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In reply to by Glen Perry

Peter Adamson on 19 June 2016

You and your giraffe

Thanks! Hiawatha says to say hi to your giraffe and if s/he is ever in the neighborhood to stop by for some acacia leaves.

Nathanael on 15 August 2016

Dr. Adamson, I am a big fan

Dr. Adamson, I am a big fan of the podcast, though I'm late to the party (I started listening this spring and I'm almost caught up, which means I will soon have to go at a normal pace instead of blazing through 1-2 episodes a day). I know it's a long way away but I was wondering if you were planning on covering Protestant philosophers like Petrus Ramus, Bartholomäus Keckermann, Johann Heinrich Alsted, and Johannes Althusius when you (eventually) reach the 16th century.

In reply to by Nathanael

Peter Adamson on 17 August 2016


Thanks, glad you like the series! I will definitely cover the Protestant Reformation in considerable detail though I don't have a plan for exactly which figures to cover beyond the most obvious ones. Actually I have an even more basic problem which is how to integrate the story of the Reformation with the Renaissance - it may be that the Reformation is its own sub-series and book. We'll see! Anyway thanks for the suggested names.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Nathanael on 17 August 2016

Drawing Lines Is Hard

Yeah, that's a tough one. It's my understanding that although the first (and some of the second) generation reformers used some pretty strong anti-philosophical rhetoric, by the time the second and third generation Lutheran and Reformed thinkers established Protestant universities and set university curricula, they didn't look that much different than the post-Trent Catholic universities, philosophically speaking (obviously, there were major theological differences). So the textbooks of Protestant folks like Keckermann, Clemens Timpler, and Franco Burgersdijk on the Reformed side and Cornelius Martini on the Lutheran side are still working very much in a broadly Aristotelian framework. 

I know that some later Reformed and Lutheran (and Catholic) folks in the 17th century followed Descartes but others defended a more medieval philosophical outlook, writing some excellently titled books like Novitatum Cartesianarum Gangraena (by Petrus van Mastricht). See:…

Anyway, good luck figuring out where to draw the lines in the 15th-17th centuries! That is an era whose philosophy has attracted far too little attention, so I look forward to your coverage, but it sure makes your job difficult!

CJ on 24 August 2016

Long-term Plans

Just so you know, I really, really enjoy your blog! As a student of literature, I benefit greatly from your without any gaps strategy in bolstering my own grasp of the history of philosophy.

So how recent do you plan on bringing this podcast? I think recent developments in philosophy are fascinating, but it can take some time for philosophers to be canonized. Also, how do you plan on tackling the analytic-Continental divide?

Cheers, and keep it up!

(PS. I find your work ethic mind-boggling! Do take care of yourself.)

In reply to by CJ

Peter Adamson on 25 August 2016

Future plans

Thanks very much! I actually address your question in the FAQ here on the site (at the bottom of the page) and also I touch on the Continental philosophy question in episode 250. The short answer is, I have no plans to stop anytime soon. I would be inclined not to do a sharp analytic-continental contrast if and when I get there, but to see them perhaps as two often intertwined aspects of early 20th century philosophy.

Valentin on 26 August 2016

Thank You

Dear Peter

Just wanted to say hello and thank you for a brilliant and very helpful series of podcasts. I am currently writing a PhD on Shakespeare and Renaissance Poetics, and my areas of of interests touch on the relationship between Plato and Neoplatonist philosophies and Elizabethan Poetry, especially with regards to/in tension with late medieval 'Nominalism'.

Anyway, just wanted to say I am really enjoying the podcast (am some 200 episodes behind though, just started on the Skeptics) even though I seem to have developed a habit of warning my students midway through a seminar with a 'Now, I know what you're thinking'. Can't seem to shake it off.

All the best,


In reply to by Valentin

Peter Adamson on 26 August 2016


Thank you very much! I am actually planning on covering Shakespeare when I get to the Renaissance, so if you have any tips please let me know.

Eventually I dropped the "I know what you're thinking thing," it was getting old and doesn't feature in later episodes. But I kept the giraffes.

JustinH on 6 September 2016


Namaskar Peter,

I am an assistant Prof of English Lit/philosophy in Taiwan, researching Tantric, Daoist, and Buddhist thought. I am on episode 213, and episode 10 of Indian Philo. Your work is succint, thought-provoking, and just down-right suitable as background to my daily yoga. I have recommended my colleagues listen in, and they are hooked. I guess CJ is a former classmate of mine at National Taiwan University ;)

Historically speaking, you might find it interesting that the pre-historical dating of the Rg Veda is about as contested as it gets. There are many (myself included) who argue that the oral tradition of proto-Tantra-Yoga and Vedic thought arose several millennia before the 1500 BCE terminus a quo accepted by many Western Indologists. The relevance of the oral traditions and geological data like the flow of the Sarasvati river etc. and the so called Aryan invasion/migration theory to this historiography bears following. The Indian philosopher and Tantric Guru P.R. Sarkar has particularly interesting things to say about proto-Tantra existing before 5500 BCE and that some Vedic hymns were first composed in 10-12000 BCE. As polemical as this may sound, the longevity of oral accounts suggest the Vedic material might have been around long before scripts. Perhaps you know all this but it might be interesting for you listeners to hear this side of the story - kind of like a meta-historiography of Indian though contextualized by the critical role of the religion/spirituality in the narrative of India. (this is also a shameless but well deserved plug for Sarkar who stands out for his reformation of Shiva Tantra, social philosophy, political ideology, and Neo-humanism to name but a few of the areas he has impacted).

Once again, you are doing a sterling job, and if you are ever in Taiwan please look me up. I will hook you up with some fine croissants.

In reply to by JustinH

Peter Adamson on 8 September 2016

Date of the Vedas

Right, I did see when I was reading up on the early India episodes that the dating of the early Vedas is very difficult. You tend to see things like "composed over several centuries and in such-and-such a century if not earlier." It's like trying to date Homer - ultimately if we are dealing with oral traditions, certainty is impossible.

Incidentally in the next couple of weeks I am scheduled to write a draft script on the Yoga Sutra!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Justin Hewitson on 25 September 2016


Excellent, the Yogasūtras will be one I will watch out for. It would be fun if you could also get into the whole Buddhist-Tantra-Yoga atman debate. These discussions on ipseity and mind are far more sophisticated than what modern phenomenology has pulled off. I am sure Jonardon would agree.

Gábor Iván on 15 September 2016


Dear Peter,

Since my first comment got deleted it seems, let me quickly summarize it. Thank you ever so much for the wonderful podcast you make, especially for us, who never majored or minored at philosophy for one reason or another, and through your great work, still get the chance to feel part of the philosophy community and enjoy the discussion and think about it. It means very much for me that you do this, and wish you'd never stop making the podcasts.

 And in case noone ever have said this to you: Please don't stop with the puns. I love them

  Thanks for all you do.

  Iván Gábor

In reply to by Gábor Iván

Peter Adamson on 15 September 2016


Thanks so much! I have to admit that it is indeed very encouraging to get messages like this from listeners - it would be hard to stay motivated if it all just went out into the void of the internet without the audience ever responding.

Glad you like the puns, since I probably couldn't persuade myself to stop including them even if I tried.

Deborah Bell on 20 September 2016

"Plato's Podcasts" by Mark Vernon


I have been slowly working my way through your podcast, which I find very interesting and accessible. I don't have much background in history or philosophy and I'm very grateful for this podcast.

I have a rather odd question I was hoping you wouldn't mind me asking. I am taking a basic world civ history class this semester in college, and this week the unit covered 1000-350 BCE. A few extremely short YouTube videos amounting to basically soundbites about a few famous Greek philosophers, intending to acquaint the class briefly with the subject. The videos were all by someone named Mark Vernon and the series is apparently titled "Plato's Podcasts"; he has also written a book of the same title.

The problem is this: even accounting for the brevity of the videos, they are still very strange and do not accord with what I understood from your podcast. For example, in the minute devoted to Plato, he said that Plato's philosophy was basically all about love, and he read a few lines that he said were Plato speaking in the first person about people he personally was passionately in love with. I remember you saying many times that Plato didn't leave us anything in his own voice, and wrote in dialogues; also, I have not gotten the impression that his philosophy was at root all about love. As another example, in the video on Zeno, he said that Zeno taught in shops because how you shop tells you a lot about a person, and that philosophy should be practical, and that stoicism is named after the Greek word for store or shop. I looked up that last bit and what I found indicated just "the painted porch" not stores or shops in particular.

I am wondering if you are familiar with this person or his work at all, and if you know if it is accurate in general? Do you know of any relatively short multimedia sources I could suggest to the history department to use instead?

Here's a link to the video on Plato:

And to the book on Amazon:…

Thanks for your time,

Deborah Bell

In reply to by Deborah Bell

Peter Adamson on 20 September 2016


Wow, that's pretty wacky. I googled around a bit - the only hit I could get for his Plato poem is from an old "miscellaneous poem" collection but maybe he's recounting some kind of ancient legends about Plato (which of course would have no basis in fact). Vernon seems to be a therapist or lifestyle guru type who dabbles in amateur ancient philosophy. I'd steer clear, though in fairness I have only spent 5 minutes in his company so perhaps he is more serious than he seems to be at first glance.

