Nigel Warburton
Consultant Editor and Interviewer, Aeon+Psyche

Nigel is a writer, philosopher and podcaster. He is interviewer for the popular Philosophy Bites podcast. His books include A Little History of Philosophy, The Art Question and Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. Nigel is on Twitter @philosophybites.

Written by Nigel Warburton

Photo by Stuart Franklin/Magnum

Essay/
Art
Moments of depth

Stuart Franklin has photographed conflict, nature and people. He discusses what makes a memorable image

Stuart Franklin & Nigel Warburton

Bernard Henri Levy (left) and Jean Paul Sartre refuse to discuss matters at the Musée Grévin waxwork museum in Paris, France. Photo by Sylvain Sonnet/Hemis/Corbis

Essay/
History of ideas
Talk with me

Philosophy should be conversation, not dogma – face-to-face talk about our place in the cosmos and how we should live

Nigel Warburton

Who should we care about: queuing for food in Haiti. Photo by William Daniels/Panos

Essay/
Cosmopolitanism
Cosmopolitans

It’s not just me, you and everyone we know. Citizens of the world have moral obligations to a wider circle of humanity

Nigel Warburton

Edited by Nigel Warburton

Photo by Martine Franck/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of religion
Reincarnation now

Modern mindfulness strips Buddhism of its spiritual core. We need an ethics of reincarnation for an interconnected world

Avram Alpert

A copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is believed to be the only book known to have the signatures of two of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Photo by Dai Sugano/Mercury/Getty

Essay/
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

From The History of Madame Roland (1850) by John S C Abbott. Photo courtesy Internet Archive/Public Domain

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Vive Madame Roland!

She was a French revolutionary and a politician’s wife. But Manon Roland should be remembered for her philosophical writings

Sandrine Bergès

The Madness of Joanna of Castile (1866) by Lorenzo Vallés. Courtesy of the Museo del Prado, Madrid

Essay/
Meaning and the good life
Final thoughts

Do deathbed regrets give us a special insight into what really matters in life? There are good reasons to be sceptical

Neil Levy

Bessie. Holstein cow, aged 20, from the Allowed to Grow Old project and book by the photographer Isa Leshko. All photos © Isa Leshko

Essay/
Ethics
Philosophers and other animals

Christine Korsgaard argues that we can extend a Kantian moral framework to include other animals. But her argument fails

Peter Godfrey-Smith

A British soldier near the Pimon military camp in Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, 25 March 2010. Photo by Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty

Essay/
War and peace
Reading John Gray in war

As a soldier, I was hard-wired to seek meaning and purpose. Gray’s philosophy helped me unhook from utopia and find peace

Andy Owen

Reading on a park bench, London, July 1941. Photo by William Vandivert/Life/Getty

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Pause. Reflect. Think

Susan Stebbing’s little Pelican book on philosophy had a big aim: giving everybody tools to think clearly for themselves

Peter West

Inside the United Nations Human Rights Council building in Geneva. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty

Essay/
Political philosophy
The inflation of concepts

Human rights, health, the rule of law – why are these concepts inflated to the status of totalising, secular religions?

John Tasioulas

Illustration by Tom Björklund

Essay/
Human evolution
Sheanderthal

Not all Neanderthals were ‘cavemen’: half were women. What can archaeologists tell us about how they lived?

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Notting Hill, London. Photo by Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
The problem of now

The injunction to immerse yourself in the present might be psychologically potent, but is it metaphysically meaningful?

John Martin Fischer

Photo by Alex Webb/Magnum

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
The necessity of Kripke

No one with an interest in philosophy or debates about identity can afford to be ignorant of the work of Saul Kripke

Stephen Law

The main room at the Cave of El Castillo in Cantabria, Spain, showing hand prints and depictions of animals. Photo courtesy Gabinete de Prensa del Gobierno de Cantabria

Essay/
Art
Cave art

For Palaeolithic societies, art-making was both a tool for survival and a tactile, joyous exploration of the world

Izzy Wisher

French chefs take part in a videoconference with President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris, 24 April 2020. Photo by Ludovic Marin/Reuters

Essay/
Technology and the self
Zoom and gloom

Sitting in a videoconference is a uniformly crap experience. Instead of corroding our humanity, let’s design tools to enhance it

Robert O’Toole

Engineers prepare to enter HAM 6 (left) to install the new septum window between HAM 5 and 6 through which LIGO’s laser beam passes. Staff must wear full bunny suits and goggles to protect their eyes from any stray laser light. The structure visible inside HAM 6 supports the photodetector that ultimately detects gravitational waves. Photo courtesy Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab

Essay/
Philosophy of science
Keep science irrational

Is hard data the only path to scientific truth? That’s an absurd, illogical and profoundly useful fiction

Michael Strevens

Leonard Bernstein (far right) with members of the Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra on 10 May 1948 in Munich, Germany. Bernstein was on a working tour of Europe when he conducted this small orchestra comprised of Holocaust survivors at a displaced persons camp. Photo courtesy of Sonia Beker, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Essay/
Meaning and the good life
Humanity at night

A violinist plays in a concentration camp. A refugee carries a book of poetry. Art sustains us when survival is uncertain

Sarah Fine

Self-Portrait in the Camp (1940), by Felix Nussbaum. Nussbaum was a prominent and admired artist prior to the Nazis seizing power in 1933. He subsequently worked in exile and hiding before being murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Neue Galerie New York/Getty Images

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Where loneliness can lead

Hannah Arendt enjoyed her solitude, but she believed that loneliness could make people susceptible to totalitarianism

Samantha Rose Hill

Close-up detail of the Papilio demoleus malayanus, the lime butterfly. Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic

Essay/
Philosophy of science
Cognition all the way down

Biology’s next great horizon is to understand cells, tissues and organisms as agents with agendas (even if unthinking ones)

Michael Levin & Daniel C Dennett

Detail of a miniature of Boethius lying in bed, with Philosophy standing beside him, from the beginning of Book I of The Consolation of Philosophy. Harley 4355 f.27. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Library

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Why read Boethius today?

Written while awaiting execution, the Consolation of Philosophy poses questions about human reason that remain urgent today

John Marenbon

Photo by Harry Gruyaert/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
The value of uncertainty

In fiction, it grips us. In life, it can unravel us. How can brains hooked on certainty put its opposite to good use?

Mark Miller, Kathryn Nave, George Deane & Andy Clark

Study For Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences, or The Genius of America Encouraging the Emancipation of the Blacks (1791-92) by Samuel Jennings. Courtesy the Met Museum/New York

Essay/
History of ideas
Philosophy’s systemic racism

It’s not just that Hegel and Rousseau were racists. Racism was baked into the very structure of their dialectical philosophy

Avram Alpert

Photo by Richard Kalvar/Magnum

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
The semi-satisfied life

Renowned for his pessimism, Arthur Schopenhauer was nonetheless a conoisseur of very distinctive kinds of happiness

David Bather Woods

Map of the Port of Alexandria, Egypt, from Kitab-ı Bahriye (Book of Navigation) by Piri Reis, first published 1521, map taken from the revised 17th-century edition. Courtesy The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Essay/
Cities
The city is a lie

From Ancient Egypt’s deltas to Edinburgh’s crags and peaks, the city pushes back against the dream of human separateness

Sam Grinsell

The Blue Boat (1892) by Winslow Homer. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Essay/
Neuroscience
Nostalgia reimagined

Neuroscience is finding what propaganda has long known: nostalgia doesn’t need real memories – an imagined past works too

Felipe De Brigard

A Catholic nun and a young Hispanic immigrant in Central Park, New York, 1976. Photo by Richard Kalvar/Magnum

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
Laughter is vital

For philosopher Henri Bergson, laughter solves a serious human conundrum: how to keep our minds and social lives elastic

Emily Herring

Pupils in a science class at Summerhill School in Suffolk, England. Summerhill will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding in 2021. Photo by In Pictures Ltd/Corbis/Getty

Essay/
Education
Education, unchained

Rousseau’s child-centred ideals are now commonplace but his truly radical vision of educational freedom still eludes us

James Brooke-Smith

The Sea of Ice (Das Eismeer), by Caspar David Friedrich (1823). Courtesy the Hamburger Kunsthalle/Wikipedia

Essay/
History of ideas
In praise of aphorisms

What if we see the history of philosophy not as a grand system of sustained critique but as a series of brilliant fragments?

Andrew Hui

From Le Petit Journal, 18 February 1912. Photo by Getty

Essay/
Ethics
The trolley problem problem

Are thoughts experiments experiments at all? Or something else? And do they help us think clearly about ethics or not?

James Wilson

The Inquisition Scene (1808-1812), by Francisco Goya. Courtesy the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid

Essay/
Virtues and vices
Vice dressed as virtue

Cruelty and morality seem like polar opposites – until they join forces. Beware those who persecute in the name of principle

Paul Russell

From Piers Plowman (1427) by William Langdon. Bodleian Library MS. Douce 104. Courtesy the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Essay/
Language and linguistics
On gibberish

Babies babble, medieval rustics sing ‘trolly-lolly’, and jazz exults in bebop. What does all this wordplay mean for language?

Jenni Nuttall

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