A year ago we asked ourselves a question: could philosophers write the news? The experiment is complete. The team behind the Philosophers’ Mail is now putting its efforts into a new venture.
A new book is out. It’ll take years to write and exist only online. It’s called The Book of Life because it’s about the most substantial things in your life: your relationships, your income, your career, your anxieties.
Every country is now more or less on a path to growth, but the poor ones are growing very, very slowly. If Zimbabwe continues at its current growth rate, it will qualify as a rich country in 2,722 years.
It's far into the night, but sleep won't come. Not sleeping feels like a disaster, but in smaller doses, insomnia does not need a cure. It's there for a reason.
Virginia Woolf is an icon with a shaky reputation. She is known as depressed—a novelist who, at age 59, drowned herself in the River Ouse outside her weekend home.
Aristotle was born around 384 BC in the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, where his father was the royal doctor. He grew up to be arguably the most influential philosopher ever.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon; you were nine years old. Your parents wouldn’t let you have any ice cream if you didn’t do your maths homework. It was achingly unfair.
The challenge begins with how to pronounce his name: the first bit should sound like 'knee', the second like 'cha': 'kneecha'. Then we need to get past some of his extraordinarily provocative statements.
When it comes to sex, we are, in theory, living in wildly liberated times. So you would think it would be easy owning up to certain kinds of sexual desires. But it's very tricky to talk about many of the things that turn us on.
Neglected parts of one's inner life emerge on the road: ideas, associations, feelings. Driving is an unexpected tool for thinking. Out here, it becomes less frightening to look inside us.
Most of the time, successful modern life involves lots of technology, constantly being connected with other people, working very hard for as much money as possible, and doing what we are told.
We generally think that philosophers should be proud of their big brains, and be fans of thinking, self-reflection and rational analysis. But there’s one philosopher with a refreshingly different take.
Fashion has largely been abandoned to pretension, eccentricity and silliness. But clothes can play a very serious role in life. A vital function of clothes is to show that you belong to a particular tribe.
The story of the Buddha’s life, like all of Buddhism, is a story about confronting suffering. He was born between the sixth and fourth century BC, the son of a wealthy king in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal.
From a distance, philosophy seems weird, irrelevant, boring – and yet also just a little intriguing. But what are philosophers really for? The answer is helpfully already contained in the word 'philosophy'.
We’re particularly down on people we call ‘defensive’. They blame others for what’s their own fault. They hear reasonable criticism as cruel attack. They deny they have a problem when they clearly do.
Modern architecture produces truly innovative work: glittering, staggeringly tall buildings, opera houses that look like folded origami, even museums that look like spaceships.
The 19th-century designer, poet and entrepreneur William Morris is one of the best guides we have to the modern economy - despite the fact that he died in 1896 (while Queen Victoria was still on the throne).
They happen in the privacy of our minds, pretty much everywhere. At the pool, the conference, the aisles of the supermarket. The dynamic is always the same: very little knowledge – indeed complete ignorance.
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, who was born in 341 BC, spent all his life trying to work out the largest question there is: what makes people happy?
Frustration with one’s appearance is an embarrassing - but in truth highly serious and valid - pain. Mature, reasonable people are not supposed to go around regretting their nose or hair.
Few philosophers have achieved fame as cooks. However, many of their theories can be perfectly explained through the medium of food. Here we inaugurate a new series, Philosophy in the Kitchen.
The English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott developed the idea of a Transitional Object. He wanted to draw attention to the very important work done by children’s much-loved teddy bears.
Abstract art continues to provoke annoyance and confusion in equal measure. You know the kind of thing: a large empty white canvas, with a solitary deep black line down the middle.
The cultural elite gets nervous about cheerful or sweet art. They worry that pretty, happy works of art are in denial about how bad the state of the world is and how much suffering there is in almost every life.
We expect - of course - for it to be the other way around: we teaching them. But they have a host of important lessons for us too, if we dare to pay close enough attention.
There’s nothing very natural about caring for nature. The first impulse of humans has almost always been to burn the trees, exhaust the fish stocks, pollute the ground-springs and darken the skies.
Groups of young men armed with planks of wood roam the alleyways extorting money. Houses are made of bits of tin, old doors, the occasional lump of concrete, oil drums and tarpaulin sheets.
It would be unusual today to find a travel agent recommending a sojourn in Detroit as the ideal vacation. The city is, after all, in decline.
August is perfect for sitting outside at the Café de Zaak in the Korte Minrebroederstraat. The decent beers on tap, plus a generous bring-your-own-meal policy make this one of the nicest cafes in town.
You are - quite literally - in the middle of nowhere - and, unexpectedly, it’s helping. A lot. How frantic we otherwise normally are. We live competitive crazed lives.
Matthew Arnold was the most important educational reformer of the 19th century. He realised that, in the modern world, education would be one of the keys to a good society.
Melanie Klein (1882-1960) was a highly creative and original Viennese Jewish psychoanalyst who discovered the work of Freud at the age of 26 and devoted her life to enriching it in valuable ways.
At the moment, food is highly prestigious. A vast amount of attention is paid to celebrity chefs, dietary advice, new restaurants and cooking shows. We have, it seems, become collectively obsessed with what we eat.
