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RG on 12 July 2024

Any new insight to what is oldest known philosophy?

I'm curious to know from the History Of Philosophy Without Any Gaps' research into the history of philosophy if any new insight has been gained as to which of the known ancient systems of philosophy may be the oldest.

In reply to by RG

Peter Adamson on 12 July 2024


Well, given the Africana episode on Prehistoric philosophy I guess I'd lean towards saying that it is not a meaningful question, because there is philosophy in all places and times where humans exist and you can use any artifacts of human culture (e.g. cave paintings) to try to reconstruct it. If you mean actual texts though, then the answer is ancient Egypt.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

RG on 12 July 2024

Re: Oldest

I had originally intended to ask about what may be the oldest known philosophical texts but then I thought to just ask what may be the oldest system of philosophy that we know of because whatever ancient systems of philosophy that we know about we obviously have texts / records of, so my question was a double-fold one and I think it adequate that I asked in the way because both of my questions were answered by you.

Philip on 3 July 2024

Freedom in the Ancent World

It seems to me that at different ages of our lives we value different sorts of freedom. When we are 14 a libertarian sort of freedom seems appealing. A 14 year old usually has distinct and identifiable authority figures and freedom for the 14 year old frequently consists in rebelling against those authority figures (or at least in always keeping alive the possibility of rebelling against those authority figures). At 30 years old, by contrast, many people want the sort of freedom they can only achieve by being in harmony with authority  (they might want to start a small business or be a Prof for example). To be free to start a small business (at least one with a physical store) one needs and wants a stable society and one wants to be integrated into that society in the relevant ways. It seems to me that philosophers of the ancient world thought a lot (more than we do today) about the different stages of life. My question is: Are there ancient authors who thought specifically about what sorts of freedom we should value at the different stages of our lives?  Thanks!

In reply to by Philip

Peter Adamson on 3 July 2024

Freedom and age

That is a great question! As it happens I am thinking about that a lot recently, not just freedom in particular but what philosophers in antiquity had to say about aging. A good place to look would be the letters by Cicero and Seneca on aging, they definitely do suggest that our priorities shift over time. Also check out Plato's Republic book 1, the part with the discussion between Socrates and Cephalus. 

Brian on 21 June 2024


My favorite podcast series but I just found out they're also available in book form! I'm a better reader than listener.  Just bought the whole set on Amazon, and looking forward to China.

In reply to by Brian

Peter Adamson on 22 June 2024


Awesome! Hope you will enjoy them. Actually I think China may be the fourth book to come along in the next few years since there will be two Africana volumes and the Reformation volume before then.

Ken on 15 May 2024

Chinese phonology

I hadn’t thought about this until I started listening to the second episode—has anyone gone over some of the basic Chinese pronunciations with you? I know you’re obviously reading pinyin, but the pronunciations are nothing like what we use in English. The big example is that the word Zhou is pronounced more like “Joe”. It took me a minute to know what dynasty you were talking about. 

I may have to skip out on these episodes as I know the pronunciations are only going to get more difficult if you haven’t heard the names pronounced before. (And I am just talking about Mandarin.)

In reply to by Ken

Peter Adamson on 15 May 2024


What we're doing is that Karyn is recording the words for me and I am doing my best to imitate what she does; I actually stop as I go along recording and listen to her version. Obviously this is a bit of a challenge but I am doing my best with it! (For example I mostly have been saying Zhou "Joe" but I may have screwed one up.) Just bear with me, it'll probably get at least a little better as I go along and get more practice.

Or when you say "what we usually say in English" do you mean, I should just say everything the way it's written as if it were English words? I am not sure that would be a good idea because it would be very far from the real pronunciation and there are different transliteration systems anyway so it is sort of random, to my mind. 

Irina Posternak on 13 May 2024

No Judaism as a group?

Wonderful podcasts, but why there is no Judaism-related podcasts? Everything else you seem to be covering...

In reply to by Irina Posternak

Peter Adamson on 14 May 2024


Actually there are many Judaism related podcasts already! Most of them are in the section on the Islamic world and in the Andalusia section; also there is the episode on Philo in the Late Antiquity part and it comes up in the Renaissance series too, like in the episode on theories of love. With more to come in the early modern series. The reason there is no single heading for Jewish philosophy is that as you probably know, Jewish thinkers turn up in various chronological and geographical spaces, which is how the podcast as a whole is divided. 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Irina Posternak on 17 May 2024

Thank you. I wish there were…

Thank you. I wish there were tags to follow, that would make things a bit easier to navigate, as the number of the posts is growing. Btw, I wanted to say Hi from Boston and that I am enjoying your lectures this semester at the University of Lucerne! One of my favorites I must say.

In reply to by Irina Posternak

Peter Adamson on 19 May 2024


Actually there are tags, but we call them “Themes” - if you look at the bottom of the page you’ll see the link to them. I don’t have one for Judaism because I think of these as tags for philosophical topics but maybe I should add one for that.

Glad you are enjoying the Lucerne course!

Philip Hyland on 2 May 2024

Freedom and the stages of life

Hello Peter

 I am a loyal listener to the podcast HoPWaG.  I am interested in how the Freedoms we value may change over the course of our lives.  For example a 14 year old may be content merely to rebel against authority, a 30 year old may value the ability to work in harmony with existing authorities (to start a small business for example) and a 50 year old might want to BE the authority. For me personally a 14 year old libertarian seems to be living in harmony with their stage of life whereas a 50 year old libertarian is not. (Obviously this is a contentious claim. This is merely an opinion on my part and I am sure things are more complicated than that!) Please recommend books that might give me insight into how the Ancient Philosophers thought about how our personal age might affect how we think about freedom and about which sorts of freedoms and conception of freedom we should value. I would be interested in both primary and secondary source books and especially interested in any philosophers who have written works in the last 8 years or so that relate our current changing conceptions of which freedoms we should value to writers from the ancient world. I am primarily interested in European, Japanese and Indian ancient thinkers, but would also be interested in other traditions. Thanks...and thanks for your sheer endurance as you create HoPwaG!

In reply to by Philip Hyland

Peter Adamson on 2 May 2024


That is an interesting question! One thing I'd point out is that there are really two philosophical debates that fall under "freedom," one that is more metaphysical, about free action and choice, and another that is about political freedom. I think you are more interested in the latter than the former but the former is better researched. I would recommend though looking at "A Free Will" by the late great Michael Frede, on the emergence of the concept of will, and this would be a good overview on the metaphysical side of things:

And there is also a page on ancient political thought that might be helpful:

There's also a book called "The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece" which I haven't read but there is a review by Zita Hitz, which you can download here:


In reply to by Peter Adamson

Peter Adamson on 3 May 2024

More on Freedom

Oh and I'd also suggest listening to the recent series of episodes on freedom on the "Past, Present, Future" podcast by David Runciman, in which he and Lea Ypi discuss freedom in a variety of philosophical periods and traditions including antiquity.

Xaratustrah on 23 April 2024

Albert the Great citing Avicenna

Hi Peter,

In his "De mirabilibus mundi", Albert the Great has cited a quote from Avicenna about some features of human soul, as Albert puts in his citation, apparently in Avicenna's "sixth book of Naturalia". More than this I don't know.

Maybe you have a hint where to look for, in order to find exactly the text in the original Arabic?


In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 23 April 2024

Sixth book

Sure, that should be the "Nafs" (i.e. Soul) section of the Natural Philosophy of the Shifa'. There is the Rahman edition, but you might be able to find it quicker if you look at Tommaso Alpina's recent book on this part of the Shifa' (which is fantastic anyway, so well worth your time even if you don't find the quotation). There is also an old French translation of the whole Nafs by Bakos.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Xaratustrah on 4 May 2024


took me some time, but I will soon start an interlibrary loan, so hopefully I will have all three (Alpina, Bakos and Rahman). I guess I have to re-listen to your Avicenna episodes for a warm up first... it has been so long ago... wow when I think of it, all these years I have been listening to your podcast, truly great work...

In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 4 May 2024


Ok good luck with the Avicenna! And thanks, that's very kind of you.

Rory Gaines on 28 March 2024

Who is the oldest known philosopher or group of philosophers?

     Hi, Peter.

I would like to ask you what is the earliest philosophy, whether of an individual philosopher or a group of philosophers, that there are still records of, be it of primary source or of secondary source.

In reply to by Rory Gaines

Peter Adamson on 28 March 2024

Oldest philosophers

Well it depends what you'd be willing to count as a philosopher or philosophical text, of course, but I'd go with either the Rig Veda or some of the "Instructions" we covered in the Africana series, the podcasts on ancient Egypt. 

The Presocratics aren't even close! 

dukeofethereal on 27 March 2024

A blogpost on suggested figures/themes/to cover 1600-1800

Hiya Professor, years ago you made a blog post on what topics/philosophers to cover for the Renaissaince and many listeners chimed in on this site and mention various topics/philosophers/themes to cover


Are you going to do a new blogpost for the same for 1600-1800 European Philosophy, as it listeners might chime in figures that should be covered that may not have been in your radar in the first place, for example Richard Hooker for British reformation (who you eventually did devote an episode to).


Since we're starting this series next year, it should give you plenty time to prepare for such material, since we're starting on France-Low countries next. I say this because a particular French Catholic philosopher caught my eye, his name is Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet and his work 'Discours sur l'histoire universelle' which is similar to Augustine 'city of god'.



Ross on 21 March 2024

Cancel Culture academy style

There must be a very good reason that while Israel does not appear in the roster of countries to choose from for my profile Palestine does and I would like to hear it. Please fix this. You may be of the ilk that thinks that cancelling Israel and simultaneously creating an alternate state IS part of the fix, in which case I think deserves an episode of its own. Tell the world.