Janet G on 30 September 2016

Query re copyright issues

Professor Adamson,

Thank you for your incredible work. I would like to add links to some of your podcasts in my online class. I'm writing to ask for permission to do that and also to ask how you would prefer that I ackowledge your work. 

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Many thanks,


In reply to by Janet G

Peter Adamson on 2 October 2016


Yes please do! The more people link to and hear the podcast the better. I'd be curious to hear more about your class and how you're using the podcasts in it.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Janet G on 2 October 2016

Awesome! Thanks so much!!!

Awesome! Thanks so much!!!

Punforgettable on 13 October 2016

Seeking deeper-study advice

Hi Professor Adamson,

First off I would like to thank you for rekindling my interest in philosophy with you excellent podcast -- I must confess that I started at, and am working my way through, the Arab section of the episodes -- but I plan to go back to the beginning after that.

I wonder if you could recommend books/resources for a self-study path I have in mind: tracing Aristotle to the Copenhagen Interpretation of Physics, with a special emphasis on the potential compatibility of the latter with Ashari occasionalism e.g. al-Ghazali.

I realize this is probably ambitious verging on the absurd, but I would be interested to try. I imagine a path from Organum to Incoherence of the Philosophers to Newton to Heisenberg, but I am not sure which texts would be best, nor whether authors prior to Aristotle would be worth studying for such a focus.

Many thanks for a great podcast and all the puns.

In reply to by Punforgettable

Peter Adamson on 14 October 2016


Yes, that is indeed ambitious. I think there is the core of a sensible idea there though which is to think about the history of indeterminism in physics. For that the key ancient idea would probably be the swerve in Epicureanism (cf episode 55). I would be careful not to conflate indeterminism with occasionalism, as we see it in e.g. Asharism or Malebranche. It is one thing to say that physical events can happen without being determined by physical causes, another to say that they are determined, but not by physical causes - since they are determined by God instead.

Milad Rabiee on 17 October 2016

Why reading Islamic philosophy?

Dear Dr. Adamson


Is there any philosophical, not historical, necessity to read Islamic philosophy? I know Avicenna, Suhrawardi and Mulla Sadra were leading figures of this philosophy, but I do not know why I ought to reflect on their philosophy.

In reply to by Milad Rabiee

Peter Adamson on 17 October 2016

Why bother?

Well, in part this is just a version of the question "why study history of philosophy at all". I give a detailed answer to that in episode 250, so you might give that a listen. For this tradition in particular there would be a host of specific reasons too, for instance the importance of understanding the historical roots of today's Islam and its relations over time to other (including European) cultures, and of course just the fact that some of the philosophy is quite brilliant. For instance Avicenna's proof for the existence of God is, if not actually convincing, probably among the most powerful ever such proofs. But ultimately the proof is in the pudding, as they say: you sort of have to go through the material or in this case listen to the podcasts and see which ideas and arguments you find compelling, and how often they come along.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Milad Rabiee on 18 October 2016

Dear Dr. Adamson

Dear Dr. Adamson

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. To be sure, I will listen to the podcast.

Before reading any philosopher, I  have two questions in my mind:

1) What are his problems? If I find my problems in his philosophy, I would be eager to follow his philosophy;

2) What role does his philosophy as a whole play in the history of philosophy?

How could I find the replies, at least about the three main figures of Islamic philosophy?

In reply to by Milad Rabiee

Peter Adamson on 18 October 2016

Top three?

So are you thinking that the three main figures are Avicenna, Suhrawardi and Mulla Sadra? They are all key figures for sure but I wouldn't necessarily single them out as more important than others, apart from Avicenna - so for instance Ibn Khaldun, al-Farabi, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Averroes, or Ibn 'Arabi probably rank as equal in importance with Suhrawardi and Sadra. Not that it's a competition! I just mention this because it sounds like you might be following an approach which turns on reading the whole tradition from the lens of Sadra, which I find rather limiting and unhelpful.

Anyway I obviously talk a lot about the second of your questions in the episodes; for the first I agree we should try to find out how philosophers speak to our concerns, but also remember to be aware that they have their own concerns and that we should be open to understanding what they were. Insisting that history of philosophy answers OUR questions means we miss one of the most important things it can give us, which is the realization that one might have other questions.

Nathanael on 18 October 2016

Raymond Lull

Dr. Adamson, if you don't mind my asking, why didn't Raymond Lull make the cut for the poscast?

In reply to by Nathanael

Peter Adamson on 18 October 2016


He did, it's just that I am saving him for a 14th c episode on science - I want to discuss him there as background. He would deserve his own episode, I have to admit, but the medieval series is getting insanely long so I am putting some figures into thematic episodes like this.

Raphael on 16 November 2016

Kashmir Saivism

Hello Dr. Adamson

Will you also cover - within your Indian series - monistic Saiva philosophy, especially what is termed "Kashmir Shaivism" within an indological framework (including its most famous 10th century exponent Abhinavagupta)?

Kashmir Shaivism has been experiencing quite a scientific as well as popular reception within the last decades and as a student of Indian religion, I think it cannot be missed in any comprehensive approach on Indian philosophy.

Especially the works by Oxford professor Alexis Sanderson, Mark Dyczkowkski or David Lawrence ("Rediscovering God with transcendental argument") have been very influencing in this field. One of the densest and most important philosophical texts of this "tradition" is the Isvarapratyabhijnakarika by Utpaladeva which has been rendered into a nice English critical edition by Raffaelle Torella. There the influences of various philosophical schools of that time - Vedanta, Nyaya, Bartrihari's language school as well as Buddhist Sautrantika (the main "opponent" of this text in terms of the momentariness theory) - become very apparent. Not to mention the Tantric "encyclopedia" Tantralokah by Abhinavagupta himself who tried to do an exegesis of the existent Tantric traditions of the Kashmir valley of that time.

I'd say (and this can be taken in a normative sense) that this monistic Tantric philosophy can be considered as one of the most profound philosphical streams not only within Indian philosophy, but philosophy as a whole.

All the best,


In reply to by Raphael

Peter Adamson on 16 November 2016

Kashmir Saivism

Thanks, that's a very helpful suggestion. I think that this is actually chronologically later than we are going to go with this initial series on India, but we might come back and do more episodes on India later. I am actually planning an episode on Tantra in this initial series, though, and maybe I could get in some of this material there.

Ebnomer Taha on 23 November 2016

on another group of Authors

Dear Prof. Adamson
It was entertaining and enlightening to me discovering this website also refreshing after reading your book a short history.
I'm sure you are familiar with many other names of authors that are not really covered in the classical curriculum that we are alll in I want to mention some names here if you allow me:

From Al Andalua perhaps lisan ul Din Ibn Khatib (lived in the same period as Ibn Khaldoun) he wrore several treatises on Literature, Geography Philosophical sufism and political Philosophy such as Risalat fi al Siyasah and numerous others.

Perhaps from the Levant Sayf ul Din al-Amidi he has also unpublished manuscripts (one in Bratislava) that are still not reviewed.

And from the ottoman empire you did already had a podcast about Katib Calabi which I liked but but I am also interested to hear more from author's like Aghisari and Ibrahim Müferikka.
Least not last in Muslim india I am intersted to hear something about Shah Wallillah and Ahmad Sirhindi am not sure you sonsider them philosopher bus still I had to ask.

In reply to by Ebnomer Taha

Peter Adamson on 23 November 2016

Other authors

Thanks for the additional names - I am actually running a project here at the LMU in Munich that is looking at texts of Amidi, among others. Apart from that I should mention that Shah Wali Allah is actually discussed in the podcast, in episode 191. You can see a full list of the thinkers discussed in the timeline on the Islamic world, with links to the relevant episodes.


Herman on 21 December 2016

Dear Prof. Adamson,

Dear Prof. Adamson,

Some years ago, when I was at a point in my life where I really was not quite sure what to do with it, I listened to the podcast a lot working random jobs. It kindled and confirmed my love for philosophy to the extend that it played a significant role in me choosing to study it at university. So as I am about to start working on my bachelor thesis next semester I would like to sincerely thank you for this excellent podcast. It truly is a great resource for anyone interested in (the history of) philsophy.

Kind regards,


In reply to by Herman

Peter Adamson on 21 December 2016


Well that made my day! Thanks for the comment, that was like an early Christmas present. Good luck with the thesis!

Spencer on 30 January 2017

Great Stuff

hope this didn't get deleted when i missed the captcha. anyways - love the podcast. i'm wondering if anyone has ever got in touch with you re: best practices for putting something like this together. i think yours is an amazing resource, and one of the best uses i've seen of the podcast format to do more than just duplicate various characteristics of talk-shows/audiobooks. do you have a set of rules you follow in determining what gets an episode, how to structure them, where the big arcs will go, etc.? would love to listen to a history of music with no gaps - maybe someone in your music department wants to email pitchfork and get it started? i'd listen for sure!

In reply to by Spencer

Peter Adamson on 30 January 2017

Best practice

Thanks very much! No, I have never got a query like that though there is a Facebook group for podcasters where people trade tips and that might be the better place to go anyway. I guess if I were going to give advice I would probably do it in the form of "here are all the mistakes I made" since I have made plenty along the way!

Andreea on 30 January 2017

Thank you!

