What's coming in 2023

Posted on 1 January 2023

Happy New Year! I thought I might take this chance to share what you can expect here on the podcast in the coming year.

As before we'll continue doing the "European" and "non-European" series in alternating weeks. The Africana series is projected to finish around the end of 2023. Lots of exciting stuff to come there still, including in the first few months of the year episodes on topics including South Africa (Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko), Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, Afrofuturism, and Black Feminist authors. Chike and I should be sending the manuscript for volume one of the Africana Philosophy off to the publisher soon: that will cover the story up to 1900, so the first two sub-series up to episode 65.

Once the Africana series concludes we'll move on to the eagerly anticipated series on classical Chinese philosophy, which I will co-author with Karyn Lai.

On the "European" side we'll continue looking at the European Reformation. Much of 2023 will be taken up with looking at philosophy in 16th century England and Scotland. That series will kick off with episode 416 on March 12. Here's a preliminary episode list; as usual, let me know if you see any omissions!

The English Reformation (focus on Cranmer)

The Scottish Reformation (focus on Knox and Buchanan)

British Humanism

English Political Thought (e.g. Fortescue, Hooker)

Thomas More

English literature (e.g. Spenser, Sidney)

Shakespeare and Philosophy 

Shakespeare’s Tempest

Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Renaissance Individualism

Witchcraft 

Devotional Literature by Women (e.g. Kempe, Anne Locke)

Individualism

British Scholasticism

Northumberland Circle (Warner, Hill, Harriot)

Theories of vision

William Gilbert

John Dee

Robert Fludd

Elizabethan Exploration

After this series, I'll move on to the Counter-Reformation, with lots of coverage of scholastic thought in Spain and Portugal. This means we will probably (finally!) get to the 17th century in late 2024.

 

 

Karl Young 2 January 2023

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Hey Peter,

Thanks for the update; lots to look forward to, e.g. the  Chinese Philosophy series (even though the ending of the Africana series will be a little sad).

But I’ve been meaning to express my appreciation for Sun Ra’s ever so brief cameo in the Black Arts Movement segment. And given the upcoming episode on Afrofuturism it looks like he might have a shot at slightly more time (nudge, nudge :-)). I’ve been a little disappointed that when people mention important Afrofuturists like Octavia Butler, who deserve the attention, they also often seem to be unaware of Sun Ra’s foundational role. And as much fun as his stage shtick was, and as shrouded in imagination as his philosophy was, after reading a lot by and about him, I found his vision extremely coherent and well expressed. It seems to me that Afrofuturism wouldn’t have grown and flourished like it has without his founding vision.

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Oh you're going to be very happy! The Afrofuturism episode is already written and Sun Ra is discussed in it at length, in fact I think is the figure who gets the most attention in it.

Andrew Maclaren 2 January 2023

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Really exciting for the rest of the Africana series! Especially for the episodes on south africa for personal reasons and the black feminist authors as just a big interest of mine. Hopefully the Brixton Black Womens Group gets a mention, if not given much attention to (partly because I don't really know how important they are to give proportionate attention to, and because I can imagine you are already far along in the script writing when you learned about them).

Everything else is also really exciting. It is going to be a very interesting year in my opinion from your podcast. Cheers Peter and Chike (and eventually Karyn as well!) for all the hard work and fascinating content!

Peter Adamson 2 January 2023

In reply to by Andrew Maclaren

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Thanks! I already had made a note to look into the Brixton Group when we get to those episodes, thanks for the suggestion.

Andrew Maclaren 2 January 2023

In reply to by Peter Adamson

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Looking forward to it!

Small side thing quickly, the link given in the notification email gives me a bad certificate warning when I click on it for some reason. But the regular page doesn't for me. The difference in the url seems to be the www included in the email, which isn't included when I normally look up the podcast. Just a heads up.

Peter Adamson 2 January 2023

In reply to by Andrew Maclaren

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Ok thanks! We'll take care of it.

Nerina 20 January 2023

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Hi Peter,

Will you be talking about the South African thinker Sol Plaatje in the Africana section?

