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Essays

Latest Popular


Essay/Meaning & the Good Life
Natural-born existentialists

Ethics cannot be based on human nature because, as evolutionary biology tells us, there is no such thing

Ronnie de Sousa

Essay/Medical Research
In cold blood

Therapeutic hypothermia could save lives, propel interstellar travel and expand consciousness. Why the cold feet?

Philip Jaekl

Essay/History of Ideas
The African Enlightenment

The highest ideals of Locke, Hume and Kant were first proposed more than a century earlier by an Ethiopian in a cave

Dag Herbjørnsrud

Essay/Biology
The minds of plants

From the memories of flowers to the sociability of trees, the cognitive capacities of our vegetal cousins are all around us

Laura Ruggles

Essay/History
The other side of the curtain

During the Cold War, US propagandists worked to provide a counterweight to Communist media, but truth eluded them all

Melissa Feinberg

Essay/Neuroscience
Freud in the scanner

A revival of interest in the power of introspection and thought has brought Freud’s ideas back into the scientific fold

M M Owen

Essay/Subcultures
Touching the sky

At their best, daredevils rival philosophers and mystics in their exploration of human mortality and spirit

Lary Wallace

Essay/Ethics
The ethics of ET

The discovery of independent life beyond Earth would have deep philosophical implications for us, and our ideas of morality

Tim Mulgan

Essay/History
The empire dreamt back

To help rule its empire, Britain turned to psychoanalysis. But they weren’t willing to hear the truth it told

Erik Linstrum

Essay/Philosophy of Science
Metaphysics of metamorphosis

The swarming, ever-changing character of the living world challenges our deepest assumptions about the nature of reality

John Dupré

Essay/Politics & Government
Democratising the digital

Digital technologies are a market product and play politics by different means. It’s up to us to harness them for democracy

Jack Shenker

Essay/History of Ideas
Is goodness natural?

Philippa Foot was one of a group of brilliant women philosophers who swam against the tide of 20th-century moral thought

Nakul Krishna

Essay/Anthropology
Infanticide

There is nothing so horrific as child murder, yet it’s ubiquitous in human history. What drives a parent to kill a baby?

Sandra Newman

Essay/Earth Science
Life goes deeper

The Earth is not a solid mass of rock: its hot, dark, fractured subsurface is home to weird and wonderful life forms

Gaetan Borgonie & Maggie Lau

Essay/History of Ideas
Gandhi the philosopher

Better known as the face of non-violent protest, Gandhi was also a surprising, subtle philosopher in the Stoic tradition

Richard Sorabji

Essay/Sexual Health
Afterglow

The intensity of orgasm is sublime, but the gentle love cocktail that follows is what helps relationships to endure

Tove K Danovich

Essay/History of Science
Against citizen science

It might style itself as a grassroots movement but citizen science is little more than a cheap land-grab by big business

Philip Mirowski

Essay/History
Do civilisations collapse?

The idea that the Maya or Easter Islanders experienced an apocalyptic end makes for good television but bad archaeology

Guy D Middleton

Essay/Metaphysics
Changing faces

Face transplants expose deep-held prejudices about identity and wellbeing. Are these ideas ripe for a radical rethink?

Sharrona Pearl

Essay/Rituals & Celebrations
Who first buried the dead?

Evidence of burial rites by the primitive, small-brained Homo naledi suggests that symbolic behaviour is very ancient indeed

Paige Madison

Essay/History
Struggling to see Palestine

For Westerners, the Bible and its prophecies have obscured as much as they've revealed about the Holy Land

Michael Press

Essay/Mood & Emotion
Psychology’s power tools

Cognitive behavioural therapy has created interventions that truly help people to change. Here are the best of them

David A Sbarra

Essay/Economics
The small business myth

Small businesses enjoy an iconic status in modern capitalism, but what do they really contribute to the economy?

Benjamin C Waterhouse

Essay/History of Science
Science is broken

Perverse incentives and the misuse of quantitative metrics have undermined the integrity of scientific research

Siddhartha Roy & Marc A Edwards

Essay/Social Psychology
Alt-Right or jihad?

Unleashed by globalisation’s dark side and the collapse of communities, radical Islam and the alt-Right share a common cause

Scott Atran

Essay/Music
Music is not for ears

We never just hear music. Our experience of it is saturated in cultural expectations, personal memory and the need to move

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

Essay/Physics
Why trees don’t ungrow

The cliché that life transcends the laws of thermodynamics is completely wrong. The truth is almost exactly the opposite

Jeremy England

Essay/History of Ideas
Western philosophy is racist

Academic philosophy in ‘the West’ ignores and disdains the thought traditions of China, India and Africa. This must change

Bryan W Van Norden

Essay/Architecture & Landscape
Be amazed

Before it became a staple of videogames, the maze was a test of reason and courage, a way to find yourself by getting lost

James McConnachie

Essay/Mathematics
How natural is numeracy?

Where does our number sense come from? Is it a neural capacity we are born with — or is it a product of our culture?

Philip Ball