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A biological trick? A timeless pursuit? A source of great anguish? The highest possible happiness? Romantic love is perhaps all of these things and more – which is, perhaps, why philosophers have such a seemingly endless affinity for mulling over the subject. This short TED-Ed video scripted by Skye Cleary, a philosophy lecturer at Columbia University and Barnard College in New York and a frequent Aeon contributor, traverses the centuries to investigate how famed philosophers have envisioned romantic love. So is it a way of satisfying Earthly human desires that interrupt the path to enlightenment, as Buddha believed? A devious way for nature to trick us into procreating, as suggested by Arthur Schopenhauer? Or a way to infuse our lives with meaning, as Simone de Beauvoir wrote? The answer might just depend on your current relationship status.
Hear from blasphemes, sceptics and free-thinkers in this ‘tour of medieval unbelief’
Ecology and environmental sciences
The ancient Hawaiian myth that sparked a modern ecological breakthrough
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The irreverent duo who thumbed their noses at the Soviet Union and the US art world
Thinkers and theories
Henri Bergson on why the existence of things precedes their possibility
Ageing and death
Demystifying death – a palliative care specialist’s practical guide to life’s end
Why mathematical truths exist with or without minds to consider them
Stories and literature
A French Creole folktale nearly lost to time is given new, gorgeously animated life
Computing and artificial intelligence
Struggling to learn how to do a backflip, Nikita takes on an unusual training regimen