Aesthetics and the Arts (Music, Painting, etc)

25 - Soul and the City: Plato's Political Philosophy

Posted on 20 March 2011

In his masterpiece the Republic, Plato describes the ideal city and draws a parallel between this city and the just soul, with the three classes of the city mirroring the three parts of the soul. Peter discusses this parallel and the historical context that may have influenced Plato's political thought.

84 - Silver Tongues in Golden Mouths: Rhetoric and Ancient Philosophy

Posted on 10 June 2012

Peter looks at the interaction between rhetoric and philosophy in the Roman Empire, discussing authors like Quintilian, Lucian and Themistius.

95 - Anne Sheppard on Ancient Aesthetics

Posted on 23 September 2012

Anne Sheppard discusses ancient aesthetics, touching on poetry, visual art and music in thinkers from Plato to Proclus.

133 - Strings Attached: Music and Philosophy

Posted on 16 June 2013

Peter turns DJ, with some actual music interspersed with discussion about theories of music in works by al-Kindī, the Brethren of Purity, and al-Fārābī.

255. Andreas Speer on Medieval Aesthetics

Posted on 5 June 2016

Does medieval art tell us anything about medieval theories of aesthetics? Peter finds out from Andreas Speer.

268. To Hell and Back: Dante Alighieri

Posted on 1 January 2017

Italy’s greatest poet Dante Alighieri was also a philosopher, as we learn from his Convivio and of course the Divine Comedy.

This episode is dedicated to John Kleiner, the inspirational teacher with whom I had my first experience reading Dante.

42. In Good Taste: The Aesthetics of Rasa

Posted on 14 May 2017

Bharata’s Nāṭya-Śāstra and later works from Kashmir explore the idea of rasa, an emotional response to drama, music, and poetry.

295. The Most Christian Doctor: Jean Gerson

Posted on 11 February 2018

Jean Gerson’s role in the political disputes of his day, the spread of lay devotion and affective mysticism, and the debate over the Romance of the Rose initiated by Christine de Pizan.

303. Don’t Picture This: Iconoclasm

Posted on 17 June 2018

Is it idolatry to venerate an icon of a saint, or of Christ? The dispute leads the Byzantines to ponder the relation between an image and its object.

304. Behind Enemy Lines: John of Damascus

Posted on 1 July 2018

John of Damascus helps to shape the Byzantine understanding of humankind and the veneration of images, despite living in Islamic territory.

Glenn Adamson on Material Intelligence

Posted on 11 August 2018

Peter's twin brother Glenn Adamson discusses the philosophical implications of craft.

311. The Elements of Style: Rhetoric in Byzantium

Posted on 4 November 2018

Psellos and other experts in rhetoric explore how this art of persuasion relates to philosophy.

23. Nkiru Nzegwu on Gender in African Tradition

Posted on 3 March 2019

An interview with Nkiru Nzegwu on matriarchy, sexuality, and gender fluidity in Africa (with a quick chat at the end about her work on African art).

326. Istanbul (Not Constantinople): the Later Orthodox Tradition

Posted on 2 June 2019

When the Byzantine empire ended in 1453, philosophy in Greek did not end with it. In this episode we bring the story up to the 20th century.

33. Young, Gifted, and Black: Phillis Wheatley

Posted on 21 July 2019

Phillis Wheatley astonishes colonial Americans with her exquisite and precocious poetry and reflects on the liberating power of the imagination.

35. Letters from the Heart: Ignatius Sancho and Benjamin Banneker

Posted on 15 September 2019

Ignatius Sancho and Benjamin Banneker make their mark on the history of Africana thought through letters that reflect on the power of sentiment.

341. True Romance: Theories of Love

Posted on 26 January 2020

Ficino describes a “Platonic” love purified of sexuality, prompting a debate carried on by Pico della Mirandola, Pietro Bembo, and Tullia d’Aragona.

361. The Measure of All Things: Renaissance Mathematics and Art

Posted on 6 December 2020

The humanist study of Pythagoras, Archimedes and other ancient mathematicians goes hand in hand with the use of mathematics in painting and architecture.

370. Ingrid Rowland on Rome in the Renaissance

Posted on 11 April 2021

For our finale of the Italian Renaissance series we're joined by Ingrid Rowland, to speak about art, philosophy, and persecution in Renaissance Rome.

