Renaissance suggestions?

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Since the end of the series on Byzantium is slowly coming into view (about 10 more episodes to come now) I am looking ahead to plan the episodes on the Renaissance. If there is anything you are particularly keen for me to cover, now is the time to suggest it! No need to suggest really obvious figures like Ficino and Machiavelli - more useful would be themes or figures I might otherwise skip.

By the way I have some thoughts about the limits of what I will count as being "Renaissance" but I think I will hold off and post these later, so as not to discourage any ideas.

Bill Whitehead on 18 January 2019

I am interested in Galileo,

I am interested in Galileo, davici, and the many female philosophers on the fringes of the church. What impact in direction did a rapidly no religious educated classes in modernising philosophy, the real academic cooperation between Spain and Southern Europe. The philosophy that split the roman Church and the rise of northern Europe philosophical thinking.

At this time universitys su h as Oxford and Cambridge were starting to find there feet.
It was also at this time Pandemics were rampent. In Northern Europe which must of formed some interesting debate.

You have the I breed royals in Europe always fighting, but again there was a ampoule amount of content written in new books (the first version of junk philosophy). This was a time when the Chinese and the Europe sailors spread across the world which became the catalyst of alot of modern idea. Well that's what would had been my favourites.

Adam Harvey on 18 January 2019

I think at least one episode

I think at least one episode on how changes in art (use of perspective, etc.) tie in to ideas of natural philosophy would be great. As well as the ways art was used to convey philosophical ideas, etc.

Farooq Kirmani on 18 January 2019

Just an idea: how far was, if

Just an idea: how far was, if at all, the Islamic civilization responsible for Renaissance?

Georgios Steiris on 18 January 2019

Dear Prof. Adamson,

Dear Prof. Adamson,

I think that you would cover the role of the Byzantine scholars in the dissemination of Greek philosophy in Renaissance Italy.  Furthermore, Jewish philosophy is appealing, especially political thought. 

All best

G. Steiris

University of Athens

Robert Haley on 20 January 2019

The Neostoicism of Lipsius,

The Neostoicism of Lipsius, du Vair, Charon, Hall etc 

mehmet on 20 January 2019

Can I ask if you plan to

Can I ask if you plan to cover the renaissance and reformation periods separately, or just jumble them together, like most history of philosophy textbooks have done? And, approximately how many epsiodes do you plan?

My opinion is, renaissance and reformation must have their own separate episode series, and these episode series must be as long as possible, probably as many episodes as the medieval period.

A problem with renaissance/reformation is that there is no "clean" philosophy in this period. Theology, philosophy, occultism, natural sciences and what not are all jumbled together in a confusing mass. So this period is never given its due in any history book of any field, as they try to "sanitize" the figures by excluding the "unrelated" material. For example, a figure like cardano is either treated as a "great mathematician" or a "great occultist", depending on the point of view, but rarely both.. But it is such contradictions that make these people alien and interesting, and the period so rich and rewarding..

As I see it, the first question is, will the series be strictly about philosophy? Or will it be a broad intellectual history of the period, in which philosophy gets a privileged treatment, but occultism, science etc also get their due? I very much hope for the second alternative..

In reply to by mehmet

Peter Adamson on 20 January 2019

I'm so glad to hear you say

I'm so glad to hear you say all that, because this is exactly my plan: to do Renaissance and Reformation as two different series (and in two different books). This is partially for pragmatic reasons - too many episodes/chapters otherwise - but also because I think it will be interesting to look at the Reformation as a context for philosophy in its own right. I do face the difficult task of dividing the Renaissance stuff from the Reformation stuff, though, it's not going to be easy to decide which figures and topics to put where.

In terms of topics within these two periods, philosophy will be at the center but with numerous episodes on related issues like the ones you mention, e.g. I am certainly planning to cover things like alchemy and the natural sciences, just as I have done with previous periods.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

John Sellars on 21 January 2019

Perhaps the way to divide is

Perhaps the way to divide is a) Italian Renaissance and then b) Northern Renaissance and Reformation together. Someone like Erasmus could be a bridge figure, given he spent time in Italy and built upon Italian traditions of classical learning. As for the Italian Renaissance, there is so much! Petrarch, Salutati, Bruni (Humanistic Aristotle), Cardinal Bessarion for transmission, Pico, the Averroists in Padua (Nifo, Vernia), Pomponazzi, Poliziano (dispute between philology and philosophy). But most of this is no doubt already on your list! 



