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...
When we use ‘modern’ to describe something, it’s
usually a positive. We are very appreciative and even a
little smug about the miracles of modern science, the
benefits of modern technology, and even the superiority of
modern viewpoints. But what if, in speeding towards...
There is something compelling and exciting about cities that
makes many of us love (and some of us dread) them. They are
full of bright attractions, intriguing strangers and
endless, unimaginable possibilities. Yet despite a great
migration towards city living in the modern era,...
Our assessment of politicians is torn between hope and
disappointment. On the one hand, we have an idealistic idea
that a politician should be an upright hero, a man or woman
who can breathe new moral life into the corrupt workings of
The cultural elite gets nervous about cheerful or sweet art.
They worry that pretty, happy works of art are in denial
about how bad the state of the world is and how much
suffering there is in almost every life.
Look at this picture...
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