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14
Nov
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The Great Writers: Virginia Woolf

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,...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
07
Nov
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The Great Novelists: Jane Austen

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....
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
30
Oct
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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. These elements are almost a conventional prescription for success. So it may...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
24
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Michel de Montaigne

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...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
23
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
19
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Karl Marx

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...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
15
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Alexis de Tocqueville

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...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
08
Oct
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The Great Architects: Louis Kahn

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...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
05
Oct
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The Great Artists: Christo and Jeanne-Claude

We tend to get pretty nervous around the idea of political art. Some terrible things have been done in its name: it’s encouraged fanaticism, demonised vulnerable groups and pumped out delusional propaganda. But despite our misgivings, our collective existence is very much in need...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
05
Oct
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The Great Psychoanalysts: John Bowlby

Among our deepest and seemingly most natural aspirations is the longing to form stable, satisfying relationships: to thrive in partnerships that are good for both people. It doesn’t seem much to ask. A lot of people are looking for roughly the same thing. But...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
19
Sep
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The Great Architects: Oscar Niemeyer

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. That’s no coincidence. Modern architecture was founded on the idea...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail

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