Philosopher of the apocalypse

From the ashes of the Second World War, Günther Anders forecast a new catastrophe: technology would overwhelm its creators Audrey Borowski is postdoctoral fellow at the MCMP at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, as well as a research associate at the University of Oxford where she completed her DPhil. Her interests range widely from the early modern period to the 21st century, from Leibniz to catastrophe and the philosophy of artificial intelligence. As the commander of the weather plane that supported the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, Claude Eatherly did not feel any particular animosity … Continue reading Philosopher of the apocalypse

The Science of Working Out the Body and the Soul: How the Art of Exercise Was Born, Lost, and Rediscovered

“A history of exercise is not really — or certainly not only — a history of the body. It is, equally, perhaps even primarily, a history of the mind.” BY MARIA POPOVA “And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?” wondered Whitman two years before he wrote a manual on “manly health and training” and two decades before he recovered from his paralytic stroke with a rigorous exercise regimen in the gymnasium of the wilderness. But this natural equivalence, as obvious as it was to Whitman and as evident as the neurophysiology of consciousness is making it in … Continue reading The Science of Working Out the Body and the Soul: How the Art of Exercise Was Born, Lost, and Rediscovered

Biking Through Time: Brooklyn Youth Chorus Sings Composer Paola Prestini’s Anthem for Women’s Freedom of Body and Mind

A two-wheel romp through the topography of progress from Victorian times to rural Spain to twentieth-century America. BY MARIA POPOVA “You are at all times independent. This absolute freedom of the cyclist can be known only to the initiated,” Maria Ward wrote in her blazing 1896 manifesto Bicycling for Ladies, celebrating the bicycle as an instrument of emancipation, self-reliance, and unselfconscious joy a year after the New York World published its tragicomical list of don’ts for women on two wheels. These might seem like amusing specimens from the fossil record of culture, but they encode the broader and darker history of regulating women’s sovereignty … Continue reading Biking Through Time: Brooklyn Youth Chorus Sings Composer Paola Prestini’s Anthem for Women’s Freedom of Body and Mind

Look on the dark side

We must keep the flame of pessimism burning: it is a virtue for our deeply troubled times, when crude optimism is a vice Mara van der Lugt is lecturer in philosophy at St Andrews University in Scotland. She is the author of Bayle, Jurieu, and the ‘Dictionnaire Historique et Critique’ (2016) and Dark Matters: Pessimism and the Problem of Suffering (2021). In the 17th and 18th centuries, a group of Western philosophers came to clashes, on the page at least, over the age-old problem of evil: the question of how a good God could allow the existence of evil and suffering in the world. … Continue reading Look on the dark side

How the image of a victimized Russia got into the country’s psyche

Is there victory in defeat? by Gregory Carleton The range of anti-Russian measures taken by countries around the world since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is virtually unprecedented and hearkens back to the darkest days of the Cold War. They’ve assumed many forms but broadly include economic sanctions, military support for Ukraine and boycotts of Russian exports. Other forms of resistance, undertaken primarily by nonstate actors, focus more on Russian culture – its music, literature and arts – with the country’s conductors dismissed from European concert halls and pieces by Tchaikovsky excised from set lists. Yet there is no single country, … Continue reading How the image of a victimized Russia got into the country’s psyche

Primitive communism

Marx’s idea that societies were naturally egalitarian and communal before farming is widely influential and quite wrong Manvir Singh is an anthropologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse. He studies the origins of universal or near-universal cultural practices, including music, marriage, shamanism and witchcraft. Karl Marx died on 14 March 1883. At the funeral three days later, Friedrich Engels wasted little time on their 40-year friendship, focusing instead on Marx’s legacy. ‘Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature,’ Engels said, ‘so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.’ … Continue reading Primitive communism

Blackness in antiquity

To truly see black people in ancient art we need to look beyond the historically recent trope of ‘Blackness = inferiority’ Sarah Derbew is an assistant professor of Classics at Stanford University in California and the author of Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity (forthcoming, June 2022). In their memo ‘On the Abolition of the English Department’ from 1968, the lecturers Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (then known as James Ngũgĩ), Henry Owuor-Anyumba and Taban lo Liyong spearheaded an educational revolution at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Eager to sweep out the vestiges of British colonialism from the university’s English Department, they proposed abolishing it, to be replaced … Continue reading Blackness in antiquity

Views from everywhere

Academic philosophy can indeed make sense of our interdependent world. But only if it transforms by becoming truly diverse Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach currently holds the Diversifying Philosophy Chair at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam… Leah Kalmanson is an associate professor and the Bhagwan Adinath Professor of Jain Studies at the University of North Texas… Philosophy undergraduates typically learn the history of their subject through two core classes: ‘ancient philosophy’ and ‘modern philosophy’. The tale begins in the Athenian city-state with Socrates (c470-399 BCE), philosophy’s veritable mascot – an endearing curmudgeon, a speaker of truth to power, and a martyr executed by a jury … Continue reading Views from everywhere

The love story story

Neither psychology nor anthropology fully understand love: only history sees that it’s all about the time and the telling Barbara H Rosenwein is professor emerita in history at Loyola University Chicago. Her recent books include Anger: The Conflicted History of an Emotion (2020) and Love: A History in Five Fantasies (2021). Edited by Sam Haselby The top song on Billboard’s Rhythm & Blues chart in 1967 was Jackie Wilson’s (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. Once (he sang), he had been ‘down-hearted’. Then he found a special girl. Now he’s flying high. Next, compare the feeling of love in Wilson’s song with that of … Continue reading The love story story

Three maps remind us of the horror of the Vietnam War

America’s war in Southeast Asia is fading fast from memory. These maps offer a horrific reminder. KEY TAKEAWAYS Like most armed conflicts once they are over, the Vietnam War is fading fast from memory.  One map reopens the door to a particularly horrific aspect of the Vietnam War: carpet bombing.  A second map depicts the spraying of various herbicides, and a third depicts U.S. bases named after sweethearts and Nazi strongholds (among other things). by Frank Jacobs Wars transform nations. Then they end, and as their veterans die, they fade from living memory into history. That is now happening to … Continue reading Three maps remind us of the horror of the Vietnam War