Dear Mr. Adamson,

I just discovered the podcasts a few weeks ago, and I've been listening to nothing else on my morning commute. I just wanted to say how brilliant they are, and how much they've rekindled my love for the subject. I don&'t think I've ever had history or philosophy explained so clearly to me while I was at school

It's a shame that more places don't teach philosophy. I grew up in Romania before I moved to the UK aged 18. Philosophy, logic, latin and economics were all in the curriculum around years 11 and 12 (before the baccalaureate exam/A level equivalent) and you can actually choose one of them as part of your final examination. They are some of the most underrated subjects while at school, yet consistently some of the most useful things I've ever learnt in my entire life.

Since I started listening to your podcast I felt both happy because of all of the above, but als sad, because I felt like I had a huge void in the form of islamic philosophy that was never taught in school. I'm really eager to fill that gap though I have a few hundred more episodes to go!

I guess this is a very long and enthusiastic post to say thank you for doing what you're doing!

Kind regards,

In reply to by Andreea

Peter Adamson on 30 January 2017


Thank you so much for your note! Very encouraging, to say the least. I couldn't agree more about teaching philosophy in schools, I mean before university level. Even with very young kids it makes sense - there is truth to the cliche that children are natural philosophers!

Hope you enjoy the remaining episodes.

Jemma on 4 February 2017

Thank you!

Dear Prof Adamson

Thank you so much for your wonderful podcasts on the History of Philosophy, which I discovered a couple of weeks ago. I studied Philosophy at A-level and loved it, but always had aspirations of becoming a medical doctor. When it came to applying to university, I was so torn and decided I would try for medical school and if I didn't get in, I would pursue philosophy. I did get in and it's 12 years later and I still feel the pangs of what might have been. 

Hopefully one day I will have the time and resources to go back and study philosophy, but in the mean time your podcasts have filled the void and brightened up my commute, my household chores, my grocery shopping!

Thank you so much again, for the effort you put in to create such a rich resource. It is so appreciated.

Warm wishes


In reply to by Jemma

Peter Adamson on 4 February 2017

12 years later

Great! I'm glad you enjoy the series. Hope that your medical career has flourished, perhaps philosophy's loss has been medicine's gain!

Shawn Loht on 9 February 2017


This is a great service.
I hope you can continue it for a long time!
I love that it is free.

binge listener on 15 February 2017

I have the shakes

Hello Peter

I like to listen to the podcast by bingeing on all the episodes in a zip file. I found that when listening week by week, if you referred to somebody from a few episodes back, I had completely forgotten who they were. Now that I'm up-to-date I'm suffering from withdrawal symptoms waiting for the next zip file to be available.

One of the things I enjoy about your podcast is that you manage to explain something at just the right depth. On some podcasts, something fairly simple is given too much time and on some others, something fairly deep is rushed through. I was listening recently to a podcast about the Stoic atttude to death. Something they say we should be indifferent to. Quite profound with many implications. The podcast flashed through the ideas so fast I had to play it back again a couple of times to get an opportunity for those ideas to percolate and sink in. I nearly always find you pitch your explanations at just the right depth for me. Not dwelling on the straightforward and taking time to unpack the complex or counterintuitive. It's sometimes said you don't notice good writing, but you do notice bad writing. Maybe it's the same with podcasts. Or maybe there are podcasts out there at differing depths for differing people and this just happens to be the one suited to me. Whatever, it's a pleasure to listen to.

Thanks again for a great podcast.

In reply to by binge listener

Peter Adamson on 15 February 2017

Shaken not stirred

Great! Glad that you find it pitched at the right level - as you can imagine I think about that a lot, though in a sense there is no right answer because people with different backgrounds are bound to listen to it. But I'm glad it is right for you anyway. Thanks for listening!

Cierra D. P. on 2 March 2017

General Appreciation and Finding Resources on Yahya ibn 'Adi

Greetings Professor Adamson,

I have been a listener of the podcast for a little over two years now, and not too long after I started listening it became my favorite podcast to listen to by far. As a philosophy major who dropped out of college roughly five years ago, listening to your podcast makes it feel like I never really left the classroom. Learning about the general development of philosophy in the context of their historical periods and traditions provides an excellent way to engage with philosophy even as someone who is not presently enrolled in school; furthermore, we get to watch how new philosophical schools organically develop out of existing philosophical schools, which is a very "active" way to learn philosophy, so to speak. 

I am still catching up to the current point in the podcast, but I am taking my time to digest the episodes thoroughly and enjoy the overall journey. Currently I am listening to the episodes on Avicenna, but learning about Islamic philosophy in general has been so much fun, since these figures are not mentioned in most undergraduate philosophy courses here in the US. Specifically, I enjoyed learning about the Baghdad School and their relationship to al-Farabi's and later Avicenna's philosophical ideas and approach. During those episodes, you mention a figure named Yahya ibn 'Adi, whom has greatly piqued my interest. However, in trying to find further resources online about ibn 'Adi, I find that there is not as much literature readily available about him as I might have hoped. Do you know where I can find out more about him and about the other members of the Baghdad School prior to al-Farabi?

Again, thank you so much for all the effort and time you dedicate to this project, and I have enjoyed hearing about giraffes and Buster Keaton with you. It has been a pleasure to be a long-term listener and student of yours, and I look forward to finally catching up to the current point one day, haha.

Kind Regards,

Cierra D. P. 

In reply to by Cierra D. P.

Peter Adamson on 3 March 2017

Ibn 'Adi

Thanks for your generous comment! Glad you find the series valuable.

You're right that there is not as much info on Ibn 'Adi as there might be. One good overview would be in this volume that just appeared:

If you cannot get a hold of it, shoot me an email and I will send you the pages on Ibn 'Adi.

Christopher on 31 March 2017

catch up

Hi Peter,

Thank you for the time and effort you put into these podcasts. I am new to Philosophy and find your podcasts a fantastic resource for helping guide me though a subject I have for a long time wanted to learn more about.  I am determined to work through each one, and hopefully catch you up.

Thanks again


In reply to by Christopher

Peter Adamson on 1 April 2017

Catching up

Great! Hope you enjoy the series. If you listen to two podcasts per week you will gain on me and catch up in about five years...

Niranjan Vengallur on 12 April 2017

Request to cover Jainism in depth in the series

Thank you for the all the episodes that give in depth analysis of Indian philosophy. Jainism being one of the mjaor schools of thought that has emerged and flourished in Ancient India definitely needs our attention. Hope you will cover Jainism in detail in the coming podcasts. I am sorry if it has already been announced in the podcasts.

In reply to by Niranjan Vengallur

Peter Adamson on 13 April 2017


That is indeed the plan! The last sub-series for India will be about Buddhism and Jainism, for the Jains we'll be focusing on Umasvati in particular. Pretty soon I'll be posting (on the blog and on Facebook) an episode list for this last run of episodes so you can see what we have planned.

And by the way I hope you saw that episode 15 on non-violence already discussed early Jainism at some length.

Xaratustrah on 2 May 2017

Greek heritage

Hi Peter,

it is often stated that the philosophy in the islamic world is a continuation of the greek heritage. Has there been any "new" trends that didn't have roots in greek philosophy (e.g. maybe the illuminationism)? Also I wonder why philosophers in the islamic world drew more on Aristotle rather than Plato, whereas it seemed to me, that the description of God in Plato is rather a better match to that of Abrahamic religions?



In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 2 May 2017

Reception of Greek

The second question is a bit easier to answer: Plato was largely untranslated, apart from Arabic versions of summaries by Galen which did exert some influence (especially on Abu Bakr al-Razi for instance). The reasons for that are not so clear but bear in mind that already in late antiquity, the philosophical curriculum was oriented especially towards Aristotle who was thought to be more appropriate for students, despite the Platonist instructors.

As for the first question, of course throughout the podcast I emphasize that there is a lot of innovation etc even when engaging with Greek philosophy: the biggest leap forward and most influential thinker is Avicenna, who is incredibly original despite the fact that he is deeply engaged with Aristotle. As for Illuminationism, Suhrawardi actually claims to be depending closely on Greek thinkers (Plato, Pythagoras etc) but his thought, in my view, is more like a creative engagement with Avicenna, much as Avicenna was creatively engaging with Aristotle. For philosophy that is largely "independent" of Greek sources you really have to think in terms of Kalam and perhaps some parts of Sufism. As you know I think that counts as part of the history of philosophy but not everyone agrees.

Formoka on 11 May 2017

This series....

I love this series! Thank you!

In reply to by Formoka

Peter Adamson on 11 May 2017

This series

Thanks! Glad you like it. The title of your comment made me nervous, I was afraid the rest of it would say "... is a huge disappointment."

Xaratustrah on 15 May 2017


Hi Peter,

do you have a kind of visual map or diagram of the indian philosophy, at least the way it is presented in the podcast? I have some difficulties keeping the relationships, names, epochs etc. in my mind. By checking the map from time to time it would then be easier to classify the already learnt topics and get ready for the future episodes.


In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 16 May 2017


Amber Carpenter's book on Buddhism has a chart like that for Buddhism, I don't know of one that gets all the schools we have looked at. Basically though you have the six "orthodox" schools developing in step with one another and growing out of the Vedic tradition, and contemporaneous with that the branching development of Buddhism and Jainism. Carvaka is kind of on its own. We do also have the timeline here on the site for the thinkers mentioned and the thinkers are hyperlinked to the relevant episodes so that may help.

