The Great Philosophers: Henry David Thoreau


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.

The Great Philosophers: Alexis de Tocqueville 

The Great Architects: Oscar Niemeyer


Democracy was achieved by such a long, arduous and heroic struggle that it can feel embarrassing - even shameful - to feel a little disappointed by it.


One of the most depressing aspects of travel is finding that the world often looks the same in many different places. The towers of downtown Tokyo are indistinguishable from those of Frankfurt or Seattle.

The Great Urbanists: Jane Jacobs

I need Mummy

Rising Sea Levels Due To Global Warming Threaten Low-Lying New York City

There is something compelling and exciting about cities that makes many of us love them. They are full of bright attractions, intriguing strangers and endless, unimaginable possibilities.


Perhaps you never had such a figure in your life, but let's imagine for a moment what a good mother might have been like: when you were a baby, you cried at 3am and she got up to comfort you until you eventually found your way back to sleep an hour later.

Ugliness triggers housing crisis


People living in pleasant rural towns across the south of England, places like Chipping Norton and Ashford, are horrified by government aspirations to build thousands of new homes in the surrounding fields – to satisfy enormous public demand.

Utopia series: how Capitalism should be reformed

Utopia series: the role of culture

Argentina Default And Weak Corporate Earnings Weigh Heavily On Stocks

The system we know as Capitalism is both wondrously productive and hugely problematic. On the downside, capitalism valorises immediate returns over long-term benefits.


We generally hold culture - by which we understand art, museums, cinema, literature and the study of history - in extremely high regard. But, equally, we tend not to look very closely at why culture has such prestige.

Utopia series: the government of the future

Utopia series: the news of the future

U.S. Navy Prepares For Columbus Day

For hundreds of years now, humans have tended to believe that the best sort of government is one which leaves its citizens maximally 'free'.


The news is the most powerful and prestigious force in contemporary society, replacing religion as the touchstone of authority and meaning. What are we searching for?

Utopia series: cathedrals of the future

06_Architecture_Temple to Love_high_v2012

In the developed more secular parts of the world, it is common, even among unbelievers, to lament the passing of the great days of religious architecture.

Utopia series: the schools of the future

Utopia series: the national festivals of the future

Queen Paola of Belgium (R) and Princess

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.

Brazil Begins Carnival Celebration

We’re used to the idea that a year should be punctuated by a sequence of special public days: Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, some kind of national day, May Day, the August Bank holiday etc.

Utopia series: the wedding of the future  

Utopia series: the cinema of the future

Carolyn and Fabio wed in the remote village of Airor on the Knoydart Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands, Britain  - 11 Nov 2009

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.

3D Film Audience

Cinema is the most prestigious cultural activity in the modern world. It is for us what theatre was in the age of Shakespeare or painting was in the days of Leonardo da Vinci.

Frenchman revolutionises travel industry


We are flying around too much and the planet is suffering badly. Populations that previously expected to go abroad a few times in their lives now expect to go twice a year at least.

Why we need new and better moments of collective pride now the World Cup is over

Rolf Harris: the latest chapter in the history of kindness

Switzerland v Ecuador: Group E - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

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'.

Britain Rolf Harris

The once very famous and immensely successful artist Rolf Harris has been convicted of a string of predatory sex-crimes that seem utterly horrible and debased.

New York Times and Guardian join forces to create new celebrities

Twee sentimental postcard voted most popular in the world; for good reasons


Serious people are used to thinking badly of 'celebrity culture' and serious news outlets are even more badly disposed towards stars like Justin and Miley, Tamara and Paris.


To the frustration of many sophisticated people, the postcard of Claude Monet's pretty and sweet Japanese footbridge has topped a survey of the world's best selling art postcards on sale in museums in thirty countries.

Michel de Montaigne gives advice to UK education secretary, Michael Gove


Michel de Montaigne was a sixteenth-century French philosopher with some distinctive views about education. He was sent to one of France’s best schools, the Collège

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum turned into therapeutic centre

More advice for those who want to change the world

De Botton Armstrong

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.

Boston Prepares For First Running Of Marathon After 2013 Terror Bombings

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.

Advice for those who want to change the world

Easter for atheists

Richard Dawkins in London

The world needs changing in all sorts of urgent ways: the great question is how to do it. The most popular and appealing answer has long been that one should try to write a book.


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.

Art says beefy thighs OK


She is not the shape a lot of people have come to idealise. Maybe she sometimes wonders if her hips are too big; someone once said she has beefy thighs.

Taste is not relative – here’s the proof

Why the defenders of immigration are so annoying


Most people nowadays believe that you can't really say in any definitive way what is beautiful or ugly. The idea that taste is relative has deep roots in modern culture.


Across the developed world, in the UK, France, Spain, Switzerland, Australia and the US (to name only a few), fierce debates about immigration are ongoing.

Obama administration hires Dutch artists

Western world fails Miranda Kerr


President Obama has been in the Netherlands for a major international conference focused on two of the world's great crises: nuclear proliferation and the drama in the Ukraine.


Miranda Kerr is astonishingly pretty, hugely successful as a model and very rich. She's been named the sexiest woman alive.

Daily Mail discovers new country

Ed Miliband Contacts The Owners Of The Mail Newspaper Titles

What is Britain like? What is the average person in it like? Is it a nice sort of place to live, convivial, chatty and sane? Or might you randomly be attacked by thugs on the way to buy milk?

Why the Philosophers’ Mail believes in censorship

I want a big powerful daddy to look after me


We believe in censorship. Sometimes. Of course, that's a very unpopular view these days; censorship looks small-minded, defensive and the enemy of a hard-won freedom to express oneself without interference.


President Obama was out the other week inspecting the navy at the largest US mainland base in Norfolk, Virginia. A month ago, he was out

The School of Life

Ten Virtues For The Modern Age