In reply to by Ross

Peter Adamson on 21 March 2024


Actually I didn't even know that there was a dropdown menu for users to indicate their country, never mind that Israel isn't on it. But I guess that is some automatic thing we don't have control over. Actually are you sure about this? Sounds very unlikely. (At first I thought you must mean that Palestine isn't on it, which sounds more possible, but then I re-read your message.)

Davide Doardi on 12 March 2024

Plato and Aristotle on knowledge

Among the chief achievements of Plato's epistemology we have the difference between episteme and doxa, the account of episteme as true and justified belief, the dependence of episteme on ontology and the importance of truth for political and ethical life. 

What does Aristotle add to these achievements? Can we regard the systematization of deductive reasoning as a continuation of Plato's program?  As to metaphysics: does this play the same role as the dimension of imperishable and unchanging forms in Plato? 

I am perplexed. It seems that in spite of his historiographic method that made him famous in the Physics and Metaphysics, Aristotle does not do the same in epistemology and, for example, simply neglects Theaetetus and Republic

Comments and criticism are welcomed 


In reply to by Davide Doardi

Peter Adamson on 12 March 2024

Aristotle's epistemology

I can sort of see why you would say that because the more famous and frequently read treatises by Aristotle are not centrally about epistemology. However, there is the Posterior Analytics. It engages intensely with the question of how to distinguish episteme from doxa and sets out a theory of scientific demonstration as constitutive of episteme. What we perhaps get less from Aristotle is a weaving together of themes in epistemology with politics, metaphysics, etc though even there he has plenty to say, for instance the inclusion of the sections on the intellectual virtues in the Ethics. And by the way all of his works engage extensively with Plato: critique of Forms in the Metaphysics, of the Form of the Good in Ethics bk 1, of the Timaeus in the Physics and elsewhere, extensive critique of the Republic in the Politics, and those are just the most obvious explicit references, in fact he is thinking about Plato all the time even when he doesn't say so. 

I do have an episode on Aristotle's epistemology by the way so you could check that out, it explains the theory of the Posterior Analytics.

Clay Kallam on 23 February 2024

Where can I get podcast?

Hi ...

So I started on Google Podcasts but it's closing. I don't have an Apple phone. Where can I get your podcasts?


Clay Kallam

In reply to by Clay Kallam

Peter Adamson on 24 February 2024


Well, here on the site, or on Spotify or directly on Podbean which hosts both series. 

In reply to by Clay Kallam

Peter Adamson on 24 February 2024


Well, here on the site, or on Spotify or directly on Podbean which hosts both series. 

Andrew on 13 February 2024

Chinese philosophy and disability/neurodiversity

Do you or Karyn Lai know of any work that deals with the relation between Chinese philosophy and disability/neurodiversity? I'm listening to the lecture series that Lai gave a few months ago on Chinese philosophy for Leverhulme and there has been a few times where Disability/Neurodiversity would pose some interesting questions to the ideas and/or puts them into a different and interesting light/angle. Two examples come to mind:

First, with Confucius. Specifically I have in mind between Ritual and Autistic people masking. Masking is when an Autistic person covers up their Autistic traits in order to fit in the neurotypical world. I can't say I really understand the role that ritual plays into Confucius' thought yet, but I know at least that it is related somehow to cultivation. It seems like though that a lot of daily rituals would not help cultivate an Autistic person, when they have to repress their Autistic traits for the sake of ritual. It is a common experience that later on in life for some Autistic people that have had to mask their whole lives to experience burnout and can no longer do a lot of stuff they could do before (very low on energy, no longer able to mask for a while etc). So much for cultivation, the rituals haven't helped them flourished at all but instead acted against their flourishing or their ability to participate in society. Would this be a correct understanding of what ritual is and the purpose it is supposed to serve, and if so how could a Confucian respond to this negative outcome?

The second example is the swimming parable in the Zhuangzi. The swimmer, by not having a dao of their own, is able to follow the dao of the water, which confuses Confucius since he has his own dao and therefore is unable to understand what the swimmer is doing or how. I think bringing in disability can help put two Daoist themes, spontaneity and relativity, in an interesting angle. On the one hand, if the swimmer had broken legs, how the swimmer would follow the water's dao would be different (I can imagine there would be more focus on how they use their arms and/or how they would control/throw their body weight around in order to navigate and move around the water), precisely showing the relativity of the water's dao. On the other hand, if your body is prone to stiffing up in cold water, then it seems that there is no way to go with the flow of the water. The dao of the water would be hostile to you, in which case you can't naturally and spontaneously follow the water's dao. In which case, if we still want to swim, they would have to develop their own dao somehow that goes against the water's dao, since they certainly can't follow it.

Both of those examples may or may not be born from misunderstandings, I don't know enough yet. But at the very least, if Karyn Lai is right in the lecture series that early Chinese Philosophy has an attentiveness to orientation and self-cultivation, then disability and neurodiversity surely seem very relevant to those concerns. So I have to imagine there has been some work on this, especially since it isn't necessarily a modern concern (what I mean is, while in my first example Autism might be a modern concern, I know that there is a recurring theme in the Zhuangzi of the use of uselessness) so I can't imagine there not being lots of literature on this.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 13 February 2024

Chinese philosophy and disability

It's funny you ask, because I was reading the Analects today (as one does... actually, because I am working on the episode to introduce this work) and was struck, having had this exchange with you on the site here, by the fact that there are several references to blindness. In particular there is a striking passage where a blind "music master" visits Confucius and he puts the man at ease while also telling him who is there, where they are sitting, etc - must be one of the earliest examples of a philosophical text about ethical treatment of the disabled? 

Unfortunately though I don't know whether there is secondary literature on your question, but I will keep it in mind and let you know if I come across anything.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 13 February 2024

I am sure Karyn Lai must…

I am sure Karyn Lai must know. In that very same lecture series I was talking about, literally the last episode is about disability and a good life in Zhuangzi's philosophy. Didn't even realise that until I made the comment haha.

Speaking of the lecture series, I meant to link it in my last comment so you could see what I was talking about but I forgot to. Here it is:

Andrew on 9 February 2024

Thomas Sankara

What happened with Sankara? I was wondering about him recently, and just learned that my question asking about him is nearly a year old by now. Was it too late, didn't fit with the current plan, nothing philosophically interesting about him?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 10 February 2024


Oh right, thanks for the reminder. I guess he would (if anywhere) go in the book version as a figure comparable to the other African political leaders with philosophical interests. I'll check this with Chike.

Cor Zwart on 5 February 2024


Hi Peter,

First, thanks for this great project and the effort you are putting in! I keep revisiting and listening to the old episodes while trying to keep up also on the new ones, getting bettter insight every time.

I was wondering if something recently changed in the recordings, as the recent episodes (starting from the Renaissance and Reformation in Britain) are harder to follow for me. It feels like the playback speed is faster or pauses are cut out. I am not a native speaker of English, so maybe it is me, but just wanted to ask.

Regards, Cor

In reply to by Cor Zwart

Peter Adamson on 5 February 2024


No, that shouldn’t be different; possibly there are episodes where I am talking too fast? But I would be surprised if there is a systematic problem just for the more recent episodes, and no one else has mentioned anything. Maybe check the settings on your device?

Brandon Freude… on 3 February 2024

Appreciation, and Episodes Disappearing on Apple Podcasts

Hi Peter -

I’ve been working my way through the series from the start since last year, and it really is astounding the care you have put into this podcast and website. Thank you so much for providing the world with this resource. 

I had an amateur interest in modern philosophy before your series and I read some Hume and analytic philosophy I liked.  With a scientific background I assumed I didn’t have much to learn from, especially, ancient and medieval metaphysics. Happy to say how wrong that impression was… even issues that in the moment I think feel too removed from my natural empiricist mindset, including very theological issues, I find myself considering in my free time now.  When I catch up in the podcast I’m sure I’ll loop back to reading my favorite thinkers.  Although I just finished Abelard and I do admit the “medieval modernism” I found refreshing nonetheless!

Anyway - the original inspiration for my message, I was about to start the Indian Philosophy series and noticed they seem to be disappearing from Apple Podcasts. The first 3 episodes are currently missing. I have no problem listening on your website but wanted to be sure you didn’t lose any potential new listeners due to this, if it isn’t just some weird error on my end. 

In reply to by Brandon Freude…

Peter Adamson on 3 February 2024

Bite taken out of Apple

Thanks, it’s great to hear that you are getting so much out of the podcast!

On the Apple problem: in browsing mode they only show the most recent 200 episodes of any feed, I think it is; you can still get at the earliest episodes but you have to “subscribe”. If you look at the original HoPWaG feed it starts well after the beginning for the same reason. Unfortunately this is a general policy so nothing we can do to fix it. 

Andrew on 2 February 2024


Are you still doing the transcriptions? I've noticed a few interviews for quite a while now haven't gotten one. So I decided to gather the ones currently still missing one. If there are interviews without the interview tag I will have missed it, and maybe I missed one or two tagged as well, but this should be 99% of the remaining ones.

95, 215, 299, 300b, 318, 321, 360, 387, 400, 431, 437.

41, 50

39, 140

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 2 February 2024

Missing transcriptions

Wow, thanks for chasing these down! I knew about some of them but I thought the number of missing ones was much smaller than that. I'll try to get them done - they are probably held up at different stages of the process which makes it harder to keep track.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 2 February 2024

Glad I could help!  Speaking…

Glad I could help! 

Speaking of transcripts, I had a thought. You didn't want to do transcripts for the podcast because you were worried about the book series right? But then decided that having transcripts for the interviews was ok since they weren't in the series. Aren't there other episodes where that reasoning could apply? I am thinking, for example, your Q and A episode 250 and the bonus episodes (that is all that comes to mind currently though, maybe there are more candidates that I am not thinking of though). This could also apply to your gap filling series for episode 500.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 3 February 2024

Other episodes

Oh good point, thanks for that as well! 250 would be easy since that even exists as a text file already (and the same will be true for 500). I’ll do that.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 3 February 2024

Last thing, I decided to…

Last thing, I decided to check if there was any interview not tagged as such and there is at least one! Poor Brittney Cooper from episode 63 in Africana isn't even tagged as an interview!

