Self-improvement


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Photo by Werner Bischof/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Self-improvement
Beware of lateral thinking

De Bono’s popular theory is textbook pseudoscience: unsound, untested and derivative of real (unacknowledged) research

Antonio Melechi

Virginia Woolf pictured at Monk’s House, Sussex, England c1928. Photo courtesy Houghton Library, Harvard University

Essay/
Stories and literature
Highbrows and self-helpers

Woolf loathed it but it spurred her on. Hemingway drew ideas of manliness from it. Self-help haunted the modernist imagination

Beth Blum

Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

Essay/
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 Frederick Florin/AP/Getty

Essay/
Teaching and learning
The growth mindset problem

A generation of schoolchildren is being exhorted to believe in their brain’s elasticity. Does it really help them learn?

Carl Hendrick

Going to Work (1943) by L S Lowry. Photo courtesy and © The Imperial War Museum, London

Essay/
Self-improvement
The creed of compromise

Don’t throw in the day job to follow your dream. Join the bifurcators who juggle work-for-pay and their work-for-love

Thomas Maloney

Photo by Cultura/REX/Shutterstock

Essay/
Gender and identity
Seduction, Inc

The pickup industry mates market logic with the arts of seduction – turning human intimacy into hard labour

Rachel O’Neill

‘To understand and resist social conditioning and institutional constraints.’ Youths clashing with riot police during a May Day rally against planned labour reforms. Paris, France 2016. Photo by Lorenzo Meloni/Magnum

Essay/
Self-improvement
Negative capability

Forget memory. Kill desire. Open up in the moment to unleash creativity, intuition, and even political transformation

Paul Tritschler

The Rivals (1876) by Charles Edward Perugini. Photo by Getty Images

Essay/
Love and friendship
Love your frenemy

Envy is the dark side of love, but love is the luminous side of envy. Is there a way to harness envy wisely, for growth?

Sara Protasi

Detail from Paul Gauguin’s Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? (1897). Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Wikipedia

Essay/
History of ideas
What are we?

On Paul Gauguin, authenticity and the midlife crisis: how the philosopher Bernard Williams dramatised moral luck

Daniel Callcut