Political Philosophy

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

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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.

48 - Constitutional Conventions: Aristotle's Political Philosophy

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Peter looks at the ideal arrangement of the state in Aristotle’s Politics, his critique of Plato’s Republic and his views on slavery.

58 - Reaping the Harvest: Lucretius

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Lucretius’ poem On the Nature of Things sets Epicureanism into verse. Peter takes a look at its treatment of the soul, free will and the swerve and human society.

74 - Tony Long on the Self in Hellenistic Philosophy

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Leading Hellenistic philosophy scholar Tony Long talks to Peter about the self, ethics and politics in the Stoics, Epicureans and Skeptics.

96 - Dominic O'Meara on Neoplatonism

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Dominic O'Meara speaks with Peter about political philosophy and mathematics in Neoplatonism.

113 - Heaven and Earth: Augustine’s City of God

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In his City of God Augustine traces the histories and philosophical underpinnings of two “cities,” one devoted to worldly glory, the other to heavenly bliss.

130 - State of Mind: al-Fārābī on Religion and Politics

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Al-Fārābī combines Islam and Greek sources to present the ideal ruler as a philosopher who is also a prophet.

148 - Fantasy Island: Ibn Bājja and Ibn Ṭufayl

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Intellect and alienation in Ibn Bājja and Ibn Ṭufayl, author of the philosophical desert island castaway tale Ḥayy Ibn Yaqẓān.

154 - The Philosophy of History: Ibn Khaldūn

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The historian Ibn Khaldūn applies the methods of philosophy to understand the rise and fall of political regimes.

176 - A Man for all Seasons: al-Ṭūsī

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Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī’s controversial career sees him adopt and then abandon Ismā'īlism, team up with the Mongols, and offer a staunch defense of Avicenna.

185 - Follow the Leader: Philosophy under the Safavids

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Philosophy in Safavid Iran, and a look back at earlier philosophy among Shiites.

191 - The Young Ones: Encounters with European Thought

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18th and 19th century intellectuals in India and the Ottoman empire, from Shāh Walī Allāhto the Young Turks, continue Islamic traditions and grapple with European science.

193 - All for One and One for All: Muḥammad 'Abduh and Muḥammad Iqbāl

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Muḥammad 'Abdūh and Muḥammad Iqbāl challenge colonialism and the traditional religious scholars of Islam.

195 - Anke von Kügelgen on Contemporary Islamic Thought

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Anke von Kügelgen joins Peter to discuss developments over the last century or so, including attitudes towards past thinkers like Avicenna, Averroes and Ibn Taymiyya.

218. Two Swords: Early Medieval Political Philosophy

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The “Investiture Contest” between church and state and the first major work of medieval political philosophy, John of Salisbury’s Policraticus.

236. None for Me, Thanks: Franciscan Poverty

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Bonaventure and Peter Olivi respond to critics of the Franciscan vow of poverty, in a debate which produced new ideas about economics and rights.

246. What Pleases the Prince: The Rule of Law

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Natural law and political legitimacy in thirteenth century thinkers up to and including Thomas Aquinas.

11. Carry a Big Stick: Ancient Indian Political Thought

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Two figures from the Mauryan dynasty, Kauṭilya and the king Aśoka, set out contrasting ideas about the ideal political rule.

247. Onward, Christian Soldiers: Just War Theory

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Aquinas follows medieval legal thinkers in defining the conditions under which war may be justified, and proposes his famous doctrine of double effect.

265. Time of the Signs: the Fourteenth Century

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An introduction to philosophy in the 14th century, focusing on two big ideas: nominalism and voluntarism.

269. Our Power is Real: the Clash of Church and State

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Giles of Rome and Dante on the rival claims of the church and secular rulers.

270. Render unto Caesar: Marsilius of Padua

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In Defender of the Peace, Marsilius of Padua develops new theories of representative government, rights, and ownership.

271. Do As You’re Told: Ockham on Ethics and Political Philosophy

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William of Ockham on freedom of action and freedom of thought.

286. On the Money: Medieval Economic Theory

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Changing ideas about money, just price, and usury, up to the time of Buridan, Oresme, and Gregory of Rimaini.

295. The Most Christian Doctor: Jean Gerson

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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.

296. Morning Star of the Reformation: John Wyclif

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John Wyclif refutes nominalism and inspires the Lollard movement, which anticipated Reformation thought with its critique of the church.

