What to Expect When You're Expecting Philosophy in the Reformation

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As promised, here is a tentative episode list for the upcoming series of episodes (63 in total) on "Philosophy in the Reformation" which is shorthand for philosophy in the northern Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, and Catholic/Counter Reformation. Basically, the goal is to cover philosophy around Europe (excluding Italy, which we already did, though we will return there a bit to cover figures like Cajetan) between roughly 1400 and 1600. As you'll see from the list my plan is to organize the material geographically.

Some caveats: this does not include interviews, and it's possible I will split up or combine episodes (like, maybe give Fludd and Dee an episode each). If you don't see a thinker you'd expect to be covered it's probably (and hopefully) because they are covered in a thematic episode, e.g. to mention two female thinkers, Beatriz Galindo under Spanish humanism and Teresa of Avila under Spanish mysticism; or John Mair and John Case under British scholasticism. But obviously please let me know if you see someone or something missing!

And finally thanks to Helen Hattab, Henrik Lagerlund, and Bob Pasnau for very helpful input as I was putting this list together.

Central Europe (20 episodes)

  • Introduction to the Reformation [Apr 25, 2021]
  • The Printing Press
  • Northern Humanism
  • Nicholas of Cusa
  • Erasmus
  • Northern Scholasticism
  • Luther
  • The Erasmus-Luther Debate
  • Melanchthon
  • Zwingli
  • Republicanism and Egalitarianism (Peasants’ War)
  • Calvin
  • Radical reformation
  • Varieties of Protestant Philosophy
  • Atomism
  • Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
  • Jakob Schegk
  • Alchemy
  • Copernicus
  • Tycho Brahe

France (13 episodes)

  • French humanism
  • Rabelais
  • Logic and language at Paris
  • Peter Ramus
  • Ramism
  • Huguenot political philosophy (tyrannicide)
  • Jean Bodin
  • Religious toleration
  • Montaigne
  • Marie Le Jars de Gournay
  • The Querelle de femmes
  • Skepticism
  • Lipsius and Neostoicism

England and Scotland (13 episodes)

  • The English and Scottish Reformations
  • British Political Thought
  • British Scholasticism
  • English Humanism and literature (Spenser)
  • Thomas More
  • Shakespeare and Philosophy
  • Shakespeare’s Tempest
  • Individualism
  • Women in England
  • Witchcraft
  • Northumberland Circle
  • Theories of vision
  • John Dee and Robert Fludd

Southern Europe (17 episodes)

  • Spanish humanism
  • Spanish mysticism
  • Thomism
  • Vitoria and the School of Salamanca
  • Political and legal theory
  • Natural law theory
  • The rise of the Jesuits
  • The Coimbra Commentaries
  • Luis de Molina
  • Francisco Suárez
  • The Suárez-Bellarmine affair
  • Oliva Sabuco
  • Cervantes
  • Matteo Ricci and contact with China
  • De las Casas, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, and the New World
  • The Inquisition
  • The trial of Galileo


Michael Gebauer on 20 March 2021

Southern Europe

Fantastic! Will "the great exponent of Aquinas, Cardinal Cajetan", be included who was only mentioned once, thus, in your volume 3? I think it would be interesting to hear more about the later Thomists as well as Scotists and their extensive disputes -- what do you think? 

Michael Gebauer on 20 March 2021

Southern Europe

Sorry, I overlooked that you already mentioned Cajetan. But will his disputes with the Scotists be covered somewhere?

In reply to by Michael Gebauer

Peter Adamson on 20 March 2021

Thomists vs Scotists

Yes, well actually already when I do "northern scholasticism" I will explain the Wegestreit, and then I think that inter-school disputes will be a theme going forward and certainly in the Thomism episode.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Michael Gebauer on 21 March 2021

Southern Europe

Great! -- So there will be a flurry of important episodes for the emergence of Early Modern Philosophy forthcoming. 

(Even Thomas Hobbes definitely studied Thomism as well as Scotism, though he seldom quotes.) 

Henry King on 20 March 2021

Sidney on poetry?

I wonder if there's space for Philip Sidney's 'defence of poesy'? This is a pretty great example of combining Platonic and Aristotelian ideas about imaginative literature, including the Aristotelian tendency to get down to the nitty-gritty (e.g. when he discusses how the phonetic qualities of English compare with other European languages). Perhaps you'll cover this along with Spencer, but to my mind there's enough in there to warrant an episode.

In reply to by Henry King

Peter Adamson on 20 March 2021


Yes! I actually do plan to cover that alongside Spencer; I think I'll probably try to squeeze it all into one episode but we'll see.

David Ayala on 20 March 2021

Siglo de Oro

Do you think it is possible to say something about the Golden Age of Spanish literature? There are very interesting philosophical topics in there: mysticism (Saint Teresa of Avila and San Juan of the cross), madness (Don Quixote), a pre-Cartesian dream experiment (Calderon), etc.

