In his landmark works Discourse on the Method (1637) and Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), René Descartes tackled a simple yet imposing question: how can one know anything for certain? Laid out in methodical detail, his answers would provide the foundation for modern philosophy and science. In this video from 1987, the celebrated UK broadcaster and philosophy populariser Bryan Magee (1930-2019) dissects Descartes’s world-changing writings alongside the UK philosopher and Descartes scholar Bernard Williams (1929-2003). In doing so, the pair touches on how the existence of God was fundamental to Descartes’s construction of the Universe, what precisely he meant in proclaiming ‘I think, therefore I am’, and which of his ideas have fallen out of fashion in contemporary philosophy.
Even in modern secular societies, belief in an afterlife persists. Why?
Trek alongside spiritual pilgrims on a treacherous journey across Pakistan
Thinkers and theories
Photographs offer a colonialist window to the past – one that must be challenged
Meaning and the good life
The world turns vivid, strange and philosophical for one plane crash survivor
Inside the unique creative space where ‘outsider’ artists find their form
When aggression is viewed as brilliance, it hurts women in science, and science itself
From God’s shoes to satellites in heaven – children weigh in on religion
Stories and literature
Myths from Earth’s edge – what the Icelandic sagas reveal about Norse morality
Technology and the self
Why we should worry less about ‘sentient’ AIs and more about what we’re teaching them