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For The Love Of Wisdom
March 13, 2013 7:48 PM   Subscribe

The History of Philosophy podcast has the ambitious goal of covering the entire history of (Western) philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the modern day, without skipping any major philosophers or schools. At 110 episodes, it's just reached the end of the Roman Empire and Boethius and has very far still to go.
posted by empath (32 comments total) 98 users marked this as a favorite

 
How many have you listened to? Any highlights?
posted by koavf at 8:11 PM on March 13, 2013


I've listened to all of them. I enjoyed the series on neo-platonism, because it was kind of an intellectual dead-end and so isn't often talked about, but it's full of interesting metaphors and analogies. Also all of the ones with interviews are generally interesting.
posted by empath at 8:19 PM on March 13, 2013


This podcast will allow me to skip the episodes on Kierkegaard's philosophy of boredom!

Thanks!
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:20 PM on March 13, 2013


Also, and this is going to sound like a terrible recommendation -- I highly recommend listening to these to help you go to sleep. Only 30 minutes long, with a soothing presentation, it's really easy to doze off while listening, and you can always go back and catch the second half. That's how I listened to most of them, honestly.
posted by empath at 8:26 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sleep isn't a bad thing at all! This reminds me of when I found Philosophy/Ethics Bites. Thanks again.
posted by koavf at 8:36 PM on March 13, 2013


Wait, actual philosophers don't care about neo-Platonism? Again, my training in medieval history is useless.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, actual philosophers don't care about neo-Platonism?

I didn't say that, just that it's not something people learn about as part of a general education, because it doesn't have very much practical applicability to, well, anything.
posted by empath at 8:54 PM on March 13, 2013


This is cool, thanks empath!
posted by carter at 9:08 PM on March 13, 2013


I seem to remember learning that Neo-Platonism was a great influence on Renaissance thinkers such as Ficinio and Bruno. So I don't think it is quite right to say that it just went nowhere.
posted by thelonius at 10:03 PM on March 13, 2013


As far as practical applicability..........look, there go some undetached slices of rabbit!
posted by thelonius at 10:04 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Philosopher here. Neoplatonism is not a dead end, and it should be taught in philosophy classrooms far more frequently than it is. The neoplatonists made interesting enemies; one reason why they fell out of style was that the Church kept burning their books.

A lot of neoplatonists were writing dry texts for philosophical audiences, but at least one neoplatonist is a pleasure to read: Porphyry. His letter to his wife Marcella is a good brief introduction to the neoplatonic attitude toward life. He's still fairly well known among 21st century vegetarian writers for his book On Abstinence from Animal Food.

This isn't particularly practical, but give them credit for inventing the world's only entirely rational system of religious beliefs, deriving its idea of the supreme being from something like a conceptual analysis.

Neoplatonism was the chief intellectual rival to early Christian philosophy/theology. You get a much better sense of what a theologian like Augustine was doing if you know who he was arguing with, and Augustine is massively influential on all subsequent Christian thought. For example, Augustine invented the Christian doctrine of original sin. You have neighbors who believe it. See podcast 90 for a sense of its roots in neoplatonism.

Anyhow, based on having heard half of one podcast so far, these podcasts sound like they're really well made.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


Cambridge Platonists on the other hand...
posted by oddman at 11:15 PM on March 13, 2013


Neat, thanks for posting them.

Also, I was wondering myself, so I'll copy the info here: these are put together by Peter Adamson, Professor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at King's College London.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:19 PM on March 13, 2013


This isn't particularly practical, but give them credit for inventing the world's only entirely rational system of religious beliefs, deriving its idea of the supreme being from something like a conceptual analysis.

I don't think that theurgy was entirely rational. It definitely did influence Christian and Jewish philosophers, though. I was thinking 'dead-end' in that the enlightenment more or less tossed it aside as being impractical. You don't need to venture into neo-platonic ideas to understand really anything but theology and ancient and medieval history at this point, so most people never study it (or even know it exists). I did say it was the most interesting series in the podcast, after all.
posted by empath at 11:22 PM on March 13, 2013


Cambridge Platonists were great.

Neoplatonism is a sidebar to Medieval philosophy, which is considered a sidebar to philosophy. Which is unfortunate, but there we are.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 12:03 AM on March 14, 2013


This is a really great post! And I just went jogging with Aristoteles' logic.
posted by ipsative at 3:03 AM on March 14, 2013


I just started listening to this, going through the first fifty or so in a hot rush, and was thinking of posting.... Oh, well, at least I have philosophy to comfort me, right?