Side thing, don't know if this is just me somehow, but the page for 79 on Africana, the interview with Leonard Harris, the proportions are all messed up. Like the picture and episode list are so far off to the side that it isn't even under the header and I have to scroll right on the page to see it

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 3 February 2024

Fixing up the site

Great, thanks - I fixed Cooper but am unable to deal with the problem on the Harris page, I asked webmaster Julian to have a look.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 3 February 2024

Glad I could help

Glad I could help

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 18 February 2024


Just an update on this: 

For a few I seem to have no raw file as yet so we'll have to get the Computer Overlords to churn those out.

But for a lot of them I had simply failed to link to the transcript from the podcast episode page. This was easy to fix so you can now see transcripts for: 300b, 321, 360, 387, and 431, plus 41 and 50 in the India series. 

And then a couple still are being edited (318 Primavesi, 39 Garraway). 

I put a transcript of 250 (the Q&A episode) directly on the episode page; for 215 and 400, the interviews with several other podcasters, I think I'm inclined not to do transcripts since those are a bit incidental to the overall project and it would be a lot of work to edit them for someone since they are each over an hour long.

Thanks again for tracking down the missing episodes!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 18 February 2024

Well, how about you just…

Well, how about you just have the ai transcript for 215 and 400 and if anyone is willing to do them then they can, but at least the ai version of the transcript will exist for those who want one. Just would need to make special notice of that fact. Or another idea: If I remember correctly, you interviewed the podcasters in both episodes in sequential order right? Maybe instead of treating it as one transcript, you could split it up into three that then different people can work on at different times, if that makes sense. If done that way, that would cut the workload down quite a bit for an individual transcript anyway.

I'm assuming, due to similar reasoning that you gave to 215 and 400, that you aren't inclined to make transcripts of the bonus episodes as well? If so, outside of my first suggestion, at the very least a transcript for the first chapter of your book would be very easy right? (would it even be a "transcript" for it? haha).

Glad to have helped make the podcast more accessible! Just two last things quickly unrelated to the transcripts.

1. In the catholic reformation series, in both the general overview page and each episode, the part that lists how long the series is ("Episodes x - y: name of series") doesn't have either the name of the series (and the link to the overview page) or the html/css styling the website usually gives it. If you don't know what I mean, just look between the series list and the picture in a single episode and you will see what I mean.

2. This technically applies to ancient and medieval philosophy, but I feel that especially with modern philosophy there is lots of contemporary material that engages with it critically and offer multiple different angles and understandings of it. I have specifically in mind as a prime example Liberalism, and the criticism that Marxism, some strands of feminist theory, post/decolonial theory etc. You have already come across a lot of this in the Africana series. Cartesian dualism also comes to mind as another big example, of the huge contemporary desire to go beyond cartesian dualism, in this or that way. I'm wondering exactly how you are going to go about this issue, of choosing which contemporary voice/view to include and which to exclude in your coverage. One the one hand, they all offer (in my view anyway) interesting insights and critical reevaluations to our understanding of modern philosophers. On the other hand, the stream of voices seem endless.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 18 February 2024

Two points

Thanks for all that - I'll bring the point about the new episodes to Julian's attention.

The last point is tricky, but I think for the most part I will stick to telling the story as "immanently" as possible, so, trying to contextualize Cartesianism or whatever topic within its historical frame, and talking more about how contemporaries reacted to it rather than (say) 20th c objections. I might occasionally mention something along those lines but more to keep the listener's attention; it isn't really the point of the project and as you say there is no end to it. Also just pragmatically I think I'm going to have my hands full reading through the more historically oriented scholarship on this stuff! Which is also pretty much endless...

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 18 February 2024

Some of the critiques are…

Some of the critiques are historically grounded and also very relevant to how we understand their philosophy though. Like, I know you will want to bring up how John Locke was invested in the Royal Africa company or John Stuart Mill with the East India company and how that should relate to how we understand their works. If we are willing to do that, then why not also bring in some modern historical critiques like a Marxist class critique of Liberalism? That would be the most historically grounded critique that comes to mind.

Andrey on 25 December 2023

Russian philosophy


Are there any plans to cover Russian philosophy? Frederick Copleston devoted to it a special volume of his History of Philosophy.

Thank you

In reply to by Andrey

Peter Adamson on 26 December 2023

Russian philosophy

Yes definitely, though I haven't figured out yet where it would fit. Probably there will be something on eastern Europe and Russia in the early modern "Germany" series (on the 17-18th c), and then more when I get to the 19th century. But I really have no idea yet how to carve up the 19th century into manageable chunks yet.

Nicola Ferrari on 17 December 2023

Book version

Dear Prof. Peter Adamson, i'm Nicola Ferrari, from Rovigo, Italy. I apologize for my bad English. Congratulations on your initiative of a history of philosophy without any gaps. Can I ask you for some information on the book version of your podcasts? What will be the next scheduled release? 

In reply to by Nicola Ferrari

Peter Adamson on 17 December 2023

Book version

Thanks for your interest! The list of volumes, including the forthcoming ones, is under "frequently asked questions" (Question 2) at the bottom of the page or just at this link:

Abdul Bari Lateef on 17 December 2023

Ohilosphers of Muslim world

Why Shaykh Saadi in not included in the list of Muslim philosophers.

In reply to by Abdul Bari Lateef

Peter Adamson on 17 December 2023


Well, that list only includes figures I covered in the podcast. Maybe I should have had an episode on Islamic poetry and its relation to philosophy, actually, in which case I could have included him.

Spencer on 15 November 2023

Comments becoming stale

For many years I have enjoyed reading the comments on this podcast website. The comments reflect a wide variety of thoughts and perspectives from people with varying degrees of familiarity with the topic. I have also enjoyed reading Peter's follow-up responses and, at times, have marveled at his patience. The guy does, after all, have a day job!

Recently, I have found the comments to be rather stale. The majority of the recent comments are from a small number of  people who endlessly wonder what is next and/or type out detailed plans that they would like Peter to follow. I've not seen anything along these lines with other history podcasts. If these individuals want to learn about X or Y, certainly they can pursue those topics. Although an occasional recommendation is certainly fine (and even interesting from my perspective), I do not understand this non-stop kibitzing.

Peter actually provides more long-term ("What to expect when expecting..." posts) and short-term (the topic of the next episode at the conclusion of many episodes) information than most podcasts...and that is certainly good enough for me. If one cannot wait for Peter to get to some topic...there are many other sources (books) and other podcasts.  



In reply to by Spencer

Peter Adamson on 15 November 2023

Stale comments

Thanks for your input! I see what you mean, but on the other hand I would always rather that people be overly enthuastic about the project and what is to come than not really interested. Actually I have also gotten a lot of useful advice on what to cover by the "kibitzers" over the years. Still I would definitely encourage you and anyone else to comment on the substance of existing episodes, that is really what I see as the primary purpose of the commenting function, to start up a conversation. Actually sometimes I wonder whether I should be slower or more selective in responding to comments, in hopes that other people will jump in, it is not meant to be just a way of asking me questions but a forum for open discussion. But when someone says something interesting or asks a question it's hard to resist the temptation to respond as soon as I see it.

Andrew on 12 November 2023

Stoics and theatre

Random thought that crossed me today, but what did the stoics think of theatre/acting? The more I think about it, the more acting seems antithetical to stoic philosophy, especially if you method act, where you deliberately try to get in to the head of the person you are acting. Or if you are a theatre watcher, get immersed into a fake world. In either case, you are taking on emotions from something that is all pretend, so under the stoic emotion theory you are making what you know to be false judgements, and intentionally and especially so if you are an actor trying to get into the role. And if this play was a tragedy? I can't imagine how they wouldn't hate it. You are experiencing intentionally the suffering of something not real (or intentionally pretending you are someone you are not if you are an actor) that feels very real and intense!

This would all seem so irrational from the stoic view of emotion, intentionally taking on emotions (and so under the stoic view making judgements that are false) and even feeling the suffering from a tragedy! But also it seems like the stoic view is a terrible theory to understand what is going on in theatre, whether you are a watcher or an actor, since everyone would deny that what is going on is real, and it seems like an absurd implication from stoic psychology that, say, when Oedipus realises he killed his father and you know with his mother, that when the audience feels sorrow at the events unfolding, that they actually subconsciously making the judgement that Oedipus is real, has a mother and father, and did those stuff to them etc.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 12 November 2023

Stoics and theater

Interesting question. I can think of some passages where Stoics talk about Homer but nothing leaps to mind for references to tragedies. One does find though the idea, which is more positive I guess, that we are each "playing out a part" assigned to us like an actor - I think this is probably in Marcus Aurelius and I know it is in Plotinus, who is reflecting a Stoic theme. But would be worth exploring further, these things are just off the top of my head and I may be forgetting something obvious.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 12 November 2023

Apparently Seneca wrote some…

Apparently Seneca wrote some plays, and according to one paper some radical thinkers who have been influenced by stoicism have been drawn on in theatre and film studies, "Stoicism and Performance: A Joyful Materialism". But couldn't find much else, other than apparently Stoicism had influence Shakespeare.