Ihsane Rihane on 26 May 2017


Hi Peter,

First of all, my sincere thanks for the series that I follow from Morrocco since months (I've just reached the safavide period).

Just in case you may be interested, I share with you below the link of a new album of the Morrocan Nabyla Maan, where you'll find some andalusian classics poems revived on a new modern form.

Hope you'll enjoy.
With kind regards

Alexandra on 10 July 2017


how can I donate to this fantastic podcast

In reply to by Alexandra

Peter Adamson on 11 July 2017


Oh, thanks for asking, but you can't! I always wanted to make it freely available and keep money out of it (I am grateful that I get to do philosophy as my job in the first place and thought this would be a small way to pay society back for making this possible for me). You could however buy the books, if you want (see the link at the top of the page), or just leave a nice review on iTunes and/or tell other people about it.

Thomas on 14 July 2017


Hi Peter,

I am a long time / big time zealot of HoPwaG. You're doing an amazing job so here's my chance to congratulate and thank you for this admirable edifice you're building.

Kind regards,


[from Switzerland]

In reply to by Thomas

Peter Adamson on 16 July 2017


And thanks to you for getting in touch! At the risk of mixing metaphors, I guess that if ever an edifice was built on the shoulders of giants it would be this one.

mckenna36 on 24 July 2017

Pre-islamic middle eastern philosophy

Hi Peter!

Firstly I would like to thank you for you wonderful series. Secondly I would like to ask you if you maybe plan to cover pre-islamic middle eastern philosophy like Babylonian or Persian?

Thank you for what you're doing again!

In reply to by mckenna36

Peter Adamson on 25 July 2017

Pre-Islamic Middle East

Firstly, thanks very much!

Secondly, yes and no - not classical Persia I think, because I don't know where that could come in. But there is already an episode written on Babylonian thought which will feature early in our series on Africana philosophy next year, as context for our discussion of ancient Egypt.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 7 August 2017

Will that discussion on

Will that discussion on Mesoptamian thought include the Epic of Gilgamesh (literature) and the Code of Hammurabi (Ancient law)? 

You can probably discuss Zoroastrianism (Mazda & Zurvanism) during the Ancient Egyptian mini series section since the Persians did conquer Egypt during the achaemenid empire (27th dynasty).

Regarding Manichaeism... you could include that when you are covering Classical Chinese Philosophy (whereby Manichaeism enters China with a sizable group of followers well up to the Ming dynasty).

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 8 August 2017

Fitting stuff in

Yes, there is some mention of Hammurabi and a fair amount about Gilgamesh in the Babylonia chapter we have drafted.

I see what you mean about getting in Manicheanism etc but I think probably the right place to discuss Zoroastrianism as a topic in its own right would probably have been either in late antiquity or as a preface to the Islamic world episodes, so I may have missed the boat on that. It's not so clear to me though, that this is a crucial topic for a history of philosophy - even a very broad one like I am attempting - after all this is not the history of religion without any gaps, and I didn't cover e.g. the Bible or the Quran except by mentioning them as context for philosophical texts, as I also did with Manicheanism (e.g. when discussing Augustine). But as you know I try to err on the side of being open-minded so I would love to hear the argument to the contrary.

Richard Leader on 6 August 2017


Thank you Peter for the enjoyable cruise down the history of ideas. I only wish I could upload the link to Salo ( the amiable droid from Tralfamdore in Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan ) on his lonely mission of peace to the edge of the Cosmos.

Blessings on you.

Richard Leader

Xaratustrah on 20 September 2017


Hi Peter,

I am sure you have used the word "transcendence" or its variants somewhere in the medieval episodes, but I can't recall exactly in which. Meanwhile I am not sure if I really understood its meaning in different philosophical contexts, or even at all. Apparently Kant has coined the word in his Critique but I see the term is also used in connection with the literature on the islamic philosophy e.g. the title of the book of by Sadra who lived much earlier than Kant. And one often speaks of the transcendental realm/world in opposition to this/material world or maybe as an indication to the world of intellect.

So I am a bit confused and am looking for a kind of straightforward definition of the concept. Any hints is appreciated.

In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 21 September 2017


Yes, I think I have used it but not in the Kantian sense. I've used it when talking about divine ineffability: God "transcends" language in the sense that He is too exalted to be spoken of. So here "transcend" just means "to be beyond" and this is what is meant by talking about "transcendent philosophy" regarding Sadra or a transcendent world of intellect. Kant calls arguments "transcendent" when they focus on the conditions for the possibility of something, like, you could argue that God exists by saying that He is the condition for the possibility of things we see in the empirical world. (I guess the idea here is that you "transcend" or "go beyond" experience to grasp something that is the prerequisite for that which is experienced). So, bascially we are dealing with two different uses of the word. Hope that helps!

Zardoz on 22 September 2017

Modern philosophers when you get there?

First, what a treasure this site is.  I have downloaded and look forward to listening during my daily commutes.

When you get to modern philosophers, I hope you will give a good treatment to Ayn Rand.  She hits the diversity button and in all cases of philosophical dichotomies, she comes down on integration rather than extremism. (empiricism v rationalism, mind v body, idealism v materialism, etc)

In reply to by Zardoz

Peter Adamson on 23 September 2017


Thanks, glad you like the site!

I wonder what Ayn Rand would think of your arguing for her inclusion partially on the basis of diversity? Anyway, that is a decision I guess I won't have to reach until the 2030s or so. I have to admit that I am a bit nervous about tackling the 20th century at all - reminds me of what Mao supposedly (apparently not really, unfortunately) said when asked his views on the French Revolution: "too soon to say."

Josh S on 8 October 2017


First- Thanks for the series- it's awesome! 

I recently went through and studied Ecclesiastes, and I was surprised by how much of the philosophy there reminded me of Stoicism. The main tenants seems to be a lack of certain knowledge about anything, determinism, and the life philosophy to accept and be happy with one's lot in life. Most of the ideas expressed sound like they could have been lifted off a Stoic manuscript. 

Traditional Jewish dating predates Ecclesiastes to the hellenistic movements by several centuries (ascribed to King Solomon in the 10th centrury BC), though most modern studies place the text around the Hellenistic era. 

I was wondering if any works have been done comparing Ecclesiastes to stoicism and analyzing ideas drawn from each other?

In reply to by Josh S

Peter Adamson on 20 October 2017

Stoics and the Bible

I don't know about Ecclesiastes in particular but I know that there has, in general, been the suggestion that early Christian thought and perhaps even books of the Bible were influenced by Hellenistic philosophy. As you might have noticed I chickened out of trying to cover the Bible itself in this series, so I have not read up on this. But here for instance is a review of a book on Stoicism and early Christianity.

Pedro on 10 October 2017

Spanish thought

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your excellent podcast. I've been a faithful listener since the pre-Socratics. I was a little disappointed to see that in the Medieval philosophy timeline you have not really touched on any Iberian or Hispanic thinkers or literature (aside from Petrus Hispanus). I thought you'd talk about Raymond Lull at the end of the 13th century, on Alfonso X and his remarkable collection of law, the Partidas, or on the University of Salamanca, founded in the 12th century). True, some of them are not as well-known (though Lull is, I think), but then again, this is without any gaps!

Anyhow, just a suggestion. Thanks again for your great work.

In reply to by Pedro

Peter Adamson on 20 October 2017


Thanks for the suggestion - sorry, I only just saw this comment. Actually I am going to work Llull in, still, in an episode about medieval figures who seem to anticipate developments of the Renaissance. So he is still to come, somewhat out of chronological order admittedly.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Pedro on 14 January 2018

Nice. Thanks!

Nice. Thanks!

Jay on 30 October 2017


Hello Peter,

Excellent job with the timeline, but why Nehru and not Aurobindo? I don’t think Nehru’s History of India is comparable with The Life Divine, Synthesis of Yoga, Savitri, etc, etc?

Does he not worth mentioning?


Jay on 30 October 2017

Indian Indian timeline?

In addition to my previous comment on the Modern phase of the Indian Timeline, I notice J.N. Mohanty’s reflections, analysis and  interpretations of classical Indian Philosophy—ry Handbook of Indian Philosophy (my will be coming from on November 23rd) has systematically excluded Aurobindo’s works—


In reply to by Jay

Peter Adamson on 30 October 2017

India timeline

Well, that timeline is actually taken (mostly or entirely) from a volume that Jonardon is editing, so it may just be because none of the contributors in that volume mention Aurobindo. You may also notice it goes way, way past where we are stopping in the podcast series - I assume that one could actually add dozens and dozens of names if one wanted to mention all the interesting philosophers between, say, Dignāga and the early 21st century! There is a similar shortcoming in the Islamic world timeline in that it barely covers 19th, 20th and now 21st c philosophers. But the main goal of these timelines is just to help people orient themselves with figures mentioned in the podcast, so in a sense everything after the demise of Buddhism in India (which is roughly where we are stopping) is included gratuitously. Sorry, that is more an explanation than a justification!