In reply to by John Sellars

Peter Adamson on 21 January 2019

Thanks John! Yes, actually

Thanks John! Yes, actually this is more or less exactly what I was thinking though I hadn't come up with the idea of Erasmus as a bridge figure which is a nice idea. My art historian brother pointed out that the southern/northern Renaissance contrast is a standard thing in his field, so I may help myself to it.

But where should I put the story of scholasticism in the Iberian penninsula, like Molina, Suarez, etc?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

mehmet on 22 January 2019

I was just about to write on

I was just about to write on that :-)

One question that always remain in the air is "what happened to scholasticism?" As one approaches to the year 1400, scholasticism suddenly disappears (at least rom the history of philosopy textbooks), replaced by highly sanitized figures of ficino, pico and bruno, cleansed of all their "dirt" (ie, alchemy, astrology, necromancy etc..). So, if you cover the final destiny of scholasticism, that would be great..

I believe there are many important 15th century scholastics, but they dont get the attention they deserved.. A few names are: nicholas de orbellis, thomas bricot, gabriel biel, and (maybe, as a transitional figure) paul of venice.. But late scholastic is so much neglected that even to find a list of philosophers is very dificult.. In this respect, duhem's book "medieval cosmology" is a mine of information (yes I know, it is old)..

Fortunately, there is a revived interest in late scholasticism.. A few recent books are:
universals in the second scholasticism -- heider  (very expensive!!!)
ens rationis from suarez to carmicael -- novotny
Individuation in Scholasticism: The Later Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation -- gracia
the harvest of medieval theology -- Oberman

As for episodes, I think there should be two episode series: "renaissance" and "reformation and counterreformation", ..
--Renaissance must have three sub-series: Italian humanism, Northern humanism, and continuing scholastic tradition, each may have around 15 episodes. Italian renaissance may be longer than the other two..
--As for reformation and counterreformatıon, I really dont have an opinion yet about how to divide, but iberian scholasticism must be covered here..

I am really excited!!!

One final note: I think palamas must be covered in a really watertight way as an introduction to renaissance..

In reply to by mehmet

Peter Adamson on 22 January 2019

Thanks very much! A lot of

Thanks very much! A lot of what you say there fits my plans perfectly (among other things, I have an episode planned on Palamas). I was also thinking the Counter-reformation would be part of the reformation series. Scholasticism, I think, will just appear everywhere: so if you imagine doing southern Renaissance, then northern Renaissance and Reformation, then Counter-reformation, one would learn about the continuing history of scholasticism in all those blocks, rather than trying to do it all at once.

One question you raise there concerns northern Renaissance or northern humanism, like Erasmus. With the plan as we seem to be converging on, the "Reformation" series is where these figures would appear, which does make some sense since the Reformation is an important context for northern humanism, I take it. But I am worried about perpetuating an excessively narrow definition of "Renaissance" if the series and book with that title really only cover the Italian Renaissance. However I think Byzantine plus Italian Renaissance is a good amount of material for a book so I may just have to live with this division and say in the introduction etc that one can also understand "Renaissance" much more broadly.

Martin on 27 January 2019

Alamanno Rinuccini's "On

Alamanno Rinuccini's "On Liberty". In it he describes how the Republic of Florence, under the guise of "freedom" and "patriotism", became a state in which fear suppressed free thought and backstage deals enacted by the Medici family determined the fate of the republic. Passages can be found in Margaret L. King's anthology on Rennaissance Humanism.

In reply to by Martin

Peter Adamson on 27 January 2019

Thanks, that was not yet on

Thanks, that was not yet on my radar! Is his first name "Alamanno" because he was German? (I'm assuming it's not because he fought at the Alamo.)

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Martin on 26 February 2019

I do not know. I am not a

I do not know. I am not a scholar. As far as I can tell he was simply from Florence. If you make an episode about him, and make connections to today's world, I hope you are as critical of the Clintons, Bushes and Kennedys of the world as your are of the Trumps.

