Many of us feel we kind-of understand how the economy works,
roughly know what it means when interest rates rise, when
the budget deficit has been reduced. But this kind of
semi-knowledge has meant that we have left the details, the
decisions to the...
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. She also
stands as that prototypical female figure whose face we put
on mugs, t-shirts,...
Irritability is the tendency to get upset for reasons that
seem – to other people – to be pretty minor. Your
partner asks you how work went and the way they ask makes
you feel intensely agitated. Your partner is putting knives
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.
Every other child in the world was playing football or
watching television. No...
He described himself as an obsessional neurotic.
For although the father of modern psychology told us so much
about our inner lives, he was touchingly vulnerable
Sigmund Schlomo Freud was born to a middle-class Jewish
family in 1856, in what is now the Czech...
Jane Austen is loved mainly as a charming guide to
fashionable life in the Regency period. She is admired for
portraying a world of elegant houses, dances, servants and
fashionable young men driving barouches. But her own vision
of her task was radically different....
Imagining the inner lives of other people is a core human
capacity. But we don’t automatically or naturally do this
very well. We are prey to a range of cognitive biases:
without being aware that we are doing so, we might assume
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. These elements are almost a conventional
prescription for success. So it may...
For the griefs of love, he may be the finest among
He was surely also one of the most pessimistic. Arthur
Schopenhauer was born in Danzig in 1788. In later years, he
looked back on the event with regret: "Human existence must
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...