300a. The Relevance of Ancient Philosophy Today

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Three guests to celebrate 300 episodes! Rachel Barney, Christof Rapp, and Mark Kalderon join Peter to discuss the importance of ancient philosophy for today's philosophers.

3. Fertile Ground: Philosophy in Ancient Mesopotamia

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Do the cuneiform writings of Babylonian culture show that it had its own philosophy?

5. Father Knows Best: Moral and Political Philosophy in the Instructions

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Ethical reflection in ancient Egyptian grave inscriptions and in works of moral advice, such as the Maxims of Ptahhotep and the Instructions named for Amenemope, Ani, and Merikare.

307. Consul of the Philosophers: Michael Psellos

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Michael Psellos and his attitude towards pagan philosophy and the political life.

11. Teodros Kiros on Ethiopian Philosophy

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Teodros Kiros discusses his work in political philosophy and the history of Ethiopian philosophical thought.

308. Dominic O'Meara on Michael Psellos

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Dominic O'Meara speaks to Peter about Michael Psellos, focusing especially on his political philosophy.

13. Renewing the Faith: the Sokoto Caliphate

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Uthman Dan Fodio and his family were scholars, poets, and warriors whose jihad in 19th century Nigeria created the Sokoto Caliphate.

310. Purple Prose: Byzantine Political Philosophy

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Byzantine political thought from the time of Justinian down to the Palaiologos dynasty wrestles with the nature and scope of imperial power.

312. Past Masters: Byzantine Historiography

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The larger meaning of history in the chronicles written by Michael Psellos, Michael Attaleiates, Anna Komnene, and Niketas Choniates.

316. Just Measures: Law, Money, and War in Byzantium

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Legal and economic thought in Byzantium: the sources of the law’s authority, the relation of church and civil law, just price, and just war.

20. I Am Because We Are: Communalism in African Ethics and Politics

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Emphasis on the value of community as a major theme in African philosophy.

22. Women Have No Tribe: Gender in African Tradition

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What archeology, ethnography, and philosophical interpretation tell us about the diverse and often ambiguous roles of men and women in traditional African societies.

23. Nkiru Nzegwu on Gender in African Tradition

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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).

24. Professionally Speaking: The Reaction Against Ethnophilosophy

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Paulin Hountondji (pictured) and other African philosophers criticize ethnophilosophy and advocate a universalist approach.

321. Judith Herrin on Byzantium and Islam

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Historian Judith Herrin joins us to talk about competition and mutual influence between Islam and Byzantium.

26. Kai Kresse on the Anthropology of Philosophy

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An interview with Kai Kresse (pictured here with Ustadh Mahmoud Mau) who discusses his efforts to do "anthropology of philosophy" on the Swahili Coast.

325. Platonic Love: Gemistos Plethon

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Was Gemistos Plethon, the last great thinker of the Byzantine tradition, a secret pagan or just a Christian with an unusual enthusiasm for Platonism?

31. Justin Smith on Amo and Race in Early Modern Philosophy

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Justin E.H. Smith joins us to discuss Anton Wilhelm Amo against the background of ideas about race in early modern philosophy, including Leibniz.

329. Greeks Bearing Gifts: Byzantine Scholars in Italy

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Bessarion and George Trapenzuntius, rival scholars from the Greek east who helped inspire the Italian Renaissance.

330. Republic of Letters: Italian Humanism

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Coluccio Salutati and Leonardo Bruni combine eloquence with philosophy, taking as their model the refined language and republican ideals found in Cicero.

34. New England Patriot: Lemuel Haynes

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Preacher and Revolutionary War soldier Lemuel Haynes argues that the principles of the American Revolution demand the abolition of slavery.

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

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

36. Sons of Africa: Quobna Ottobah Cugoano and Olaudah Equiano

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Quobna Ottobah Cugoano and Olaudah Equiano advance the goals of the abolitionist movement through a groundbreaking political treatise and an influential autobiography.

37. Liberty, Equality, Humanity: The Haitian Revolution

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In an age of revolutions and revolutionary ideas, the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 stands out as the most radical of them all.

38. My Haitian Pen: Baron de Vastey

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The Baron de Vastey unveils the horror of colonialism as a system and defends the monarchy of King Christophe in the tense early years of Haiti’s independence.

Note: this episode repeats some of Vastey's vivid descriptions of violence against slaves, so please think twice before listening to it around kids for example.