Dan Kemp on 31 October 2017

Sixteenth Century Philosophy/Theology

Hi Dr. Adamson,

I am wondering if you plan to spend some time on sixteenth century protestant philosophy. Even if you don't plan to deal with the debates on free will or reason, I think you might be interested in the ethical thought of that period. So here's my case. First, the chapters that exist on that period in histories of ethics written by philosophers (you won't blame me if I don't name names) wouldn't pass muster if studied with the same care as other periods. Second, the thought of that period is intrinsically interesting and beneficial. For instance, I just gave a paper to the historical society on the way Peter Martyr Vermigli completes Aristotle's function argument. I have another paper in the works on how Vermigli uses Aristotle's discussion of arguing "to or from first principles" to interpret the 'Nicomachean Ethics' as a whole, and how this interpretation in turn attempts to reconcile what some 20th century folks call first and third personal perspectives or impartial and partial ethical considerations. Third, and if the first and second aren't persuasive enough for you, ethical thought in the sixteenth century goes virtually ignored by philosophers, which is a problem best remedied by your podcast.

There's an argument for you! I know that your resources are limited, but I'd love to see some attention given to that period if possible!



In reply to by Dan Kemp

Peter Adamson on 1 November 2017

Sixteenth c

Thanks very much for the suggestion! I am not that far ahead with my planning but in general I am sure I will do quite a lot on Protestant theology, in fact I was thinking of calling a big section of the podcast and maybe one of the books "Philosophy During the Reformation". Perhaps you could email me some of your work on this, and I could save it to consult when the time comes? You can reach me at

Cullen Gerst on 12 November 2017

a century

Hi Peter,

I am writing on the occasion of just having passed my hundredth episode of THOPWAG. First of all, thank you. You always break down but never water down ideas (I have no background in philosophy), condense (by necessity) but don't leave gaps (naturally), and all with an entertaining sprinkling of questionable puns. Also, who knew the history of philosophy was good to work out to! ... Of course my listening has surged and ebbed — the Hellenistic schools had me holding on to the edge of my exercise bike, the neo-Platonists not so much — but even when my mind wanders, and I can't remember which Cappadocian you're talking about, I find myself pleasantly afloat on the vastness of human thought. So cheers, thanks again, and may you one day "catch up" with history, so that you can truly say, at the end of the final podcast, "... and then I said the words I am saying right now!"

Yours sincerely,

Cullen Gerst

Berkeley, CA

In reply to by Cullen Gerst

Peter Adamson on 15 November 2017

Catching up

Right, I had the similar idea that someday I could have episodes that begin, "this week on the History of Philosophy: this week in the history of philosophy." But it will be a while until I can use that joke.

Benjamin on 13 November 2017


Thank you very much for making this podcast! I can only imagine how much work that has been.

But I think it was well worth the effort, the result is very entertaining, and I really like the in-depth coverage of even obscure thinkers.

I hope you enjoy making this podcast as much as I do listening to it!

In reply to by Benjamin

Peter Adamson on 15 November 2017


Yes, I do enjoy making the podcast, and as you can imagine I am learning quite a lot by doing it (though I may be forgetting stuff as fast as I am learning it). Probably my favorite part though is hearing from listeners like you, so thanks for getting in touch!

Dan Urbach on 17 November 2017

Translations of Plato

I'm still at the Plato stage of your wonderful podcast.  You mentioned your version of Plato (complete works) that you would want on a desert island.  If it is in English, would you kindly tell us who the translator is?  Thank you.

In reply to by Dan Urbach

Peter Adamson on 18 November 2017


What you want is the Hackett collection edited by Cooper, the translations are by lots of different people actually. I believe it is even available in paperback, though for the desert island you may want something more robust.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Dan Urbach on 18 November 2017


Thank you!

Gino Jabbar on 20 November 2017

babylonian Philosophy


I was wondering if you knew of any good sources for learning about Babylonian / mesopotamian philosophy?

Love your content.

Many thanks


In reply to by Gino Jabbar

Peter Adamson on 22 November 2017

Babylonian philosophy

Actually we will have an episode about this next year when we kick off the Africana series (obviously Babylonian is not African but we wanted to have it as context for ancient Egypt, plus it is a chance to cover it having failed to do so when I first launched the podcast series back in 2010). So, stay tuned for that, but here is what we are going to give as "further reading" for that episode.

• Y. Cohen, Wisdom from the Late Bronze Age (Ann Arbor: 2013).

• E. Dalley (trans.), Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others (Oxford: 1989).

• B. Foster, Before the Muses: an Anthology of Akkadian Literature, 2 vols (Bethesda: 1996).

• W.G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Oxford: 1960).

• W. Burkert, “Prehistory of Presocratic Philosophy in an Orientalizing Context,” in P. Curd and D.W. Graham (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy (Oxford: 2009), 55-85.

• O. Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity (New York: 1969).

• T. Oshima, Babylonian Poems of Pious Sufferers: Ludlul Bēl Nēmeqi and the Babylonian Theodicy (Tübingen: 2014).

• K. Radner and E. Robson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture (Oxford: 2011).

• F. Rochberg, The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture (Cambridge: 2004).

• D. Snell (ed.), A Companion to the Near East (Oxford: 2005).

• M. Van De Mieroop, Philosophy Before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia (Princeton: 2016).

Kieran Boylan on 7 December 2017


When is Vol 4 coming out?

In reply to by Kieran Boylan

Peter Adamson on 7 December 2017

Next book

Thanks for asking! That will be on medieval philosophy and should appear in mid or late 2018. I have been revising the scripts for it already and expect to submit the manuscript in the first couple of months of 2018 so then it is just a question of how long it takes to produce from there. And the volume on Indian philosophy co-authored with Jonardon Ganeri should come out not too long after.

John B on 9 December 2017

Series on Chinese philosophy?


Great podcast! Do you plan to add a series on Chinese philosophy?  I would personally be interested, and I think it is the most conspicuous gap in the current collection. 


In reply to by John B

Peter Adamson on 10 December 2017


yes, I hope so. The hope would be to do that after the upcoming series on Africana philosophy which will keep appearing in alternating weeks with European philosophy, and that will take a couple of years. So, maybe in 2020 or 2021?

Otter Bob on 20 December 2017

just a little bitty request

Darn it, Peter. We have to get Julian to work on this: Those of us following and thinking intently on the philosophical problems want to know what others are thinking on an issue even if we did not comment on an episode. Also, listeners are still commenting at much later times than that of the podcasting of any particular episode. We need a way to hit REPLY and truly activate “notify me when new comments are posted” without having commented or have another rectangle, say NOTIFY, that equally informs us that another comment has been posted to an episode in which we are most interested but did not comment. This neither is metaphysically impossible nor requires another possible world. And (since I'm being so demanding) we need to do this retroactively to Episode 1 since The History of Philosophy without any gaps will live for eternity (or a smidgen less).

P.S. I'd be willing to do some of the grunt work here in my golden years, if Julian shows me how.

In reply to by Otter Bob

Peter Adamson on 20 December 2017


So, you mean you want to be able to hit a button that says "notify me whenever a comment is posted on this episode page," right? I can ask him whether this is possible.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Otter Bob on 20 December 2017

Exactly and "whenever" puts

Exactly and "whenever" puts it much more succinctly than I did.  I think I am asking way too much, but I also think it would be a very worthwhile feature of this podcast and may be an example to others.

Tomas Hernando… on 25 December 2017

Byzantine philosophy?

Hello Peter,

I seem to remember you mentioning in an episode that after finishing medieval philosophy, you will move on to philosophy in the Byzantine empire. Am I remembering that correctly?

Thank you,


In reply to by Tomas Hernando…

Peter Adamson on 25 December 2017

Byzantine philosophy

Yes, that's right: the series on Byzantine philosophy will start with episode 301. I will post a projected episode list on the blog shortly before it begins.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Tomas Hernando… on 25 December 2017

Byzantine philosophy

Thank you Peter.

Xaratustrah on 30 December 2017

Arabic Names

Hi Peter,

I was wondering why in some publications a mix of Arabic and English is preferred in words like Mu'tazilites and Ash'arites instead of either fully transcribed arabic Mutazila and Asharia or at least versions of the former just without apostrophes?



In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 31 December 2017

Arabic names

I have been wondering that for years! I think probably the reason is that if you are writing for an audience that doesn't know Arabic, then you might hesitate to write for instance "Muʿtazila" because it wouldn't be clear that it is even a plural noun. Compare the fact that we usually say in English Shiites, not Shiʿa. If I read a non-Anglicized plural that would not bother me but I guess I would take it as a sign that the author thinks they are writing for other scholars and not a broader audience.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Irfan on 11 January 2018

Dear Peter and Xaratush

Dear Peter and Xaratush

In my opinion the apostrophe in words like Muʿtazila is because of the way "Ayn" is pronounced in Arabic. If you write Muʿtazila in Arabic, it will be "Miim", "Ayn", "taa", "zaay", "laam", "alif" ..... (refer to the attached image). And generally, in most dialects, "Ayn" is pronounced with a throaty emphasis which gives it a dinstinctive delay. 