 

 

Peter Adamson 20 January 2023

In reply to by Nerina

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Hm, I guess not since we are past him chronologically. I have to admit his name was new to me; glancing at Wikipedia the information there doesn't scream "philosopher" but as you can imagine I'd be curious to hear an argument for why he should be or should have been covered. I guess we have included other figures who are often considered more as "literary" (like, most recently, Lorraine Hansberry) so I can imagine he might have just as good a claim for inclusion.

Chike Jeffers 28 January 2023

In reply to by Nerina

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Peter's reply is understandable based on chronology but I've always been planning the Mandela episode as one that puts him in the context of other thinkers associated with the ANC, and thus Plaatje will indeed be part of the story (though if your hope was for an episode focused on him, then, in that case, I must disappoint).

Guruhoc 26 January 2023

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The fact that you've devoted only 62 episodes to the rich Indian philosophy and you've already gone past 116 episodes to "African philosophy", which is not even a philosophy, but an uninterrupted complaint of those who try to use race to gain benefits, shows that one of the goals of the podcast is to please influential political groups.

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I think mostly I'll just leave this comment here for others to judge for themselves, but I would like to clarify that in theory at least the plan is to have another series of the same length on later Indian philosophy. If all goes according to plan (or at least hope), both series would be two volumes' worth of material. The same for China, which will be one series/book on classical China but hopefully eventually a further series and book on later developments. 

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You claim you'll leave my comments to others as if social pressure would make a difference, but I don't care. It is stupid to call "African philosophy" the theories of individuals who have never set foot in Africa and who have nothing to do with African culture just because they are black. 

With the exception of color, Martin Luther King Jr is as African as Donald Trump, his militancy was based on Christianity and not voodoo. This part of your podcast is not about philosophy, it's about ideology, a distinguished history of philosophy professor like you understands that better than anyone. 

Anyway, I'm pleased to hear that the series on Indian philosophy is planned to return. I hope your detour into identity politics doesn't last too long. Thanks for the answer.

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Out of curiosity, how much of the series have you listened to? I notice that you don't even seem to be aware of the fact that it is about "Africana" and not "African" philosophy, and what the significance of that might be - something we have discussed at length in the series (I say this not just because you are using "African" but because you wouldn't have made this point about King otherwise).

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I've seen more than 350 episodes of the original series, I'm going to stop and wait for the other Renaissance books to be released, because I prefer to listen while reading to facilitate my notes. From your series on black ideology, by my dissatisfied comment you must have already realized that I didn't watch any episode and I won't. 

As I said earlier, the only connection between the characters is that they are all black. Appealing to the neologism will not make your choice seem more logical, much less make Malcolm X worthy of occupying space in the history of philosophy. 

If you really think you were sincere in your selection, do a series called "Aryan philosophy" with episodes about Hitler, Mussolini, Julius Evola, Giovanni Gentile and others. They deserve just as much space as the Black Panthers. I bet that those who applaud you today because of the series on "black ideology" will accuse you of being a "dangerous Nazi" for not having left this "gap".

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I'm reminded of a line from a comedy routine from the Smothers Brothers (my parents had it on vinyl), concerning a Broadway show: "I'm an American. I don't have to see something to know I don't like it!"

 

But seriously: the rationale for the Africana (not "African") series is laid out in the first episode but it really requires listening to a lot of the series to understand how it fits together. Obviously the point is not just that all these thinkers were black. Rather, there are complex arguments and intellectual traditions that weave together things like ancient Egypt and pan-Africanist political movements in the 1960s. But it sounds like you aren't going to listen to it so you will never know what you are missing, which is a shame - I get the sense that you are really someone who would benefit from learning about this.

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As a rule, the maxim that you need to read/listen to before judging, but this series is one of the exceptions. If someone writes a book about "Lady Gaga's philosophy", I would also be legitimate to say that the work is not really about philosophy without having to read it. There is a limit. 

It is clear that your perception that I would benefit from the series on black ideology stems from the belief that I need to feel compassion for a socially oppressed group, in line with the theory of Karl Marx and his successors. Not because it would bring me more knowledge of the history of philosophy. This is precisely my point.