39. Doris Garraway on the Haitian Revolution

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An interview with Doris Garraway on the background, intellectual basis, and legacy of the Haitian Revolution.

336. We Built This City: Christine de Pizan

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Christine de Pizan's political philosophy, epistemology, and the refutation of misogyny in her "City of Ladies".

40. American Africans: Early Black Institutions in the US

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Building black institutions in early American history, with Prince Hall and the Masons in Boston, and Richard Allen and the Methodists in Philadelphia.

41. Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Colonization Controversy

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Questions of political autonomy and group identity in the emigration movement led by Paul Cuffe, Daniel Coker, John Russwurm and others.

42. James Sidbury on African Identity

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An interview with James Sidbury about the emergence of a self-conscious African identity in the diaspora.

339. I’d Like to Thank the Academy: Florentine Platonism

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The blossoming of Renaissance Platonism under the Medici, who supported the scholarship of Poliziano, Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola.

43. Kill or Be Killed: David Walker’s Appeal

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David Walker defends violent resistance in his incendiary and influential Appeal.

45. Unnatural Causes: Hosea Easton’s Treatise

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Hosea Easton’s Treatise provides an overlooked but fascinating theory of race and racism.

46. Melvin Rogers on Early 19th Century Political Thought

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Melvin Rogers joins us to discuss David Walker, Maria Stewart, and Hosea Easton.

47. Written by Himself: the Life of Frederick Douglass

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Frederick Douglass' journey from slave to leading figure of 19th century American thought.

48. Happy Holidays: Two Speeches by Frederick Douglass

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In two speeches marking holidays, Frederick Douglass champions the idea of world citizenship, the power of appeals to conscience to bring change, and the role of violence.

49. Let Your Motto Be Resistance: Henry Highland Garnet

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Henry Highland Garnet encourages, or actually demands, that enslaved Americans throw off their chains and debates Douglass over how best to resist slavery.

50. Nation Within a Nation: Martin Delany

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He is called a “father of black nationalism,” but Martin Delany also promoted integration in American society. Can the apparent tension be resolved?

347. Bonfire of the Vanities: Savonarola

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The prophetic preacher Girolamo Savonarola attacks pagan philosophy and puts forward his own political ideas, before coming to an untimely end.

348. The Sweet Restraints of Liberty: Republicanism and Civic Humanism

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Did “civic humanism” really make republicanism a newly dominant political theory in the Italian Renaissance?

52. Great White North: Emigration to Canada

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Mary Ann Shadd and Samuel Ringgold Ward reflect on what Canada can offer African Americans, differing on the problem of racism.

349. No More Mr Nice Guy: Machiavelli

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Machiavelli’s seminal work of political advice, The Prince, tells the ruler how to be strong like a lion and cunning like a fox.

53. Pilgrim’s Progress: Alexander Crummell

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From his time in Liberia to his later concentration on the reform of African American culture, Alexander Crummell identifies progressive “civilization” as a means of liberation.

350. The Sentence: Machiavelli on Republicanism

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Peter celebrates reaching 350 episodes by explaining a single sentence in Machiavelli's "Discourses."

54. Wilson Moses on the Roots of Black Nationalism

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Wilson Moses speaks to us about his research into early black nationalism, with reference to Crummell, Douglass, and others.

351. Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli

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Leading Machiavelli scholar Quentin Skinner joins Peter to discuss morality, history, and religion in the Prince and the Discourses.

55. Planting the Seeds: James Africanus Beale Horton

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Africanus Horton looks toward a future of self-government for West Africa beyond slavery and colonialism.

352. The Teacher of Our Actions: Renaissance Historiography

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Bruni, Poggio, Machiavelli, and Guicciardini explore political ideas and historical method in works on Roman and Italian history.

56. African Personality: Edward Blyden

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Edward Blyden gains appreciation for Islam in West Africa and gradually moves from political nationalism to cultural nationalism.

353. The Good Place: Utopias in the Italian Renaissance

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Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun and other utopian works of the Italian Renaissance describe perfect cities as an ideal for real life politics.

57. Race First, Then Party: T. Thomas Fortune

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T. Thomas Fortune uses newspaper editorials to put forth a theory of civil rights and sets out a plan of political action for protecting them.

59. Frowning at Froudacious Fabrications: J.J. Thomas and F.A. Durham

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John Jacob Thomas argues for self-government in the English colonies of the Caribbean but his fellow Trinidadian Frederick Alexander Durham recommends repatriation to Africa instead.

