Soul and the Self

24 - Famous Last Words: Plato's Phaedo

Posted on 13 March 2011

In the Phaedo, Plato depicts the death of Socrates, and argues for two of his most distinctive doctrines: the immortality of the soul and the theory of Forms.

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42 - Soul Power: Aristotle's De Anima

Posted on 17 July 2011

Peter tackles the De Anima (“On the Soul”), focusing on the definition of soul as the form of the body and Aristotle’s theory of sensation.

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74 - Tony Long on the Self in Hellenistic Philosophy

Posted on 1 April 2012

Leading Hellenistic philosophy scholar Tony Long talks to Peter about the self, ethics and politics in the Stoics, Epicureans and Skeptics.

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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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80 - Delphic Utterances: Plutarch

Posted on 13 May 2012

Plutarch, a major figure of early Imperial literature, was also a Platonist philosopher. He gives us insight into Platonism before Plotinus, and also the letter E.

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89 - On the Horizon: Plotinus on Soul

Posted on 15 July 2012

For Plotinus, Soul is on the border between the physical and intelligible realms. Can he convince us to identify ourselves with its highest part?

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103 - Fall and Rise: Origen

Posted on 18 November 2012

Origen, greatest of the Greek Church Fathers, sets out a stunning theory of human redemption as he marries philosophical rigor to theological speculation.

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109 - Spreading the Word: the Latin Church Fathers

Posted on 30 December 2012

The Latin church fathers Tertullian, Lactantius, Jerome, and Ambrose discuss soul, ethics, and the dangers of Hellenic philosophy.

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110 - Life and Time: Augustine's Confessions

Posted on 6 January 2013

Augustine’s life story is related in the Confessions, a work that combines autobiography, theology, and metaphysical discussions of the nature of time.

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115 - Me, Myself and I: Augustine on Mind and Memory

Posted on 10 February 2013

Augustine explores the nature of the human mind in order to establish its similarity to, and dissimilarity from, the divine Trinity.

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123 - Philosopher of the Arabs: al-Kindī

Posted on 7 April 2013

Al-Kindī uses Hellenic materials to discuss the eternity of the world, divine attributes, and the nature of the soul.

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141 - Into Thin Air: Avicenna on the Soul

Posted on 15 September 2013

With his Flying Man argument, Avicenna explores self-awareness and the relation between soul and body.

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172 - All Things Considered: Abū l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī

Posted on 20 April 2014

Abū l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī makes up his own mind about physics and the soul, and along the way inaugurates a new style of doing philosophy.

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174 - Leading Light: Suhrawardī

Posted on 4 May 2014

Suhrawardī, founder of the Illuminationist (ishrāqī) tradition, proposes a metaphysics of light on the basis of his theory of knowledge by presence.

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175 - Bright Ideas: Illuminationism

Posted on 11 May 2014

The Illuminationists carry on Suhrawardī’s critique of “Peripatetic” philosophy and wonder if they will be reborn as giraffes.

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227. Stayin’ Alive: Thirteenth Century Psychology

Posted on 6 June 2015

John Blund and William of Auvergne draw on Aristotle and Avicenna to argue that the soul is immaterial and immortal.

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234. Your Attention Please: Peter Olivi

Posted on 25 July 2015

Peter Olivi proposes that awareness occurs not through passively being affected by things, but by actively paying attention to them.

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238. Binding Arbitration: Robert Kilwardby

Posted on 11 October 2015

Robert Kilwardby is infamous for his ban on teaching certain philosophical ideas at Oxford, yet made contributions in logic and on the soul.

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4. Hide and Seek: The Upanisads

Posted on 31 October 2015

The ancient texts known as the Upaniṣads claim to expose the hidden connections between things, including the self and the world.

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5. Do it Yourself: Indra’s Search for the Self in the Upaniṣads

Posted on 14 November 2015

The god Indra seeks to learn the nature of his own self from another god, Prajāpati, and receives an answer worth waiting for.

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242. Therese Cory on Self-Awareness in Albert and Aquinas

Posted on 6 December 2015

Therese Cory tells Peter what 13th century philosophers thought about self-awareness.

