Why has Aristotle had such an astounding influence on the world? What are his key ideas? What can he still teach us today?
The Lyceum in Athens, now a ruin, has a claim to be the most significant place in human history. It is the site of Aristotle's school. Here the philosopher taught and discussed the answers to the deepest mysteries of the human condition, and changed the way we think.
Today, it can be difficult to fully comprehend the staggering influence of Aristotle's lessons. Yet his observations about the world around him and his reflections on the nature of knowledge laid the foundations for all empirical science. His study of rational thought formed the basis of formal logic, the cornerstone of philosophical investigation. His examination of Greek city-states gave us political science, while his analysis of drama remains a mainstay of literature courses around the world.
Acclaimed philosopher John Sellars takes us on a journey through Aristotle's thought, vividly bringing to life his key ideas, and demonstrating that the famous philosopher's capacity for curiosity continues to offer us all a vision of more fulfilled lives. The lessons of Aristotle, he shows, still have much to teach us today.
A balanced and thought-provoking guide to all the big questions about AI and ethics
Can computers understand morality? Can they respect privacy? And what can we do to make AI safe and fair?
The artificial intelligence revolution has begun. Today, there are self-driving cars on our streets, autonomous weapons in our armies, robot surgeons in our hospitals – and AI's presence in our lives will only increase. Some see this as the dawn of a new era in innovation and ease; others are alarmed by its destructive potential. But one thing is clear: this is a technology like no other, one that raises profound questions about the very definitions of human intelligence and morality.
In Moral AI, world-renowned researchers in moral psychology, philosophy, and artificial intelligence – Jana Schaich Borg, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Vincent Conitzer – tackle these thorny issues head-on. Writing lucidly and calmly, they lay out the recent advances in this still nascent field, peeling away the exaggeration and misleading arguments. Instead, they offer clear examinations of the moral concerns at the heart of AI programs, from racial equity to personal privacy, fake news to autonomous weaponry. Ultimately, they argue that artificial intelligence can be built and used safely and ethically, but that its potential cannot be achieved without careful reflection on the values we wish to imbue it with. This is an essential primer for any thinking person.
'Erudite...remarkable' The Observer
'Outstanding' The Telegraph
An authoritative, revelatory new history of the Holocaust, from one of the leading scholars of his generation
The Holocaust is much-discussed, much-memorialized and much-portrayed. But there are major aspects of its history that have been overlooked.
Spanning the entirety of the Holocaust and across the world, this sweeping history deepens our understanding. Dan Stone reveals how the idea of 'industrial murder' is incomplete: many were killed where they lived in the most brutal of ways. He outlines the depth of collaboration across Europe, arguing persuasively that we need to stop thinking of the Holocaust as an exclusively German project. He also considers the nature of trauma the Holocaust engendered, and why Jewish suffering has yet to be fully reckoned with. And he makes clear that the kernel to understanding Nazi thinking and action is genocidal ideology, providing a deep analysis of its origins.
Drawing on decades of research, The Holocaust: An Unfinished History upends much of what we think we know about the Holocaust. Stone draws on Nazi documents, but also on diaries, post-war testimonies and even fiction, urging that, in our age of increasing nationalism and xenophobia, we must understand the true history of the Holocaust.
Time has always been political. Throughout history, how we use our time has been defined and controlled by the powerful, and today is no exception. But we can reclaim control, and in this book, the pioneering economist Guy Standing shows us how.
The ancient Greeks organised time into five categories: work, labour, recreation, leisure and contemplation. Labour was onerous, whereas leisure was schole, and included participation in public life and lifelong education. Since the industrial revolution, our time has been shaped by capitalism, our jobs are supposed to provide all meaning in life, our time outside labour is considered simply 'time off', and politicians prioritise jobs above all other aspects of a good life.
Today, we are experiencing the age of chronic uncertainty. Mental illness is on the rise, some people are experiencing more time freedom while many others are having more and more of their time stolen from them, particularly the vulnerable and those in the precariat.
