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Essays

Latest Popular


Essay/
Death
The need for an ending

When a person goes missing, in war or in ordinary life, their story is cut off mid-sentence. A death can be easier to bear

Andy Owen

Essay/
Physics
Seeing the quantum

The human eye is a surprisingly good photon detector. What can it spy of the line between the quantum and classical worlds?

Rebecca Holmes

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Social psychology
The case for empathy

In a world of difference we can – and should – work harder to cultivate subtle, perceptive empathy towards all human beings

Elizabeth Segal

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Thinking on your feet

Don’t just do it, think about it too: how Gilbert Ryle’s philosophy of mind can help athletes teach themselves to improve

Josh Habgood-Coote

Essay/
Physics
Time to update the Nobels

Science today is an intricate, collaborative, global enterprise. Nobel prizes for individual scientists are an anachronism

Brian Keating

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Cognition and intelligence
Cognitive gadgets

Our thinking devices – imitation, mind-reading, language and others – are neither hard-wired nor designed by genetic evolution

Cecilia Heyes

Essay/
Education
Bombay nights

In the night schools of Bombay, factory workers dreamed that literacy and learning would raise them to respectability

Arun Kumar

Essay/
Physics
In defence of disorder

Humans love laws and seek predictability. But like our Universe, which thrives on entropy, we need disorder to flourish

Alan Lightman

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Do you compute?

We’re certainly on to something when we say the brain is a computer – even if we don’t yet know what exactly we’re on to

Kevin Lande

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Gender and identity
The woman subject

There is more that unites than divides analytic and continental feminist philosophies – not least efforts to define ‘woman’

Georgia Warnke

Essay/
History
Medieval parasites

People in the Middle Ages took great care over cleanliness – except the clergy, who accepted filth as a sign of devotion

Katherine Harvey

Essay/
Mental health
Total eclipse

Even with loving parents and caring therapists, a child whose diagnosis came too late can lose the fight

Deanna Csomo McCool

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Political philosophy
Resist and be free

More than false choices and options, the highest freedom lies in being true to oneself and defying the expectations of others

Mariam Thalos

Essay/
Nations and empires
Turkey’s hard white turn

In 20th-century Turkey, modernisers turned to eugenics and claims of an ancient Asian past to argue that Turks were white

Murat Ergin

Essay/
Design and fashion
The universal design ideal

At every turn, the design of our environments either creates barriers or opens doors. Let’s design a more humane world

Anna Leahy

Essay/
Psychiatry and psychotherapy
Sailing into the storm

Acceptance and commitment therapy teaches us how to live a values-driven life even in the face of dark emotions and trauma

Joseph Trunzo

Essay/
Social psychology
Good Samaritans after all

It’s a truism of social psychology that witnesses are less likely to intervene if other onlookers are present. Not so

Melanie McGrath

Essay/
History
Swastikas on the Strand

The spectre of a Nazi Britain, successfully invaded in 1940, continues to haunt the British political imagination

Catherine Gallagher

Essay/
Gender and identity
Words for every body

Some critics say that terms such as ‘chestfeeding’ and ‘front hole’ erase cis women’s identities. Here’s why we disagree

Ray Briggs & B R George

Essay/
Economics
Know-how

Market systems have made better use of more information than economic planners. What if AI and machine learning changed that?

Tim Rogan

Essay/
Computing and artificial intelligence
Moral technology

Self-driving cars don’t drink and medical AIs are never overtired. Given our obvious flaws, what can humans still do best?

Paula Boddington

Essay/
Stories and literature
Lost in migration

When Walter Benjamin fled France in 1940, he took a heavy black suitcase. Did it contain a typescript? Where is it now?

Giorgio van Straten

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Australian philosophy

Despite its reputation as remote and anti-intellectual, Australia has exercised a surprisingly deep influence on philosophy

Peter Godfrey-Smith

Essay/
Stories and literature
Queering Shakespeare

So many arguments are given against Shakespeare being gay – yet his sonnets contain their own message, that love is love

Sandra Newman

Essay/
History
How the poor became blessed

Greco-Roman gods had no interest in the poor nor was organised charity a religious duty. How was Christianity different?

Pieter van der Horst

Essay/
Evolution
The Neanderthal renaissance

Handprints on a cave wall, crumbs from a meal: the new science of Neanderthals radically recasts the meaning of humanity

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Essay/
Sleep and dreams
Here’s to naps and snoozes

American work culture, seeping around the globe, threatens to ruin the pleasures and benefits of public, communal sleep

Todd Pitock

Essay/
Teaching and learning
The growth mindset problem

A generation of schoolchildren is being exhorted to believe in their brain’s elasticity. Does it really help them learn?

Carl Hendrick

Essay/
Human rights and justice
A survivor speaks

Victims of sexual assault are commonly judged by the consistency of their story. But consistency is not a high road to truth

Linda Martín Alcoff

Essay/
Political philosophy
Rorty’s political turn

When he shifted his attention from philosophy to politics, Richard Rorty revived liberalism’s potential for social reform

Alan Malachowski