Many of us feel that our societies are a little – or even
plain totally – ‘unfair’. But we have a hard time
explaining our sense of injustice to the powers that be in a
way that sounds rational and without personal pique...
There’s a belief that philosophy, when properly done,
should sound dense, forbidding, a little confusing, as if it
might have been awkwardly translated from the German. But at
the dawn of the modern age lived a French philosopher who
trusted in a very different...
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. But it
had to be education of a special kind - and not...
Augustine was a Christian philosopher who lived in the early
5th century AD on the fringes of the rapidly declining Roman
Empire, in the North African town of Hippo (present day
Annaba, in Algeria). He served as Bishop for over thirty
years, proving popular...
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.
He was born in 1858 in the little French town of Epinal,
near the German...
The field is not without other distinguished contestants,
but in the competitive history of incomprehensible German
philosophers, Martin Heidegger must by any reckoning emerge
as the overall victor. Nothing quite rivals the prose of his
masterpiece Being and Time (1927) in terms of contortions
Max Weber is one of the three philosophers best able to
explain to us the peculiar economic system we live within
called Capitalism (Karl Marx and Adam Smith are the other
Born in Erfurt in Germany in 1864, Weber grew up to see...
The system we know as Capitalism is both wondrously
productive and hugely problematic. On the downside,
capitalism promotes excessive inequality; it valorises
immediate returns over long-term benefits; it addicts us to
unnecessary products and it encourages excessive consumption
of the world’s resources with potentially disastrous
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. In fact, we
are encouraged to...
For hundreds of years now, humans have tended to believe
that the best sort of government is one which leaves its
citizens maximally ‘free’. We’ve come to associate
good government directly and uncomplicatedly with the
promotion of ‘freedom’: freedom to worship as one
The news is the most powerful and prestigious force in
contemporary society, replacing religion as the touchstone
of authority and meaning. It is usually the first thing we
check in the morning and the last thing we consult at night.
What are we searching...