 Speaking of Descartes, some said that his “Discourse” plagiarised the “Antoniana Margarita” of Gómez Pereira, written also in this era.

I’m also missing Francisco Sanches, the sceptic Portuguese...

 The series looks great! 


In reply to by David Ayala

Peter Adamson on 20 March 2021


Yes, actually most of these topics are included already though not obviously so: Teresa and John of the Cross are basically who I am intending to cover in the "Spanish mysticism" episode, and you may have missed I have an episode on Cervantes on the list. I was actually planning to cover Sanches in the France series when I do skepticism, even though that is an exception to the geographical organization.

Alexander Johnson on 22 March 2021

Post Reformation

I wonder, for context, on how you were planning on covering the period after the reformation.  When I last asked you, I believe you were planning on covering a full 200 years of France, then 200 years of England, then 200 years of Germany (with other regions being folded into one of the three).  But I think I read something since then where it sounded like you might structure it the same way but looser, which suggests that maybe some later French will be covered in a later series and some early German in an earlier series or something.

I ask now because it may impact how you handle the tail end of the reformation.  For example, if you were set on covering Rousseau in the French series, you may wish to cover Hobbes in this reformation series, so you can do one of your really strong looks at a tradition contrast (Hobbes vs Rousseau) and use it to contextualize how they actually differ vs have unexpected common roots (like you did Plato vs Aristotle, Heraclitus vs Parmenides, or have been doing with Washington vs Du Bois).  That would also allow you to have a typically "modern" figure in the reformation to show how it was a continuation of reformation in the same way you blended Renaissance and Medieval to play down that separation.   

But if you were going to have a rolling start date like you did your late antiquity series (where Hellenic went from Plato to early 200's, Late Antiquity went from 1st century BC to late 400's, and Early Christianity went from 100's AD into the 600's), then it might suggest a slightly different tail end to the reformation.  

So I figured I'd ask again now for an update.  Sorry if I am being a nuisance by asking this!

In reply to by Alexander Johnson

Peter Adamson on 22 March 2021

Post reformation

Thanks, that's a really helpful comment! I am still more or less thinking of doing the 17-18th century three times, so same plan: France/Low Countries, Britain, Germany. Partly I have to admit this is driven by the book series, like, I don't think I can fit the whole 17th century into just one book but I can probably fit the 17-18th centuries into three books. I like your point about emphasizing continuity between Renaissance/Reformation and "early modern," in fact I have sort of started to think about the Reformation as just early modern part one. I may get a clearer idea, though, as I get to the end of the Reformation series.

By the way both Hobbes and Rousseau would be in this projected set of early modern episodes, not in the Reformation, just for chronological reasons.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Alexander Johnson on 25 March 2021


In that case I think you absolutely should cover Kepler.  His work would tie in very nicely with Galileo and Tycho Brahe, and he was born in 1571 so right on the cusp of the two eras, so it would not be unusually to include him (Galileo was born only 7 years before him!).  You made a far bigger temporal jump for thematic continuity with Maximus the confessor.  

In reply to by Alexander Johnson

Peter Adamson on 25 March 2021


Ok, interesting. I had gone back and forth on this, and in my sketchy notes I have down that I would talk about Kepler's relation to Brahe but then come back and deal with him further later on. I might still do that since I think I will want to use him as a hook for establishing the "scientific revolution" when I get to early modern Germany - so I guess I would cover him twice, as I am doing with Galileo. I should think about this more though.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

mehmet on 26 March 2021

I also think that a spoonful…

I also think that a spoonful more of hard sciences would be nice..

Johannes Berglein on 25 March 2021

Philosophy in the New World

Many thanks, Peter, for this exciting appetizer!

I wonder to what extent do you want to cover philosophy in the New World. Apart from the classical debate on the rights of the natives you will be covering in one episode, it would be very interestig to hear about Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz or about the exportation of Aristotelianism to the newly created universities in South America. Maybe you could do an interview with Prof. Roberto Hofmeister-Pich on the last topic...  


In reply to by Johannes Berglein

Peter Adamson on 26 March 2021


Right, as I say to the comment just below this is an important issue in the series. I need to strike a balance because later on I do also hope to do a series on Philosophy in the Americas. Also, bear in mind we are only going up to about 1600 here so for instance de la Cruz should come later anyway. I guess she would fit more naturally into the Americas series later on.

mehmet on 26 March 2021

One question about this…

One question about this period that always pops up in my mind is how europeans interpreted the other cultures, religions etc that they encountered during their geographical discoveries. Or, in other words, how geographical discoveries modified modified the world-perception of europeans?