I can't find much, on an admitting very quick google search, if the stoics themselves ever dedicated much thought about the nature of theatre though. What would you say they would have thought of it? Is my analysis in the previous comment correct, or does it misunderstand stoic theory? How would they respond to it?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 12 November 2023

Stoics and theater

Well since you're inviting me to speculate, I would say that the Stoics could actually approve of theater much in the way Aristotle did, as a potential means of encouraging moral improvement. Remember that they think pretty much everyone is not a sage but is progressing toward virtue, and one can imagine ways that theater could help with that. Also it's worth remembering that the Stoics were not opposed to all emotional feeling, for instance they believed that the sage would feel "joy" in virtue.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 12 November 2023

But wouldn't this sort of be…

But wouldn't this sort of be a slight of hand toward moral improvement in a way, according to their theory? Encouraging you to align your judgements about reality to avoid suffering and not be at the mercy of our emotions by... getting people immersed in a fictional world that can stir intense emotion in people? You see what I mean by slight of hand right? Given how I have described the situation anyway, I don't think a hypothetical sage would want to watch Oedipus or any other ancient greek tragedy, or even be an actor. I get that the stoics aren't opposed to emotion, but they do seem opposed to intense emotion, and encourage the emotion that comes from correct judgement of things. Theatre can in one sense be viewed as all about "cultivating emotion" in a way, particularly intense emotion, about things that aren't even real!

Or maybe I am just tired, it is getting late. I might just be repeating the same point over again but in different words. Happens sometimes when I am tired.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 13 November 2023

Stoics and theater

Ok yes, I see what you mean - certainly if we assume that theater unleashes uncontrolled emotion, they'd be against that. Actually have you read the 10th book of Plato's Republic? Because there we have a critique of poetry that is very much along the lines you're imagining.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 14 November 2023

Yes, part of the idea is…

Yes, part of the idea is that theatre would produce emotion, even intense emotion, but the other part is about judgement. Lets say someone was watching Oedipus and they watch the scene where Oedipus realises he has fulfilled the prophesy, killing his father and sleeping with his mother. The tragedy has reached its crescendo, the shock and horror of the inevitable has happened, and there was no out running his fate, and in a cruel twist of fate it was the very attempt to out run it that laid the foundation for the tragedy to ensure. The dramatic irony! That person watching is now feeling despair over the horrific fate Oedipus, his father and mother have now gone through. Maybe even crying. But hang on, what is going on according to the stoic theory? That audience member must be making a judgement that "Oedipus has killed his father and slept with his mother", from which the despair derives. Like, I mean, I know we sometimes remind people who get so emotionally rapped up in stories that they aren't real, but it still seems ridiculous to say that audience member actually believes that there is someone called Oedipus who had killed his father and slept with his mother. I've chosen a dramatic scene to illustrate the point, but this would still work for any emotion derived from a play, no?  Plays show that something is wrong with stoic theory since they have to say that your emotion derives from falsely believing that what is happening is real, when people will tell you that they know it isn't real but that it is an emotional ride anyway.

No I haven't read book 10 of the Republic. Not any of the books of the Republic yet actually, that is on my to do list one day.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 14 November 2023


Right that makes sense. Well definitely read Republic 10 and you'll be amazed at how well it fits with what you're thinking; you might also want to check out our episode in the India series on Rasa theory and aesthetics which has some of the same themes.

As it happens I was only just reading a text today (Plutarch On Common Conceptions ch 14) which ascribes to the Stoics the thought that vulgar lines in comedy are objectionable in themselves but add to the overall quality of a comedy, and likewise vicious actions may contribute to the cosmos. That isn't quite what you are thinking about but shows them at least in one context adopting a favorable attitude towards Greek theater.

Emily on 12 October 2023


Hi, Peter. I enjoy your series and I realize I may be seeking answers in the wrong discipline, but is there some philosophical text or theory that can help me understand human cruelty? The situation in the Middle East is so horrific - and I get the historical context and the battle for territory - but can you offer me any kind of philosophically-based explanation as to why human beings are so cruel? I'm struggling to make meaning of it all. Thank you.

In reply to by Emily

Peter Adamson on 12 October 2023


Well that is not a small question! And I definitely sympathize with it. I guess that the main area of philosophy that comes to grips with this is the problem of evil, but also relevant is the debate over free will. If you look under "themes" below you will find links to lists of episodes on these topics. But to be honest, having done philosophy my whole adult life, I am still unable to understand the sort of thing we're seeing in the news at the moment. 

Andrew on 8 October 2023

Random idea + potential ep. 500 gap to cover

There is this podcast called the "History of Africa" podcast. While listening, I was reminded that you had an interview with Kit Patrick from the History of India podcast as a capstone to the series on classical Indian philosophy. He only covers pre colonial african history, but if it is not too late (or if he is not too obscure or any other things that would make his case dissimilar enough in relevant ways to Kit Patrick for whatever reason to not have him on), I think it would be cool to do something similar at the end of the series of Africana to reflect on the pre-colonial history of Africa at the end.

As a side thing, found another gap potentially for you to cover for episode 500, although I am very uncertain about the level of scholarship done on it or if there would be any worth/uniqueness to covering it - the same podcast mentioned in one of his episodes on his current series about the Kingdom of Merina in Madagascar, that before the educational reforms of Radama, Imerina did not have a formalised school system (see Season 4 Episode 16, at roughly 22:50 onwards). The interesting thing he mentioned was that the richest of the rich hired private tutors to teach their children, among other things he lists, philosophy. I can't really guess what the content of this must have been, just based on his podcast alone. Is he using it in a colloquial sense? Could be. Or could this have been european philosophy around that time? Could be also, since the island was in contact with the British and French. Or could it have been some islamic philosophy? Unlikely, since as far as I could tell, the island wasn't islamic at all, but they were in trade with Arab traders, and one of the other items he listed was Arabic Abjad, and at the very least it was a minority religion there I believe. Or it could be something else. I can't really tell. Google returns nothing either. This is roughly the 19th century, so my guess is he is referring to European philosophy. If so, that may not fit as a gap to cover in Africana philosophy, but still something to potentially look into.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 8 October 2023


Thanks! That is very intriguing indeed. I actually discovered that podcast a while back but didn't manage to get into it yet, I should do that. But I guess we'll stick with what we have done so far for the finish and have a recorded chat with Chike.

Michael David on 5 October 2023

Love the podcast

Binged all the episodes in the past 4 months. Love the podcast. Decided to go back and get my philosophy undergrad in my 40's, and your podcast helped give me a great historical background on the development of philosophy. Thanks for doing what you do.

In reply to by Michael David

Peter Adamson on 5 October 2023

Going back

That's great! Really glad to hear the podcast has been helpful and I hope that your degree is going (or has already gone) well.

Jan Matthys on 24 September 2023


Hmmm.... So Buster Keaton was actually a giraf.. 

Cristián Valenzuela on 19 September 2023

modern era

Hi Peter,

I thank you for this tremendous work you have done. It is a real pleasure to have ready to hand such valuable source of philosophical knowledge. You have provided very enjoyable hours in my life.

I have a question that perhaps you have answered someplace which I have not yet reached, and it is this: is part of your plan to have a section that covers the modern and contemporary western philosophy thinkers (the classical cannon without any gaps)? if it is the case by when we may have the good fortune of it?

Thank you.


In reply to by Cristián Valenzuela

Peter Adamson on 19 September 2023

Modern philosophy

Indeed! I have talked about this here on the site but basically the plan is that once I finish the Counterreformation sometime in 2025, we will move on to 17-18th century philosophy, and do it in three big chunks based around France/Holland, Britain, and Germany (with forays to other European places). That will take years to cover so I haven't really made concrete plans for what to do after that but in theory, on to the 19th century somehow, health and energy permitting...

Andrew on 18 September 2023

Socrates and Genesis

I've recently been reading about and looking into the Bible. As you might already know Peter, in Genesis it talks about Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and there was (still is I guess) lots of debate on what exactly is going on in these verses. But it seems clear at least that, well, they gain knowledge of good and evil from eating from the tree (and immediately realise their nakedness after and feel shame etc).

I made a really interesting connection after reading that to Socrates. In a way, the biblical view seems to directly contrast the view argued for by Socrates in the platonic dialogues, that people only do evil out of ignorance, from not realising that this thing they think is good is bad and vice versa. That virtue is knowledge. But yet, people still after eating the fruit still sin in the Hebrew bible. In fact, one interpretation says that god intended Adam and Eve to disobey him so that their choice to love and obey him becomes actually meaningful. But that still suggests that, it is only with the knowledge that the choice becomes meaningful. Even if we were to disagree with such an interpretation, it is still true that after gaining the knowledge that people continued to sin. This not only contrasts with the Socratic idea, but also with a lot of what Medievals thought about the relationship between knowledge and freedom (well the intellectualism side of the debate anyway, voluntarism seems more compatible).

What philosophers do you know grappled with this contrast? Between the Socratic view on virtue and the seemingly contradictory account that Genesis depicts? I'm especially wondering what Jewish philosophers thought of it, since it seems for Christians the easy response would come from the original sin doctrine, basically denying the Socratic idea. I'm specifically thinking of here philosophers directly grappling between the two, since this general issue about free will and knowledge has been debated a lot, but I don't think you have talked about any who directly contrast Genesis itself and Socrates

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 18 September 2023

Genesis and Socrates

Actually what one sees more commonly is the claim that Socrates is in agreement with the Bible, though more the New Testament (it's even claimed sometimes that Socrates was influenced by Christ... their grasp of chronology was shaky, sometimes). I don't know of a text that discusses Socratic intellectualism relative to Genesis. But I guess it depends what we are meant to infer from "eating from the tree of knowledge"; presumably one doesn't have to take that to mean that knowledge leads to sin. You might look at Philo Judaeus who has extensive commentary on Genesis among other books of the Hebrew Bible. 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 18 September 2023

It is specifically the tree…

It is specifically the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil", not just the tree of knowledge. Which is the important part, since I didn't mean to say that the bible condemns knowledge, or that knowledge leads to sin, but that even despite knowing of good and evil, sin happens anyway. That runs counter to the Socratic idea that virtue is knowledge, since according to Socrates goodness is intrinsically valuable and that if we don't choose what is good, that just because we made a mistake about what is good and bad. Hopefully that makes more sense.


Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into Philo Judaeus

Andrew on 4 September 2023

I have thought of another…

I have thought of another idea for topics you could cover in your episode 500 gap filling. It has been more than a decade since you have started this podcast, and obviously the academic study of the history of philosophy isn't just standing still while you are going through the long history of philosophy. So how about covering some gaps that weren't possible to cover but now we would be past the point of returning to. The main thing that comes to mind is the commentaries in the later eastern islamic tradition (actually this general idea came to me while re listening through some of the islamic world series). No other example comes to mind as of right now, other than just that there is probably some more material that has been discovered for ancient india (specifically for the origins series) and pre colonial africa. What do you think Peter?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 4 September 2023

New gaps

Yes that's a nice idea; actually I have been involved in the work on later Eastern Islamic stuff so I could definitely say something about that. I still think the focus will be on figures or topics I overlooked completely, but it might be an occasion to touch on this sort of thing too. Thanks!

Bogdan Radu on 26 August 2023

The podcast

I apologise for this idiotic question: who is the other sponsor, beyond King's  College London? I was not able to understand it. Thank you and congratulations for the podcast! 


Bogdan Radu

In reply to by Bogdan Radu

Peter Adamson on 27 August 2023

Other sponsor

For a long time it has been "the LMU in Munich", which is where I work (LMU stands for Ludwig Maximilians University). It used to be the Leverhulme Trust back when I started though.

The Idiot on 31 July 2023

philosophical gaze on marginalised religious, "pagan" systems

Thank you very much for this very interesting series! I started the series "Classical Indian Philosophy" and I am very much inspired.
The episode "Brian Black on the Upanisads" ( and the Preface to the book "Classical Indian Philosophy, A history of philosophy without any gaps, volume 5" led me to some reflections.
I interpret Brian Black as saying that we might miss important insights of a text because of our own hermeneutical classifications of the text:
1. Missing philosophical insight by classifying texts as religious: For example, when we classify the Upanishads as religious and as belonging to Hinduism, we might miss the material that is philosophically relevant in the text.
2. Missing religious aspects by classifying texts as philosophical: When we classify Plato as a philosopher, we might miss his religious views.

And as is written in the Preface to "Classical Indian Philosophy, A history of philosophy without any gaps, volume 5", page xi:

"To include, say, African oral traditions or Native American belief systems in a history of philosophy means being open to the idea that unusual bodies of evidence may be of interest to the historian of philosophy, for instance reports of traditional sayings or tales rather than discursive, argumentative treatises."

These thoughts have led me to the following reflections - the first two are the most relevant ones, I guess:

1. It would indeed be fascinating if one would take a philosophical perspective on such traditions like the Native American tradition(s). I checked if it already exists in the "A history of philosophy without any gaps"-series but it seems as if this is not the case.
2. It would also be very interesting if one could take such a perspective on ancient traditions in the West and in the Middle East themselves that, I reckon, have often been excluded and belittled either by the predominant religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam or by philosophy itself.
    1. So why not make a spin-off about Celtic, Persian, Germanic etc. belief systems in a history of philosophy?
    2. Why not unearth suppressed religious movements and analyze their philosophical relevance?
3. One could even take a philosophical perspective on these predominant religions themselves: reading the Quran, the Torah, the Bible and the linked literature and tradition (including the Kabbala) from a philosophical perspective. But I guess that this has in some ways already been covered by the series about the history of Western philosophy without any gaps.
4. Now, one could even apply this to fiction like Lord of the Rings, if one wants, I reckon: the possible world of Eä (the universe of the Lord of the Rings) as philosophically relevant?While it is common in Western philosophical texts to take inspirations from literature (Sci-Fi, ethical conundrums etc.), I don't immediately know how one could relate this to a spin-off for "The history of philosophy without any gaps"-Podcast . I may be just looking for a justification for reading "The Silmarillion" :)

In any case this series and this interview have inspired me to be even more open-minded when it comes to such texts and not to classify them as "ancient, pagan etc." or "religious" etc. at the exclusion of being philosophically relevant but as being expressions of human experience and thought, aiming to solve our deeply rooted metaphysical questions.

In reply to by The Idiot

Peter Adamson on 31 July 2023

Indigenous traditions

I actually had the same thought a while ago, that I could do a series on "indigenous philosophy" around the world. But I am now leaning instead toward doing a series on Philosophy in the Americas which would include looking at Native American philosophy along with Incan, Aztec, and Mayan thought before moving on to do Latin American philosophy. That would still leave out many indigenous traditions (Australian, Norse, etc.) but between that and the extensive coverage we already have in Africana philosophy, it would at least make the point at a methodological level.

Jack on 13 July 2023

Some Questions

Hey Peter,


I recently started Classical Indian Philosophy and I am loving it! Can't wait for more India! As per usual, I have some questions regarding future episodes and installments of the series. (For the good of the other listeners, I probably should have asked my previous questions here rather than on the episode pages. Sorry guys!)


Regarding India... 

1. How many series do you plan on completing for India and what would be the general timeframes for each installment? 

2. Will Sikhism and other religions (besides those already covered and Islam) have any episodes devoted to them?


Regarding Africana...

Will other African political leaders be discussed? I really enjoyed the episodes on Nkrumah and Nyerere.


Regarding China...

Was Legalism influential after the fall of the Qin Dynasty? How much coverage will it need?


And in general...

How do you go about selecting cover art for the books? Which one is your favorite?

In reply to by Jack

Peter Adamson on 13 July 2023


I'll have to pass on the China question but I think I can handle the others: I would expect to do one more series/book on later India, if I manage to get to it. Would definitely do Sikhism! In Africana, there is not that far to go and I think there are no political leaders on the list though we will do Ngugi wa Thiongo'o soon. And cover art... well, I usually try to pick pictures with multiple people to convey the sense that there are lots of figures covered. But a lot of it is just a combination of looks good, we can get the rights, and has the right width to height ratio!  

Andrew on 11 July 2023

The separation between Science and Philosophy

Just some idle wondering - how are you going to handle when science and philosophy become more autonomous from each other? So far, due to your expansive net of what falls under philosophy, everything science related has been followed so far I believe. And while that will remain true for a while still, at some point, unless we have a trivial understanding of what philosophy is, the nitty gritty of the ideas won't be too relevant to a philosophy podcast anymore, right? To give an example, I can imagine Alan Turing and his famous paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence being talked about because of its relation to the philosophy of mind, and maybe a sketch of what a Turing Machine due to its relation to computability (which I think is probably philosophically important, see pancomputationalism, but also because I can't imagine the negative result given to the Entscheidungsproblem being philosophically unimportant) but I don't imagine, other than the Turing Machine, the different models of computation being important, like Lambda Calculus. Or to give another example, despite being considered the most important problem in pure mathematics today, I can't imagine that the Riemann hypothesis has a place on a philosophy podcast.

As a side thing, this question came to mind when I was looking a bit into Graph Theory. The wikipedia page for the Seven Bridges of Königsberg Problem has this interesting section about the significance it had for philosophy, being that it was an example of a mathematical problem that wasn't about "measurements and calculations", which calls into question the Aristotelian view that maths is the "science of quantity" since the problem was more about structure, or something along those lines. Not exactly the most clear or defined question, but what is your view on that?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 11 July 2023

Science/math and philosophy

That is a great question and I've pondered it myself. My hunch is that a good rule of thumb would be to keep including science (or math, etc) topics with about the same frequency I do now, so like maybe 10% of the episodes. This would allow me to keep track of where science continues to intersect with philosophy while not getting lost in the vast terrain of history of modern science, which clearly would need to be its own podcast. I think a consequence of this would be that my coverage of science will get increasingly patchy as science expands from the 17th c onward - just no way to cover it without having it swamp the project. By contrast my coverage of ancient and medieval science was, while certainly not complete, enough to survey quite a bit of what happened in those periods. 

Your examples are historically quite recent so I don't even know that I'll get that far, but I could imagine getting into stuff like that (philosophy of mathematics) and definitely into the Turing Test and how that relates to Turing Machines. 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 11 July 2023

Recent stuff

Well, that was just examples that came to my mind, as recent examples bring out the problem most obviously, whereas even during Newton's time the two are still very much intertwined, in the sense that a lot of it will still be relevant to the podcast even if this is around the time its relevance is starting to untangle itself.

Also, I don't remember if I did list the philosophical implications of the modern sciences a while back when I did that huge list of 20th century philosophy if you remember that, but if not that is another thing to add to the pile haha.

Andrew on 7 July 2023

The twitter embed no longer…

The twitter embed no longer works

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 7 July 2023


Probably Elon Musk's fault. (I would actually leave Twitter if I didn't have so many followers.) Thanks, we'll look into it!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 7 July 2023

Definitely Musk's fault. I…

Definitely Musk's fault. I don't have an account, so I can't even see any tweets anyone is making or have made anymore.

May I suggest looking into Mastodon as either an alternative or as a compliment to the current social media you are using?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 7 July 2023


Indeed, it turns out to be a general problem - the embedding function simply stopped working.

I would definitely change platform if I could take my followers with me! I guess that this is probably the only reason anyone is on Twitter anymore. I guess it will be dead (murdered) within a year anyway the rate they are going... Actually you make a good point, perhaps I should get a head start on building up a presence on another platform, but my heart kind of sinks at the prospect. Besides what if Musk buys that one too?!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 10 July 2023


Well Mastodon is designed to be decentralised and run on individual instances. It is FOSS (Free and open source software so not proprietary and therefore no Musk can really buy it all up like with Twitter. No one really owns it (well the closest would be whoever owns the server an instance is running on owns that instance). It is a little complicated, but you wouldn't need to worry about anyone musking up the place. Here is an article that explains how it works - 

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 10 July 2023


Thanks, that's helpful! I guess the real question is, what platform will everyone be using in, like, five years? Because the thing would be to get on it now and start transitioning from Twitter. But is Mastadon really a good bet, for all its virtues? I am just too ignorant about social media even to guess.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 11 July 2023

Well, you would need to…

Well, you would need to speak to the Delphic oracle to get an answer to that. All I can say in its favour is that every site recommending alternatives has it on their list. Also it was the first big name I heard to use as an alternative when Musk first got twitter if I remember correctly.

