Podcast Episodes Themed "Philosophy"

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Episode 117: The Esoteric Plotinus, Part II: Unsaying the Real

We discuss the ineffable in Plotinus: how it is deployed, how it is esoteric, how scholars have tried to deal with it, and how not least among its paradoxical functions is to call us to the highest initiation.

Episode 113: Mateusz Stróżyński on Spiritual Practices in Plotinus

We discuss Plotinian anthropology and spiritual practices with Mateusz Stróżyński. Come for the stripping away of the illusory, bodily self, stay for the luminous, all-encompassing sphere of the higher reality.

Episode 112: We are the One: Plotinus’ Participatory Metaphysics

Plotinus' universe is uniquely full of the human self, which extends all the way from the sucking mud of matter's non-existence to the ultimate profundity of the One's non-existence, and all the existent bits in-between. We discuss some of the ways in which this human metaphysical terrain is explored in the Enneads.

Was Plotinus a Platonist? Lineage, Identity, and Scholarship

We talk about how Plotinus defined himself and his lineage, versus how modern scholars tend to define these things. We discuss Plotinus' unusual esoteric perennialism, his allegiance to the Ancients, and why, though he may have been a Platonist, he didn't think so.

Episode 111: ‘The Philosopher of our Time’: Introducing Plotinus

Plotinus was the greatest philosopher of late antiquity, and one of the most crucial thinkers for the long story of western esotericism. We introduce his amazing philosophy and the basics of his biography.

Anna van den Kerchove Hermeticises Further

We ask Anna van den Kerchove some seriously irresponsible questions about ancient Hermetism, the fate of the Hermetica, and the intellectual milieu of late antiquity (and even the second century). She answers with both scholarly care and aplomb.

Episode 108: Anna van den Kerchove on the Hermetic Way in Antiquity

We speak with Anna van den Kerchove, a leading voice in the scholarly trend ‘reclaiming’ ancient Hermetism from its long sojourn outside the realms of respectability. We discuss Hermetic texts and the kinds of milieux in which they may have circulated in antiquity.

Episode 103: Corpus Hermeticum I, the Poimandres

We discuss the Poimandres, perhaps the most extraordinary Hermetic document surviving from antiquity. It's an apocalyptic vision granting gnôsis of how the world was created, how humanity came to be the way we are, and what we can do about it. Essential reading.

Episode 101: Brian Copenhaver on the Hermetica

We speak with Brian Copenhaver, translator of the Corpus Hermeticum and general man of parts vis á vis all things hermetic, to get some orientation on the ancient Hermetica and what they are all about.

Episode 99: Total War: Polemical Esotericism in the Contra Celsum

We explore the polemics and counter-polemics of Origen's Contra Celsum, with a particular eye toward the use (and abuse) of the esoteric as a strategy of tradition-building, exclusion, and totalising interpretation.

Episode 98: The True Account: Celsus, Origen, and Ideological Esotericism in Late Antiquity

An almost-unknown Middle Platonist philosopher named Celsus wrote the first-known anti-Christian polemical pamphlet some time in the later second century. This is The True Account. It is esoteric.

Episode 96: From Word to Silence: The Rise of the Apophatic in Late Antiquity

As antiquity progressed, certain esoteric religious thinkers and philosophers came increasingly to doubt whether the nature of the highest reality could be expressed in words. They developed a new form of language to deal with the problem of talking about the ineffable: apophasis. We discuss speaking the silence in late antiquity.

Storytime: Exploring Book V of the Stromateis, Part II

We continue our reading of Clement's Stromateis, Book V, and continue to have our minds blown. Come for the esoteric reading methodologies, stay for the very first appearance of the actual Greek word esôterikos on the podcast!

Episode 87: Numerical Mysteries: Nichomachus of Gerasa, Arithmology, and Second-Century Neopythagoreanism

Speculations about the properties of number have been a major constituent of some western esoteric traditions. In this episode we examine the most important source of much of this tradition of arithmological thought, first- and second-century Neopythagoreanism, and the writings of one crucial thinker in particular: Nicomachus of Gerasa.

Episode 85: Introducing Alchemy with Lawrence Principe

Here it finally is: Alchemy! This interview is a superb introduction to the Hermetick Art from Lawrence Principe, a man who knows how to ‘read, read, read’, but also how to practice.

Episode 83: Geoffrey Smith on Valentinus and Valentinianism

Under the expert guidance of Geoffrey Smith, we explore the world-view of Valentinus – an elite intellectual Christian thinker of the second century – and his legacy – a reputation for the blackest heresy and a demiurgical Christian movement known nowadays as Valentinianism.

Episode 82: I Got Soul, And I’m Super Bad: Basilides of Alexandria

Basilides of Alexandria, one of the first Christian philosophers and scriptural exegetes, is known as one of the great Gnostic heresiarchs of the second century. But what did he actually teach? It's mind-blowing and it's esoteric.

Episode 74: I’m Not Sorry: The Apology of Apuleius

In this episode we discuss the defense-speech of Apuleius against charges of having used magic to make a wealthy widow fall in love with him. Roman law, sorcery, and philosophy collide in a rhetorical tour-de-force, and we discuss whether fish are magical or not.

Storytime: The Tale of Cupid and Psyche

At the heart of Apuleius' occult novel, the Metamorphoses, is one of the most influential esoteric allegories of the western tradition, the Tale of Cupid and Psyche. Join us in the wonderful literary place where fairy-tales meet metaphysical allegory.

Episode 71: Daniel Harris-McCoy on the Oneirocritica of Artemidorus

With an expert guide, we enter the labyrinth of second-century divinatory dream-interpretation. Artemidorus' Oneirocritica is the west's earliest surviving manual of dream-interpretation, and it's amazing.