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Essays

Latest Popular


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Stories & Literature
Sweet artifice

Dandies in the age of decadence favoured synthetics over nature, nowhere more so than in perfumery’s fabulous counterfeits

Catherine Maxwell

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Consciousness & Altered States
Caves all the way down

Do psychedelics give access to a universal, mystical experience of reality, or is that just a culture-bound illusion?

Jules Evans

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Love & Friendship
Love your frenemy

Envy is the dark side of love, but love is the luminous side of envy. Is there a way to harness envy wisely, for growth?

Sara Protasi

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Technology & the Self
The quantified heart

Artificial intelligence promises ever more control over the highs and lows of our emotions. Uneasy? Perhaps you should be

Polina Aronson & Judith Duportail

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Human Rights
Speaking on behalf of …

In the tapestry of diverse social groups, the loudest and most extreme get heard. To whom should we actually listen?

Holly Lawford-Smith

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Meaning & the Good Life
On coincidence

Lightning can strike twice and people do call just when you’re thinking of them – but are such coincidences meaningful?

Cody Delistraty

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Spirituality
Does meditation work?

It’s hailed as the panacea for everything from cancer to war. Does research into its efficacy meet scientific standards?

Ute Kreplin

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Cultures & Languages
The deep roots of writing

Was writing invented for accounting and administration or did it evolve from religious movements, sorcery and dreams?

Michael Erard

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Cognition & Intelligence
The fallacy of obviousness

A new interpretation of a classic psychology experiment will change your view of perception, judgment – even human nature

Teppo Felin

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Ethics
Life on the slippery Earth

Aztec moral philosophy has profound differences from the Greek tradition, not least its acceptance that nobody is perfect

Sebastian Purcell

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Gender & Sexuality
Black. Queer. Born again

Black life is world-making, born of gaps and dislocations, imaginative leavings and returns, generative escapes and arrivals

Ashon Crawley

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Politics & Government
The many deaths of liberalism

More than a century of death notices have not diminished the achievements and the necessity of liberalism

Daniel H Cole & Aurelian Craiutu

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Nature & Environment
What are natural foods?

The glass of orange juice at the breakfast table tells a tale about what’s natural, what’s whole and what’s healthy for us

Joseph LaPorte

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Gender
Prostitution is slavery

The free-market arguments won’t wash: prostitution trades on the lives of the poor and marginalised – just like slavery

Julie Bindel

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Mental Health
When the self slips

Individuals living with depersonalisation disorder bring vivid insight to the question of whether the self is an illusion

Anna Ciaunica & Jane Charlton

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Political Philosophy
What is wrong with tolerance

The ideal of religious tolerance has crippling flaws. It’s time to embrace a civic philosophy of reciprocity

Simon Rabinovitch

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Physics
Going nowhere fast

After the success of the Standard Model, experiments have stopped answering to grand theories. Is particle physics in crisis?

Ben Allanach

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Gender & Sexuality
Transitioning

Individual transgender lives track a wider cultural history of surgery, hormones and revolutionised gender identities

Randi Hutter Epstein

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Law & Justice
Truth is also a place

Throughout history, people found truth at holy places. Now we build courts, labs and altars to be truth spots too

Thomas Gieryn

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Ethics
Ethics on the battlefield

The soldier in battle is confronted with agonising, even impossible, ethical decisions. Could studying philosophy help?

Andy Owen

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Gender
The transcendent bissu

In Indonesia, high ritual power is held by those whose identity goes beyond female and male. The West is just catching up

Sharyn Graham Davies

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History of Ideas
What are we?

On Paul Gauguin, authenticity and the midlife crisis: how the philosopher Bernard Williams dramatised moral luck

Daniel Callcut

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Space Exploration
What if ET is an AI?

After centuries searching for extraterrestrial life, we might find that first contact is not with organic creatures at all

Caleb Scharf

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Politics & Government
The divided public heart

Is politics driven by pragmatic self-interest or by identities and ideals? The self-harming voter offers a clue

Sharun Mukand & Dani Rodrik

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Medical Ethics
Eugenics never went away

Thought eugenics died with the Nazis? Think again: the eugenic programme of sterilising the ‘unfit’ continues even today

Robert A Wilson

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Love & Friendship
Buddhists in love

Lovers crave intensity, Buddhists say craving causes suffering. Is it possible to be deeply in love yet truly detached?

Lisa Feldman Barrett & John Dunne

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Gender & Sexuality
The revolutionary sex

For one shining moment, being a Russian woman meant sexual freedom and radical equality. Never seen before – or since

Paula Erizanu

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Mathematics
The chords of the universe

It’s no surprise that mathematics has influenced music. But did you know that the influence goes both ways?

Eli Maor

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History of Ideas
Why read Aristotle today?

Modern self-help draws heavily on Stoic philosophy. But Aristotle was better at understanding real human happiness

Edith Hall

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Future of Technology
Do platforms work?

The distributed network has gobbled the hierarchical firm. Only by seizing the platform can workers avoid digital serfdom

George Zarkadakis