In reply to by mehmet

Peter Adamson on 26 March 2021

Geographical discoveries

Yes indeed, to my mind that is an important theme for this series - the "discovery" of the New World is the obvious thing but also increasing knowledge of Asian cultures.

dukeofethereal on 6 April 2021

Questions on Timeline, missing thinkers and Post reformation

You could squeeze Alberico Gentili (key jurist in International law) into the following episode (British Political Thought)


Richard Hooker probably deserves an episode to himself under British philosophy then he again he could fit in either of the episodes. He's also a key figure as he is referenced often by Locke.


I hope Peter you would extend these episode length for more than 20 minutes like you do for Africana series for thinkers who fit in a thematic episode rather than a sole episode (for example if there is a lack of research scholarly material on them). 


Will you also add a timeline for the thinkers you will discuss soon?




Also regarding post reformation Philosophy is your plan still of the following 4 books professor?


1600-1800 France and Low Countries


1600 - 1800 Central Europe/Scandinavia


1600 - 1800 = Ireland, Great Britain and Early US


1600- 1800 = Spain, Portugal and Italy 


Potential series/book like you did with Byzantine Philosophy (that also covered Early eastern Ortothodox traditions in Armenia, Georgia and Middle East) 

Russian and Eastern European Philosophy mini series (this would continue the tradition of the aforementioned 4 books on 1600-1800 European philosophy/Early US)






In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 7 April 2021

Reformation and Post-Reformation

Thanks very much for this, and for the reading suggestions below! I made a note that Hooker may need his own episode. I had actually already noted that Gentili needs to be covered in the counter-Reformation episode on legal theory. One of the themes I had in mind for that episode is the emergence of the idea of international law.

I think you are right that in some cases these episodes will push up closer to 30 minutes (I actually aim for between 20-25 minutes but my main self-imposed constraint is less than 30, at least for the scripted episodes).

For post-Reformation I was actually thinking more like three series/volumes, not four. These would be the ones you mention but with Eastern Europe combined with central Europe, and no separate series on southern Europe. Basically the idea is: France, Britain, Germany, plus other traditions in each case that I can relate to these centers (e.g. Scandinavia alongside Germany, or US alongside Britain). I need to think about this more, though, e.g. how to deal with thinkers from Italy and the Iberian countries from early modern Europe. Maybe I will squeeze them in alongside France, on the theory that the Catholic countries are all together. But I don't yet have a sense of how many figures or topics need covering from those countries in the relevant period.


dukeofethereal on 6 April 2021

Upcoming and recent interesting Cambridge Books

Conciliarism, Humanism and Law c.1400–c.1520 Justifications of Authority and Power by Joseph Canning


Empire of Eloquence The Classical Rhetorical Tradition in Colonial Latin America and the Iberian World by Stuart McManus


The Rule of Manhood Tyranny, Gender, and Classical Republicanism in England, 1603–1660 by Jamie A. Gianoutsos


Politics and ‘Politiques' in Sixteenth-Century France by Emma Claussen


Political Thought in Portugal and its Empire, c.1500–1800 by Pedro Cardim,


Polish Republican Discourse in the Sixteenth Century by Dorota Pietrzyk-Reeves,


The Italian Renaissance and the Origins of the Modern Humanities An Intellectual History, 1400–1800 by Christopher S. Celenza,


To the Uttermost Parts of the Earth Legal Imagination and International Power 1300–1870 Martti Koskenniemi,

Eduardo on 17 April 2021

The next books in the series

Hi professor Adamson. Before anything else let me tell you how much I admire you and your great job. What you share has helped me a lot in my own studies.

I´m the kind of person who feels more comfortable with a book in their hands than with the headset put on, I always check the book versions of the podcast after I listen to the episodes to helpe me digest the information. So I was wondering when do you think the book versions of the Africana and Renaissance series will be available? Since honestly I can´t wait till I can have them.

Also, do you plan to put in a single book Byzantium, Italian renaissance and the reformation-northern renaissance? or is it going to be a first book for the two first and another for the latter?

Again thank you very much for your job!

In reply to by Eduardo

Peter Adamson on 17 April 2021

Next books

Thanks for asking! The next volume to come out will include the material on Byzantium and the Italian Renaissance (so, what appeared in podcast form as episodes 301-370). Believe it or not this has already been refereed for publication and the revised version is submitted so it should be out late in 2021, I hope.

The Northern Renaissance, Reformation, and Counter-Reformation will be a single book but that will take a while to turn up since I of course have only started writing it.

However the first Africana volume should come out fairly soon too, if all goes well; it will go up to 1900 so will include material from podcasts 1-67. We are still revising the manuscript but I hope it could come out in the first half of 2022.

Posvitt on 19 April 2021


I just want to say that I am bit dissappointed that there won't be a separated episode dedicated to Hamlet. It's difficult to find a piece of literature where philosophy doesn't play such a prominent role (main character is a philosophy student, there is plenty of theoretical discourse integrated in what Hamlet says in his monologues as well as some of his replies, play within a play could be seen as a moment of self-reflection within literature, etc.)

