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Byzantine and Renaissance Philosophy

A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Volume 6

Peter Adamson

Publication Date - 10 May 2022

ISBN: 9780192856418

512 pages
9.2 x 6.0 inches

In Stock

Peter Adamson explores the rich intellectual history of the Byzantine Empire and the Italian Renaissance.


Peter Adamson explores the rich intellectual history of the Byzantine Empire and the Italian Renaissance.

Peter Adamson presents an engaging and wide-ranging introduction to the thinkers and movements of two great intellectual cultures: Byzantium and the Italian Renaissance. First he traces the development of philosophy in the Eastern Christian world, from such early figures as John of Damascus in the eighth century to the late Byzantine scholars of the fifteenth century. He introduces major figures like Michael Psellos, Anna Komnene, and Gregory Palamas, and examines the philosophical significance of such cultural phenomena as iconoclasm and conceptions of gender. We discover the little-known traditions of philosophy in Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian. These chapters also explore the scientific, political, and historical literature of Byzantium. There is a close connection to the second half of the book, since thinkers of the Greek East helped to spark the humanist movement in Italy. Adamson tells the story of the rebirth of philosophy in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. We encounter such famous names as Christine de Pizan, Niccolò Machiavelli, Giordano Bruno, and Galileo, but as always in this book series such major figures are read alongside contemporaries who are not so well known, including such fascinating figures as Lorenzo Valla, Girolamo Savonarola, and Bernardino Telesio. Major historical themes include the humanist engagement with ancient literature, the emergence of women humanists, the flowering of Republican government in Renaissance Italy, the continuation of Aristotelian and scholastic philosophy alongside humanism, and breakthroughs in science. All areas of philosophy, from theories of economics and aesthetics to accounts of the human mind, are featured. This is the sixth volume of Adamson's History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, taking us to the threshold of the early modern era.


  • The first book to bring Byzantine philosophy to a broad readership
  • The first new introduction to Renaissance philosophy for thirty years
  • The sixth volume in the most readable and entertaining history of philosophy
  • Short, lively conversational chapters with vivid and humorous examples
  • Assumes no prior knowledge--ideal for beginners and anyone who wants to read philosophy for pleasure
  • No gaps! Tells the whole story, not just the most famous bits
  • A self-standing volume--may be read independently of others in the series

About the Author(s)

Peter Adamson, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Peter Adamson received his BA from Williams College and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. He worked at King's College London from 2000 until 2012. He subsequently moved to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, where he is Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy. He has published widely in ancient and medieval philosophy, and is the host of the History of Philosophy podcast.


"Each brief chapter immediately captures the interest of the reader in a way that is entertaining, informative, and a genuine pleasure to read. Excellent notes and bibliography of further reading." -- P. A. Streveler, CHOICE

Table of Contents

    Philosophy in Byzantium
    1. The Empire Strikes Back: Introduction to Byzantine Philosophy
    2. On the Eastern Front: Philosophy in Syriac and Armenian
    3. Don't Picture This: Iconoclasm
    4. Behind Enemy Lines: John of Damascus
    5. Collectors' Items: Photius and Byzantine Compilations
    6. Consul of the Philosophers: Michael Psellos
    7. Hooked on Classics: Italos and the Debate over Pagan Learning
    8. Purple Prose: Byzantine Political Philosophy
    9. Elements of Style: Rhetoric in Byzantium
    10. Past Masters: Byzantine Historiography
    11. Queen of the Sciences: Anna Komnene and her Circle
    12. Wiser than Men: Gender in Byzantium
    13. Just Measures: Law, Money, and War in Byzantium
    14. Made by Hand: Byzantine Manuscripts
    15. Georgia on My Mind: Petritsi and the Proclus Revival
    16. People of the South: Byzantium and Islam
    17. Do the Math: Science in the Palaiologan Renaissance
    18. Through His Works You Shall Know Him: Palamas and Hesychasm
    19. United We Fall: Latin Philosophy in Byzantium
    20. Platonic Love: Gemistos Plethon
    21. Istanbul (not Constantinople): the Later Orthodox Tradition
    The Italian Renaissance
    22. Old News: Introduction to the Renaissance
    23. Greeks Bearing Gifts: Byzantine Scholars in Italy
    24. Republic of Letters: Italian Humanism
    25. Literary Criticism: Lorenzo Valla
    26. Difficult to be Good: Humanist Ethics
    27. Chance Encounters: Reviving Hellenistic philosophy
    28. We Built This City: Christine de Pizan
    29. More Rare Than the Phoenix: Italian Women Humanists
    30. All About Eve: the Defense of Women
    31. I'd Like to Thank the Academy: Florentine Platonism
    32. Footnotes to Plato: Marsilio Ficino
    33. True Romance: Theories of Love
    34. As Far as East from West: Jewish Philosophy in Renaissance Italy
    35. The Count of Concord: Pico della Mirandola
    36. What a Piece of Work is Man: Manetti and Pico on Human Nature
    37. Bonfire of the Vanities: Savonarola
    38. The Sweet Restraints of Liberty: Republicanism and Civic Humanism
    39. No More Mr Nice Guy: Machiavelli
    40. Sense of Humors: Machiavelli on Republicanism
    41. The Teacher of Our Actions: Renaissance Historiography
    42. No Place Like Home: Renaissance Utopias
    43. Greed is Good: Renaissance Economics
    44. Town and Gown: Italian Universities
    45. I'd Like to Thank the Lyceum: Aristotle in Renaissance Italy
    46. Of Two Minds: Pomponazzi and Nifo on the Intellect
    47. There and Back Again: Zabarella on Scientific Method
    48. The Measure of All Things: Mathematics and Art
    49. Just What the Doctor Ordered: Renaissance Medicine
    50. Man of Discoveries: Girolamo Cardano
    51. Spirits in the Material World: Telesio and Campanella on Nature
    52. The Men Who Saw Tomorrow: Renaissance Magic and Astrology
    53. Boundless Enthusiasm: Giordano Bruno
    54. The Harder They Fall: Galileo and the Renaissance

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