Secondly, many thanks for the beautiful podcasts Peter. You voice is my constant companion during my daily walks around the streets and forests surrounding Ottawa. I went about it in little non-linear fashion, starting with Islamic philosophy, moving to Indian and now approaching Medieval to be followed by Classic. This might be because I was born in the Islamic tradition, raised in the Northern Himalayas of the Indian sub-continent and then migrated to North America. So, I guess I am re-tracing the route of my own physical evolution. I can see on the MapTracker app that about 20 people in Ottawa have visited your website, and I wonder if anyone of those kindred souls read this comment, please respond back .... so we can connect and discuss "Peter's Stories" :) :) .... 

much regards

~ Irfan, Ottawa.


In reply to by Irfan

Peter Adamson on 11 January 2018


Thanks! I guess you haven't been walking around listening to the podcast in Ottawa the past week though, hasn't it been like -25 degrees celsius there?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Irfan on 11 January 2018

Yes, you are right. Last week

Yes, you are right. Last week was brutal. -25C, with "feels like" reaching -40C. However, we are back to normal life again. Today is +5C. 

John Mossman on 17 January 2018

Thank you!

I just want to thank you for your amazing podcast.  I am soon planning on returning to school after a long 10 year break. You are helping me prepare

for this as I have learned, and re-learned, so much from your show!  I have your books in my Amazon shopping cart and cannot wait to read them. 

In reply to by John Mossman

Peter Adamson on 18 January 2018

10 year break

I'm glad you like the series! Thanks for getting in touch and of course for getting the books, I really appreciate it.

Larry Hettinger on 24 January 2018

Love these podcasts

This series of podcasts has been an enormous gift, as far my experience is concerned.  I'm only up to around Episode 105 or so, and feel like my lifelong interest in Philosophy (I'm 64) has been greatly enriched.  Many thanks!

In reply to by Larry Hettinger

Peter Adamson on 24 January 2018


Thanks! Glad you enjoy them, and I hope the next couple of hundred episodes live up to your expectations...

Dave Quinn-Jacobs on 27 January 2018

Just Thanks

I just wanted to say a simple Thank You for this series. I received a BA in Philosophy more than 35 years ago, but never felt I had a comprehensive perspective on the history. I listen nearly every day to at least one episode.

Karl Young on 31 January 2018


Hey Peter,

Love your work; I'm currently going through both sets of podcasts in series (i.e. without any gaps) and am having a rolliking good time; I intend to purchase the books at some point in the near future (an aging mind is a terrible thing !). But one question has been dogging of me of late and I can't help it ask. What formative experience led to the frequent (and enjoyable) cameos by Hiawatha and his ungulate bretheren ?

In reply to by Karl Young

Peter Adamson on 31 January 2018


Glad you are enjoying the podcast! Your question about Hiawatha calls on me to usher you behind the curtain to the production process here at HoPWaG. Firstly we should clarify something very important which is that Hiawatha is female (I think I probably only decided this some time after introducing her so it may not be explicit in the episodes you've heard so far). Fortunately she rarely reads the comments here on the site so I guess there is little chance of her being offended.

Secondly, the name: this actually comes from a strange conversation where I invited a child to name the giraffe I was going to be using as an example in my podcast, and what she said (we aren't sure what it was) was misheard by my brother as "Hiawatha" which all agreed was a splendid name. So it is a philosophically interesting case: she was "baptized" as Hiawatha without anyone actually intending this to happen.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Karl Young on 31 January 2018

Thanks for the elucidation

Thanks for the elucidation and behind the scenes production details ! Sounds like this could lead to a whole episode on reference by the time you get to Kripke et al., and also yet another cautionary tale re. the Internet. I was at first unsure of Hiawtha 's gender so decided to check the Internet re. the historical Hiawatha to try to make sure to avoid causing offense. So much for that... (though I do hope that the actual referent is in fact shielded from my offensive behavior !)

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Irfan on 31 January 2018

Hiawatha / Hayath

I always suspected Hiawatha was a play on the Arabic word, "Hayaath" or "Life" :)



In reply to by Irfan

Peter Adamson on 1 February 2018


Um... right! That's what I will say from now on.

Shane on 8 February 2018

Thank you

Hey Peter!  I downloaded your podcast with the intention listening to only the stoic-related ones.  Despite my initial plan, I decided to check out the first episode anyways.  Just a few weeks later, I am already twenty episodes in...

I think your podcasts are very effective!  You yourself are an excellent speaker and I appreciate the manner in which you deliver your content.  I believe you speak honestly - with little bias.

Do you have any other projects your working on?  Do you study strictly philosophy?

Thanks a lot man!


In reply to by Shane

Peter Adamson on 9 February 2018

other projects

Thanks, glad you like the podcast! I pretty much stick to philosophy which is also my day job (I am a philosophy professor in Munich), though I do also have side interests in watching Buster Keaton movies and eating almond croissants.

Christos Loulos on 12 February 2018


Greetings Peter,

I'll keep it short. What you are doing is very important and the quality of the podcasts are very good.

I encourage you to keep up the good work and to continue with this series as far as possible. You are expanding minds.


In reply to by Christos Loulos

Peter Adamson on 12 February 2018


Thanks! I will do my best. I have to say that having people write in with encouragement like that does keep me going.

sreenivas on 5 March 2018

A question...


First of all let me thank you both for this wonderful series of podcasts.  I have been trying to educate myself in philosophy in general and the indian philosophy in particular and this series has been a godsend for me.  I have now heard all the episodes at least once and several episodes many times over.

I dont claim to understand all the issues fully but one thing struck me as I tried to understand each school.  All the schools rely on examples drawn from nature or everyday life to propose and support their position on metaphysics, epistemology etc.  It seems logical and justified for schools such as the charvaka, the naiyayikas since they do not deny the reality of this world and everyday experience.  But it seems incongrous for other schools since they all deny the self and worldly reality to some extent.  Particularly egregious is the case of sankara's advaitha who deny everything other than brahman.

I am not capable of articulating it in philosophical terms but isn't it a contradiction for any philosophical school to justify its position by using the very things it is holding to be false or unreal? 

I am not trying to be frivolous or flippant but this troubles me.  If language is the ultimate limit of our knowledge (mimamsakas? Wittgenstein?) and everything one communicates is through language (which is necessarily of this world) then how can one deny this reality using the very same language?  Or postulate about some reality beyond which is by definition not within the reach of language?

Thanks once again for the wonderful podcasts and the education you have provided through them.

- Sreenivas

In reply to by sreenivas

Peter Adamson on 5 March 2018

Expressing the inexpressable

Hi there! Thanks, I'm glad you have found the podcasts so rewarding.

The point you are raising is indeed a deep and difficult one. It often arises as a (pretty easy) way for opponents of these radical schools to refute them: like, if Parmenides/Shankara/Nagarjuna/Meister Eckhart/Sufis are right in the things they say, then they can't say them at all, since their theories undermine the possibility of true language, or perhaps even the existence of language (and/or thought). As your mention of Wittgenstein perhaps anticipates, one idea is that language is like a ladder one throws away: it takes one beyond the illusory phenomenal world and is used as a mere instrument to escape that world. Of course the authors in question also often use language in non-straightforward ways, e.g. with metaphors, and it is less clear that such uses would be undermined. Of course even monists, skeptics etc will have to admit that there is an "appearance" somehow overlying the genuine reality that is one, or nothingness, etc, and the language they use is all used within that world of appearance. So it could be argued that their use of language is no more puzzling than the central fact that true reality does differ from the world of mere appearance. In any case I believe this is among the most central issues in philosophy, and it arises in pretty well all traditions, which is one reason that I am comfortable with thinking of mysticism as part of the history of philosophy: it is the mystics who come to grips with this problem most directly.

Michael Lewis on 14 March 2018

On French Philosophy

Dear Peter,

Thankyou sincerely for the podcasts. I've learned a huge amount from the mediaeval philosophy episodes, in particular.

I recommended it to my first year students, to whom I'm teaching mediaeval philosophy  on a first year course on Philosophy and Religion.

I have to say though, I have stopped listening now, as a result of some comments you made in episode 250 on French philosophy, a speciality of mine, and something I've studied for maybe 15 years now.

It's egregious to voice 'suspicions' (on the basis of what? An attempt at reading Derrida while in 'grad school'?) about anyone, let alone an entire nation's philosophy. What is 'French philosophy', anyway? Surely not a single tradition. It would either have to be unified in some way, or you would have to know all of it rather well to pass judgement on it in that way. I'm afraid, particularly on the basis of a rather mean parody of Sartre in another episode, and on how you speak of it here, this is ultimately xenophobia. 

That this desire to exclude Derrida in particular, and by extension perhaps all French philosophy from a history 'without gaps', follows close on the heels of the expression of a laudable ambition to retrieve neglected and excluded traditions and writers (you mention African philosophy, Chinese philosophy, women writers, in particular), is particularly galling. 

So the history of philosophy without gaps... but let's ideally exclude the French. 

Come on: it's 2018.

This is bad enough in anyone, as I was saying, and of course typical of those educated at the most traditional and privileged of institutions, in particular, but in one who boasts of these ambitions to not exclude anyone, only to express precisely a desire to exclude a whole nation's philosophy, that is just unprofessional. And personally insulting to those of us who've actually taken the time to really understand this - yes - phenomenally challenging philosophy.

I seem to remember your saying earlier in the same Q&A podcast that you try not to form judgements on the philosophers, as to their rightness or wrongness, or somethings similar, before you write the podcast. And yet, with the French....

