Rule 1 for history of philosophy: independent discovery
I was thinking it might be an idea to suggest some guidelines encapsulating what I see as good practice in studying the history of philosophy. With any luck, these rules are exemplified, not routinely violated, by the podcast itself. These are only suggestions though: I would love to hear other ideas and start a discussion here on the website. I will be doing a series of blog post with proposed rules,
With those caveats, here is rule 1:
It's possible for the same idea to appear independently more than once
It strikes me that a common error in history of philosophy is to see that two figures/traditions have put forward the same idea, and immediately infer a historical connection. For instance: atomism or monism emerging in both ancient Greek and classical Indian philosophy. Or: al-Ghazali's and Hume's discussions of causation. Yes, the similarities are striking, and there _might_ be a historical connection, but the similarity does nothing in and of itself to show that there is such a connection. Rather it only raises the question of whether there was influence one way or the other. Often, the simplest explanation is just that people thinking about a certain topic will naturally tend towards a certain, limited range of positions (like, either bodies can be infinitely divided, or not - and in the latter case one is an atomist).