114 - Sarah Byers on Augustine's Ethics

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

Press 'play' to hear the podcast: 

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Further Reading: 

S. Byers, Perception, Sensibility, and Moral Motivation in Augustine (Cambridge: 2012).

• S. Byers, "The Psychology of Compassion: A Reading of City of God 9.5" in The Cambridge Critical Guide to the City of God (Cambridge: 2012).

• S. Byers, "Augustine and the Philosophers," Blackwell Companion to Augustine, ed. M. Vessey (London: 2012).

• S. Byers, “The Meaning of Voluntas in Augustine,” Augustinian Studies 37 (2006), 171-89.

• S. Byers, “Augustine and the Cognitive Cause of Stoic ‘Preliminary Passions’ (Propatheiai),” Journal of the History of Philosophy 41 (2003), 433-48.

Peter Adamson's picture


Just to say that if you notice a slight change in audio quality it is because this is for the first time recorded via Skype (Sarah was in Boston, I was in Munich). We think it sounds if not quite as good as the other interviews, then still pretty good - plus I really wanted to have her on the series! But I'd be grateful for any feedback on this aspect of the episode.

My current plan is to do further interviews via Skype occasionally, but I will do face-to-face recordings whenever possible.

Yannick Kilberger's picture

Now the real question is why

Now the real question is why is this number 113 again? Is this like a 113 bis, maybe a lazy 114?

Peter Adamson's picture

113 vs 114

Oops, no -- that's because I can't count. Fixed it, thanks.

Vladimir Dorta's picture

Sound quality

It sounds just as good as before, maybe better, but sound only comes from the right speaker.

Peter Adamson's picture

Sound quality

Great, thanks. I wonder if the right-left problem could be at your end? I just tried and on my earphones it is playing on both sides. Or is anyone else having this problem?

Yannick Kilberger's picture

No sound problem for me both

No sound problem for me both with speaker or headphones.

Pete Bataleck's picture

Fascinating conversation

Really enjoyed listening to it, lots to think about.

One complaint: it was too short!

Peter Adamson's picture


Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it, I agree she was fascinating. By the way this is actually one of the longer episodes (in general the interviews run a bit longer but I try to keep them less than 30 minutes). So I'm glad you didn't think it was too long!


Robert's picture

This interview is on fire!

Going through the series slowly. I've just made this quick account just to compliment on Sarah Byers outstanding rhetoric. So far in the series, this episode seems like the touchstone for the multiple person genre.

I'm really into how quickly and directly Sarah gets to her perspective. No "hmmmm", "ahh", or "...perhaps..." musings holding back the flow. Not only that, but she'll put out her opinion and then directly point to exact quotes and chapter for support. The decisive nature of her responses really grant an air of authority and passion for the subject.

Peter Adamson's picture

Byers interview

Yes, I agree that this one was really good. I will make sure she sees your comment!