I have to say, I can't listen further, and that's a real shame, because I have learned so much from your work. And I hope, in order that justice might be done to these thinkers who mean so much to me, and for the sake of a just view of philosophy *as a whole*, *without* any gaps, that the podcast never reaches the twentieth century. I don't think justice would be done - not without a serious change of heart.



In reply to by Michael Lewis

Peter Adamson on 15 March 2018

The French

Well, I still have the script from 250 so let's revisit it! I was asked if there are any philosophers I wish I could skip, and the relevant part of the answer reads as follows:

"As far as overrated thinkers go, I have to admit that I am one of those English-speaking philosophers who secretly wonder whether a lot of 20th century French philosophy might be an emperor with no clothes. I tried to wrap my mind around Derrida in graduate school, without much success. He’s someone I could perhaps mention in answer to Matthew’s question “Who is one philosopher you wish you could leave out?” But in all honesty, if anything I am eager to get to the so-called “Continental” tradition and to tackle the challenge of demystifying figures like Heidegger and Derrida."

So this, I would say, is just an honest report of my experience with French philosophy so far - notice, not an unfounded prejudice but based on actually reading Derrida (and, I could/should perhaps have added: back when I was about 20 years old and less broad-minded). More significantly though, I explicitly go on to say that I am looking forward to trying to understand them when I get that far. So how do you extract from this the idea that I am recommending that anyone ignore the tradition in question, or plan to do so myself?

In reply to by Michael Lewis

Otter Bob on 15 March 2018

Change of Heart


You better listen again to #250, beginning at 28:45. Peter’s reply here is right on point:

More significantly though, I explicitly go on to say that I am looking forward to trying to understand them when I get that far. So how do you extract from this the idea that I am recommending that anyone ignore the tradition in question, or plan to do so myself?

Whereas your remark:

I have to say, I can't listen further, and that's a real shame, because I have learned so much from your work. And I hope, in order that justice might be done to these thinkers who mean so much to me, and for the sake of a just view of philosophy *as a whole*, *without* any gaps, that the podcast never reaches the twentieth century. I don't think justice would be done - not without a serious change of heart.

is itself a misconstrual of Peter's remarks here and an injustice to the whole enterprise of HoPWaG. It’s someone else that needs a serious change of heart. Personally I don’t care in what prejudices you indulge. But I think you owe an apology to at least Peter’s non-existent sister who (never) writes the scripts for the broadcast. 

Marcus Forrealius on 19 March 2018

Thank you!

Hi Peter,

I recently discovered your podcast just wanted to say a big thank you for all the amazing work you put into the series so far. In the age of seconds long viral videos, instant gratification, and societal ADD in general it's refreshing and inspiring to see someone take on and consistently deliver on as ambitious project as a complete and comprehensive history of philosophy. I read some philosophy in college in a mandated way and recently got into it again in a self learning way and I'd love to follow along as long as you're willing to keep doing this for.

I had a two questions for you as a new listener. Apologies if these have been discussed in previous comments, I haven't read through them all of them yet.

1. What are the major non-European philosophies of note that you'd like cover? I really appreciate your extensive coverage of Islamic and Indian philosophy, am looking forward to Africana philosophy, and was wondering what other philosophies are worth knowing about?

2. How long do you think the whole series will take to finish? I'm not trying to rush to the end, in fact I think it's fantastic that you're talking such great care to explain the usually skipped over parts of the history well. I'm more asking because Frederick Copleston's similar undertaking took 30 years to finish and I want to make sure you have the motivation and resources to be able to complete the journey. I hate cliffhangers :)


In reply to by Marcus Forrealius

Peter Adamson on 20 March 2018

Welcome to a new listener

Hi, thanks for your enthusiastic response! I pretty much cover your questions in FAQ (see link below) but re. the first question the other things that are tentatively on my to do list would be China and East Asia, after Africana, and then perhaps returning to finish off India. I have also wondered about Latin American philosophy, but perhaps that could be integrated into the main narrative later on.

As for how long I'll keep going, I always just say I have no plans to stop soon!

Jennifer Mead on 24 March 2018


I'm studying philosophy in Winnipeg Manitoba, and the Eastern/Western connections are somewhat unaddressed at my university. I began to notice similarities between Indian concepts and Hegel...and Plato...and Heraclitus Zeno, Parmenides, Kant, Nietzsche etc. Academically this has been of great interest to me, but is not considered relevant at my institution. How do you suggest, or rather where do you suggest that I turn to pursuing studies of the influence Indian philosophy has on western philosophy--or rather if they have a common source? Your podcast came at just the right time in my life. Thank you

In reply to by Jennifer Mead

Peter Adamson on 25 March 2018

India and the West

Well, we did an episode about that recently and you could check out the further reading on the relevant pages. It's this one and the following episode.

David on 25 March 2018



I can only express my gratitude to Professor Adamson for making these short excursions in philosophy accessible in this format. As a political scientist doing international politics, I have always appreciated subject matter at the intersection of history, politics, theology, and philosophy, and I am much closer now to 'hanging out' in this space due to Prof. Adamson's prodigious intellect.

Thank you Prof. Adamson


David on 29 March 2018

Distance Learning in Philosophy?

Hi Peter,

First, I am a longtime listener and I want to express my gratitude to you for creating this podcast. My graduate work has been in English Lit, but listening to your podcast has given me fantasies about pursuing an MA in Philosophy (if only there was time). While that may be out of reach, Philosophy books have been steadily taking up more shelf space over the last five years.

I was curious if you knew of/would recommend any distance learning programs in Philosophy. Things in-line with your recent Facebook post about the MA Intellectual Encounters of the Islamicate World, but totally online and more geared to continuing education/auditing courses.*

 *I also work in, and am studying for a graduate degree which incorporates, the distance/e-learning field. Understanding how a Philosophy course operates in a distance/e-learning context is of great interest to me.

Thank you! I look forward to the coming series on Africana Philosophy.


In reply to by David

Peter Adamson on 29 March 2018

Distance learning

Thanks, glad you like the podcast!

For distance learning the thing that leaps to mind for me is the Open University in England so you might try that. Also there are philosophy MOOC's out there, one on mathematical philosophy has actually been run from the LMU in Munich where I teach. Hope that helps, but I am not a big expert on this so maybe others will add more suggestions.

Fabricio Neves on 31 March 2018

Your view + spreading the word

Hi there, Peter.

I'm very happy that i finally can thank you for all the work you've been doing on the podcast. I honestly think that everything in it is really amazing. The pace and clarity on your speaking and the carefulness you've shown on the text preparation for each episode are flawless. Thank you so much for that!

I have two questions (probably these are repeated questions, i'm just new to the site and don't know it's previous threads. Sorry):

1. Have you ever thought about translating the podcast to different languages?

2. Where can i (if possible) read your own thoughts on general philosophical issues? Or at least get to know who (philosophers) you agee with. For instance, while listening to the podcast where you explain about Plotinus, for a moment i had the impression you agree with him. Is it correct?

Again, thank you SO MUCH for everything!

Sorry for any grammatical mistakes. Really need to brush on my english.

Wish you a happy Easter.

In reply to by Fabricio Neves

Peter Adamson on 31 March 2018

My views

Thanks, glad you like the podcast (and your English is excellent)! You're picking up on a deliberate feature of the podcast which is that I hardly ever weigh in and say "oh and I think this philosopher is actually right." I always thought it would be better if listeners weren't distracted by feeling that I am partisan, e.g. whether my religious beliefs if any are coloring the way I present medieval philosophy, or what have you.  Of course my "philosophical taste" is expressed by the things I choose to highlight, but I kind of want to keep the focus on what the historical figures thought and not what I think. Obviously good history of philosophy doesn't have to take that approach but I thought it would work best for the podcast.

Re. other languages the book versions could be translated and I would love to see that happen - actually the Classical Philosophy one already exists in Korean.

Ismail Kurun on 7 April 2018


Thanks for this great job! It would be very very convenient for many, including me as users of Samsung, if you open a Soundcloud account and upload your podcasts on it. Thanks in advance!

Garry Soronio on 10 April 2018

Teresa Avila in Iberian Philosophy

Prof. Adamson, will you include in your treatment Teresa de Avila when you’ll cover Iberian philosophy with Vitoria, Suarez, Molina, etc. as part of your plan to cover thinkers and Baroque Scholastics during the Counter-Reformation by various continent (e.g. you quipped having Bellarmine, Cajetan, etc. in Italy, Burgersdijk, etc. in the North)? I hope you’ll include Teresa de Avila, a monumental figure and first woman to be declared Doctor Ecclesiae. Thank you!

Karl Young on 16 April 2018

Dignaga's ravens

Hey Peter,

As usual my enjoyment of the podcasts has no gaps and that's in part due to the fact that it's fascinating to hear how much anticipation of more recent debates in philosophy occured with historical figures. The latest such case for me came up in listening to your discussion of Dignaga's theory of inference. If I understood correctly, his 3rd criterion sounds a lot like Hempel's paradox (which seemed ridiculously counter-intuitive when I first heard about it), that the observation of non-black non-ravens provides evidence for the inductive inference that all ravens are black (though upon reflection it seemed that the counter intuitive nature of the "paradox" stemmed mainly from contemplating the vastness of the set of non-ravens).      