Georgios on 2 July 2023

Modern European, and East Asian Philosophy

Hi, is there a section with FAQ, if not, is there a timeline and order of the historical periods and regions the podcast plans to cover? 

Great series! 

In reply to by Georgios

Peter Adamson on 3 July 2023


Yes the FAQ is at the bottom of the page! You're looking for question 2, more or less, though that is more about the book series. As far as podcasts go, you can expect the Reformation and Counterreformation (up to 1600) to take us through 2024 or so, then it's on to 17th c France and the Netherlands; and in parallel, classical Chinese philosophy will begin in about February 2024 once Africana is done.

dukeofethereal on 24 June 2023

Missing hyperlinks of Philosophers in your timeline

I was having a look at your timeline and noticed that your previous series such as Italian Renaissance, India and Byzantine has a lot of thinkers without hyperlinks and I can't remember which episode you mentioned them or scrapped?  

I use the timeline to hop back to certain episodes and some of those thinkers don't have a hyperlink episode attached to them


For example for the Italian Renaissance section;


1. Vittorino da Feltre

2. Gentile de' Becchi

3. Marcello Adriani

4. Agostino Steuco

5. Giulio Vanini 

6. Cesare Cremonini

7. Archangela Tarabotti

I'm guessing you will mention Tarabotti for 1600-1800 series instead? 


Byzantine series;


1. Symeon the New Theologian

2. Eustathios

3. Joseph Rhakendytes


4. Theodore Prodromos




Indian Series;




1. Moggalaputra Tissa (was he scrapped?)


2. Āryadeva

3. Cīttalai Cāttaṉār

4. Tiruvaḷḷuvar (is he in for the Later Indian series?)





In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 25 June 2023


Yes, true! I think I'm probably a little behind on hyperlinking more recently mentioned thinkers too, thanks for the reminder.

But in most of these cases they are names included on the timelines just to have them there, but who were not mentioned in the podcast; especially the India series has a very comprehensive timeline Jonardon had prepared separately, and it goes chronologically far past what we did on the podcast.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 3 July 2023

Excluding the Indian Series, which Philosophers were not mention

Excluding the Indian series, which philosophers from Italian Renaissaince and Byzantium sections that were not mentioned in your scripts but still had their names attached, off these names that were not hyperlinked?


1. Vittorino da Feltre

2. Gentile de' Becchi

3. Marcello Adriani

4. Agostino Steuco

5. Giulio Vanini 

6. Cesare Cremonini

7. Archangela Tarabotti



Byzantine series;


1. Symeon the New Theologian

2. Eustathios

3. Joseph Rhakendytes


4. Theodore Prodromos


Will Tarabotti be mentioned when you cover her in 1600-1800? 


Also since you are covering France/Low countries together, why don't you include Iberian/Italian thinkers from 1600-1800 alongside it (due to shared Catholic history and the Low countries being independent from the Spanish habsburg which led to the creation of Spanish Netherlands and Dutch Republic? so thematically it fits,)


 That will leave Central Europe/Eastern Europe alongside Germany and Britain/Ireland/Early USA as 2 separate blocs.





In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 3 July 2023

Linked but not mentioned

Yes that was the plan on Tarabotti. And I have indeed been thinking the same thing about southern Europe, so for instance I was wondering where Vico would go and don't see where else I could put him. So that is going to be a pretty big series, but I think it could still fit into one book.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 4 July 2023

Yes France/Low Counties/Southern Europe will be huge

I can see it being your biggest bloc if you were to cover Southern European thinkers (Italian/Portuguese and Spanish) with France/Low Countries when tackling 1600-1800 timeline. Unless you would prefer to make 4 mini series instead of 3.  Which is to cover Iberian/Italy separately. 


Especially when you think of the likes of Spinoza/Descartes/Rousseau will have many dedicated scripted episodes tailored to them. Surely Descartes will be getting at-least more than 10 scripted episodes like how you gave Plato/Aristotle that many or in recent times, Ockham/Aquinas


Even if your book does become big, sure you could label it France/Low Countries/Southern Europe Part I and a 2nd book 'Part II'.?  Something to think about. 


Also last question, will you be covering the two Italian Philosophers Giles of Viterbo and Giovanni Botero in the Counter-Reformation/Southern Europe section next year, like how initially you didn't plan to give Richard Hooker a dedicated episode, I believe these two aforementioned thinkers ought to have a dedicated episode. Especially when Botero was influenced by the School of Salamance, figures such as Francisco De Vitoria and Domingo de Soto and his work 'Reason of State' was very influential during his time period. 

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 4 July 2023

Southern Europe

Thanks, that's a good tip - I already had a note to deal with Giles of Viterbo but I have also added Botero to my notes. I did want to have an episode on "Thomism" (Cajetan etc) but that is sort of a placeholder for Catholic scholasticism in Italy more generally. 

So, let's do some brainstorming here: apart from Vico and Tarabotti, who needs to be covered from southern Europe (Iberia and Italy) for the 17-18th c? Just to get a sense of how big an addition that would be to France/Low Countries.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 5 July 2023

I will list some Italian thinkers from 1600-1800

I recommend to read 'From Kant to Croce: Modern Philosophy in Italy, 1800–1950' which might be after the timeline but it was a good read.


Italian thinkers:


Pre-Enlightenment Italian Thinkers:


Margherita Costa (Baroque poet)

Fortunio Liceti

Mario Bettinus (Jesuit)

Valerianus Magnus (Catholic philosopher)

Francesco Pona (Doctor and Poet)

Bartholomew Mastrius (Scotist)

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (Scientist)

Elena Cornaro Piscopia (Female philosopher)

Giovanni Battista Tolomei (Jesuit)

Domenico Gagliardi (Physician) 

Francesco Bianchini (Astronomer) 


These figures are from the Italian Enlightenment and 'Counter Enlightenment' era:


Cesare Beccaria ('on crimes and Punishment' heavyweight philosopher alongside Vico

Melchiorre Gioia (Political economist) 

Paolo Mattia Doria (Revived the idea of Plato Republicianism) 

Gian Domenico Romagnosi (Scientist and Economist)

Alessandro Volta (Scientist) 

Gian Vincenzo Gravina (Jurist/Historian)

Luigi Galvani (Scientist) 

Pietro Giannone (Jurist, strong opponent against Church abuse of power, led to his excommunication and imprisonment) 

Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel (Italian revolutionary poet)

Francesco Scipione, marchese di Maffei - 'On Public happiness' 

Pasquale Galluppi (Moral Philosopher)

Pietro Verri (Lombard reformist Enlightenment) 

Joseph de Maistre (Counter-Enlightenment) 

Vitangelo Bisceglia ( Botanist) 

Melchiorre Delfico (Economist)

Giovanni Cristofano Amaduzzi (Philologist

Nicola Spedalieri ( Catholic Theologian/Philosopher)

Ludovico Antonio Muratori ( Catholic Historian, try to reconcile politics with morality and religion) 

Gian Rinaldo Carli (Economist) 

Antonio Genovesi (Politicial economist) 

Jacopo Stellini (Aristotelian philosopher)

Ferdinando Galiani (Leading Italian Economist Philosopher of his time)

Giovanni Salvemini (Mathematician/Astroner)

Giammaria Ortes (Economist) 

Saverio Bettinelli (Jesuit, poet and literary critic ) 

Paolo Frisi (Mathematician and astronomer) 

Roger Joseph Boscovich (Scientist) 

Lazzaro Spallanzani (Biologist)

Giuseppe Parini (Italian satrist and poet) 

Francesco Mario Pagano (Very important political thinker/jurist/historian) 

Giuseppe Palmieri (Economist/Politician)

Alberto Radicati (author of 'A Philosophical Dissertation upon Death,' which was cited and referenced by Berkeley) 

Alessandro Verri (Historian, Playwright )


Just found these names whilst searching. Have fun researching them professor when you get to it in the future. Test your Italian reading skills and dig deep into Italian secondary philosophy literature since most of these works are probably not in English. 


I will research thinkers from Spain/Portugal in the future, however as you aware some of the thinkers moved to South America during the Colonial/Slavery  era so I don't know if you want to save them for a future podcast of 'philosophy in the America's and dedicate a mini series on Colonial American Philosophy like you covered Africana during European colonial/slavery days (this will include the likes of Antonio Vieira, Juana Inés de la Cruz, etc..)









In reply to by Karl Young

Peter Adamson on 16 June 2023

World Giraffe Day

Oh thanks for the reminder! Though I must ask, why isn't every day World Giraffe Day?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Karl Young on 19 June 2023

World Giraffe Day

Well, assuming that Girrafe’s know that they themselves exist, maybe every day is at least World Floating Girrafe Day !

Andrew on 7 June 2023


When/if you ever do get to Marx, I wonder/worry how you will handle him. Worry, because of the SEP page on Marxism. The SEP page on Marxism, for quite some significant parts says that it relies on G.A. Cohen's understanding of Marxism, which means that it relies on "analytical Marxism" for understanding Marx. While it does give reasons for why they did use Cohen, and I am not going to argue whether they are good reasons or not or if his interpretation of Marx/Marxism is correct or not, it is a way of understanding Marx that is A) very recent historically, B) explicitly goes against how a lot of philosophers (and on the ground Marxists) have understood Marx/Marxism. Why is what the SEP did in the Marx article relevant to why I am concerned for how the podcast will cover Marx? Well, if the SEP went with such an angle for understanding Marx, part of me wonders if this podcast will do the same when the time comes. A and B might not be too important for an SEP article, but for a podcast doing the history of philosophy they are. If analytical Marxism has enough sway to have the SEP prioritise their understanding, it might effect how the podcast will cover it, 

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 7 June 2023


Well that is definitely something to worry about for later, but in general I don't (as you will have noticed) have the ambition to cover all scholarly approaches to every thinker, not even the major ones. I sort of reserve the right to choose who to follow, though of course in the case of Marx there would be a lot to say about his reception anyway so the picture of a diverse Marxism would come through I hope. 

dukeofethereal on 7 June 2023

Tentative episodes for Chinese Philosophy

When will you be listing the the tentative list of episodes for Chinese Philosophy? you've announced this series nearly 5 years ago. How many scripted episodes are left for Africana and how many recorded interviews are left for Africana?

