Lizzie Kirkwood

Edited by Lizzie Kirkwood

From the Great BIble, St Jerome edition, 1405-1415. Courtesy the British Library

Essay/
History of ideas
Can God lie?

Until the Scientific Revolution, God’s power included a licence to deceive. How did science make an honest man of Him?

Dallas G Denery II

A Polaroid of an unaccompanied child following the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Such images were displayed on bulletin boards at NGOs. Photo by Jenny Matthews/Panos

Essay/
Cosmopolitanism
The essence of evil

You don’t have to be a monster or a madman to dehumanise others. You just have to be an ordinary human being

David Livingstone Smith

Muhammad Ali receives a blow from Ken Norton during their NABF heavyweight title fight in San Diego, CA, March 1973. Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated/Getty

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
No pain, no game

Pain and suffering are not just incidental elements of the sporting life: they are at the centre of every game

Michael Thomsen

The storyteller Abderrahim El Makkouri holds a photo of himself performing in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of the author

Essay/
Stories and literature
Tell me a story

Even in our digital age, live storytelling has a spellbinding effect more potent than any DVD box set

Richard Hamilton

Life support systems; Facebook server room. Photo by Jason Madara/Gallery Stock

Essay/
Death
The digital soul

My Facebook page may be part of my identity, but can it give me a virtual afterlife?

Patrick Stokes

A seance in Paris, circa 1900. Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty

Essay/
Death
Life after death

The idea of life after death lives on in near-death experiences and messages from beyond the grave. What’s the evidence?

Jesse Bering

Brigitte Bardot posing for a fashion shoot in a studio, Paris, 1958. Photo by Nicolas Tikhomiroff/Magnum

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Are you looking at me?

What goes on in our minds when we see someone naked? The more we see of a person’s body the stupider they seem

Matthew Hutson

Your attention please. Photo by Jonathan Siegel/Getty

Essay/
Computing and artificial intelligence
The attention economy

It costs nothing to click, respond and retweet. But what price do we pay in our relationships and our peace of mind?

Tom Chatfield

A Banksy graffiti work in London. Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Essay/
Political philosophy
Life in the fishbowl

In the future, most people will live in a total surveillance state – and some of us might even like it

Stuart Armstrong

Reclining Boy (1913) by Egon Schiele. Leopold Foundation, Vienna. Photo by Corbis

Essay/
Ethics
Perversions

Atheists and homosexuals were called perverts once. Why do we still see perversion where no harm is done?

Jesse Bering

Students at a Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus briefing to discuss the "Do Not Track Kids Act," concerned with protecting children and teen privacy online. Photo By Chris Maddaloni/Getty

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Too much information

Our instincts for privacy evolved in tribal societies where walls didn’t exist. No wonder we are hopeless oversharers

Ian Leslie

Photo by Gallery Stock

Essay/
Stories and literature
Inner peace

We yearn for silence, yet the less sound there is, the more our thoughts deafen us. How can we still the noise within?

Tim Parks

‘Hold back the talons of your paws/Let me gaze into your beautiful eyes.’ Charles Baudelaire, ‘Le Chat’. Photo by Gallery Stock

Essay/
Love and friendship
If a cat could talk

Felines walk the line between familiar and strange. We stroke them and they purr, then in a trice they pounce

David Wood

A shy Yves Saint Laurent is pushed onstage to be acclaimed for his Spring-Summer collection, Paris, January 1986. Photo by Abbas/Magnum

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
The crystalline wall

Shyness is a part of being human. The world would be a more insipid, less creative place without it

Joe Moran

Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation complex in Marseilles (1952) was designed around the display of the body, its pools and terraces, meant for inhabitants to show off. Photo by Stephen Burrows

Essay/
Architecture
Room for sex

Most architecture sets out to make us civil and efficient. Where are the homes that give us passion and pleasure?