But there is a way forward. We can create a new politics of time, one that liberates us and helps save the planet, through strengthening real leisure and working together through commoning. We can retake control of our time, but we must do it together.
Traditionalism is founded on ancient teachings that, its followers argue, have been handed down from time immemorial, forming a basis of the sacred order that must be defended from modernity and the disorder it brings. It has been used to encourage respect for the environment, compose great music and reduce hostility between followers of different religions.
But Traditionalism has applied to darker causes: from the election of Donald Trump to fascist movements and even terrorism. How has Traditionalism been so influential for so long, yet so little acknowledged and understood? Its followers have never aimed to reach the masses and have sought to affect the world quietly. In this book, the first of its kind for a wide audience, Traditionalism's history, ideas and profound impact are laid out, shining a light onto this shadowy world and the thought of its three founders, René Guénon, Julius Evola and Frithjof Schuon.
Once you understand Traditionalism, you will see its influence everywhere.
'A landmark book... The Blue Commons is at once a brilliant synthesis, a searing analysis, and an inspiring call to action.' - David Bollier
'With remarkable erudition, passion and lyricism, Guy Standing commands the reader to wake up to the threat posed by rentier capitalism's violent policies for extraction, exploitation and depletion of that which is both common to us all, but also vital to our survival: the sea and all within it.' - Ann Pettifor
'Shines a bright light on the economy of the oceans, directing us brilliantly towards where a sustainable future lies.' - Danny Dorling
'This is a powerful, visionary book - essential reading for all who yearn for a better world.' - Jason Hickel
The sea provides more than half the oxygen we breathe, food for billions of people and livelihoods for hundreds of millions. But giant corporations are plundering the world's oceans, aided by global finance and complicit states, following the neoliberal maxim of Blue Growth. The situation is dire: rampant exploitation and corruption now drive all aspects of the ocean economy, destroying communities, intensifying inequalities, and driving fish populations and other ocean life towards extinction.
The Blue Commons is an urgent call for change, from a campaigning economist responsible for some of the most innovative solutions to inequality of recent times. From large nations bullying smaller nations into giving up eco-friendly fishing policies to the profiteering by the Crown Estate in commandeering much of the British seabed, the scale of the global problem is synthesised here for the first time, as well as a toolkit for all of us to rise up and tackle it.
The oceans have been left out of calls for a Green New Deal but must be at the centre of the fight against climate change. How do we do it? By building a Blue Commons alternative: a transformative worldview and new set of proposals that prioritise the historic rights of local communities, the wellbeing of all people and, with it, the health of our oceans.
When did humans develop spiritual thought? What is religion's evolutionary purpose? And in our increasingly secular world, why has it endured?
Every society in the history of humanity has lived with religion. In How Religion Evolved, evolutionary psychologist Professor Robin Dunbar tracks its origins back to what he terms the 'mystical stance' - the aspect of human psychology that predisposes us to believe in a transcendent world, and which makes an encounter with the spiritual possible. As he explores world religions and their many derivatives, as well as religions of experience practised by hunter-gatherer societies since time immemorial, Dunbar argues that this instinct is not a peculiar human quirk, an aberration on our otherwise efficient evolutionary journey. Rather, religion confers an advantage: it can benefit our individual health and wellbeing, but, more importantly, it fosters social bonding at large scale, helping hold fractious societies together. Dunbar suggests these dimensions might provide the basis for an overarching theory for why and how humans are religious, and so help unify the myriad strands that currently populate this field.
Drawing on path-breaking research, clinical case studies and fieldwork from around the globe, as well as stories of charismatic cult leaders, mysterious sects and lost faiths, How Religion Evolved offers a fascinating and far-reaching analysis of this quintessentially human impulse - to believe.
Can it change the way we think?
Does it have the power to transform how we see the world?
You may think you speak only one language. In fact, your mind is interpreting multiple codes of communication. Some people speak Spanish, some Mandarin. Some speak poetry, some are fluent in maths. Humans are built for multilingualism.