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 7 June 2023

Episode list

Yes for sure! I think you can expect a "What To Expect When You're Expecting Chinese Philosophy" blog post in November or December of this year; I expect the transition between those series to be right around the turn of 2023/24. So not so far off now especially considering that we as always will take August off.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 8 June 2023

What will the cutting off point for Classical China??

You ended Classical India after covering Dignaga (6th century C.E). What is the cut off point for Classical China ? Arrival of Buddhism in China (so perhaps the late Han Dynasty stage)? 

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 8 June 2023

Cutting off point

Yes that's it! We had a conversation this spring about whether to stretch to the Han and decided it would be better to do that, to reach the point where the India and China stories converge as it were, with the arrival of Buddhism.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 12 June 2023

Neo-Daosim timeline included > ?

By any chance will you and Karyn Lai discuss Neo-Daoism (Xuanxue)  ? So culminating with the JIn Dynasty (266-420 C.E) - I recommend checking Dao Companion to Xuanxue by Springer.

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 12 June 2023


I think that is after where we'll finish, we were talking about doing up to 2nd c CE. So that's the sort of thing a second series on China would start with. Thanks for the reading suggestion!

Brad R on 4 June 2023

I love your podcast and have…

I love your podcast and have learned so much from it. I had already thought myself better-educated than the average bourgeois bohemian, who thinks religion is bunk and history began with the French Revolution and culminated in Marx. But I had no idea of the role of Byzantium in transmitting philosophy to the Arabs or the Italians, and shamefully had no idea of the Roman Empire as continuous through it. I also did not appreciate the extent to which philosophy today follows along lines laid down by Aristotle. I got a decent education in the moderns, but not much of the ancients. 

I think, however, you make an error in globalizing what you are calling philosophy, a misnomer for what are wisdom traditions that command respect as foundational of entire ways of life, but which are not at the origin of the sciences that have decisively transformed the world, and which began in ancient Greek thought. Czeslaw Milosz characterizes "that little peninsula" of Western Europe as having conquered the world through technology that has natural philosophy to thank for its emergence, and he does not shrink from the fact that he praises the West at Poland's expense, Copernicus notwithstanding. One commentator on your website argued that the Torah should be seen as "philosophy," as though it is not enough that we have originated monotheism and the ethics of billions of which it is the source, but must must claim everything as our own and allow nothing its distinctive privilege of being different. There is a kind of talking down to others and not believing what we are saying when we label wisdom traditions "philosophy." Besides, between you and me, the argument that the Torah is philosophy is a politically loaded argument aimed at that Western philosophy that is simply a reiteration of Christianity at a secular level, claiming a universalism that denigrates particularity of all kinds. This is an internal Jewish debate pitting liberal democracy against Jewish nationalism, but a leveling of all wisdom traditions into philosophy is an insult to particularity of another kind. (There is no "solution" to the question around which this internal Jewish debate turns.) Give credit where credit is due, I say. If every culture has labored to produce something of its own, the Greeks and the Western Europeans should not be robbed of this in the name of a misguided notion of equality. 

In reply to by Brad R

Peter Adamson on 4 June 2023

Globalizing philosophy

Firstly, glad you like the podcast! Secondly, leaving aside the thing about the Torah which seems like a digression, I guess you must be talking about the coverage of Indian and Africana (and upcoming, Chinese) traditions? If so I think I would want to hear more about why "philosophy" is a word that can be applied only to thought that is tracable back to ancient Greece. If you are confronted with, say, an Indian text that discusses the sources of reliable knowledge and asks whether testimony is such a source; or the debate between Confucian virtue ethics and Mohist consequentialism, what word would you want to use if not "philosophy"? Seems sort of like encountering a furry animal that barks and refusing to call it a dog because it comes from the wrong country. 

Obviously there is a further question about how far to push the notion of philosophy, e.g. should we have covered things like Tantra or oral African traditions (in that case, we of course thoroughly discussed the debate over whether to consider these as "philosophy" so there was a lot of meta-level discussion). But I don't really see it as a viable, or even intelligible, position to deny that philosophy was done in contexts like ancient India and China. Of course philosophy in those contexts may have been done in a larger framework that included religion or holistic issues about how to live, but that was true of ancient Greek and medieval European philosophy too, so I don't really see how that consideration would lead us to apply the term "philosophy" in one case and not the other.

In reply to by Brad R

Andrew on 4 June 2023

My own two cents

First - Depending on what you count as philosophy and where you are looking exactly, I wouldn't say that philosophy today follows the lines laid down by Aristotle. Sure, in a broadly anglo-american analytic context this might broadly be true (with the addition of Aesthetics as its own discipline), when we include stuff from outside that specific tradition (like a lot of what is lumped under "continental philosophy"), sure they may be still concerned with a lot of those issues, but wouldn't divide up philosophy into these neat separate disciplines. Not to mention the so called "death of metaphysics" that a lot of 20th century philosophy proclaimed, which was pretty central to Ancient, Mediaeval, and Early Modern Philosophy.

Second - One the one hand, isn't a lot of the modern sciences a result of precisely breaking away from the natural philosophy developed by "the Greeks", if we are going to lump them all in together as having the same ideas when who we are most likely just referring to is Aristotle? Whereas Aristotle's natural science was based off, at its foundation, his metaphysical concepts of telos, nature(s), essence(s), form(s) etc. modern science explained the world through rejecting (or if not rejecting then at least relocating them beyond its domain) these concepts as valid explanations and substituted for them (originally with Newtonianism anyway) a much more mechanistic explanation. This isn't to deny that ancient greek thought had an influence on the emergence of modern science, just that the relationship is far more complicated than just the idea of continuity and development implied by saying it begun with ancient greek thought. On the other hand, some of what you are terming "wisdom traditions" did have a role to play in the development of modern science (I'm not going to argue this point in-depth since I haven't studied modern philosophy (or formally any philosophy for that matter) or the scientific revolution, but when I make this claim I am primarily thinking of the origin of zero from India (a pretty important concept for modern mathematics and science in my book anyway), Leibniz being a self proclaimed sinophile (and a side note himself recognizing what the Chinese were doing as philosophy as well) etc.)

Third - The ancient Greeks themselves would disagree that they originated philosophy. Sure, they coined the term, but they also said that philosophy actually originated from Egypt, not with them.

Fourth and finally - while you have mostly put importance on the development of the modern world as to why you call one philosophy and the other "wisdom traditions" and just "ways of life" (the reasons why such a distinction falls apart in my previous points but just to give direct arguments - I wouldn't really say that the Stoics for example really have an important role to the development of modern science, but from another angle could be just called a "wisdom tradition for a way of life" given how influential their ethics have been, and that developments from the other parts of the world are instrumental to the development of modern science (see paper for a big example) and a (admittedly questionable influence) of other cultures' philosophy on both modern philosophy (Leibniz again) and (more questionably) science (thinking of zero again)), content wise I don't see why we should make a distinction here - it is just quite clear (to me anyway) when you look at what other ancient cultures were doing that you would call it philosophy just based on its content.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 4 June 2023

Two cents well spent

Yes, well said! I agree with all that.

Andrew on 18 May 2023


When hovering over the timelines button at the top of the website, it lists Renaissance twice

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 18 May 2023


True! Thanks for catching that. Better twice than not at all but we'll fix it.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 18 May 2023

A Renaissance of the Renaissance

Just like Greek and Roman philosophy, better twice (original then renaissance) than not at all!

Karl Young on 9 May 2023

podcast appearance

Hey Peter,


I just discovered a podcast called Robinson’s podcast and noticed that you were on in April re. a discussion of Plotinus and Porphyry (a current topic of interest for me, e.g. went back through the appropriate chapters in Philosophy in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds before trying to plow through The Enneads). I was just curious as to why you didn’t do a blog post mentioning that (or I missed it), i.e. should I save that hour and half for plowing ? :-)

In reply to by Karl Young

Peter Adamson on 9 May 2023

Robinson's podcast

Oh you may be right, I think I added it under my podcast appearances (under "links" below) but may have forgotten to put it up on the blog. If you're interested in Neoplatonism I hope it would be useful, sure - it's quite a wide ranging discussion of the topic.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Karl Young on 10 May 2023

Robinson’s podcast

Thanks, that indeed was a good one; among other things I enjoyed the reminder of the Neoplatonist’s takes on the infinite/finite time universe debates. But the disputes on who’s fundamental principle is more ineffable can get a little dizzying !

And in this time of the reign of analytic philosophy it was nice to hear that the arguments of Porphyry et al re. animal rights (well, I guess in Porphyry’s case more about the effect on humans re. the disposition of humans toward animals) resulted in some actual soul searching (so to speak…).

Andrew on 6 May 2023

Byzantine Music

The link for the music you used for the Byzantine series is broken

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 7 May 2023


Oh thanks, that can happen easily of course - I will see if I can fix it.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 7 May 2023


No problem. And speaking of music, which of tracks in the album Spendors of Topkapi is the one you used for the Islamic eastern traditions? I remember looking a while ago but couldn't find which one.

Brian on 3 May 2023


Hi Peter, love the podcast but love the books even more! I haven't seen anything recently about the first Africana book; I'm assuming that's the only one even close to being published, but any news would be great!

In reply to by Brian

Peter Adamson on 3 May 2023

First Africana book

Yes that's right, I hope we'll be sending it to the publisher soon; and then the next one would be the Reformation volume but obviously that will take a while since we still have most of Britain and the whole Counter-Reformation to cover in the actual podcast. Glad you like the series! 

