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Beautiful things might amaze and rouse us, but the sublime affects us in a more profound way. It’s overwhelming, even frightening, and can leave us with a deep and lasting sense of wonder. But why do potential dangers, such as a foreboding storm on the horizon or the view from the edge of a cliff, exhilarate the human mind? The 18th-century philosopher and writer Edmund Burke thought that the sublime involves the possibility of pain, which triggers feelings of self-preservation – a visceral response that moves from the body to the mind.
How a verbal paradox shattered the notion of total certainty in mathematics
A tender poem doubles as a guide to sitting comfortably in one’s own company
Values and beliefs
How a God-fearing Jewish woman found atheism – and bacon – in her later years
War and peace
Before he leaves to go to war, Artem, 18, says goodbye to the man who raised him
A mindbending trip that summons the forgotten women of surrealism
To see the Universe more clearly, think in terms of processes, not objects
A son of China’s former one-child policy remembers the sibling he never had
A harrowing account of a 1970 ‘leadership seminar’ spotlights self-help’s dark side
Beauty and aesthetics
For Ruskin, words couldn’t capture nature’s palette. So here it is in black and white