What to expect when you're expecting the Catholic Reformation

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Ok, here is a preview of what I'll be covering in the upcoming series on the Catholic Reformation (aka the Counter-Reformation) which will mostly focus on Iberia (=Spain and Portugal) with some glances back at Italy. As usual in these previews, I haven't listed interviews here. 

The series will kick of on January 28, with episode 438, an introduction to this mini-series. With interviews it will take most of 2024, and then we're on to the 17th-18th centuries finally (starting with France and the Low Countries).

Introduction to the Catholic Reformation
The Inquisition
Exploration and Science
The Valladoid Debate
Spanish humanism
Spanish mysticism 
The rise of the Jesuits 
Introduction to Spanish Scholasticism (SS) 
Political and legal theory in SS
Natural law theory in SS
Metaphysics in SS
Luis de Molina 
Foreknowledge and free will in SS
Francisco Suárez
Oliva Sabuco  
Velasquez (yes, I mean the painter)
"Outsider" Philosophy (The Cheese and the Worms) 

Spencer on 18 November 2023

The inquisition?

I have to say, I'm surprised...because, as you know, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! 

In reply to by Spencer

Peter Adamson on 18 November 2023

Monty Python

I was already wondering how many variations on that joke I can allow myself.

Johannes Berglein on 18 November 2023

No "Life Is a Dream"?

Dear Peter, I am delighted! Thank you very much for this preview! I was just wondering if you will cover the highly philosophical work of Pedro Calderón de la Barca. After five episodes on Shakespeare I think it is just fair to devote one whole episode to his fellow philosopher-dramatist from Spain. 

Again, many thanks your work! 

Peter Adamson on 18 November 2023

de la Barca

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll check him out. I was sort of thinking that Cervantes would be the analogous figure in this series, but that wouldn't rule it out.

Matt on 19 November 2023

And in the non-Western sphere?

Just curious! I have so thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this horizon-broadening podcast (and the books), that I can’t wait to see where you go once the Africana is concluded. It’s all been just amazing, and I can’t wait.

In reply to by Matt

Peter Adamson on 19 November 2023

After Africana

In February we are moving on to classical China! I will post a tentative episode list for that too, in the next couple of months.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

anonymous admirer on 19 November 2023



Love all your hard work, Peter.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Matt on 20 November 2023


I was wondering whether (and hoping) that might be the next stop! Such marvelously comprehensive work. Thanks again!

Burt on 28 November 2023


Beyond the episode on the Valladolid Debate, is there going to be any coverage of thought about race/ethnicity in early modern Spain/the Spanish Americas? It seems that this would fall under the purview of the podcast and, if anything, constitutes a bit of a "gap" in the coverage of the Middle Ages (it might have been nice to have an episode or two on medieval European attitudes towards race/ethnicity).

In reply to by Burt

Peter Adamson on 28 November 2023

Spanish Americas

Actually what I am hoping to do is to have a whole series on Philosophy in the Americas at some point in the future, looking at the topic you mention of course as well a Native American, Mesoamerican, and Latin American philosophy. You're right that I could/should have said more about it in the medieval period, this is a topic that is a lot higher on my radar nowadays after doing the Africana series. 

mehmet on 3 December 2023

Just for the record, the…

Just for the record, the plan given on march 20, 2021 was

Spanish humanism       
Spanish mysticism       
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                                  
Matteo Ricci and contact with China
De las Casas, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, and the New World
The Inquisition       
The trial of Galileo   

So the episodes about

--Vitoria and the School of Salamanca
--The Coimbra Commentaries
--The Suárez-Bellarmine affair
--Matteo Ricci and contact with China
--De las Casas, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, and the New World

seem to be cancelled. 

I think the coverage is a bit narrowed down. 

In reply to by mehmet

Peter Adamson on 3 December 2023


Actually it's more like moving stuff around (de las Casas and Sepulveda come a lot earlier now for instance, that's the Valladoid debate). I think overall maybe more episodes are planned now than before, but it is about the same. 

dukeofethereal on 10 December 2023

Gentili, Banez and Botero. etcc?

Where will you squeeze Gentili (one of the key figures of 'international law'), in the episode titled 'Political and legal theory in SS' ? 


What about Giovanni Botero and his book 'The Reason of State'?  given that Botero was influenced by Bodin. 

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). He should be included 


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'.