60. Though Late, It Is Liberty: Abolitionism in Brazil

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Abolitionists Luiz Gama and Joaquim Nabuco, and the great novelist Machado de Assis, react to the injustices of slaveholding in Brazil.

62. American Barbarism: Ida B. Wells

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Ida B. Wells, her tireless crusade against lynching, and her analysis of the underlying purpose of racial violence

63. Brittney Cooper on Black Women Activists

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Brittney Cooper on activists connected to the National Association of Colored Women, including Fannie Barrier Williams, Mary Church Terrell, and Ida B. Wells.

64. God is a Negro: Henry McNeal Turner

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A late 19th-century churchman tries to explain how slavery fit into God’s plan and decide whether the future for African Americans lies in Africa or America.

65. Separate Fingers, One Hand: Booker T. Washington

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Was Booker T. Washington’s “accommodationist” approach to race relations a failure to stand up to injustice or a cunning strategy for incremental change?

68. The Problem of the Color Line: Introducing the Twentieth Century

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By exploring the work and activities of W.E.B. Du Bois around the turn of the twentieth century, we introduce some of the themes of our coverage of that century.

69. The Best We Have: The American Negro Academy

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The ANA unites leading African American scholars of the early 20th century, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, William Ferris, Archibald Grimké, and Kelly Miller (pictured).

70. Tommy Curry on the Early 20th Century

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We chat with Tommy Curry about African-American thought between the turn of the century and the Harlem Renaissance.

71. In Blyden’s Wake: West African Intellectuals of the Early Twentieth Century

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West African intellectuals like J.E. Casely-Hayford (pictured) and Mojola Agbebi build upon Edward Blyden’s ideas at the dawn of the twentieth century.

72. In A Class of Their Own: Early African American Socialism

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Around the time of World War One, Hubert Harrison (pictured), A. Philip Randolph, and other black socialists argue that racial oppression is caused by capitalism.

73. Vanessa Wills on Africana Marxism

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Vanessa Wills speaks  to us about Marx and his Africana legacy, with a special focus on black women Marxists.

74. Black Star: Marcus Garvey

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Marcus Garvey leads a powerful movement, inspires racial pride, and feuds with other thinkers like Du Bois.

75. Now I Have a Rival: the Two Amy Garveys

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Marcus Garvey’s two wives, Amy Ashwood Garvey and Amy Jacques Garvey (pictured), establish themselves as activists in their own right and provide feminist voices within the Pan-African movement.

76. Michael Dawson on Garvey and Black Nationalism

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An interview with Michael Dawson, who explains Marcus Garvey's black nationalism and how this and other political ideologies, like socialism and liberalism, have fared from the time of Garvey down to the present day.

80. Scholarly Contributions: African American Professional Philosophers

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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.

379. Lyndal Roper on Luther

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How radical was Luther? We find out from Lyndal Roper, who also discusses Luther and the Peasants' War, sexuality, anti-semitism, and the visual arts.

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

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

84. Live Long and Protest: W.E.B. Du Bois, 1920-1963

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Du Bois moves to the left, and revisits and refines older positions during the latter half of his very long life.

381. More Lutheran than Luther: Philip Melanchthon

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Luther’s close ally Melanchthon uses his knowledge of ancient philosophy and rhetoric in the service of the Reformation.

85. Liam Kofi Bright on Du Bois' Philosophy of Science

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Guest Liam Kofi Bright discusses Du Bois' ideal of value-free science and the place of science within his wider thought.

382. No Lord but God: the Peasants’ War and Radical Reformation

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Faced with massive political upheaval and the rise of the Anabaptists, Luther argues for a socially conservative version of the Reformation.

86. French Connection: The Negritude Movement

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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

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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

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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

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

91. Massa Day Done: Oliver Cox and Eric Williams

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Two Trinidadian political thinkers: sociologist Oliver Cox analyzes the nature of racial prejudice, and historian Eric Williams connects capitalism to slavery.

92. Half the World: Claudia Jones

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Claudia Jones argues that Communism provides the remedy for racism and imperialism.

93. Carole Boyce Davies on Claudia Jones

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Interview guest Carole Boyce Davies joins us to talk about the radical ideas of Claudia Jones.

390. Born to Be Contrary: Toleration in the Netherlands

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Amidst religious conflict in the Netherlands, Dirck Coornhert pleads for religious toleration and freedom of expression.