Stefan Fisher-Høyrem on 29 January 2019

How about an episode on the

How about an episode on the development of royal or private libraries, and the inclusion of "useful" printed books in addition to collectible manuscripts, i.e. the shift from (or combination of) luxurious status display to information retrieval system for a local group of scholars?

In reply to by Stefan Fisher-Høyrem

Peter Adamson on 29 January 2019

Thanks, that's an interesting

Thanks, that's an interesting idea. I will definitely do an episode on the emergence of printed books at some point, maybe as part of covering the Reformation rather than the Renaissance. You might enjoy the recent episode about Byzantine manuscripts by the way!

Hermes on 31 January 2019

Personally, I would

Personally, I would definitely like coverage of the transmission of philosophical knowledge from Byzantium to Renaissance Italy via the figures of Argyropoulos, Chalkokondylis, Bessarion, Laskaris. Also, the facilitators of that transmission with figures like Aldus Manutius and Markos Musurus.  The ideas of Pietro Bembo and Baltassar Castiglione should be covered too. 

In reply to by Hermes

Peter Adamson on 31 January 2019

Actually I will not only be

Actually I will not only be covering that but looking at it from both angles: soon we'll have an episode on the reception of Latin thought in Greek Byzantium and then towards the beginning of the Renaissance series I will look at how the impact of Byzantine manuscripts and scholars helped give rise to a lot of what we associate with the Italian Renaissance.

dukeofethereal on 4 February 2019

Protestant  figures that you

Protestant  figures that you should cover Peter:

Bartholomäus Keckermann (Rhetoric)

Jakob Böhme

Cornelius Martini ( lutheran)

Bartolomé de Las Casas ( key scholastic)

Fausto Sozzini


 Petrus Ramus (Logician, massacred in 1572)

Johannes Althusius (Political Philosopher/Calvinist) ,

Petrus Cunaeus (Dutch Political Philosopher, leading Christian scholar on Jewish Political History and it's use to the Dutch Republic)

 David Derodon (French Logician, would fit with Descartes/)

Hugo Grotius (Natural Law)

Johann Heinrich Alsted

Franco Burgersdijk (Dutch logician)

Clemens Timpler (Metaphysicist)

Jakob Schegk ( German metaphysicst) 

Nicolaus Taurellus (dominant Aristotelianism of the time)

Alberico Gentili ( Italian Jurist, fellow founder of Intertional Law along with Grotius and De Vittoria)


Counter reformation figures:

School of Salamanca (De Vittoria, De Sotto, de Azpilcueta, de Mercado, Francisco Suarez  & Alfonso de Castro)

Jean Bodin 

Domingo Báñez ( free will)

Melchor Cano (logician)

Bartolomé Carranza

Giovanni Botero ('The Reason of  state')

Juan de Celaya ( mathematician)

Martin Delrio ( magic, witchcraft )

Antonio Escobar y Mendoza ( Jesuit Ethicist) 

Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda ( Colonial slavery works, a humanist : Political Philosophy/Ethics, contrasting to De Vitoria 

Nicolás Monardes ( Botanist/physician )

Juan Maldonado (Mary controversy) 

Thomas Sanchez (Jesuit casuist)

Gabriel Vásquez( rival of Francisco  Suarez)

Ignatius of Loyola (Jesuit)

Thomas Cajetan

Fernando de las Infantas ( 

Isabel de Josa ( female jesuit) 

John of the cross 

John of Ávila

Gregory of Valencia ( renewed scholasticism 

Pedro da Fonseca ( Portuguese 'Aristotle')

Kenelm Digby

Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz ( Scholastic philosopher)

Luis de Molina & St. Robert Bellarmine (2nd scholastics)

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 6 February 2019

Thanks, that's very useful! I

Thanks, that's very useful! I'm very grateful to you for putting the list together - some of those names are new to me though I did have quite a few. I am particularly happy to have the suggestions for female thinkers.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 12 March 2019

Reformation does have a lot

Reformation does have a lot of content, I do agree with Mehmet's comment  regarding dwelling extensivelyon it. I do believe the 2nd scholastics tend to be ignored (Vittoria/Suarez,etc) , so spending good time on the Iberian peninsula would be a good idea.  

