This month I have been mostly listening to Peter Adamson’s podcast History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps. I have posted on this before, when I first started, and Adamson was still on Greek thinkers. Since then the podcast has powered on, through the Islamic world, through Medieval Christendom (reaching the end of the 14th century recently, at episode 300). Side series covering India, the Byzantines and pre-colonial Africa are also ongoing.
I’m not up to date on all that. I listened to the show until the 12th century and then realised I had got lost about the universals and the forms of logic. This month I borrowed Anthony Kenny’s A New History of Western Philosophy from the library – the second volume on the Medieval stuff and I’ve been working through.
Kenny writes clearly with just enough conciseness and just enough general interest to get the basic concepts across. Adamson presents a lot of context and some difficult ideas through running jokes and analogies – Buster Keaton, The Marx Brothers, his non-existent sister and a giraffe called Hiawatha all feature regularly. I won’t pretend to have mastered Aquinas, but I’ve enjoyed both of these anyway, and repeated listening after some extra-curricular reading seems to be the way forward.
Back in August, I wrote a post on Peter Adamson’s podcast series The History of Philosophy (Without Any Gaps). You can find more in depth thoughts in that post but, to be brief, I liked it a lot. It was clear, fun with an approachable structure that moved forward and built on what had gone before (both in philosophy and in the in-jokes). Adamson, a university professor, created the show in collaboration with the Leverhulme Trust and had on an array of academic guests to talk over the topics in detail.
The first section involved the greats of Greek philosophy – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It also covered many of their predecessors (this is “without any gaps” after all) with such big names as Thales of Miletus and Pythagoras. So where do we go next? Well, in his Late Antiquity section we begin with more Greek philosophers (including more household names) before moving on to the dominance of Plato and Aristotle in neo-Platonism, and finally the early Christian church.
Continue reading Post 55: History of Philosophy part 2
Covering the entire history of philosophy in one go is a tough challenge. Even covering an (so far) unfinished podcast series on the history of philosophy is pretty daunting. Peter Adamson in his series History of Philosophy (Without Any Gaps) makes it as easy as possible though, with an approachable and accessible style and structure. Each podcast episode is twenty to thirty minutes in length and covers a single philosopher or a single topic; generally following on in chronological fashion. The website is rather handily divided into broad eras (so far Classical, Later Antiquity and Islamic) which are then subdivided into smaller sections – this makes things easily navigable, but it is a continuous podcast and episodes do link neatly from one to the next (with the occasional interview episode). Unlike many podcasts, which are run by enthusiastic amateurs, this is run by an enthusiastic professor (based at King’s College London and LMU in Munich) with support from the Leverhulme Trust. Don’t be intimidated though, it works like the rest but perhaps with more confidence and an impression series of knowledgeable guests.
Continue reading Post 37: History of Philosophy part 1