I understand your decision not to want to take the risks of getting into the argument that your podcast will only really be without gaps now if you have a series about "fascist intellectuals". 

Finally, we can only hope that you don't create a new series on "feminist philosophy" to feature alongside a feminist who wants to wipe out the males of the planet. Have a great day.

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Actually, if I get that far I would definitely cover the philosophy of the fascists; I mean, if nothing else I would have to talk about them when getting into Heidegger and the reception of Nietzsche. Between now and then I will also cover philosophical justifications used to justify racist oppression and colonialism. (To some extent we have done that in the Africana series already, to explain what the figures we cover are reacting to.) I think one could indeed do a podcast series on the intellectual basis of fascism/totalitarian thought, or on the history of racism; that would be interesting. But I think it will be more naturally covered as part of the more general coverage of early modern European philosophy (and later periods), since it is woven into the fabric of European thought and can be covered within that context. 

I guess if you are refusing to listen to the Africana series because you somehow know that it couldn't possibly be interesting at a philosophical level, then I can just wish you enjoyment with the rest of the project; no one is obligated to consume the whole thing. But I can say from my own experience that I personally have learned just as much about the history of philosophy from doing the Africana series as I did from doing the India series, namely a whole lot! 

Maybe part of the problem is that you are making assumptions about what must go on in the series, without having listened to it - like, that it is 100+ episodes and counting of leftist political lament or ideology, or whatever. But the series has covered interesting perspectives on all kinds of topics anyone would presumably count as core philosophical issues, e.g. personhood (Yoruba ideas about the mind and its relation to the body), time (Mbiti's theory of African perceptions of time), the relationship between philosophy in oral and literary form, debates within socialism, nationalism and the very concept of nationhood, whether violence can be justified, and, yes, feminism. Also the series looks at a lot of nuanced debates within the Africana tradition, so a lot of what we are talking about is - far from being some kind of singing from an ideological hymn sheet - about disagreements over the aforementioned issues between Africana thinkers that have been ongoing for a few centuries. We even covered Africana thinkers who are skeptical about the concept of African or Africana philosophy. Obviously I can't explain it all here, but maybe this gives you a glimpse at why it has taken us so long to get through the series and why it is worthwhile, even beyond its political significance (which I certainly do not deny).

Guruhoc 28 January 2023

In reply to by Peter Adamson

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Discussing the relationship with fascism of some mainstream philosophers like Nietzsche and Heidegger is something that any professor of philosophy usually does. This is different from creating a special series with intellectuals unknown to the general public like Giovanni Gentile and Julius Evola or specific episodes about the Blackshirts. That's exactly what you did to black ideology and I'm sure if you gave the same treatment to fascists you'd be called a Nazi. 

Both black ideology and feminism were a strand of Marxism based on subjective revolution, which no longer has the proletariat as a revolutionary agent. Authors such as Antonio Gramsci and members of the Frankfurt School occupy a prominent role here. Without attending your course, I can bet that Marxism is a recurring theme. One can learn a lot about politics, sociology and history by studying Malcolm X and the Black Panthers objectively and impartially, but they definitely shouldn't take up space in a history of philosophy. 

Please understand that for part of your audience that loves philosophy it is irritating to go to the site in search of new episodes and find one with the title "Black Power". I will follow your advice to follow the rest of your work. I hope my comments serve as a well-meaning warning that philosophers do not cave to mass pressure. Socrates will not receive you as an equal in limbo if the project suffers the perverse influence of political militants.

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I've been reading through this thread as a third party observer, and I have to say this all seems a little silly. As someone listening to both the main series and the non-western philosophy track, including Africana, a lot of these complaints and points seem either a gross simplification or just outright false or just unsupported assertions.