Honestly, listening to them so fast was probably a bit of a mistake. I've slowed down to a few a day during walks or chores, interspersed with other things, and that's made them a little easier to digest. I'll probably have to go back and listen to the Presocratics all over again.

I generally like the "interview" segments less than his solo episodes (for one thing, the sound is muddier), but they often shed additional light on the subject, so they should not be missed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:03 AM on March 14, 2013


I tend to dig into wikipedia after listening to an episode, which helps with retention a lot.
posted by empath at 3:11 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, this is the first podcast I started because a student said "you have to listen to this; you will really like it!" Who says it is province of aged wisdom to only teach?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:29 AM on March 14, 2013


This is an absolutely amazing project. Having listened to the first 25 or so episodes, I can vouch for their quality from a philosophical point of view. Adamson actually helps you learn about the important issues the (so far, Ancient) philosophers were concerned with, rather than needlessly adding biographical details. His style of presentation is also (in my view) exemplary. Understanding the Ancients is rewarding but difficult, so the task of making their thought accessible to a general audience is quite a challenge.
posted by faustdick at 3:29 AM on March 14, 2013


Adamson actually helps you learn about the important issues the (so far, Ancient) philosophers were concerned with, rather than needlessly adding biographical details.

This is an awful problem with science books, too. I don't remember the title, but I recently read a book about quantum mechanics where 90% of the book was just about disputes over who discovered what first and all kinds of interpersonal drama. Complete waste of time.
posted by empath at 3:41 AM on March 14, 2013


Looks great, and I hate to complain (ok, fine, I like to complain), but the currently available podcasts begin at #110, and getting the previous 109 podcasts--from the beginning--seems to involve downloading individually...from 109 different pages. Surely there's an easier way to get all these? And I'm just missing it?
posted by zardoz at 3:43 AM on March 14, 2013


Podcasting app on your iphone/ipad or via itunes.
posted by empath at 3:47 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've listened to most of these... this is far and away the best philosophy podcast. I really love it.
posted by painquale at 4:21 AM on March 14, 2013


How can they be doing interviews? All these philosophers are long dead!
posted by Pyrogenesis at 4:49 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do have to say, though, for a philosopher, Adamson's general exemplar is a female giraffe named Hiawatha. Now, as anyone who has spent any time in Minneapolis (or in American classrooms before a certain year) knows, Hiawatha is a male name. So, I am not sure what this says? Does Adamson believe all giraffes engage in free-wheeling gender expression? That zookeepers are ignorant of Native American naming conventions? That Hiawatha is not, actually, a generic giraffe but a bold individual, upsetting our notions of general vs specific? Giraffe gaffe or teachable moment? Philosophers, help!

Note: I fully support Hiawatha in her right to express her identity however she sees fit, even as a notional example, she deserves our full respect.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:23 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does Adamson believe all giraffes engage in free-wheeling gender expression? That zookeepers are ignorant of Native American naming conventions? That Hiawatha is not, actually, a generic giraffe but a bold individual, upsetting our notions of general vs specific? Giraffe gaffe or teachable moment? Philosophers, help!

Note: I fully support Hiawatha in her right to express her identity however she sees fit, even as a notional example, she deserves our full respect.


And no MeFi thread would be complete without discussion of such issues!


As for Neoplatonism being a dead end:
I see what you mean, but it *did* influence Emerson. (And he influenced Nietzsche and, perhaps, Peirce). So that's maybe something...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:34 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And no MeFi thread would be complete without discussion of such issues!

Hey, if you listen to just the first five episodes, you see how issues of classification are central to philosophy!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:50 AM on March 14, 2013


To be slightly more serious, I am up to the Roman Stoics, and it is increasingly clear to me that it was Pagan Philosophy, not Pagan Religion, which was the real competition to the Christian Church, and that the rise of Christianity may have been a result of its fusing religious and philosophical themes into a coherent whole rather than a sort of buffet-style approach. Anyway, great podcast!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:39 AM on March 14, 2013


OMG, overkill. Phone me when the short version's released. I'll just be outside, learning by watching.
posted by Twang at 3:20 PM on March 14, 2013


From Boethius to Batman
posted by homunculus at 4:06 PM on March 14, 2013


zardoz: "Looks great, and I hate to complain (ok, fine, I like to complain), but the currently available podcasts begin at #110, and getting the previous 109 podcasts--from the beginning--seems to involve downloading individually...from 109 different pages. Surely there's an easier way to get all these? And I'm just missing it?"

I figured out a way -

go to the main list and click to the groupings page, i.e. The Presocratics. At the bottom of that page is a RSS link to a feedburner page that gives you links to all the mp3s.

Whenever I want to download a podcast, I always look for the RSS link :)
posted by rebent at 11:54 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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