In reply to by Posvitt

Peter Adamson on 19 April 2021

To cover, or not to cover, Hamlet

Yes, I wanted to do one episode in general on Shakespeare and then one on a specific play and of course I thought about Hamlet for that play; in the end I guess I just figured it seems a bit too obvious and familiar, but I will for sure say something about it. Probably will play a big role in the general overview episode on philosophy in Shakespeare.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Spencer on 25 September 2021

To include or not to include Hamlet

I would have been (or would be) interested in an episode on Hamlet. I read the play in a college Shakespeare course 45 years ago and I think I saw the Olivier movie some time before that. That pretty much sums up my experience with Hamlet (aside from a version on an episode of Gilligan's Island). So, familiar barely applies in my case. Peter, I think most of  comments on this site are by listeners who know a LOT about the topics you are discussing. (Frankly, if I knew a lot about a topic, I would not listen to a podcast on that topic.) Perhaps I am an unusual listener in that I knew bupkis about philosophy before discovering your podcast four or five years ago. But I am guessing that there are other listeners who know very little about many of the topics, and/or know very little about philosophy (or just came for the jokes). So, although you (and other podcasters) should assume that their listeners are intelligent and interested in the subject, assuming too much listener familiarity or knowledge is not, in my opinion, ideal.

In reply to by Spencer

Peter Adamson on 26 September 2021


Yes that's a good point - I get a lot of useful advice from experts and they help me not skip stuff that is worth covering. But as you say most listeners are not experts so I try to bear that in mind!

dukeofethereal on 4 May 2021

Missing figures from Reformation timeline to squeeze in

Just had a look at your Reformation timeline and here are missing some figures you could squeeze into these tentative episodes professor


Perhaps some of these are figures you're saving for 1600-1800 timeline such as Jakob Bohme? 


Dominigo Banez ( fierce Thomists, sometime spiritual adviser to St Teresa of Avila (which you are including in 'Spanish Mysticism') & opposed Molinism regarding Free will) = huge debates in the late 1590's (he himself changed the direction of Thomism for decades to come).

Thus Professor you could include Domingo Balez in  Thomism episode and the lasting affects of Molinism in the Iberian peninsula



Heinrich Khunrath, Michael Maier and Johannes Arndt Alchemy and Theories of Vision episode 


John Hennon = You could fit him in Northern Scholasticism (Dutch Origins) or in University of Paris episode (since he studied there) 


Albert Brudzewski (Polish Humanist Astronomer ) = included in Northern Humanism episode or with Copernicus (since he's also a Polish astronomer) 


Clemens Timpler works on Metaphysics/ontology ( he might fit in 1600-1800 German timeline given his publications being early 1600 AD).


Gregory of Valencia (Salamanca scholastic)  = Defended Luis De Molina position on Grace and predestination 


Nicolás Monardes ( Spanish humanist/botanist) = included in episode of Spanish Humanism


Martin Delrio (works on Magic and Witchcraft) = include him in the episode devoted to Witchcraft


Bartolomé Carranza = include him in the episode devoted to the 'Inquisition' given he was a victim of it


Melchor Cano work 'De Locis theologicis' (successor to De Vitoria chair of head of Salamanca , rival to Bartolome Carranza and anti Jesuits) = you could include him either episodes professor as theme 


Alfonso de Castro (work on Criminal law and anti Lutheran) = include in either episode under Spanish header  ' Political and legal theory' or 'Natural law theory'.



In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 4 May 2021

Missing figures

Wow that is super helpful, thanks! I do always add figures to the timeline as I go along and do more reading but almost all these names are new to me, so a really useful list. I think the only one I was already explicitly planning to cover, but forgot on the timeline, was Cano.

And you're right, some figures like Bohme would come later I reckon.

Actually, if you don't mind can I ask you: how do you know this much about the period?

Luiz on 5 May 2021

Literature and Philosophy

First of all, I'm very excited for the series and I wanted to thank you for all the hard work!

I know that a series truly without any gaps becomes a more and more impossible task as time goes on, particularly after the printing press starts getting some use but well, if you are including Shakespeare and Cervantes an episode on literature and it's relationship to philosophy might be a good idea? I think Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy was influential in the period, not to mention Ariosto, Gil Vicente, Lope de Vega, maybe even Vieira and Anchieta if you are including some material from the Americas, or maybe Francis Xavier's voyages in Asia?

Xaratustrah on 27 July 2021

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa

Hi Peter,

I am specially interested in Heinrich Agrippa. By today's standards he could be considered a feminist philosopher, not an easy thing during his time I guess. He was apparently influenced by Marsilius and Pico in his occult writings.


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