Philosophy

It’s a dull world in which children don’t challenge their parents

9 November 2019 9:00 am

On the Shoulders of Giants consists of 12 essays that the late Umberto Eco gave as lectures at the annual…

God save us from Søren Kierkegaard

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Surely God, if He existed, would find a major source of entertainment down the ages in the activities of theologians,…

Searching for God in the twilight on the Aegean Sea

27 October 2018 9:00 am

My friend Jonathan Gaisman recently gave rise to a profound philosophical question concerning wine. Jonathan is formidably clever. He has…

The young Descartes: I fought, therefore I thought

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Descartes is most generally known these days for being the guy who was sure he existed because he was thinking.…

Six wintry days in Saratoga Springs: Upstate by James Wood reviewed

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Alan Querry, the central figure in James Wood’s second novel, is someone who, in his own words, doesn’t ‘think about…

Jessie Greengrass’s Sight is unashamedly philosophical

10 March 2018 9:00 am

The precarious stasis of late pregnancy offers the narrator of Jessie Greengrass’s exceptional first novel a space — albeit an…

Help over the hump

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Losing our way in life’s trackless forest, whither should we turn for solace and advice? Wisdom used to be the…

How Aristotle would hire civil servants

4 June 2016 9:00 am

The civil service is to be allowed to find out what job applicants’ ‘socio-economic background’ is. What abject drivel is…

How Seneca got to sleep

9 April 2016 9:00 am

As if we did not have enough to cause us sleepless nights, the Royal Society for Public Health has demanded…

‘I hope you don’t mind these letters that just go on and on’

Iris Murdoch’s letters just go on and on — as she herself was the first to admit

29 October 2015 9:00 am

Iris Murdoch’s emotionally hectic novels have been enjoying a comeback lately, with an excellent Radio 4 dramatisation of The Sea,…

Socrates and Galen on the Great British Bake Off

17 October 2015 8:00 am

As the national girth expands by the second, Auntie, never backward about lecturing us on the topic, continues to glory…

Does Labour need a new name? Let’s ask Plato

8 August 2015 9:00 am

In order to make a sensible choice of new leader, the Labour party is trying to work out what its…

What Aristotle would have made of Cambridge’s Lego-sponsored professor

20 June 2015 9:00 am

So Cambridge University has accepted £4 million from the makers of Lego (snort) to fund a Lego chair (Argos sells…

Flamboyant intellectuals: René Descartes (main picture) and Bernard-Henri Lévy (below), in 1978

Liberty, philosophy and 246 types of cheese

20 June 2015 9:00 am

Sudhir Hazareesingh’s bold new book is built on the assumption that ‘it is possible to make meaningful generalisations about the…

It’s amazing how many different subjects Sir Thomas Browne’s latest biographer doesn’t care about

20 June 2015 9:00 am

On the evening of 10 March 1804, Samuel Taylor Coleridge settled at a desk in an effort to articulate what…

How to vote like Hercules

11 April 2015 9:00 am

To judge from elections, the purpose of politics is to win power by promising to make people better off. Plato,…

Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem review: too clever by half

7 February 2015 9:00 am

Big event. A new play from Sir Tom. And he tackles one of philosophy’s oldest and crunchiest issues, which varsity…

King Louis IX embarks for the Crusades

The forgotten flowering of the medieval mind

24 January 2015 9:00 am

For those who imagine the medieval period along the lines of Monty Python and the Holy Grail — knights, castles,…

Existential threat: the birth of a cliché

24 January 2015 9:00 am

In the endless game of word association that governs vocabulary, the current favourite as a partner of existential is threat.…

This ex-priest’s history of the gospels could unsettle the most faithful churchgoer

13 December 2014 9:00 am

When James Carroll was a boy, lying on the floor watching television, he would glance up at his mother and…

A book about human nature that makes your head spin – in a good way

6 September 2014 9:00 am

Vincent Deary is a therapist, and this book is the first part of a trilogy. How We Are is about…

Humans hunger for the sacred. Why can’t the new atheists understand that?

31 May 2014 9:00 am

Does the world have a purpose? The new atheists regard the question as absurd. Purposes emerge in the course of…

Socrates on Maria Miller

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Our former culture secretary, Maria Miller, is still apparently baffled at the fuss created by her fighting to the last…

‘Harmony and order were what Jane Austen sought in her life and work’. Chawton House, in Hampshire (above), was inherited by Jane’s brother, Edward.

Brains with green fingers

5 April 2014 9:00 am

‘Life is bristling with thorns,’ Voltaire observed in 1769, ‘and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s garden.’…

Caught between a New Age rock and a theory junkie hard place

22 March 2014 9:00 am

Siri Hustvedt’s new novel isn’t exactly an easy read — but the casual bookshop browser should be reassured that it’s…