Andrew on 25 April 2023

What happens after

Hey Peter,

I know this is still quite far away, but considering how never ending potentially this project this podcast is, what will happen when you feel or just can't continue it anymore? Maybe someone else will take over? Or will the podcast just stop?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 26 April 2023


Now that is a good question. One I have occasionally pondered, but it's really hard to say; I think it would depend on what the situation is when I stop. Like, if I manage to reach a satisfying ending point while health and energy allow - I turned 50 last year and I guess I have at least 15 more years worth of series planned, so this is not something we can take for granted - then probably that would be a wrap and I would focus on trying to ensure that it remains accessible into the foreseeable future. I would hate to inflict it as a project on anyone else! But the transition from the History of Rome podcast to the History of Byzantium, with a different host and also excellent, shows that in theory this can be done.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 26 April 2023


What would constitute a satisfying ending point though? Like, I know there has already been a lot of philosophy done, but it feels like the further we go along, the more fractal philosophical movements become. The 20th century alone I could probably many different currents and rabbit holes of thought that may just be as long as this podcast has been. Guess that depends on how sensitive we are as to how we measure what a gap is though. It is a bit like the coastline paradox if you have ever heard of that. 

Like to take a few examples, there is phenomenology, existentialism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, poststructuralism, the many directions marxism was taken in by many thinkers both "east" and "west" insofar as those are meaningful terms, the many strands of feminism both as its own tradition insofar as it makes sense to say there is a single tradition which there isn't really and feminist influenced versions of basically every other movement, posthumanism, post-marxism, process philosophy, movements that the history of philosophy has largely forgotten about like british idealism etc. Then there is the tiny pockets of thought as well, like the madrid school, and not so small pockets like the Frankfurt school which lead to critical theory which is its own beast. This is not to mention anything of analytic philosophy, which has its own detailed history I am sure. And ones that exist outside of this continental/analytic divide like pragmaticism. Then there would be the huge impact of maoism to cover as well. Speaking of which, there is also all the millions of currents and pockets that exist outside of this eurocentric list I have made, like America, both north and south, not to forget Japan and China trying to grapple with modernity and their own history, like the kyoto school. And to put the cherry on top, this little thing called fascism (for how much we can say there was any philosophical substance worth anything at all in its contents), which definitely would be a messy thing to grapple with.

I did say a few examples, but there would be so many more stuff to list, like the philosophers in the soviet union for example like Evald Vassilievich Ilyenkov and the many people we wouldn't usually call a philosopher who did do interesting philosophy (I am thinking here for example of the many physicists of the 20th century like Albert Einstein). The 20th century is absolutely dizzying. Just the 20th century alone is part of what I meant by a theoretically endless project. What would count as a satisfying end point, given all that and the question of when it bleeds over from the history of philosophy into just contemporary philosophy?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 26 April 2023

20th century

Hm, that is a pretty convincing case for just stopping at 1900, isn't it?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 26 April 2023

Wish it wasn't

What have I done haha. I believe the 19th century itself is also quite chunky (but obviously not to the same extent) but I probably should stop myself before the stop date is pushed further back. I can see why that would be convincing but also feel like I have shot myself in the foot here since there is so much interesting stuff in the 20th century.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 27 April 2023

Proper counter-argument

So, stopping right before the 20th century might be unsatisfying for multiple reasons. First of all, it is just using an arbitrary date to cut off whatever the narrative will be when we have (if we do) get there, especially since a lot of 19th century thought does lead to 20th century (history doesn't care for our arbitrary way of measuring it), Marxism is the perfect example. Second, it would definitely feel like you would just be stopping right at a cliff hanger. I mean, a lot of 20th century philosophy is all about reexamining the "western" tradition, root and branch, and critiquing it from many different directions (a lot of talk among some philosophers of trying to overthrow metaphysics, either through existential phenomenology like with Heidegger, deconstruction with Derrida, linguistic and logical analysis from the analytic tradition etc.) and I definitely feel like using what we have learned through what we have covered it would be extremely interesting to hear your opinion about their views. Related to the second but finally, you said yourself you were interested in getting to the 20th century in your AMA because you didn't understand them yourself but was interested in finding out more (I think you were specifically talking about "postmodern" philosophers, a term I avoided in the previous list since it isn't actually that good of a term really, but they are part of the 20th century so my point holds).

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 28 April 2023

Stopping point

Yes, that's convincing too! Actually any stopping point would be dissatisfying for similar reasons: if this project has shown anything it is the continuity of philosophy and its development. I think that, since these decisions are so far in the future for me, the sensible thing would be not to commit to anything one way or another for now; I would love to do "everything" but don't underestimate the difficulty, or even unfeasibility of that.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 28 April 2023

Guess so. But still…

Guess so. But still important to think about in the meantime I think. I do very much hope you get to at least some of it anyway, it would just be fascinating I think to hear your opinion of what these 20th century philosophers are trying to do with the tradition after going through the entirety of it and considering just how immersed you have been with "western" metaphysics  (I know you technically specialised in Islamic world philosophy but you are also a professor in ancient, late antiquity, and medieval philosophy as well right? And you probably do have, if not a professor level knowledge, then some knowledge of modern philosophy (Descartes onward I mean, not contemporary philosophy) as everyone had to study that just by doing a philosophy degree I believe. Other gaps you might have would be cleared up as the podcast goes along I think. That gives a huge range for the tradition they are grappling with, no? The 18th-19th centuries would also be very exciting for similar reasons, given that the 18-19th centuries was also a big time for philosophers to grapple with the tradition as a whole, thinking of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche etc.)

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 28 April 2023

My own gaps

Yes, exactly - I had the fortune to go to Notre Dame for my PhD which actually required doing a big exam on the whole history of philosophy and for that, plus some courses both at undergrad and grad level, I did learn a fair amount about early modern; I also took courses on both "continental" and history of analytic philosophy. Just being at KCL from 2000-2012 I also picked up a lot about contemporary analytic philosophy and had colleagues doing early modern too. (There was a lot less "continental" going on in London though, so I haven't really looked at Hegel and onward since, like, 2000 - I'm pretty rusty on these authors.) Anyway, I'd say that where with antiquity and the middle ages I had lots of knowledge with some gaps, once we got to the Renaissance it was more like I had lots of gaps with some knowledge. By advancing so slowly I think or at least hope that I have time and capacity to get my head around it all, so I am learning as I go, along with the audience!  

Andrew on 15 April 2023

Combahee River Collective

Hey Peter,

Are you going to cover the Combahee River Collective? They were a Black feminist lesbian socialist organisation in Boston USA. Just learned about them recently and seeing that they were the ones who coined the term "identity politics" they seem like they would be an important group to cover in the history of Africana podcast. I'm guessing they are going to be covered in the Black Feminists episode right?

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 16 April 2023


That's funny you ask because the last thing I read for the podcast was literally a book about the Collective. Yes, they will feature prominently in the Black Feminism episode!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 16 April 2023

Black feminist groups + Sankara

Nice! You know, it is a small shame. There probably are so many interesting black feminists, both individuals and groups that both a. I don't know about and b. would deserve so many episodes on their own but they only get one episode. I feel like someone could do an entire podcast on Africana thought that could be as long as this entire podcast as a whole, both the western and non western tracks (well, now that I think about it, africana philosophy, especially 20th century africana philosophy, isn't really separate from western philosophy is it? Guess it depends on how you interpret what "western" means, putting aside how problematic that category is).

Anyway, since I have you here, have you ran past the idea of going over Sankara with Chike? I am really curious if you will cover him.

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 16 April 2023


Well actually we will have the general episode on Black Feminism and further episodes looking at specific figures like Lorde and Davis. So there will be quite a lot of coverage of this.

We haven't decided on Sankara yet but thanks for the reminder! 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 18 April 2023


Speaking of reminders since we are on the topic of black feminism, will the Brixton Black Woman's Group be covered?

Also forgot about the individual episodes, so my bad. Still though, there probably is a podcast worth of episodes just as long as the 20th century series episodes that could be dedicated to black feminism alone. 

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 18 April 2023


Yes, thanks to the previous conversation I made a note to touch on the Brixton group. But you're right, there is so much to cover it is hard to know where to stop! Obviously not a unique problem in this series or the project as a whole...

Jordan Magill on 14 April 2023

A GAP?!?!

Any note to y’all would be remiss if I didn’t start with many thanks.  You have produced something truly remarkable (and terribly punny).  The podcasts remain, for me, an intellectual highlight.


You did however “miss” (or at least reduced to background status) one of the most important African American political thinkers (and my personal hero).  Sure, you mention Rustin, but his uniqueness and impact in the Civil Rights movement is almost impossible to overlook.  Here is a pacifist who went to jail rather than serve in even a support position in WWII (his letter to the draft board is, as all Rustin’s writing cogent, piercing, and well reasoned).  As AP Randolph’s right hand, he was also a man at the center of political power.  Not only did this include planning the cancelled March on Washington, through which he and Randolph won concessions from the FDR, but also the principle organizer of the more famous one in 1963.  He was also the man who pushed Randolph to push Robeson out of the movement for fear of the damage he might do.


Here is a thinker who stood astride the whole of 20th century African American politics, pushed to the background because of his sexuality (though in his later years his strong zionism also doubtless played a role).  If there is a figure who should be included to fill in tragic gaps, I can’t imagine a more important figure to include.  Rustin is long overdue.  Perhaps a later filler episode?  


Again, all my thanks.

In reply to by Jordan Magill

Peter Adamson on 16 April 2023


Actually we wrestled with that - I remember Chike wondering whether to give him his own episode or cover him in the ones you mentioned, and he opted for the latter simply because we were trying to keep the total number of episodes down. But you are right, he was  an important figure and maybe we should do more on him in the book version.