Drawing on cutting-edge research and theory, delivered with wit and lucid insight, psycholinguist Viorica Marian explores the ways in which the mind uses multiple languages and how, in doing so, we can open the doors to unique forms of creativity, brain health and cognitive control. Every new language we speak - whether it is coding or musical notes, Hindi or Arabic - shapes how we extract and interpret information. It alters what we remember, how we perceive ourselves and those around us, how we feel, the insights we have, the decisions we make and the actions we take.
The Power of Language lays bare how we use different linguistic codes to think about the world - and change our place within it. Empowering and practical, this is the perfect guide for anyone interested in how language really works.
A transporting and illuminating voyage around the globe, told through eighty classic and modern books
'It is always a pleasure to talk about books with David Damrosch, who has read all of them, and he is so eloquent and understanding about them all' Orhan Pamuk
Inspired by Jules Verne's hero Phileas Fogg, David Damrosch, chair of Harvard's Department of Comparative Literature and founder of Harvard's Institute for World Literature, set out to counter a pandemic's restrictions on travel by exploring eighty exceptional books from around the globe. Following a literary itinerary from London to Venice, Tehran and points beyond, and via authors from Woolf and Dante to Nobel prizewinners Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, Mo Yan and Olga Tokarczuk, he explores how these works have shaped our idea of the world, and the ways the world bleeds into literature.
To chart the expansive landscape of world literature today, Damrosch explores how writers live in two very different worlds: the world of their personal experience, and the world of books that have enabled great writers to give shape and meaning to their lives. In his literary cartography, Damrosch includes compelling contemporary works as well as perennial classics, hard-bitten crime fiction as well as haunting works of fantasy, and the formative tales that introduce us as children to the world we're entering. Taken together, these eighty titles offer us fresh perspective on perennial problems, from the social consequences of epidemics to the rising inequality that Thomas More designed Utopia to combat and the patriarchal structures within and against which many of these books' heroines have to struggle, from the work of Murasaki Shikibu a millennium ago to that of Margaret Atwood today.
Around the World in 80 Books is a global invitation to look beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and to see our world and its literature in new ways.
The story of architecture is the story of humanity. The buildings we live in, from the humblest pre-historic huts to today's skyscrapers, reveal our priorities and ambitions, our family structures and power structures. And to an extent that hasn't been explored until now, architecture has been shaped in every era by our access to energy, from fire to farming to fossil fuels.
In this ground-breaking history of world architecture, Barnabas Calder takes us on a dazzling tour of some of the most astonishing buildings of the past fifteen thousand years, from Uruk, via Ancient Rome and Victorian Liverpool, to China's booming megacities. He reveals how every building - from the Parthenon to the Great Mosque of Damascus to a typical Georgian house - was influenced by the energy available to its architects, and why this matters.
Today architecture consumes so much energy that 40% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from the construction and running of buildings. If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change then now, more than ever, we need beautiful but also intelligent buildings, and to retrofit - not demolish - those that remain. Both a celebration of human ingenuity and a passionate call for greater sustainability, this is a history of architecture for our times.
How many people have died because of COVID-19? Which countries have been hit hardest by the virus? What are the benefits and harms of different vaccines? How does COVID-19 compare to the Spanish flu? How have the lockdown measures affected the economy, mental health and crime?
This year we have been bombarded by statistics - seven day rolling averages, rates of infection, excess deaths. Never have numbers been more central to our national conversation, and never has it been more important that we think about them clearly. In the media and in their Observer column, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and RSS Statistical Ambassador Anthony Masters have interpreted these statistics, offering a vital public service by giving us the tools we need to make sense of the virus for ourselves and holding the government to account.
In Covid by Numbers, they crunch the data on a year like no other, exposing the leading misconceptions about the virus and the vaccine, and answering our essential questions. This timely, concise and approachable book offers a rare depth of insight into one of the greatest upheavals in history, and a trustworthy guide to these most uncertain of times.
Feminism is the ongoing story of a profound historical transformation. Despite being repeatedly written off as a political movement that has achieved its aim of female liberation, it has been continually redefined as new generations of women campaign against the gender inequity of their age.
