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Philosophy

Essays and videos on philosophy, the history of ideas, ethics and life’s big questions
Geopolitics is for losers | Aeon
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Global history

Geopolitics is for losers

The concept of geopolitics comes from German and Russian attempts to explain defeat and reverse loss of influence

Harold James

Moral mathematics | Aeon
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Ethics

Moral mathematics

Subjecting the problems of ethics to the cool quantifications of logic and probability can help us to be better people

Elad Uzan

We are interwoven beings | Aeon
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Metaphysics

We are interwoven beings

A dragon needs the clouds and the wind in order to fly. What happens when we too relinquish individualistic reasoning?

Mercedes Valmisa

Bernard Williams and Bryan Magee on Descartes | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

Bernard Williams on Descartes’s audacious endeavour to prove knowledge is possible

43 minutes

Was Colin Wilson a fascist? | Aeon
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Stories and literature

Was Colin Wilson a fascist?

For thousands of fans, he made philosophy thrillingly relevant. Yet there is a deep unsavoury undercurrent to his worldview

Jules Evans

The love and death of Yosef and Zilli | Aeon
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Ageing and death

When his elderly parents make a suicide pact, Doron struggles to accept their choice

19 minutes

This essay isn’t true | Aeon
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Metaphysics

This essay isn’t true

Alethic nihilism is the theory that nothing is true. There is much to gain by taking this radical idea seriously

David Liggins

Trenches in Chernobyl | Aeon
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War and peace

Trenches in Chernobyl

Disturbing and inhaling radioactive dust, in their haste Russian soldiers unburied the wrecked, undead Earth itself

Michael Marder

Names for snow | Aeon
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Knowledge

Yes, the Inuit have dozens of words for snow – but what does each one mean exactly?

6 minutes

The invention of free love | Aeon
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History of ideas

The invention of free love

Percy Shelley thought romantic love freed men and women from the strictures of monogamy, but did it free them equally?

Neil McArthur

Jesuits in the boardroom | Aeon
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Economic history

Jesuits in the boardroom

As corporations struggle to survive in a more uncertain world, they should look to the success of the Society of Jesus

Paolo Quattrone

Using the Astronomicum Caesareum book | Aeon
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History of science

How one of history’s most beautiful books was used to find fate in the cosmos

6 minutes

Attuned to the aesthetic | Aeon
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Beauty and aesthetics

Attuned to the aesthetic

The ultimate value of the world can be discovered if you are sensitive to what is beautiful

Tom Cochrane

The science of symmetry | Aeon
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Evolution

Symmetry rules life on Earth – but it comes with many fascinating exceptions

9 minutes

The lethal act | Aeon
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Ethics

The lethal act

The Buddha taught not to kill, yet his followers have at times disobeyed him. Can murderers still be Buddhists?

Martin Kovan

The generous philosopher | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

The generous philosopher

Bruno Latour showed us how to think with the things of the world, respecting their right to exist and act on their own terms

Stephen Muecke

What does art do? | Aeon
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Beauty and aesthetics

What does art do?

Good art, laced with irony, ambiguity and suspense, is not obviously political. That’s what makes it politically interesting

Vid Simoniti

Proportioned verdicts | Aeon
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Human rights and justice

Beyond ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ – could a range of verdict options be more just?

9 minutes

Medieval but not Christian | Aeon
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Comparative philosophy

Medieval but not Christian

It’s shocking that histories of medieval philosophy celebrate only Christian thinkers, ignoring Islamic and Jewish thought

Yitzhak Y Melamed

A dinosaur is a story | Aeon
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Palaeontology

A dinosaur is a story

As Brontosaurus tells us, in science as in fiction, the stories we tell to understand the world are always being revised

Nathaniel Goldberg & Chris Gavaler

A singular scientist | Aeon
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History of science

A singular scientist

James Lovelock was a visionary whose greatest ideas were made possible by his unshakeable independence

Roger Highfield

The imperative betrayal | Aeon
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Religion

The imperative betrayal

The mystery of why Judas forsook Jesus goes to the heart of Christianity. A newly translated gospel offers a new view

David Brakke

AC Grayling: Why not nothing? | Aeon
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Metaphysics

Is the question ‘Why is there something instead of nothing?’ even worth asking?

9 minutes

The Boltzmann brain paradox | Aeon
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Logic and probability

Is it more likely you’re a person with a past, or an ephemeral brain in a void?

6 minutes