Other figures  that I have not recommended earlier (in partcilar to the Northern Renaissance)  would be the likes of Johann Reuchlin (German), Valentin Weigel( German), Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa ( German ),  Bernardino Telesio ( Italian natural scientist) , Johannes Kepler,  Johannes Valentinus Andreae ( German), Philipp Melanchthon & Reginald Scot (The Discoverie of Witchcraft, an interview on Renaissance view on Magic would be decenttoo)

Also one question Professor, the reformation series, where you do intent do end on it? With Descartes? 



Aaron Cotkin on 25 February 2019

Dear Peter,

Dear Peter,

I hope I am not too late.

These recomendations come from the perspective of a political theorist (who really enjoys your podcast):

1. Guicciardini

You mentined that you regretted not covering Thucydides and Herodetus, I suggest that you would similarly regret it if you do not cover Francesco Guicciardini, author of The History of Italy. I know it is famous for how longwinded his descriptions of everything are. But, the quality of his analysis, the influence of the work, and its value as a source for the times all make him worthly of note.

2. Secondary Literature on Machiavelli and the period: Quenten Skinner, J. G. A. Pocock, John McCormick.

Skinner and Pocock are (and, I think, deservedly) still the two most significant living authors in the Machiavelli scondary literature. Obviously, if you have not read Skinner's Foundation of Modern Political Thought and Pocock's Machiavellian Moment, I recomend reading them both. More than that, I am writing to point out to you that they are both still alive (last I checked) but are quite old. So if you are going to try and interview them for your podcast, you might need to do so soon. John McCormick's Machiavellian Democracy (2011) is the most influential recent book on Machiavelli, at least in the world of political theory. In it he attached Skinner's, Pocock's, and Philip Pettit's views on Machiavelli and on republicanism. McCormick is keen to highlight Machaivelli as a member of (and maybe the only member of) the populist left wing of classical republican theory.


3. Theme

Imitation of Exemplars (in rhetoric, art, and Machiavelli)


I am looking forward to the serries,



In reply to by Aaron Cotkin

Peter Adamson on 26 February 2019

Thanks for the suggestions! I

Thanks for the suggestions! I am planning an episode on history writing and can cover Guicciardini there; and believe it or not I have already interviewed Quintin Skinner about Machiavelli! I have most of the Renaissance interviews already done in fact.

dukeofethereal on 28 February 2019

I will list some figures pre

I will list some figures pre Luther thesis Professor:

Alessandro Achillini - Italian philosopher and physician.

Elia del Medigo - Jewish Humanist

Gasparinus de Bergamo - Works on Cicero, Italian grammarian 

leon battista alberti - Italian Humanist

John Hennon - Dutch scholastic philosopher 

Johann Heynlin - Printing Press

Isaac ben Moses Arama - Talmudic Philosopher 

Judah Messer Leon - Italian Jewish Philsopher 

John Major - Scottish philsopher, works on Logic, law, Politics and science

Dominic of Flanders - Flemish Scholastic Philosopher (Thomist)

Rodolphus Agricola - anti scholatic Dutch Philosopher who was a Humanist

Joseph Albo - Jewish Philosopher from Spain


Yohanan Alemanno - Jewish  teacher of Mirandola 

Isaac Abarbanel - Portuguese Jewish philosopher, critical of Gersonides (you mentioned Nicholas of Methone and Ibn Taymiyyah of those who are heavily critical of their kinsmen past thoughts) - he also clashed on Maimonides views


Lorenzo Valla


Albert Brudzewski - Polish philosopher/Astronomer

Conrad Celtes - German Poet

Andrea Biglia - Italian Augustinian HUmanist/Moral Philosopher 

Constantine of Kostenets - Bulgarian Humanist 



In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 2 March 2019

Great, thanks for the

Great, thanks for the suggestions! A lot of them were on my list but not all. by the way Albo was already covered in episode 169.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 12 March 2019

You can tackle them

You can tackle them thematically as  you have been doing with the Byzantine/medieval series professor.  

Xaratustrah on 4 March 2019

Hi Peter,

Hi Peter,

what about Nikolaus von Kues (Nicolaus Cusanus)?