In this absorbing book, historian Lucy Delap challenges the simplistic narrative of 'feminist waves' - a sequence of ever more progressive updates - showing instead that feminists have been motivated by the specific concerns of their historical moment. Drawing on an extraordinary range of examples from Japan to Russia, Egypt to Germany, Delap explores different feminist projects to show that those who are part of this movement have not always agreed on a single programme. This diverse history of feminism, she argues, can help us better navigate current debates and controversies.
A tour de force from an award-winning expert, Feminisms shows that a rich relationship to the past can infuse today's activism with a sense possibility and inspiration.
In this myth-busting guide to AI past and present, one of the world's leading researchers shows why our fears for the future are misplaced.
The ultimate dream of AI is to build machines that are like us: conscious and self-aware. While this remains a remote possibility, rapid progress in AI is already transforming our world. Yet the public debate is still largely centred on unlikely prospects, from sentient machines to dystopian robot takeovers.
In this lively and clear-headed guide, Michael Wooldridge challenges the prevailing narrative, revealing how the hype distracts us from both the more immediate risks that this technology poses - from algorithmic bias to fake news - and the true life-changing potential of the field. The Road to Conscious Machines elucidates the discoveries of AI's greatest pioneers from Alan Turing to Demis Hassabis, and what today's researchers actually think and do.
'Nobody understands the past, the present, the promise and the peril of this new technology better than Michael Wooldridge. The definitive account' Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist
'Effortlessly readable. The perfect guide to the history and future of AI' Tom Chivers, author of The AI Does Not Hate You
Why is our current system at breaking point?
How can we fix it before it is too late?
British food has changed remarkably in the last half century. As we have become wealthier and more discerning, our food has Europeanized (pizza is children's favourite food) and internationalized (we eat the world's cuisines), yet our food culture remains fragmented, a mix of mass 'ultra-processed' substances alongside food as varied and good as anywhere else on the planet.
This book takes stock of the UK food system: where it comes from, what we eat, its impact, fragilities and strengths. It is a book on the politics of food. It argues that the Brexit vote will force us to review our food system. Such an opportunity is sorely needed. After a brief frenzy of concern following the financial shock of 2008, the UK government has slumped once more into a vague hope that the food system will keep going on as before. Food, they said, just required a burst of agri-technology and more exports to pay for our massive imports.
Feeding Britain argues that this and other approaches are short-sighted, against the public interest, and possibly even strategic folly. Setting a new course for UK food is no easy task but it is a process, this book urges, that needs to begin now.
'Tim Lang has performed a public service' Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times
Most people now realize that economic growth, however desirable, will not solve all our problems. Instead, we need a philosophy and a science which encompasses a much fuller range of human need and experience.
This book argues that the goal for a society must be the greatest possible all-round happiness, and shows how each of us can become more effective creators of happiness, both as citizens and in our own organizations.
Written with Richard Layard's characteristic clarity, it provides hard evidence that increasing happiness is the right aim, and that it can be achieved. Its language is simple, its evidence impressive, its effect inspiring.
'In this book 'Can We Be Happier?' which is part of Richard Layard's excellent, ongoing exploration of what happiness is and how it can be achieved, he provides evidence that if you have peace of mind and are full of joy, your health will be good, your family will be happy and that happiness will affect the atmosphere of the community in which you live.' The Dalai Lama
A leading computer scientist brings human sense to the AI bubble
No recent scientific enterprise has been so alluring, terrifying and filled with extravagant promise and frustrating setbacks as artificial intelligence. Writing with clarity and passion, leading AI researcher Melanie Mitchell offers a captivating account of modern-day artificial intelligence.
Flavoured with personal stories and a twist of humour, Artificial Intelligence illuminates the workings of machines that mimic human learning, perception, language, creativity and common sense. Weaving together advances in AI with cognitive science and philosophy, Mitchell probes the extent to which today's 'smart' machines can actually think or understand, and whether AI even requires such elusive human qualities at all.
Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans provides readers with an accessible and clear-eyed view of the AI landscape, what the field has actually accomplished, how much further it has to go and what it means for all of our futures.