391. Everything is Mine and Nothing: Lipsius and the Revival of Stoicism

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Justus Lipsius draws on Seneca and other Stoics to counsel peace of mind in the face of political chaos, but also writes a work on how such chaos can be avoided.

97. American Dream: Martin Luther King Jr.

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The story of Martin Luther King Jr. up to 1963, focusing on the development of his philosophy of nonviolence.

98. Meena Krishnamurthy on Martin Luther King Jr

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An interview about the role of the emotions, including anger and feelings of dignity, in the non-violent protest campaign of King.

99. American Nightmare: Malcolm X

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The life and career of Malcolm X up to 1963, with a focus on his separatist black nationalism and his critique of non-violent protest.

101. Crossing Paths: the Last Years of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr

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After 1963, the views of Malcolm X and MLK came closer together, on topics including internationalism, political engagement, and economics.

102. From Cuba with Love: Juan Rene Betancourt

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The Cuban activist and author Juan Rene Betancourt urges racial solidarity and reckons with the revolution under Castro and the island’s turn towards Communism.

103. A Federal Case: Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo

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Two Nigerian activists lead the struggle for independence, and clash over the competing values of national unity and ethnic diversity.

104. In Unity Lies Strength: Kwame Nkrumah

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The first leader of independent Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, writes against neocolonialism and in favor of socialism and Pan-Africanism.

106. Combat Literature: Franz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth

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Fanon’s incendiary final work explores the violent process of decolonization.

107. Lewis Gordon on Frantz Fanon

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We're joined by a leading Fanon expert to talk about a range of themes in his work: Negritude, psychiatry, and violence.

108. Or Does It Explode? Lorraine Hansberry

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The author of the famous play, A Raisin in the Sun, explores questions of violence, sexuality, and more during her too brief life. 

109. Say It Loud: Black Power

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How the controversial slogan “black power,” used by activists like H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael (pictured), relates to ideas of militancy, separatism, and the power of language.

406. Believe at Your Own Risk: Toleration in France

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Even as wars of religion in France prompt calls for toleration, hardly anyone makes a principled case for freedom of conscience… apart from Sebastian Castellio.

110. Politics with Bloodshed: the Black Panthers

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The philosophical underpinnings of a “vanguard of revolution” led by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver: the Black Panther Party.

407. Maria Rosa Antognazza on Early Modern Toleration

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An interview on the nature of religious tolerance, and the forms it took during the Reformation and in the thought of early modern thinkers like Locke and Leibniz.

Maria Rosa Antognazza is Professor of Philosophy at King's College London.

111. A Kwanzaa Story: Maulana Karenga

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The Pan-Africanist philosopher Maulana Karenga defends the importance of cultural revolution and invents the holiday Kwanzaa.

408. Constitutional Conventions: the Huguenots

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Protestant French thinkers like François Hotman and Theodore Beza propose a radical political philosophy: the king rules at the pleasure of his subjects.

409. One to Rule Them All: Jean Bodin

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The polymath Jean Bodin produces a pioneering theory of political sovereignty along the way to defending the absolute power of the French king.

114. Teacher Taught Me: Julius Nyerere

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The first leader of independent Tanzania grounds his socialist ideas in traditional African values.

115. Weapon of Choice: Amílcar Cabral

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Amílcar Cabral, leader of a revolution against colonialism in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, rethinks culture and Marxist theory as bases for his struggle.

412. Not Matter, But Me: Michel de Montaigne

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In his Essays Montaigne uses wit, insight, and humanist training to tackle his favorite subject: Montaigne.

116. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò and Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò on Cabral

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Two scholars of the same name join us to shed further light on freedom fighter and political theorist Amílcar Cabral.

117. Spear of the Nation: Nelson Mandela and the ANC

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The career and ideas of Nelson Mandela up to the time of his imprisonment, in the context of the founding of the African National Congress.

118. African Survivals: Abdias do Nascimento

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Abdias do Nascimento, a leader in Brazilian theater and politics, and his theory of Quilombismo.

417. To Kill a King: The Scottish Reformation

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John Knox polemicizes against idolaters and female rulers, while the humanist George Buchanan argues more calmly for equally radical political conclusions.

121. No Agreement: Fela Kuti and Wole Soyinka

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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.

418. Diarmaid MacCulloch on the British Reformations

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A leading expert on the history of the Reformation joins us to explain the very different stories of England and Scotland in the 16th century.

