Why the physical world is a lie

There’s a lot of paranoia going around about ‘fraud’, ‘lying’, and ‘deception’, sometimes encapsulated by the term ‘abuse’. These are certainly ugly, often evil, realities — but not for the reason we usually imagine. In David Runciman’s seminal Political Hypocrisy, the Cambridge Professor of Politics draws a distinction between first- and second-order hypocrisy. The first-order … Continue reading Why the physical world is a lie

Hobbes, the Person of the State, and the Beginnings of Balance

In the beginning, there was a simple thing — be that nothing, something, or everything at once. From this simple, eternal implosion of reality exploded the elaborate fantasy of this divided physical realm. Perhaps even then there were seeds of division immanent to the physicality of this world. Before time and space, however, can we … Continue reading Hobbes, the Person of the State, and the Beginnings of Balance

The activity of ideas and ‘The Time of Angels’

The British TV show Doctor Who has gone through many mutations in its fast-paced run since its 2005 reboot. One of the most interesting variants of the show was presented in 2010, that year of intriguing contrasts and magnificent extravagance, in a double episode entitled ‘The Time of Angels’. The show revolves around the concept … Continue reading The activity of ideas and ‘The Time of Angels’

The poetry of power: On the new art forms of the Third Millennium

Our middle world, orbiting a middle star of a middle ring of a middle-sized galaxy, has produced many wondrous creations, even from the bowels of despair. Life first emerged in the deep oceans, and endured through cycles of hot and cold, adapting to each extreme. Eventually, however, the creatures of sea and sky found themselves … Continue reading The poetry of power: On the new art forms of the Third Millennium

The philosophy of life: Arendt, Heidegger, Foucault

In the late 1920s, Hannah Arendt helped fellow philosopher Martin Heidegger on a book that took the intellectual world by storm. Being and Time (or Sein und Zeit in the original German) contended that the human being, Dasein, was a being that took its own being into question. But this constant act of Socratic questioning … Continue reading The philosophy of life: Arendt, Heidegger, Foucault

Students of Socrates

The Socratic method is renowned as the foundation of western philosophy. Through asking questions and critiquing implicit assumptions, Socrates destroys the value foundation of Homeric Athens, bringing about a new age of ideas. This age, German philosopher Hegel argued, paved the way for our own time, free from felt values or thought ideas. ‘The debate … Continue reading Students of Socrates

Plato, Rousseau, and the politics of philosophy

A recent book by Cambridge intellectual historian Christopher Brooke traces Philosophic Pride not to its usual imagined source, a utopian faith in abstractions, but to Stoicism, which places faith in the concrete world around us. Philosophers’ inflated sense of self comes out of, well, the self, as physically instantiated in our biological constitution. Eventually, Stoicism … Continue reading Plato, Rousseau, and the politics of philosophy

The banality of sociality

Hannah Arendt’s seminal Eichmann in Jerusalem famously describes Nazism, personified in the Holocaust administrator Adolf Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem, as ‘the banality of evil’. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt considers the alliance between ‘elite’ and ‘mob’ underpinning totalitarian politics. If the totalitarian elite is characterised by a sinister banality, a strange coupling of … Continue reading The banality of sociality

The realist manifesto

What is reality? This question is of great importance for all areas of life — including three I take great interest in: philosophy, history, and politics. I’d like to consider each area of study in turn, considering how what we consider to be ‘real’ is influenced by our vantage point, before bringing these perspectives together. … Continue reading The realist manifesto