Emile Durkheim is the philosopher who can best help us to understand why Capitalism makes us richer and yet frequently more miserable; even - far too often - suicidal.
The system we know as Capitalism is both wondrously productive and hugely problematic. On the downside, capitalism valorises immediate returns over long-term benefits.
For hundreds of years now, humans have tended to believe that the best sort of government is one which leaves its citizens maximally 'free'.
It is almost universally agreed that education is hugely important. But our large commitment to there being good schools ironically has not been matched by concern about what they are for.
Modern societies are deeply invested in the idea of big, glamorous weddings. We have evolved highly-detailed collective ideas about what a proper wedding is supposed to be like.
For the average citizen of a developed nation, the World Cup generated a deeply unusual emotion. For a few weeks, we were allowed to feel happy about something other than 'me'.
Jean-Paul Sartre was born in 1905. His father, a navy captain, died when he was a baby - and he grew up extremely close to his mother until she remarried, much to his regret, when he was twelve.
The challenge begins with how to pronounce his name. The first bit should sound like ‘Knee’, the second like ‘cher’: Knee - cher.
‘Stoicism’ was a philosophy that flourished for some 400 years in Ancient Greece and Rome, gaining widespread support among all classes of society.
Anyone we could marry would, of course, be a little wrong for us. It is wise to be appropriately pessimistic here. Nevertheless, one encounters some couples of such primal, grinding mismatch.
One of the things that makes us fall in love with people is realising they can do something we can't. We get attracted to people who seem capable and at ease with parts of life in which we struggle.
There are many nice things we want, but are somehow a little scared of getting, because they are bound up with risks and subtle inner complications we don't quite have a handle on.
There are sweet moments - early on in relationships - when one person can’t quite work up the courage to let another know just how much they like them.
It sounds strange to ask what a novel might be for. We tend not to wonder too much what role made-up stories should have in our lives. Generally we suppose we just read them for entertainment.
One of the ideals of modern relationships is that both parties will be ‘good communicators’. ‘Communication’ is held to lie at the heart of a thriving partnership.
It is one of the seven virtues in Christianity. It used to have a central place in Roman ethics and Judaism as well. Today, we remain deeply impressed by the idea of charity, but often from a distance.
People are understandably confused about what philosophy is. From a distance, it seems weird, irrelevant, boring and yet also - just a little - intriguing. But it’s hard to put a finger on what the interest really is.
It used to be when you’d hit certain financial and social milestones: when you had a home to your name, a set of qualifications on the mantelpiece and a few cows and a parcel of land in your possession.
We are - each one of us - probably more one than the other. The categories explain a lot about us; how we approach nature, what makes us laugh, our attitudes to love, what our politics are…
There are - when you start adding incidents up - rather a lot of things about you that your partner seems keen to change. They notice how you put off ringing your mother.
Almost certainly, you’ve been having a bad time at work. In a perfect world, work should do so much for us: lend us purpose and a sense of achievement, offer us meaning and comradeship.
Most weeks, someone mistreats us in a greater or lesser way: they overlook a commitment they’ve made, they let us down logistically, they betray our hopes or deceive our trust.
Everyone knows that at the beginning it happens all the time…and then, as relationships get longer, it doesn’t really any more. We say it’s because we’re too busy, or tired, or just not in the mood.
Media organisations want us to care about the bad stuff that is happening out there - and the best way they feel they can do this is to tell us about the gore, the bombs, the landslides, the murders and the calamities.
You try to set aside a special evening every now and then. That would have been absurd in the old days, you were alone so much of the time, but now there’s a need to schedule it in the diary way ahead of time.
Even though our minds ostensibly belong to us, we don’t always control or know what is in them. There are always some ideas, in the middle of consciousness, that are immediately clear to us.
In the US this weekend, and in other parts of the world at about this time, people celebrate Mother's Day – a ritual specially designed to allow children to take a moment to express their gratitude for their mothers.
For all of them, it started much as it will for you: a strangely persistent itch at the back of the head, a discomfort on the left side, a lump fingered in the shower.
Whenever something looks interesting or beautiful, there's a natural impulse to want to capture and preserve it – which means, in this day and age, that we're likely to reach for our phones to take a picture.
In a surprise move, the Netherlands' top cultural institution, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, has been turned into a giant therapeutic centre designed to help people with emotional issues.
A deep-seated desire in many thoughtful people is to try to change, and improve, how their fellow humans behave: to try to make them a bit kinder, or more moral, or interested in nature.
The most boring question one can ever direct at a religion is to ask whether or not it is ‘true’. Of course, none of its supernatural claims can ever be ‘true’ - but that may not be a reason to dismiss it.
In their more serious moods, news organisations tell us they want to explain the world to us. And that often means talking about money.
For almost all of human history, it has been unthinkable that someone could lay claim to maturity, sanity and reliability by pinning a picture by a six-year-old to the walls of their office, or throne room.
It’s far into the night, but sleep won’t come. You turn over. Perhaps a different position will quieten the mind. Or maybe the other side was better after all. Panic sets in. Not sleeping is a disaster.