Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

The myth of the missing half

2 minutes

A lighthearted Ancient Greek myth explains why humans are doomed to yearn for partners

Emotional vulnerability and the risk of heartbreak aren’t enough to deter most people from seeking out companions. Indeed, romantic yearning is considered a central part of the human experience. So why were so many of us created to feel unfulfilled without ‘another half’? According to a myth by the comic playwright Aristophanes, recounted in Plato’s Symposium, humans were once two-bodied creatures until they challenged the gods. Zeus, angered by humans overstepping their bounds, sliced them all in two, leaving us destined to yearn for partnership.

Video by BBC Radio 4

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animation: Andrew Park

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/History of Ideas
The African Enlightenment

The highest ideals of Locke, Hume and Kant were first proposed more than a century earlier by an Ethiopian in a cave

Dag Herbjørnsrud

Essay/Ethics
The ethics of ET

The discovery of independent life beyond Earth would have deep philosophical implications for us, and our ideas of morality

Tim Mulgan