Richard J Williams

Detail from Garden at Arles 1888, by Vincent van Gogh, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. Photo by Corbis

Essay/
Architecture
The wisdom of gardens

Gardens expand our thinking. At times of crisis they console, school us in emotional generosity, and show us that life goes on

Damon Young

The Soča river valley in Western Slovenia. Photo by Lizzie Shepherd/Getty

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
Accidental rewilding

In places once thick with farms and cities, human dispossession and war has cleared the ground for nature to return

George Monbiot

Photo by Photo Alto/Getty

Essay/
History of ideas
Freudian slips

Verbal gaffes can profoundly challenge our sense of self, offering insight into our idiosyncrasies and desires

Jay Watts

Religious protesters oppose the Obama administration's federal mandate requiring all private health care plans to cover contraception and sterilisation, Washington, DC on March 23, 2012. Photo by Olivier Douliery

Essay/
Ethics
A right to believe?

You are entitled to believe what you will, but your beliefs must be subject to criticism and scrutiny just like mine

Mark Rowlands

Opiate allure: most of us use drugs and alcohol to some extent, and it is a slippery slope from socially sanctioned use to addiction. Photo by HG/Magnum

Essay/
Addiction
The outsider

While one person dabbles in drugs with few ill-effects, another will become a chronic addict. What’s the difference?

Hanna Pickard

A Boat in the Sea by Arkhip Kuindzhi,  c.1875. Oil on canvas.

Essay/
Philosophy of religion
Zen freedom

Free will and fate are both illusions. The trick is learning to sail with the prevailing winds of life

Tim Lott

Screen dreams: 'we cannot afford to believe in magic, or to overlook the effortful divide between us as we actually are and ‘us’ as we appear on screen.' Photo by Allen Donikowski/Flickr/Getty

Essay/
Addiction
Cyborg dreams

Gadgets are the first thing we touch in the morning and the last thing we stroke at night. Are we their slaves?

Tom Chatfield

True love: more made than found. Rome, 1994. Photo by Steve McCurry/Magnum

Essay/
History of ideas
What is love?

Forget the modern romantic notion of ‘the one’. True love means looking beyond the couple and out towards life

Mark Vernon

A woman holds her parrot as it receives blessings from a priest, Mexico. Photo by Henry Romero/Reuters

Essay/
Biology
Not just a pretty boy

Intelligent, devoted, alien – parrots are unlike any other pet. But what does the complex human-avian bond say about us?

Ilan Greenberg

Lost in the game: in its pure form, play has no external purpose or reward. Photo by Tim Wimbourne/Reuters

Essay/
Ethics
Tennis with Plato

In play an adult can become like a child, fully absorbed in the here-and-now. Play, not work, brings us fully to life

Mark Rowlands

Artist Jeff Koons with sculpture. Photo by Bob Adelman/Corbis

Essay/
Beauty and aesthetics
The great swindle

From pickled sharks to compositions in silence, fake ideas and fake emotions have elbowed out truth and beauty

Roger Scruton

Illustration by Stephen Collins

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
The id and the eco

Thinking about climate change makes people feel helpless and anxious – but that’s why we must talk about it openly

Rosemary Randall

Always be properly dressed: a United Airlines flight attendant talks with a passenger, 1968. Photo by Dean Conger/Corbis

Essay/
Mental health
Rules of survival

Mid-air is a bad place, where nightmares happen. Only witches and meteorites belong there. Avoid it or be destroyed

AL Kennedy

A newly graduated Oxford student. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Magnum

Essay/
Education
The begging bowl

British universities have a lot to learn about philanthropy – not least how to restrain its academic influence

David Edmonds

Leonard Cohen attends the Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony at the Campoamor Theater on October 21, 2011 in Oviedo, Spain. Photo by Jack Abuin/Zuma/Corbis

Essay/
Music
A broken offering

A cracked voice, an empty bank account, a tour of duty. Who would have thought so much light could still get in?

Tim Footman