The first thing I would say is that calling it "Black Ideology" seems to turn it all into a monolith and without depth, especially when you try to tie it all in as a "strand of Marxism". Of course, especially in the 20th century Marxism is going to come up a lot, just like how Liberal ideology and concepts come up when we get to modern philosophy, or how Christianity and God do come up all the time when going over Medieval philosophy. All three were/are hugely influential, and you can't not talk about them when going over the three time periods I mentioned for Marxism, Liberalism, and Christianity respectively. I don't see what is so special about Marxism coming up given that. Unless you don't consider Marxism philosophically interesting. And besides, the claim that "Black Ideology" or even the entirety of Feminism are both "strand[s] of Marxism" is just outright wrong. Feminism existed before Marxism was a thing, and a lot of the philosophers Peter has gone over pre date Marx (I mean, the first section of the series was about pre colonial philosophy, so unless time machines are a thing I don't think you will find Marxism there).

That last part brings me to the second point, not all of it is "political". The whole pre colonial section should make that obvious. And even though the slavery/diaspora and 20th century sections are very political, even then not everything is, or at least not directly or necessarily so. Take Amo for example.

Third and finally, you just seem to assert that all of it is just unphilosophical without giving any reason why. Why shouldn't King for example have a spot in a history of philosophy podcast that prides itself on not having any gaps? Same for Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party etc. You never give any explicit reason as to why. Is it because they were very political or militant? Lots of philosophers in the western philosophy track were. Should Peter not give a spot to Thomas Jefferson and the other American founding fathers? Or to use an even better example, Robespierre? Is the reason that they didn't cover philiosophically interesting topics? That would just be incorrect, they all did, and they all gave reasons and arguments for their positions that show they had thought about said issues a lot. And it wasn't all just self contained either, they interacted with and grappled with people outside the Africana tradition as well. Take Amo, King, or even one of the Panthers making a joke about how they were talking about the implications of Godel's incompleteness theorems and wondering what a hypothetical FBI agent listening in on that conversation would be thinking. Is the reason Marxism? While it does come up a lot, not everyone was a Marxist, and even if that was true, is Marxism not philosophically interesting? Marx himself is considered a very important philosopher. And some people were against Marxism anyway and its ideas. Take Betancourt for example, who had mixed feelings about the Cuban revolution, came up with ideas about class that are at variance with a traditional understanding of Marxism, and came down against the revolution after he was kicked out, concluding that it didn't help further the black struggle. Even if you have a distaste for Marxism, that isn't a reason to exclude it from the podcast. If the problem is with the category itself (Africana Philosophy), like Peter says the first episode grapples with that, and it isn't just about skin colour. There is (I would say a healthy amount anyway) debate around that category, but it is the same for the category of "Western Philosophy", "Indian Philosophy", "Chinese Philosophy" etc.

Sorry for the long rant. You don't need to watch the series if you don't want to, but like Peter said, I think you would learn a lot! I know I have, anyway. And this is far from saying you should sympathise with the struggles Black people have (I think people should, but putting that aside). To take an example, I think Du Bois' philosophy of science is interesting and worth considering like other philosophers of science. If you ever get time, I would recommend listening to at least a few, especially the first episode. Even if you stop after, that should clear a lot of things up.

Johannes Berglein 28 January 2023

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Dear Peter, 

many thanks for your update, I´m so excited about what is to come!

I know we will still have to wait a little bit, but since we all know you are foresighted scholar, I had two questions on the Counter-Reformation series.

a) How will you manage the problem of the unavoidably confessional naming of this period? It is true that the term "Counter-Reformation" is prefered by the majority of historians, but its negative connotations (as it were, the attempt of the Vatican to undo all kinds of reform) and its patently Protestant origins (I think it was Leopold von Ranke who coined the term) have been questioned, with more benigne terms like "Catholic Reformation" or "Catholic Revival" been proposed. Since it seems to be impossible to find a neutral, "a-confessional" name, I was wondering if you will argue explicitly for the use of "Counter-Reformation".  

b) Are you planning to do an episode on Giles of Viterbo? As a Cardinal and avid reformer of the Church, but also enthusiastic Platonist and Cabbalist and friend of many humanists, he seems to be perfectly located at the intersection of the Renaissance and Reformation series. Maybe he could be a figure to begin with?     

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