In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 5 March 2019

Oh definitely - I wouldn't

Oh definitely - I wouldn't forget him! Though actually he is a little bit tricky in terms of placement: do I consider him as part of the Italian Renaissance or the Northern Renaissance and Reformation?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Xaratustrah on 6 March 2019

I would probably go for the

I would probably go for the northern renaissance, he was a catholic theologian in the holy roman empire. Would be happy to know more on his views on Islam, btw.


In reply to by Xaratustrah

Peter Adamson on 6 March 2019

But he also spent time in

But he also spent time in Italy... also I am doing Italian Renaissance first so if I put him there people won't be like, hey, where is Cusa? So I am leaning that way. In any case I will certainly discuss his views on Islam (or rather I am planning a whole episode on attitudes to Islam in the Italian Renaissance).

Alamin on 13 March 2019

Hi Peter,

Hi Peter,

my wish list for Renaissance Philosophy are:
1. Giordano Bruno and his influence
2. The impact of Copernican Revolution on Renaissance Philosophy and Science. Were there any cultural tradition that influence the Copernican revolution. It is said that Copernicus was influenced by sects that believe in the divinity of Sun hence placing the Sun at the centre of his cosmology. In fact, the Copernican and Ptolamaic astronomy both explains and predicts astronomical event with equal strength. Kepler cosmology was superior in many regard and he deserves for changing our perspective on cosmology. I love to hear this exciting episode on Renaissance.


In reply to by Alamin

Peter Adamson on 13 March 2019

Right, these topics will

Right, these topics will definitely be covered!

Diego Gomez Tella on 22 March 2019

Would love to hear you

Would love to hear you discuss Vico and his philosophy of history

In reply to by Diego Gomez Tella

Peter Adamson on 23 March 2019

Most definitely, thanks!

Most definitely, thanks!

Thomas V Mirus on 28 March 2019

I'm assuming you'll be doing

I'm assuming you'll be doing the School of Salamanca and Erasmus. Other than those, I hope you will cover my patron saint, Thomas More. Not having read much by him yet, I have no idea if he merits a full episode or not, but it seems like Utopia is a sufficiently major work for that. Of course, since he and Erasmus were good friends you could cover them together or adjacently.

In reply to by Thomas V Mirus

Peter Adamson on 28 March 2019

I will definitely cover all

I will definitely cover all that, but not under the "Renaissance" heading - I'll be doing the northern Renaissance (plus Britain) in a subsequent series under the rubric of "Reformation." And these topics are on the list for that series for sure, thanks!

Alexander Johnson on 1 April 2019

I am not sure who is well

I am not sure who is well known in ren philosophy, or who for sure you covered or didn't earlier, so forgive me if any of these are overlapped.

Elijah del Medigo.  Pietro Pomponazzi.  Jacopo Zabarella.  Francisco Suarez.   Rudolph Agricola.  Petrus Ramus.   Lorenzo Valla.  Desiderius Erasmus.  Bessarion.  Mirandola.  Justus Lipsius.  The 15th century epicureans.  Agrippa Nettesheim.  Michel de Montaigne.  Copernicus.  Telesio.  Giordano Bruno.

In reply to by Alexander Johnson

Peter Adamson on 2 April 2019

Thanks - I think I have do

Thanks - I think I have do all those names on my list though some would be in the next series on the Reformation and Northern Renaissance.

dukeofethereal on 9 April 2019

Renaissance Averroism and Its

Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe - (figures such as Girolamo Borro who used Averrorism to attack those who combined Plato and Aristotle) - you can use this for thematic episodes such as 'Italian Renaissance and Islam 

Virginia Cox writings for Italian Female Renaissance thinkers (an interview with her would be nice too Professor)


Francesco Patrizi of Siena - political scientist/humanist

Franciscus Patricius - Croatian/Venetian Neoplatonist

Giulio Camillo ; 'Theatre of Memory'


bjwnc7658 on 16 July 2019

A suggestion for the Counter

A suggestion for the Counter Reformation section: Bernardino of Laredo. See the recent book by Jessica Boon.

In reply to by bjwnc7658

Peter Adamson on 16 July 2019

Noted! Thanks very much for

Noted! Thanks very much for the suggestion.

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