In the first of a two-episode series exploring the relationship between state power and esoteric ideas in the late Roman Republic and early empire, we look at what it meant to be esoteric at Rome, and investigate some upper-class Roman esotericists.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Philosophy"
Episode 57: The Esoteric Philo
In this episode we explore the deeply esoteric thought of Philo of Alexandria. Expect hidden ancient perennial traditions, divine revelation, esoteric philosophic truths hidden in plain sight, arithmological speculations, and much more.
The first true western esotericist: Philo of Alexandria. In this episode we come to grips with what makes him so western, what makes him so esoteric, and introduce his fascinating life and work.
After the final Pythagorean died, all was quiet. And then, suddenly, people started going around calling themselves Pythagoreans. Growing long beards. Hailing Pythagoras as an ancient magus-sage. Positing a monad as the ultimate source of reality. Welcome to Neopythagoreanism.
We continue our conversation with Joel Kalvesmaki on all manner of subjects numerical, psephical, arithmological, metaphysical, Christological, monadical, and even heretical.
Whenever anyone does something other than arithmetic with numbers, the name Pythagoras tends to crop up. Exactly how this strange situation came about is a fascinating story, and Dr Kalvesmaki has done groundbreaking work on the subject. This episode is a superb introduction to the origins of ‘gematria’ and arithmology.
Episode 46: After Pythagoras
When we last visited the Pythagoreans, they were going through some difficult times. In this episode we discuss what happened next. Pythagoreanism is dead, long live Pythagoreanism!
Episode 45: Stoic Physics and Esoteric Metaphysics
The Stoics had a naturalistic physical theory which, strangely, had a huge influence both on esoteric spirituality and on occult sciences. In this, our final episode on Stoicism, we discuss three key terms from Stoic physics and their surprising afterlives in western esotericism.
Episode 44: Esoteric Hermeneutics in Stoicism
The contribution of Stoicism to the art of esoteric reading, both of texts and of the secret correspondences within the universe, is little studied. This episode sifts the evidence to set the record straight.
In this special episode we discuss the Stoic idea of fate in its several dimensions, and the Stoicism Today project, bringing practical Stoicism back in the twenty-first century.
Episode 43: Christopher Gill on Stoicism
Strangely enough, one of the least 'esoteric' schools of antique philosophy, the Stoics, had a profound influence on a number of aspects of western esotericism. In this episode we learn the basics of what they were about from an expert.
'Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost.'
Episode 38: The Esoteric Aristotle, Part I
Aristotle might not spring to mind when contemplating the names of esoteric heroes of the past. But the figure of Plato's greatest student in fact had an esoteric afterlife to rival that of Plato himself!
Professor Adamson enters the speculative realm at the edges of Platonic interpretation, addressing issues ranging from the rise of the ineffable in late antique Platonism to the status of the giraffe in Plato's thought.
Episode 37: Peter Adamson on Plato
We discuss Plato with Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and presenter of the History of Philosophy Podcast, asking the question: how can the Plato of analytic philosophy be the same man as the esoteric Plato?
Episode 36: Plato’s Parmenides and Metaphysics
At the heart of western esotericism lies a space where logic becomes something that transcends logic; Plato's dialogue the Parmenides is perhaps the first work to occupy that space. Join us for a look at Plato's most baffling work.
Episode 35: Mystery and Immortality: Plato’s Phædo
The Phædo depicts Socrates' final hours, spent in philosophical discussion with his circle of friends. Socrates argues that the soul is immortal, and that the philosopher should rejoice to die. But his reasons for believing this are ... mysterious.
Episode 34: Mystery and Initiation in Plato
The idea of initiation is central to western esotericism, but its origins lie in the mystery-cults of the Græco-Roman world. How do we get from ancient ritual practices to a special kind of transcendent knowledge or wisdom? Via Plato, of course.
Plato looked up with his intellect; the world of eternal truths he fixed his inner gaze on was located above the earthly realm. In this episode we examine the accounts which he gives us of the journey there.
We return to the mathematical structures within the text of Plato’s masterwork, guided by a scholar who has looked deeply into the question. Maya Alapin discusses how harmonic theory, music, ratios and proportions intertwine with textual meaning in the Republic.