Philosophy

Flaubert, snow, poverty, rhythm … the random musings of Anne Carson

17 February 2024 9:00 am

It is thrillingly difficult to keep one’s balance in Carson’s topsy-turvy world as she meditates on a wide range of subjects in poetry, pictures and prose

Is writing now changing the world for the worse?

3 February 2024 9:00 am

Humanity’s great civilising accomplishment may have slipped the leash. Computer programs and surveillance also involve ‘writing’, potentially making us decreasingly human

The problem with westerners seeking oriental enlightenment

27 January 2024 9:00 am

Those chasing after blissful satori never seem interested in the people who actually live in Asia. They want to float in higher spheres

Why were masters of the occult respected but witches burnt?

6 January 2024 9:00 am

Anthony Grafton discusses five celebrated scholars, beginning with Dr Faustus, who separated ‘good’ magic from ‘bad’ in their studies of alchemy, astrology and conjuration

Too many tales of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

7 October 2023 9:00 am

Contemplating ‘hedgehog philosophy’ with Sarah Sands, Rowan Williams, Greta Thunberg and other luminaries would test anyone’s patience after 150 pages

What should we make of the esoteric philosophy Traditionalism?

8 July 2023 9:00 am

Depending on one’s perspective, it is either a dangerous way of thinking or one that the decadent West would do well to study, says Mark Sedgwick

Can the ancient Greeks really offer us ‘life lessons’ today?

24 June 2023 9:00 am

Adam Nicolson thinks so. But his liveliest stories are about Pythagoras, who lived in a hole in the ground, and Thales, who fell into a well while studying the night sky

The philosophical puzzles of the British Socrates

17 June 2023 9:00 am

After vital work for British intelligence during the second world war, why did J.L. Austin devote the rest of his life to considering literally asinine questions?

In search of the peripatetic philosopher Theophrastus

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Publishers lately seem to have got the idea that otherwise uncommercial subjects might be rendered sexy if presented with a…

What exactly do we mean by the mind?

6 August 2022 9:00 am

Given the ingenuity of machine-makers, said Descartes in the 17th century, machines might well be constructed that exactly resemble humans.…

The amazing grace of Bruce Lee’s fight scenes

6 August 2022 9:00 am

Early on in Enter the Dragon our hero, the acrobatic Kung Fu fighter Bruce Lee, tells a young pupil to…

Life’s great dilemma: Either/Or, by Elif Batuman, reviewed

28 May 2022 9:00 am

In this delightful sequel to her semi-autobiographical novel The Idiot (2017), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Elif…

Know your left from your right: the brain’s divided hemispheres

12 February 2022 9:00 am

The dust jacket of The Matter With Things quotes a large statement from an Oxford professor: ‘This is one of…

The great disrupter: how William of Occam overturned medieval thought

28 August 2021 9:00 am

Astonishing where an idea can lead you. You start with something that 800 years hence will sound like it’s being…

Foucault was shielded from scandal by French reverence for intellectuals

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Consider the hare and the hyena. The hare, Clement of Alexandria told readers of his 2nd-century sexual self-help manual Paedagogus,…

The life cycle of the limpet teaches universal truths

17 July 2021 9:00 am

Adam Nicolson is one of our finest writers of non-fiction. He has range — from place and history to literature…

Waiting for Gödel is over: the reclusive genius emerges from the shadows

29 May 2021 9:00 am

The 20th-century Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel did his level best to live in the world as his philosophical hero Gottfried…

The insidious attacks on scientific truth

19 December 2020 9:00 am

What is truth? You can speak of moral truths and aesthetic truths but I’m not concerned with those here, important…

Four German-speaking philosophers in search of a theme

28 November 2020 9:00 am

How do you write a group biography of people who never actually formed a group? Such is the challenge Wolfram…

Macron is preparing for intellectual battle against Islamism

14 November 2020 9:00 am

Muslim thinkers offer a remedy to fundamentalism

How time vanishes: the more we study it, the more protean it seems

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Some books elucidate their subject, mapping and sharpening its boundaries. The Clock Mirage, by the mathematician Joseph Mazur, is not…

We all need to be let alone —not just Greta Garbo

18 April 2020 9:00 am

‘You’re never alone with a Strand,’ went the misbegotten advertisement for a new cigarette in 1959. What the copywriter didn’t…

Let’s leave philosophers to puzzle over the reality of numbers

7 March 2020 9:00 am

The reality (or lack thereof) of numbers is the kind of problem some philosophers consider overwhelmingly important, but it’s of…

new nationalism

What the new nationalism means

28 February 2020 5:19 am

This article is in The Spectator’s March 2020 US edition. Subscribe here. For most of the past 200 years, the left, whether…