Essays

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Essay/Neuroscience

Freud the philosopher

Before fathering psychoanalysis, Freud first slayed the dominant Cartesian intellectual tradition of mind-body dualism

David Livingstone Smith

Essay/Human Evolution

Sex makes babies

As far as we can tell, no other animal knows this. Did our understanding of baby-making change the course of human history?

Holly Dunsworth & Anne Buchanan

Essay/Consciousness & Altered States

Model hallucinations

Psychedelics have a remarkable capacity to violate our ideas about ourselves. Is that why they make people better?

Philip Gerrans & Chris Letheby

Essay/History

Agony in the agora

Democracy, by nature, is a contest between clashing political desires. That is why the public square matters so much

Saul Frampton

Essay/Personality

Indescribable you

Can novelists or psychologists better capture the strange multitude of realities in every human self?

Carlin Flora

Essay/Ethics

The limits of tolerance

A religious worldview cannot expect the same kinds of tolerance as racial, gender, or sexual identities. Here’s why

Paul Russell

Essay/Evolution

Aliens in our midst

The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself

Douglas Fox

Essay/Beauty & Aesthetics

The sea was never blue

The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?

Maria Michela Sassi

Essay/Metaphysics

Bun or bump?

Does the mother contain the foetus or is it a part of her? On the metaphysics of pregnancy, and its ethical implications

Suki Finn

Essay/Work

The quitting economy

When employees are treated as short-term assets, they reinvent themselves as marketable goods, always ready to quit

Ilana Gershon

Essay/Neuroscience

Now you see it, now you…

Seeing things that are hidden; failing to see things in plain sight. How magic exploits the everyday weirdness of perception

Vebjørn Ekroll

Essay/Ethics

Moral luck

Two people drive drunk at night: one kills a pedestrian, one doesn't. Does the unlucky killer deserve more blame or not?

Robert J Hartman

Essay/Physics

Operation: neutrino

How the neutrino went from ghost particle to vital physics tool – a tale of bombs, espionage and subtle flavours

David Kaiser

Essay/Bioethics

The pig on your plate

That pigs are smart and sensitive is not in doubt. How can we justify continuing to kill them for food?

Barbara J King

Essay/History

America’s hidden philosophy

When Cold War philosophy tied rational choice theory to scientific method, it embedded the free-market mindset in US society

John McCumber

Essay/Cultures & Languages

Is linguistics a science?

Much of linguistic theory is so abstract and dependent on theoretical apparatus that it might be impossible to explain

Arika Okrent

Essay/History of Ideas

The anger of Achilles

Homer’s warrior is no mere tragic human figure: fuelled by anger, he is at once a man of honour and a sword of the gods

C D C Reeve

Essay/Demography & Migration

Law in the Jungle

The ultimate ‘outsider’ space, the Jungle refugee camp in Calais became its own society, the no-borders idea made real

Natasha King

Essay/Neuroscience

When is stress good for you?

The subtle flows and toxic hits of stress get under the skin, making and breaking the body and brain over a lifetime

Bruce McEwen

Essay/Philosophy of Mind

I attend, therefore I am

You are only as strong as your powers of attention, and other uncomfortable truths about the self

Carolyn Dicey Jennings

Essay/Economics

Of money and morals

Moneylending has been taboo for most of human history. So how did usury stop being a sin and become respectable finance?

Alex Mayyasi

Essay/Cities

Common ground

When we think of urban public space in terms of competing rights, we create a battleground. Is there a better way to share?

Farhan Samanani

Essay/Biology

Scents and sensibility

Our sense of smell gives flavour to food, emotion to memories, and connects us to each other. But how exactly does it work?

Katherine Whitcroft

Essay/Politics & Government

Return of the grotesque

The postmodern carnival has arrived, and there are good reasons to prefer François Rabelais’s version

Robert D Zaretsky

Essay/Meaning & the Good Life

Do we matter in the cosmos?

Humanity is nothing more than a microscopic blip in the universe. But does that mean we are insignificant?

Nick Hughes

Essay/History

‘Here we are all the same’

The US Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, but the fight for religious equality was only just beginning

Richard D Brown

Essay/Social Psychology

Microaggressions?

Prejudice remains a huge social evil but evidence for harm caused by microaggression is incoherent, unscientific and weak

Scott O Lilienfeld

Essay/Values & Beliefs

Dissolving the ego

You don’t need drugs or a church for an ecstatic experience that helps transcend the self and connect to something bigger

Jules Evans

Essay/Work

The future is emotional

Human jobs in the future will be the ones that require emotional labour: currently undervalued and underpaid but invaluable

Livia Gershon

Essay/Quantum Theory

Quantum common sense

Despite its confounding reputation, quantum mechanics both guides and helps explain human intuition

Philip Ball