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


Nicolás Monardes ( Spanish humanist/botanist) = include him in episode of Spanish Humanism/Exploration and Science

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 


Juan de Celaya - Spanish Mathematician 

Pedro da Fonseca ( Portuguese 'Aristotle') - played a huge role in the development of Conimbricenses in which you had an episode devoted to initially... 

St. Robert Bellarmine - 2nd scholastics 


In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 11 December 2023

More Iberian philosophy

Thanks very much! I had your previous list already in my notes - not sure I will get all these figures in but will definitely do Fonseca, Banez and Cano, and I'll have a look at Castro for the legal theory episodes. I have already thought about whether Bellarmine needs his own episode or can just be discussed when I do the Church vs Galileo in the last episode; probably the latter, but we'll see. 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 15 December 2023

Botero and Gentili GAP

Hugo Grotius who you will devote at-least an episode in 1600-1800 France-Low Countries drew a lot from Alberico Gentili. You could have included Gentili to an episode in British reformation given he died in England in an episode devoted to 'Legal theory' but Richard Hooker took that episode instead. 

But you have a chance to include one of the 3 important philosophers on International Law as you will be covering De Vitoria (Catholic) in this series and Grotius in the next major series, it's a sizable gap if this individual is not mentioned. But given he is a protestant will he fit in that episode themed 'Political and legal theory in SS' ? 


Regarding Botero you can discuss about the idea of knowledge and counsel from his works.  Also he was a Historian, it was a shame you did not include him in the Italian renaissance but you have a chance to include him in this series given he was a Jesuit philosopher reacting to the reformation. 

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 16 December 2023

Legal theory

Actually the "in SS" label on those episodes following the general introduction to Spanish Scholasticism is misleading; I am going to take the opportunity to include comparable thinkers from elsewhere in the Catholic world. So the episode on political and legal theory is actually penciled in on my own episode list (which has notes about what exactly I want to cover) as being devoted to Vitoria, Gentili, and Botero. I guess actually things may move around quite a bit as I work out each episode but I'll try to skip as little as possible of course! 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 13 April 2024

Bellarmine deserves his own episode

Bellarmine is a giant of a scholar, deserves an episode. Shouldn't be just mentioned because of his interactions with Galileo, his views on Political Philosophy were really influential. 

dukeofethereal on 25 December 2023

1600-1800 France/Low Countries

Given we'll be on this series sometime in 2025, how many scripted episodes do you think it will take to cover it? I may be jumping the gun Professor this early,I'm curious to see how much material you have amassed for that epoch of a series. 

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 26 December 2023

Number of episodes

Actually I'm more amassing material for the Counterreformation series, still. So on this the best I can say is that I'm shooting for it to be a single volume in the book series, hence between 60 and 75 episodes not counting interviews. Same for the other early modern series so we'll be at this for quite a while, maybe 6-7 years to do the whole 17-18th centuries.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Bernese on 23 January 2024

End of French early modern series (french revolution)

I’ve got a (belated) follw-up question (or actually a follow-up question to another thread on the Early Modern series in an Africana episode, but I think it fits better here). Do you already have an idea at what point exactly the series on Early Modern french philosophy will stop? I think in particular about whether the series will include the political thought of the French Revolution era or whether this will be treated in the 19th century. I mean, the French Revolution constituted a completely new context for political thinkers – and it also gave them a lot of new stuff to think about! So it will makes quite a difference whether or not those 75 episode are meant include the ideas of everyone from Babeuf to de Maistre. Personally I think both approaches would be interesting: to treat the French Revolution in the context of the enlightenment ideas which influenced it or in the context of the early 19th century ideas that reacted to it.  

And as a sidenote: I am very excited about the Catholic/counter-reformation series!

In reply to by Bernese

Peter Adamson on 24 January 2024

Ending the France series

I was thinking of going up to about 1800 precisely because I wanted to do the French Revolution as the culmination of that series; I think otherwise it would kind of end on a cliffhanger. Then when we get to the 19th century (which would be a different series) we'd be looking, in part, at the reaction to those events around Europe, so not just in France but also, say, Burke or Hegel. But beyond that I genuinely have no idea how to handle the 19th century yet, like, how to split it into manageable chunks or how many series/books to devote to it. On the bright side I don't need to decide until about 2030!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 6 May 2024

Splitting the 19th/20th Century into Geographical blocs

1. Regarding 19th century philosophy, i believe you should continue with 19th century German Philosophy (Swiss/Austrian included) once you conclude 18th Century German Philosophy to continue from the lasting influence of Kant, you'd cover German Idealism, German Romanticism,  Neo-Kantism and Existentialism (Kierkegaard). Other Scandinavian/Dutch Thinkers should also be included.