77. A Race Capital: the Harlem Renaissance

Posted on 30 May 2021

The artistic flowering of the 1920s known as the Harlem Renaissance raises important questions about identity and the purpose of art.

78. Freedom Through Art: Alain Locke

Posted on 13 June 2021

The aesthetics of Alain Locke and its basis in his theory of value judgments.

79. Leonard Harris on Alain Locke

Posted on 27 June 2021

Leonard Harris explains how Locke's value theory was the basis for his aesthetics and theories of democracy and race.

80. Scholarly Contributions: African American Professional Philosophers

Posted on 11 July 2021

From the latter half of the nineteenth century to the 1970s, African Americans only rarely obtain jobs as philosophy professors but bring distinctive perspectives to the profession.

82. The Florida Project: Zora Neale Hurston

Posted on 5 September 2021

Zora Neale Hurston’s interest in Africana folklore feeds into her great novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

83. Songs of the People: Paul Robeson and the Negro Spiritual

Posted on 19 September 2021

The career of the multi-talented activist and performer Paul Robeson, and the place of the Negro spiritual in the Harlem Renaissance.

86. French Connection: The Negritude Movement

Posted on 31 October 2021

Our first look at the emergence of the Negritude movement in Paris in the 1930s, with a focus on the early leadership of the Nardal sisters and Leon Damas.

87. Call It Intuition: Leopold Senghor

Posted on 14 November 2021

Leopold Senghor compares different ways of knowing while developing his theory of Negritude and combining the roles of poet and politician.

88. The Surreal Deal: Aimé and Suzanne Césaire

Posted on 28 November 2021

Negritude thinkers Aimé and Suzanne Césaire embrace surrealism and reflect on the relationships between poetry, knowledge, and identity.

90. Move Fast and Break Things: C.L.R. James

Posted on 26 December 2021

The Trinidadian historian and cultural critic C.L.R. James applies Marxist analysis to the Haitian Revolution, American cinema, and Shakespeare.

95. Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison

Posted on 6 March 2022

Ralph Ellison provides a new metaphor for the experience of racism in his Invisible Man and tackles topics of art and identity in his essays.

96. A Lover’s War: James Baldwin

Posted on 20 March 2022

In The Fire Next Time and other writings, the essayist and novelist James Baldwin seeks to dispel the illusions surrounding racial and sexual difference.

397. Do As the Romans Did: French Humanism

Posted on 22 May 2022

We begin to look at philosophy in Renaissance France, beginning with humanists like Budé and the use of classical philosophy by poets du Bellay and Ronsard.

401. Word Perfect: Logic and Language in Renaissance France

Posted on 17 July 2022

Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples and Julius Caesar Scaliger fuse Aristotelianism with humanism to address problems in logic and literary aesthetics.

112. Poems That Kill: the Black Arts Movement

Posted on 27 November 2022

African American literature of the late 1960s reflects the Black Power movement, in the works of such authors as Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, Larry Neal, and Sonia Sanchez.

119. The Space Race: Afrofuturism

Posted on 5 March 2023

Sun Ra and Parliament-Funkadelic return to claim the pyramids, and Octavia Butler uses science fiction to confront the brutal past of slavery.

Thanks to Stephan Terre for the creation of the futuristic intro music!

120. Redemption Songs: Reggae and Rastafari

Posted on 19 March 2023

How the Rastafari movement grew from trends within Africana philosophy, and then passed into global popular culture in the music of Bob Marley and other reggae artists.

121. No Agreement: Fela Kuti and Wole Soyinka

Posted on 2 April 2023

The political and musical revolution of Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat, the social critique of his cousin, the playwright Wole Soyinka, and the extraordinary career of Fela's mother Funmilayo.

419. Write Till Your Ink Be Dry: Humanism in Britain

Posted on 23 April 2023

Humanism comes to England and Scotland, leading scholars like Thomas Eylot and Andrew Melville to rethink philosophical education.

Image: Queen Elizabeth's translation of Boethius

124. Double Jeopardy: Black Feminism

Posted on 21 May 2023

Toni Cade Bambara, the Combahee River Collective, and Awa Thiam critique white feminist and black nationalist failures to recognize the unique struggle of the black woman.