Meaning and the good life


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Beauty and aesthetics Bioethics Comparative philosophy Cosmopolitanism Death Ethics History of ideas Knowledge Logic and probability Meaning and the good life Metaphysics Philosophy of language Philosophy of mind Philosophy of religion Philosophy of science Political philosophy Thinkers and theories Values and beliefs Virtues and vices

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Meaning and the good life
On serendipity

A decades-long conversation between friends about books, photography and life, exploring what it is to know, to look, to see

Sven Birkerts & Christopher Benfey

‘To be happy ... we need to be engaged with external things and with other people.’ A migrant child receives her food at a refugee shelter in a former hotel in Berlin, Germany, 9 June 2016. Photo by Stefanie Loos/Reuters

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Thinkers and theories
How to be an Epicurean

A philosophy that values innocent pleasure, human warmth and the rewards of creative endeavour. What’s not to like?

Catherine Wilson

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Mood and emotion
The happiness ruse

How did feeling good become a matter of relentless, competitive work; a never-to-be-attained goal which makes us miserable?

Cody Delistraty

Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

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Political philosophy
Resist and be free

More than false choices and options, the highest freedom lies in being true to oneself and defying the expectations of others

Mariam Thalos

Photo by Angus R Shamal/Gallery Stock

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Virtues and vices
Against moral sainthood

As philosopher Susan Wolf argues, life is far more meaningful and rich if we do not aim at being morally perfect

Daniel Callcut

Untitled (Brooklyn Bridge), no date (thought to be c1930) by Arthur Hammond, gelatin silver print. Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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Thinkers and theories
The greatest use of life

The pragmatist philosopher William James had a crisp and consistent response when asked if life was worth living: maybe

John Kaag

The Triumph of Death, anonymous, early Renaissance. Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena. Photo by Scala/Getty

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Meaning and the good life
On going on and on and on

The fantasy of living forever is just a fig leaf for the fear of death – and comes at great personal cost

Paul Sagar

Illustration by Petra Eriksson at Handsome Frank

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Thinkers and theories
Hume the humane

Hume believed we were nothing more or less than human: that’s why he’s the amiable, modest, generous philosopher we need now

Julian Baggini

Illustration by Clayton Junior
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Meaning and 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

Hellenic values; a volunteer helps a refugee girl after arriving on an inflatable boat at Lesbos, Greece, March 2016. Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty

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Meaning and the good life
Why read Aristotle today?

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

Edith Hall

Clinic run by nuns in the village of Kati, near Bamako, Mali, in 1994. Photo by Abbas/Magnum
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Poverty and development
What good is religion?

International development has focussed on material goods, but religion has an important role to play in human flourishing

Manini Sheker