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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

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

Democracy or apocalypse | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

Democracy or apocalypse

Eric Voegelin and Hans Kelsen fled the Nazis. In the US, they clashed over the nature of modernity and government

David Dyzenhaus

What lies beneath government | Aeon
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Politics and government

What lies beneath government

Buka Town in Bougainville shows how bureaucratic states could be reimagined, not as concrete buildings but as living gardens

Gordon Peake & Miranda Forsyth

Noam Chomsky: the five filters of the mass media machine | Aeon
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Politics and government

Is mass media still ‘manufacturing consent’ in the internet age?

5 minutes

Old not Other | Aeon
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Ageing and death

Old not Other

Here’s a puzzle: why do we neglect and disdain the one vulnerable group we all eventually will join? Beauvoir had an answer

Kate Kirkpatrick & Sonia Kruks

Democracy entails conflict | Aeon
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Political philosophy

Democracy entails conflict

Democracy is a system of politics that has disagreement at its heart. But how do we stop conflicts becoming destructive?

Rochelle DuFord

Beyond dust and grime | Aeon
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History of ideas

Beyond dust and grime

Zhuangzi thought Confucians were like frogs trapped in a well, unable to perceive the limitlessness of the sea

Tao Jiang

Cowboy progressives | Aeon
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History

Cowboy progressives

You likely think of the American West as deeply conservative and rural. Yet history shows this politics is very new indeed

Daniel J Herman

Scepticism as a way of life | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

Scepticism as a way of life

The desire for certainty is often foolish and sometimes dangerous. Scepticism undermines it, both in oneself and in others

Nicholas Tampio

Stoics as activists | Aeon
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Ethics

Stoics as activists

You might think of it as a philosophy for turning away from the world, but ancient Stoics took a stand against tyranny

Massimo Pigliucci

When hope is a hindrance | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

When hope is a hindrance

For Hannah Arendt, hope is a dangerous barrier to courageous action. In dark times, the miracle that saves the world is to act

Samantha Rose Hill

What is ‘the West’? | Aeon
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Political philosophy

What is ‘the West’?

While the West belonged to a European geography, its name meant something. Now it is a vague invocation, laden with fear

Faisal Devji

The invention of individual responsibility | Aeon
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History of ideas

How did ‘personal responsibility’ evolve into its opposite, ‘everyone for themselves’?

52 minutes

Democracy is sentimental | Aeon
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Political philosophy

Democracy is sentimental

Reason and facts cannot be the basis of political debates and civic life. Love and laughter are the heart of the matter

Elizabeth Cantalamessa

In praise of possibility | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

In praise of possibility

For the political economist Albert O Hirschman, democracy thrives not on strong opinions but on doubt and flexibility

Michele Alacevich

We’re all teenagers now | Aeon
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Childhood and adolescence

We’re all teenagers now

Adolescence isn’t a time of life so much as a frame of mind. Liberating yet damaging, it’s transformed the US and the world

Paul Howe

How important is white fear? | Aeon
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Political philosophy

How important is white fear?

It’s become a commonplace that demographic anxiety is driving white voters to the far Right. This is dangerously wrong

Mark R Reiff

Against public philosophy | Aeon
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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

The patriot paradox | Aeon
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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

Milton versus the mob | Aeon
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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

Hannah Arendt: What remains? | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

‘What’s essential is, I must understand’: a rare candid interview with Hannah Arendt

72 minutes