Get curated editors’ picks, peeks behind the scenes, film recommendations and more.
The words ‘know thyself’ (or ‘gnothi seauton’ in Ancient Greek) were famously inscribed above the forecourt at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. In Plato’s telling, Socrates believed that the value of self-knowledge consisted in one’s ability to recognise the limits of what they know, which, Socrates ultimately thought, was nothing. In the centuries since, thinkers who have tried to discern the nature of the self have come to radically different conclusions. Thomas Hobbes advocated introspection – attention to one’s own thoughts, feelings and desires – as a means to understanding others. Sigmund Freud developed his theory of the unconscious, introducing the notion that much of what makes up the self is hidden and unknowable. And in the contemporary era, the experimental psychologist Bruce Hood has turned to brain research to fundamentally question whether there is any self to know.
The ancient world
Not a lost kingdom but a parable – how to read Athens in Plato’s story of Atlantis
Meaning and the good life
Albert Camus built a philosophy of humanity on a foundation of absurdity
Check in to the Hilbert Hotel, and learn why some infinities are bigger than others
History of ideas
The devils you know – how Satan became a versatile stand-in for all manner of evil
Earth science and climate
How much can science really tell us about the future of climate change?
Beauty and aesthetics
Komorebi: ‘a dance of shadows emerging when sunlight filters through trees’
Although his story is a mystery, the Lion Man forever binds us to our prehistoric past
Time is fundamental, space is emergent – why physicists are rethinking reality
Language and linguistics
Ums, likes and y’knows get no respect – but they’re vital to conversation