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244. Everybody Needs Some Body: Aquinas on Soul and Knowledge

Posted on 3 January 2016

Thomas Aquinas makes controversial claims concerning the unity of the soul and the empirical basis of human knowledge.

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12. Rupert Gethin on Buddhism and the Self

Posted on 21 February 2016

Peter speaks to Rupert Gethin about the no-self theory, and its implications for Buddhist ethics and meditation practices.

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23. Source Code: Badarayana’s Vedanta-Sutra

Posted on 23 July 2016

The founding text of the Vedānta school, the Vedānta- or Brahma-Sūtra, interprets the Upaniṣads as teaching that all things derive from brahman.

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24. No Two Ways About It: Śaṅkara and Advaita Vedānta

Posted on 3 September 2016

Śaṅkara and his “non-dual” (Advaita) Vedānta, which teaches that only brahman is real, and the world of experience and individual self are mere illusion.

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27. The Theory of Evolution: Īśvarakṛṣṇa’s Sāṃkhya-kārikā

Posted on 15 October 2016

The oldest treatise of Sāṃkhya enumerates the principles of the cosmos and of the human mind.

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29. Practice Makes Perfect: Patañjali’s Yoga-Sūtra

Posted on 12 November 2016

Yoga as presented by Patañjali offers a practical complement to the Sāṃkhya theory of the cosmos and the self.

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30. Philipp Maas on Yoga

Posted on 26 November 2016

A leading expert on the founding text of Yoga tells us why, when, and by whom it was written, and what it has to do with modern day yoga practice.

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34. The Truth Shall Set You Free: Nyāya on the Mind

Posted on 22 January 2017

Nyāya proposes that each of us has both a self and a mind, in addition to the body.

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41. Monima Chadha on Indian Philosophy of Mind

Posted on 29 April 2017

Monima Chadha takes Peter through Buddhist-Hindu debates over mind and self.

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48. Taking Perspective: the Jain Theory of Standpoints

Posted on 6 August 2017

The Jain theory of standpoints or non-onesidedness (anekāntavāda) makes truth a matter of perspective.

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51. Change of Mind: Vasubandhu and Yogācāra Buddhism

Posted on 15 October 2017

Vasubandhu’s path to Yogācāra Buddhism, a form of idealism which holds that nothing can be mind-independent.

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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.

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55. Doors of Perception: Dignāga on Consciousness

Posted on 10 December 2017

Dignāga argues that all perception is accompanied by self-awareness.

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56. Who’s Pulling Your Strings? Buddhaghosa

Posted on 24 December 2017

Buddhaghosa, a major figure in the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, argues against the need for a self to control and coordinate mental activities.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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19. Behind the Mask: African Philosophy of the Person

Posted on 6 January 2019

Traditional African ideas about personhood, which challenge assumptions about the relation between mind and body, self and other.

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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.

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30. Dualist Personality: Anton Wilhelm Amo

Posted on 9 June 2019

Anton Wilhelm Amo, brought to Germany from his native Ghana, defends a rigorous dualism of mind and body. Was this philosophy connected to his African origins?

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331. Literary Criticism: Lorenzo Valla

Posted on 8 September 2019

Lorenzo Valla launches a furious attack on scholastic philosophy, favoring the resources of classical Latin.

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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.

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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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345. What a Piece of Work is Man: Manetti and Pico on Human Nature

Posted on 22 March 2020

Pico della Mirandola and Giannozzo Manetti praise humans as the centerpiece of the created world. But what about the other animals?

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346. Cecilia Muratori on Animals in the Renaissance

Posted on 5 April 2020

An interview with Cecilia Muratori, an expert on the surprisingly modern ideas about non-human animals that emerged in the Renaissance.

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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.

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363. Man of Discoveries: Girolamo Cardano

Posted on 3 January 2021

The polymath Girolamo Cardano explores medicine, mathematics, philosophy of mind, and the interpretation of dreams.

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365. Spirits in the Material World: Telesio and Campanella on Nature

Posted on 31 January 2021

Was the anti-Aristotelian natural philosophy of Bernardino Telesio and Tommaso Campanella the first modern physical theory?

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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.

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