Kim Gates on 25 April 2018

History of Indian Philosopy

Hi Professors Peter and Jonardon

I would like to thank you both very much for the brilliant podcasts on Indian philosophy that I am just starting to listen to. Although I am an Electrical Engineer I also studied phiIosophy at University, and have been a serious student of Indian philosophy for over 50 years ( I am 70...). I would have to say these podcasts are the best summary I have ever read or heard, Jonardon,  including the excellent reading and input from Peter.

I have just listened to the first 2 and am moved to write this without delay. I am very much looking forward to listening to them all.

With best regards

Kim (Gates)

In reply to by Kim Gates

Peter Adamson on 26 April 2018

Thanks on behalf of me and Jonardon

Thank you, that's very kind! I'll pass your comment on to Jonardon, as I'm not sure if he is monitoring the comments.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Kim Gates on 27 April 2018

History of Indian Philosopy update

Thanks Peter - I thought I would let you know that I live in Albany on the south coast of Western Australia. I often think how lucky we are to have the internet - our modern version of the Library of Alexandria!

p.s I also appreciate the touch of humour you inject into your reading.


Igor Napolskikh on 26 April 2018

Thank you

Hi Peter,

Thank you for creating an excellent podcast that is so easily accessible. I'm currently on episode 71 (Rhetorical Questions - Cicero) and I can't wait to finish the rest of it on my commute back home in San Francisco. I listen to this podcast while walking, climbing, lounging, traveling and pretty much anywhere my mind has free reign. You've allowed me what feels like a glimpse into how our collective mental landscapes have been weaved together over the ages which I've found very difficult to find elsewhere. I just wanted to convey how many moments of joy, intrigue and satisfaction this podcast has catalyzed.

Thank you, Peter. You've set the gold standard for a quality podcast.

Hope you have a great rest of your day,


P.S. I've peeked ahead into the Philosophy of India and am I'm very excited to close the gaps to reach it.

In reply to by Igor Napolskikh

Peter Adamson on 27 April 2018


Excellent, thanks very much for your kind words. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series and the India (and then Africana) episodes. And please be careful while climbing!

Anil Misir on 27 April 2018

Transcripts for Podcasts

Hello Peter and Jonardon

I started listening to your podcast series on Indian philosophy after the recommendation from Kit Patrick on his History of India podcast.  I was not disappointed.  Your podcasts are a very concise survey of the important issues.  I'm really looking forward to the series on Africana and Chinese philosophy (when you get to it).

One question:  Do you have transcripts of the podcasts?  I can see that you see books, but those seem to be only for Western and Islamic topics, and don't seem to be actual transcripts.  Having text that is searchable would be very useful in finding ideas across podcasts (and in fact, though my entire Evernote library) to delve into further.

Keep up the good work.  I also second the previous appreciative comments on humour in the podcasts.


In reply to by Anil Misir

Peter Adamson on 28 April 2018


This is actually one of the "frequently asked questions" so it is addressed there (see the FAQ link below). But re. India and Africana, there will be book versions of those as well, at least that is the plan - it's just that it takes a while to get them from scripts to published book.

You could also look at the list of "Themes" (again, link below) which should help you follow philosophical topics across episodes. Glad you like the series!

Karl Young on 29 April 2018

Sun Ra

Hi Peter and Chike,

Though still in it's infancy, I'm greatly enjoying the Africana series so far. And I guess I don't have a discerning enough intellect to worry like some other commenters that you're not getting the balance right between setting off Africana thought as unique, or subsuming it under a category of western philosophy; I thought the description of what would be considered Africana thinkers potentially provides an important and compelling list.

And I had a rather bizarre suggestion (which I fully expect to be completely ignored !). For many years I was a fan of the music of the great jazz pianist and composer Sun Ra. And I always loved the construction of his "afro-futurist" alternative universe, partly just for the great, slightly tongue in cheek, entertainment that it provided, though entertainment sounds like too reductive a term (particularly given what follows). 

At one point I started reading the biographies of Sun Ra and accounts of the historical development of his thought and it struck me that the universe he created, while alternative in every sense, was amazingly consistent. The way in which he created it was extremely thoughtful and deliberate; as I understand it, it was a very serious attempt to offer a completely consistent way of rejecting the oppressive, and overwhelmingly restrictive framing of black life that mid 20th century American society offered as a norm. Though based in fantasy and science fiction as much as historical fact, his ideas were formed in the cauldron of mid century Chicago, in debate and dialogue with the founders of the Nation of Islam, Baptist leaders, civil rights activists, pragmatists at the University of Chicago and others. The system he eventually came up with seems to me almost as monumental as Hegel's. I.e. one could make arguments that it provides a rather complete metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical system, though many would probably argue that, not being based on analytic style inference, his system could never really be considered philosophical. 

But when I consider various US thinkers that might be included in the Africana tradition, e.g. DuBois, Washingotn, or Chestnut, I can't help but think that Sun Ra deserves some place in the description of that tradition. I realize how idiosyncratic that view is but couldn't help mentioning it.

Thanks for the great podcast and I anxiously await the next installment.         

In reply to by Karl Young

Chike Jeffers on 29 April 2018

Thanks for the feedback and suggestion!

Really glad you're enjoying the series so far! And your suggestion does not strike us as very bizarre at all. While it's true that there will be tough choices to make in terms of what to cover when we get to 20th century diasporic thought in the third and final part of the series, Sun Ra fits into a fascinating tradition of Afrofuturism that it would be very useful for us to discuss. Peter and I are also big fans of P-Funk and that could go in the same episode. So while I can't make any promises, we are very open to this suggestion!

In reply to by Chike Jeffers

Karl Young on 30 April 2018

Sun Ra feedback

Hi Chike,

Thanks for the reply (and reminder of how much younger you guys are re. P-Funk ! :-) - actually though, for a geezer, I'm a pretty big fan of George Clinton and Bootsy). Just knowing that you feel that it wouldn't be beyond the pale to consider the contributions of Sun Ra and other Afrofuturists to 20th century diasporic thought is almost satisfying enough for me (which isn't to say that I wouldn't thoroughly enjoying actually hearing you and Peter riff on Sun Ra's contributions).   

Benjamin on 30 April 2018

Still having fun!

I just wanted to thank you once more for all the work you put into the series, it has really revived my love affair with philosophy. I am still working my way through the back catalog, but I cannot wait to learn about African and Indian philosophy! Thank you so much, I hope you enjoy making the podcast as much as we enjoy listening to it!

In reply to by Benjamin

Peter Adamson on 30 April 2018

Having fun

Thanks! I am still having fun too - in a way more so than back when I was doing ancient and earlier Islamic philosophy where it was mostly in my field so I didn't have to do as much new reading and research. Collaborating with Jonardon and Chike has also been great.

Anyway glad you are enjoying the series! Thanks for getting in touch.

Gavin Nop on 7 May 2018

Thanks and Advice

Dr. Adamson,

Thanks for this website. It has been very enjoyable.

However, if possible, I'd also like to ask for some advice. While your website is great, I've become convinced that I should read the greatest works and influencers of thought from history, preferably in chronological order, so I undrstand the flow. I know this is supposed to be the focus of a liberal education or learning about the 'Great Conversation'. However, beyond a couple of compendiums of the most well-known authors in history (Aristotle, Marx, Locke,...) I haven't been able to find any good advice on how to structure a broad, in-depth study of the development of our greatest ideas. Given your expertise, do you have suggestions? 

I know and have read selections from many of the big hitters, and looking to your website for suggestions has been helpful, but I'd like to focus, not only on philosophy, but also significant idea in fiction and government at the time. Do you think working through the suggested readings you provide in order would be a good idea?

All advice and help appreciated. Thanks.

In reply to by Gavin Nop

Peter Adamson on 8 May 2018

Greatest ideas

Thanks, glad you like the series! Your question is sort of in tension with my overall message, namely that the idea of focusing on only great ideas or the "best thinkers" makes no sense, because there were way too many of them and any such list would leave out equally great thinkers, plus involve reading them out of context. So I would hesitate to, like, give you a list of ten things I think you should read. On the other hand I realize life is short. One solution might be to google around and have a look at various syllabi for "introduction to philosophy" courses at different universities and see how they do it, or, since those may not be historical, you could look for syllabi on "ancient philosophy," "modern philosophy," "history of political philosophy/thought," etc. Then you can compare and also see what translations or texts they are suggesting, which will often be affordable ones (Hackett has a lot of major texts at affordable prices, and Oxford Univ Press does a series of major philosophical texts as well). Having said that I would strongly encourage you not to follow the lead of syllabi that ignore non-Western traditions, women authors, etc. If you are doing independent reading you have freedom to explore off the beaten path, so read Confucius, the Upanisads, and Mary Wollstonecraft and not just Plato, Locke and Marx!

If you look at the further reading on the series pages or individual episode pages here on the podcast website you'll see I've also suggested lots of sources to read - like for Islamic philosophy there is the reader by McGinnis and Reisman which would be a good place to start and there are also anthologies of Indian, Chinese, Africana philosophy, etc.

Xaratustrah on 18 May 2018


Hi Peter,

do you have any suggestions for a good (online) Arabic dictionary for philosophy work?