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, born in France in 1533, with
a refreshingly different take. Michel de Montaigne was an
intellectual who spent his writing...
Modern life is, in many ways, founded around the idea of
progress: the notion that as we know more (especially about
science and technology), and as economies grow larger,
we’re bound to end up happier. Particularly in the
eighteenth century, as European societies and...
Alongside the notes of the musical keyboard and the letters
of the alphabet, colours provide the building blocks of our
emotions. It is not for nothing that we say we are
‘feeling blue’ or ‘seeing red’. Each colour is
subtly connected to a web...
We know very little for certain about the life of the
Chinese philosopher Confucius (a westernised version of his
name, which means ‘Master Kong’). He is said to have
been born in 551 B.C. in China; he may have been a student
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 B.C., the son of a wealthy king in
the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. It was prophesied that the
It seems, at first, weird that we might learn from him.
Thomas Aquinas was a medieval saint, said in moments of high
excitement to levitate and have visions of the Virgin Mary.
He was much concerned with explaining how angels speak and
Most people agree that we need to improve our economic
system somehow. It threatens our planet through excessive
consumption, distracts us with irrelevant advertising,
leaves people hungry and without healthcare, and fuels
unnecessary wars. Yet we’re also often keen to dismiss the
ideas of its...
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. We know that at key
historical moments people have made profound sacrifices so
that we can, every...
We’re particularly down on people we call ‘defensive’.
They blame others for what’s probably their own fault.
They hear reasonable criticism as a cruel attack. They deny
they have a problem when they clearly do.
But, of course, we must be doing this ourselves...
Little is truly known about the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu
(sometimes also known as Laozi or Lao Tze), who is a guiding
figure in Daoism (also translated as Taoism), a still
popular spiritual practice. He is said to have been a record
Modern architecture produces truly innovative work:
glittering, staggeringly tall buildings, opera houses that
look like folded origami, even museums that look like
spaceships. However, in turning towards everything new,
architectural modernism also dogmatically left behind much
of what makes buildings lovely. The best architects of...