2. Then you can move on to 19th century French Philosophy covering the reaction to the French Revolution and Félix Ravaisson: French Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century coverage is a good book. Henri Bergson should be the transitional figure to cover as you can mention in him both 19th and 20th century philosophy, just like your coverage of Galileo in Renaissance/Reformation or Dubois in 19th century/20th century. 

The Oxford Handbook of Modern French Philosophy is also a good book which covers both 19th/20th century French Philosophy


3. Then move on 19th Century American/British Philosophy - covering American Pragmatism, British Idealism, Utilitarianism, Transcendentalism, Darwinism in America/Britain, Science developments, etc..



The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century is a good book which should help you.


4. Regarding Russian Philosophy, i'd combine both 19th Century and 20th Century into 1 volume, there's also material on post-Soviet Russian Philosophy too. Pre-19th Century Russian Philosophy you should mention them when covering Germany/Eastern Europe 1600-1800 ,perhaps 1 episode covering Russian Philosophy/Religious Thought as an introduction pre 1600.


5. Regarding Iberian Philosophy and Italian Philosophy, you should combine both into 1 volume covering both 19th century and 20th century. Should be a small book. 


Then 20th Century Philosophy..


1. German Philosophy (Add Dutch thinkers/Scandinavian thinkers)


2. Anglo Philosophy 


3. French Philosophy 




Ignore Analytic/Continental divide as that will bloat the books and you'd be all over the place, geographical is better to organise your materials clearly. 

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Bernese on 13 May 2024

19th/20th Century: a different proposal

More for the fun of it than anything else, I'd also like to give my own, somewhat different opinion on the 19th/20th century series (sorry, Peter, for making you contemplate your mortality!). My caveat is that I'm not so well versed in "philosophical philosophy", so I'm coming from more of a general history and history of political ideas angle.
- I think the series/books should cover shorter time periods but larger geographical areas. The social, political, economic, technological and intellectual changes in the 19th and 20th centuries are so great and so rapid, and the intellectual world is also becoming more and more interconnected (especially in the 20th century), that otherwise it wouldn't be a continuous story. 
- Also, I think it would make more and more sense to have thematic (mini) series. For example, a series on socialist thought in Europe from Marx's death to the Second Word (possibly excluding Britain and Russia/Soviet Union) would make sense, as all the thinkers are part of a pan-continental conversation (and the same goes for Catholic thought, psychoanalysis, etc, probably even more so for less political currents).
- The 20th century should definitely be divided into two parts, with the second half (in the very unlikely event that the series gets that far) only beginning once all the series on the first part have been completed.
- Instead of 1900, I would make a break in the 1870s. In general history, as the second industrial revolution gets going, with all the massive social change that brings (modernity). On the political level, you have high imperialism with the complete colonisation of Africa, German unification, the Third French Republic and the end of the Reconstruction era in the US. More to the point, in the realm of ideas, you've got Marxist socialism as a mass movement, Nietzsche and the fin de siècle spirit, also, as I've looked up, Gottlob Frege started publishing in the 1870s.
- So the division could be as follows
o 19th century to the 1870s (maybe two books divided by geographical criteria)
o 1870s to 1914, if the show goes that far
o 1914 to the Second World War, if the show goes that far (alternatively, the whole period from the 1870s to the Second World War could be covered together in two books divided by subject)
o 1945 to 1990 (in the unlikely event that the show gets that far)
o Philosophy after 1990 (in the very unlikely event that the series gets that far)
- In terms of geography, Britain and the USA should probably be treated separately (though probably in the same books). Furthermore, philosophy in central-eastern and south-eastern Europe (from the Baltic countries to Greece) should not be overlooked, there were a number of Polish and Czech etc. thinkers (btw, here you can see why the 20th century has to be split: in the first half they belong to the Western European context, whereas 1945-1990 they can clearly be treated together with later Soviet philosophy). One might also think of treating philosophy in the small countries of north-western Europe (the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Scandinavia) after 1870 separately from the German (and Austrian) context. This would be particularly useful for the period 1915-1939, since the small countries remained democracies. 

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