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Philosophy

Essays and videos on philosophy, the history of ideas, ethics and life’s big questions
Medieval manuscript illustration of a goat and a person holding a disc, with gold circles in the background, surrounded by text in Latin script.
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Philosophy of mind

The problem of erring animals

Three medieval thinkers struggled to explain how animals could make mistakes – and uncovered the nature of nonhuman minds

Sam Alma

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Philosophy of mind

Do plants have minds?

In the 1840s, the iconoclastic scientist Gustav Fechner made an inspired case for taking seriously the interior lives of plants

Rachael Petersen

A mural depicting houses with two people walking in front; snow is falling, and there’s snow on the ground.
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Logic and probability

What is incoherence?

We can all be inconsistent. Philosophy illuminates a bigger puzzle: how do we hold contradictory beliefs at the same time?

Alex Worsnip

People dressed in horned costumes and holding pitchforks surrounded by red smoke at night during a festival or celebration.
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Animals and humans

An animal myself

When we imagine ourselves as another creature, we become more attuned to the world around us – and better at being human

Erica Berry

A woman operates an antique phonograph next to a man wearing a traditional Native American headdress in a sepia-toned photograph.
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Language and linguistics

Our language, our world

Linguistic relativity holds that your worldview is structured by the language you speak. Is it true? History shines a light

James McElvenny

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Philosophy of mind

What colour do you see?

New research is uncovering the hidden differences in how people experience the world. The consequences are unsettling

Gary Lupyan

A crab is seen on a sandy beach. In the background and out of focus is a woman in a swimsuit
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Philosophy of mind

What is it like to be a crab?

Consciousness science should move past a focus on complex mammalian brains to study the behaviour of ‘simpler’ animals

Kristin Andrews

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Technology and the self

Why we should worry less about ‘sentient’ AIs and more about what we’re teaching them

16 minutes

Illustration showing a book with a human head and neurons, connected to icons of a heart, dove, ghost, face, and geometric shapes, all crossed out.
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Philosophy of mind

Do we have good reasons to believe in beliefs? A radical philosophy of mind says no

5 minutes

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video

Philosophy of mind

We may never settle the ‘free will’ debate, but tapping into it is still worthwhile

32 minutes

Illustration of a squid-like creature on the left and close-up of an eye and nose in profile on the right, both hand-drawn in black and white.
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video

Philosophy of mind

An enigmatic ‘story of consciousness’ told through 19th-century engravings

7 minutes

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Philosophy of mind

Super-cooperators

Clear and direct telepathic communication is unlikely to be developed. But brain-to-brain links still hold great promise

Gary Lupyan & Andy Clark

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Philosophy of mind

Philosophy’s blindspot

Education has long been ignored by contemporary philosophers. That is a myopic view that must change

David Bakhurst

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Consciousness and altered states

Seeing and somethingness

An evolutionary approach to consciousness can resolve the ‘hard problem’ – with radical implications for animal sentience

Nicholas Humphrey

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Neuroscience

The turbulent brain

Energy flow between brain and environment drives the non-equilibrium that sustains life. Could turbulence help us thrive?

Morten L Kringelbach & Gustavo Deco

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Philosophy of mind

The philosopher’s zombie

The infamous thought experiment, flawed as it is, does demonstrate one thing: physics alone can’t explain consciousness

Dan Falk

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video

Philosophy of mind

Embodied cognition seems intuitive, but philosophy can push it to some strange places

14 minutes

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Knowledge

How do you know?

Correct information doesn’t always come with its own bright halo of truth. What makes something worth believing?

Nate Sheff

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Human evolution

Homo imaginatus

Imagination isn’t just a spillover from our problem-solving prowess. It might be the core of what human brains evolved to do

Philip Ball

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video

Philosophy of mind

Forget babbling and toddling – mindreading is babies’ most incredible skill

7 minutes

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Cognition and intelligence

A theory of my own mind

Knowing the content of one’s own mind might seem straightforward but in fact it’s much more like mindreading other people

Stephen M Fleming

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video

Philosophy of mind

Caring for the vulnerable opens gateways to our richest, deepest brain states

7 minutes

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Evolution

What animals think of death

Having a concept of death, far from being a uniquely human feat, is a fairly common trait in the animal kingdom

Susana Monsó

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Philosophy of mind

The mind does not exist

The terms ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ are messy, harmful and distracting. We should get rid of them

Joe Gough