ingrid Rowland on Rome in the Renaissance

Posted on 11 April 2021

For our finale of the Italian Renaissance series we're joined by Ingrid Rowland, to speak about art, philosophy, and persecution in Renaissance Rome.

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371. European Disunion: Introduction to the Reformation

Posted on 25 April 2021

How humanism and scholasticism came together with the Protestant Reformation to create the philosophy of 15 - 16th century Europe.

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378. Faith, No More: Martin Luther

Posted on 1 August 2021

How Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone and his attack on the Church relate to the history of philosophy.

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84. Live Long and Protest: W.E.B. Du Bois, 1920-1963

Posted on 3 October 2021

Du Bois moves to the left, and revisits and refines older positions during the latter half of his very long life.

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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.

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383. Slowly But Surely: Huldrych Zwingli

Posted on 7 November 2021

The Swiss theologian Zwingli launches the Reformation in Switzerland, but clashes with Luther and more radical Protestants.

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384. We Are Not Our Own: John Calvin

Posted on 21 November 2021

John Calvin's views on predestination and the limits of human reason.

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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.

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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.

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97. American Dream: Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted on 3 April 2022

The story of Martin Luther King Jr. up to 1963, focusing on the development of his philosophy of nonviolence.

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100. Chike Jeffers on the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Posted on 15 May 2022

Chike joins Peter to look back at our coverage of Africana philosophy in the first half of the 20th century.

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