Essays

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Essay/Ethics
Kids? Just say no

You don’t have to dislike children to see the harms done by having them. There is a moral case against procreation

David Benatar

Essay/Politics & Government
Treat people as citizens

How a generation of political thinkers has underestimated the abilities of ordinary people and undermined democracy

Nicholas Tampio

Essay/Architecture & Landscape
Intimate spaces

In his Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard created a philosophy of at-homeness, rich in emotion and memory

Gillian Darley

Essay/History of Science
Does science need mavericks?

Staid and conformist, science risks losing its creative spark. Does it need more mavericks, or are they part of the problem?

Adrian Currie

Essay/Philosophy of Language
The death of languages

Endangered languages have sentimental value, it's true, but are there good philosophical reasons to preserve them?

Rebecca Roache

Essay/Education
An unlikely triumph

In its first century the American higher-education system was a messy, disorganised joke. How did it rise to world dominance?

David Labaree

Essay/Love & Friendship
Why women stray

Evolutionary theory says men stray to increase offspring, but what motivates women? Enter the mate-switching hypothesis

David Buss

Essay/War & Conflict
The battlefield is dead

The traditional arena of war is no more. Will it give way to a perpetual continuum of military and paramilitary violence?

Antoine Bousquet

Essay/Cosmology
Universe in a bubble

Maybe we don’t have to speculate about what life is like inside a bubble. It might be the only cosmic reality we know

J Richard Gott

Essay/History
The last sacred kings

The veneration which surrounds the world’s last sacred kings shows how secular most of political life has become

Alan Strathern

Essay/Neuroscience
The kindled brain

If each bout of depression, bipolar disorder or PTSD makes another more likely, should sufferers stay on medication for life?

Elizabeth Svoboda

Essay/Politics & Government
Why nation-states are good

The nation-state remains the best foundation for capitalism, and hyper-globalisation risks destroying it

Dani Rodrik

Essay/History
Spoiling for a fight

Short of a battlefield, the most violent place in medieval England was Oxford. Why did Brits stop beating each other up?

Jim Sharpe

Essay/Computing & Artificial Intelligence
Art by algorithm

From book critiques to music choices, computation is changing aesthetics. Does increasingly average perfection lie ahead?

Ed Finn

Essay/Rituals & Celebrations
Mrs Myself

Self-marriage promises love and fulfilment – but is it a radical act or a depressing concession to self-absorption?

Polina Aronson

Essay/Political Philosophy
Is taxation theft?

The assumption that you own the contents of your pay-packet, although almost universal, is demonstrably confused

Philip Goff

Essay/Stories & Literature
Readers of the world unite

How markets, Marx, and provincial elites created world literature to fight both empire and nationalism

Martin Puchner

Essay/Philosophy of Mind
Change becomes you

Being the same person over time is not about holding on to every aspect of your current self but about changing purposefully

Kevin Tobia

Essay/History
Les Anglo-Saxons

Not just American or British, the Anglo-Saxon is a mirror to Frenchness: the country’s alter-ego and most feared enemy

Emile Chabal

Essay/Cultures & Languages
Talking gibberish

The study of languages has long been prone to nonsense. Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?

Gaston Dorren

Essay/War & Conflict
Don’t look away

Photography came of age amid the wars and atrocities, as well as the humanitarian aspirations, of the modern world

Jeremy Adelman

Essay/Neuroscience
Where pain lives

Fixing chronic back pain is possible only when patients understand how much it is produced by the brain, not the spine

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin

Essay/Human Evolution
Imagination is ancient

Our imaginative life today has access to the pre-linguistic, ancestral mind: rich in imagery, emotions and associations

Stephen T Asma

Essay/Stories & Literature
The coming-of-age con

How can you go about finding ‘who you really are’ if the whole idea of the one true self is a big fabrication?

Cody Delistraty

Essay/History
The Irish diaspora

There are 70 million people around the world who claim Irish ancestry. What shaped and made the great Irish emigration?

Kevin Kenny

Essay/Wellbeing
The healing power of nature

The idea that immersing yourself in forests and nature has a healing effect is far more than just folk wisdom

Rebecca Lawton

Essay/Cities
Return of the city-state

Nation-states came late to history, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t make it to the end of the century

Jamie Bartlett

Essay/Data & Information
The bit bomb

It took a polymath to pin down the true nature of ‘information’. His answer was both a revelation and a return

Rob Goodman & Jimmy Soni

Essay/Stories & Literature
Mata Hari uncovered

Dancer, courtesan, spy: on the centenary of her execution, how much do we really know about the woman behind the legend?

Julie Wheelwright

Essay/History
Ideas were not enough

Locke, Spinoza and Voltaire were all brilliant, but religious freedom in Europe was driven by statecraft not philosophy

Mark Koyama