Thursday, 15 March 2012
Socrates (from what I hear and in fact read and forgot in Greek class in his Apology) said that the unexamined life is not worth living. If I get a chance to meet Peter Adamson in person, I'm pretty sure I could get him say, "The unruminated philosophical grass of history is not worth digesting." (Peter's favorite example is a giraffe.) This is more or less saying the same thing as, "The History of Philosophy is worth spending some time on because it allows you to learn philosophy from the ancients with their questions, on their terms, and with their categories." This is a great starting point for anyone who is curious about the relevancy of ancient philosophy to today, not to mention anyone interested in Classics, history, Western philosophy, etc.
I came across this podcast at a critical time when I was writing a paper and needed to learn more about Plato and Aristotle. Thanks to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy I found Peter's podcast. It was really helpful. For those of you who don't just want the "cliff notes" Peter's podcast will help prepare you for a productive reading.
Interestingly I've read a fair amount of Plato's dialogues in Greek. I never made much sense of them perhaps because after all the translating I didn't have the energy for the next step. (I must have made poor translations.) Peter's podcasts have really helped me take the next step. Any Classicists who have to translate Plato, consider listening to the podcast first to help you know what you are getting into. It might spare you some confusion!
I'm now an Master of Divinity Student and so much of what Peter offers is relevant to those who want to understand approaches to Theology or also Apologetics. I just got around to listening to Aristotle on God, and, according to Aristotle, God thinks about God. (This sounds like something a Theology Prof said about the Trinity, but used the word "love".) Apologists and Philosophers, like William Craig, still consider the first cause argument or cosmological argument to be sound and helpful.
Ever wonder where Paul's Acts 17 quote comes from? It's the one where he talks to the Athenians on Mars Hill. Then you will want to check out this episode: http://www.historyofphilosophy.net/stoics-physics. (And if you are like me, listening to one will compel you to listen to the rest.)
Maybe you despise theology and consider yourself a thoroughgoing skeptic. Peter's discussion of the Academics traces the development of the Skeptics stance against the Stoics and their claims about knowledge and truth. Also you begin to learn about debates among the skeptics themselves.
Maybe your an Epicurean and just think everything is composed of atoms and you should just do what makes you happy. You will want to check out his podcasts on the Epicureans.
I can't say enough good things about the podcast. I just want more, faster. Peter Adamson makes you want to sit around the garden or the agora and do philosophy every day. So check it out: http://www.historyofphilosophy.net/