Artists impression of ʻOumuamua courtesy M Kornmesser/ESO

Essay/
Astronomy
Contact

An alien-made artefact or just interstellar debris? What ʻOumuamua says about how science works when data is scarce

Matthew Bothwell

Photo by Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum

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Mood and emotion
Radical acceptance

The painful feelings you avoid grow twisted in the dark. By facing your sorrows and struggles you can take back your life

Joshua Coleman

Protestant and Catholic women embrace in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in 1976. The Peace People began in 1976 as a protest movement against the ongoing violence in Northern Ireland. Its founders Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that year. Photo by Peter Marlow/Magnum

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War and peace
Hail the peacebuilders

Conflicts only fully end when the delicate threads of peace have been steadily and quietly woven by ordinary, dedicated folk

Tobias Jones

Photo by Didier Ruef/LUZ/Headpress

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Love and friendship
Treasure them

Sure, lovers and children are great. But friends are more than ever the heart of happiness, of family and of love itself

Anna Machin

Detail from Lippo Memmi’s Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas (1323, full image below) shows Averroes (Ibn Rushd), whom medieval philosophers saw as the commentator on Aristotle and who remained central to many different areas of philosophy until the end of the 16th century. Fresco from the Santa Caterina d’Alessandria church in Pisa, Italy. Courtesy Wikipedia

Essay/
History of ideas
What Renaissance?

Humanism did not replace Scholasticism, nor is it clear that ideas like the Renaissance help us understand history at all

Henrik Lagerlund

Shoreditch, London, 5 October 2016. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

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Neuroscience
The warped self

Social media makes us feel terrible about who we really are. Neuroscience explains why – and empowers us to fight back

Mark Miller & Ben White

An Afghan man comforts two men injured in an insurgent attack in Kabul, May 2011. Photo by Hossein Fatemi/Panos

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Mental health
We heal one another

When a person is in distress, we can draw on deep, evolved mechanisms to calm the storm, through attention, touch and care

Brandon Kohrt

At the Centre Georges Pompidou library in Paris, 1985. Photo by Martine Franck/Magnum Photos

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Political philosophy
Against public philosophy

For Leo Strauss, public life was muddied by opinion and persecution, so philosophers should shield their work from view

Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft

Photo by Trent Parke/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
You are a network

You cannot be reduced to a body, a mind or a particular social role. An emerging theory of selfhood gets this complexity

Kathleen Wallace

Detail of Battle against the inhabitants of Veii and Fidenae (c1598), by Guiseppe Cesari, also known as the Cavaliere d’Arpino. The National Gallery, London. Courtesy Wikipedia

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Nations and empires
Enlisted, enslaved, enthroned

Vandals, Goths, Alemanni, Sueves… the Romans grappled endlessly with the status of ethnic peoples in their vast empire

Douglas Boin

Photo by Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Essay/
Mental health
The seed of suffering

The p-factor is the dark matter of psychiatry: an invisible, unifying force that might lie behind a multitude of mental disorders

Alex Riley

Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty

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Knowledge
Philosophy with children

Kids don’t just say ‘the darndest things’. Playful and probing, they can be closer to the grain of life’s deepest questions

Jana Mohr Lone

Misrata, Libya, April 2011. Photo by David Rose/Panos Pictures

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War and peace
Who counts as a victim?

Innocent, passive, apolitical: after the Holocaust, the standard for ‘true’ victimhood has worked to justify total war

A Dirk Moses

Photo by Martine Franck/Magnum

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Philosophy of religion
Reincarnation now

Modern mindfulness strips Buddhism of its spiritual core. We need an ethics of reincarnation for an interconnected world

Avram Alpert

Locals at the Marienfluss Conservancy in Namibia meet to discuss conservation. Photo courtesy of NACSO/WWF Namibia

Essay/
The environment
The miracle of the commons

Far from being profoundly destructive, we humans have deep capacities for sharing resources with generosity and foresight

Michelle Nijhuis

Proud new citizens at a US Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalisation ceremony at the New York Public Library in Manhattan on 3 July 2018. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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Nations and empires
The patriot paradox

Globalism is out. Nationalism is in. Progressives who think they can jump aboard are dangerously naive

Jeremy Adelman

Miami Beach, 2015. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Magnum

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Meaning and the good life
Authenticity is a sham

From monks to existentialists and hipsters, the search for a true self has been a centuries-long project. Should we give it up?

Alexander Stern

A copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is believed to be the only book known to have the signatures of two of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Photo by Dai Sugano/Mercury/Getty

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Stories and literature
Milton versus the mob

He spoke truth to power and made heresy a virtue. Lessons on free speech and intellectual combat from John Milton

Nicholas McDowell

Photo by Richard Baker/Getty

Essay/
Stories and literature
Shameful

Women who write about their pain suffer a double shaming: once for getting injured, twice for their act of self-exposure

Katherine Angel

Fremont Street, Las Vegas, 1982. Photo by Harry Gruyaert/Magnum

Essay/
Mathematics
Mathematics for gamblers

If philosophers and mathematicians struggle with probability, can gamblers really hope to grasp their losing game?

Catalin Barboianu

Photo by Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

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Information and communication
The misinformation virus

Lies and distortions don’t just afflict the ignorant. The more you know, the more vulnerable you can be to infection

Elitsa Dermendzhiyska

The Course of Empire: Destruction (1836) by Thomas Cole. Courtesy Met Museum, New York/Wikipedia

Essay/
Nations and empires
The road from Rome

The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t a tragedy for civilisation. It was a lucky break for humanity as a whole

Walter Scheidel

Photo by Elliott Landy / Magnum Photos

Essay/
Beauty and aesthetics
A philosophy of sound

From the Big Bang to a heartbeat in utero, sounds are a scaffold for thought when logic and imagery elude us

Christina Rawls

Photo by Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum

Essay/
Sleep and dreams
Nightmares becalmed

I’m a dream engineer. Through touch, scent and sound, we help people rescript the dramas of their sleeping lives

Michelle Carr

Norman Douglas (right), lounging in Capri in 1949. Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

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Sex and sexuality
The case of Norman Douglas

He was a literary lion and an infamous pederast: what might we learn from his life about monstrosity and humanity?

Rachel Hope Cleves

Photo by Berenice Abbott/Getty

Essay/
Consciousness and altered states
Brain wifi

Instead of a code encrypted in the wiring of our neurons, could consciousness reside in the brain’s electromagnetic field?

Johnjoe McFadden

Peanuts, bagged and ready for transport, are stacked in pyramids at Kano, Northern Region, Nigeria, 1955. Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Essay/
Global history
After slavery

Abolition in Africa brought longed-for freedoms, but also political turmoil, economic collapse and rising enslavement

Toby Green

Maxim and Ivy Litvinov in London in 1933. Photo by Hulton/Getty

Essay/
History
Madame comrade

How Ivy Litvinov, the English-born wife of a Soviet ambassador, seduced America with wit, tea and soft diplomacy

Brigid O’Keeffe