122. A More Human Face: Steve Biko

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Famous for his killing at the hands of the Apartheid government in South Africa, Steve Biko was also a deep thinker, who introduced the notion of Black Consciousness.

123. History Teaches Us: Walter Rodney

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Pan-Africanist and Marxist historian Walter Rodney rethinks Black Power, engages with Rastafari, and opposes racial division in his home country of Guyana.

420. No Place Will Please Me So: Thomas More

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What is the message of the famous, but elusive, work Utopia, and how can it be squared with the life of its author?

421. With Such Perfection Govern: English Political Thought

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The evolution of ideas about kingship and the role of the “three estates” in 15th and 16th century England, with a focus on John Fortescue and Thomas Starkey.

422. The World’s Law: Richard Hooker

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Richard Hooker defends the religious and political settlement of Elizabethan England using rational arguments and appeals to the natural law.

126. Fugitive for Justice: Angela Davis

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The eventful life and penetrating philosophy of Angela Davis, an icon of resistance deeply informed by Marxism and influential on black feminist thought.

424. Hast Any Philosophy In Thee? William Shakespeare

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How should we approach Shakespeare’s plays as philosophical texts? We take as examples skepticism and politics in Othello, King Lear, and Julius Caesar.

127. Knowing the Difference: Audre Lorde

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In poetry and prose, especially her collection Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde explores ideas of difference, eroticism, and feminist theory.

128. Marginal Comments: bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins

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We bring the story of black feminism up to the turn of the century with the incisive works of bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins.

129. Afrophone Home: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

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How one of Kenya's greatest writers came to argue that African literature should be written in African languages.

427. Brave New World: Shakespeare’s Tempest and Colonialism

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Can Shakespeare’s Tempest be read as a reflection on the English encounter with the peoples of the Americas?

130. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o on Himself

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The great Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o joins us to speak about his career, his influences, and the power and politics of language.

131. Mixed Messages: Black British Cultural Studies

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Stuart Hall pioneers “cultural studies,” offering tools for analysis of films, television, fiction and music that were put to use by followers like Paul Gilroy and Hazel Carby.

Thanks to Glenn Adamson for his feedback on this episode!

134. The Marx Brothers: Cedric J. Robinson

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Cedric J. Robinson reflects on the power and limitations of Marxism while charting the past and prospects of black radical thought.

136. Civilization Reclaimed: African-Centered Thought

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Writers like George G.M. James, John Henrik Clarke, Cheikh Anta Diop, Yosef ben-Jochannan, and Chancellor Williams prepare the way for the Afrocentricity of Molefi Asante and capture the imaginations of hip hop artists and intellectuals like Ta-Nehisi Coates.

137. Asante Sana: Molefi Asante’s Afrocentricity

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What inspired Asante's philosophy of Afrocentricity, and its relationship to religion, nationalism, and feminism. 

138. Taking it Out of Neutral: Critical Race Theory

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A movement of legal scholars diagnoses the limitations of merely “formal” measures against discrimination, a point they connect to issues like affirmative action, democratic process, and intersectionality.

139. A Love Supreme: Cornel West

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An introduction to the thought of Cornel West, focusing on his early essay “Philosophy and the Afro-American Experience.”

438. Don't Give Up Pope: Catholic Reformation

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How the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reformation created a context for philosophy among Catholics, especially in Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

141. Job Openings: the Rise of Africana Professional Philosophy

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The key events and figures in philosophy as an academic discipline, in both Africa and the diaspora, from the 1970s to the 1990s.

1. Journey of a Thousand Li: Introduction to Chinese Philosophy

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Introducing Chinese philosophy through the concept of "dao," a fundamental word in classical Chinese philosophy, with a range of meanings across its different traditions.

2. The Only Constant: Change and the "Yi Jing"

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Early Chinese philosophers were deeply aware of a world that is constantly changing. We consider how they responded to uncertainty about change.

4. Open Season: the Historical Context

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The historical context of classical Chinese philosophy, and how ancient Chinese historical works themselves became works of philosophy.

8. Confucius Says: Reading the Analects

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Lessons we can take from the teachings of Kongzi (Confucius) in the Analects: challenging authorities, adhering to “benevolence (ren),” and practicing “propriety (li)” in ritual and everyday life.

10. We’re a Pack Animal: Individual and Society in Confucianism

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What does the Analects say about living as a human being? How are individuals embedded in society, and how do they develop their unique identities?