Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World


The obscure objects of mass production

The objects of mass production – screws, nails, cell phones, cars – are everywhere. They are, for the most part, humdrum and insignificant and beneath the notice of philosophers. But in fact, I shall suggest, they are deeply mysterious from an ontological point of view.

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Who are the middle class in India?

The idea of the middle class is also invoked, positively, to describe the emerging Indian, who, through education and hard work, is trying to move upwards, with his/her own resources, and in turn, is transforming the country into a modern and developed nation.

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Welfare states and the great unraveling

We appear to be on the verge of a great unraveling – a period in which the established arrangements of political and economic life are rapidly coming undone. And at heart of these events is the question of the welfare state and the security of working people in contemporary capitalism.

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Musical Prodigies

Is musical success written in the stars?

When we look at the so-called “miraculous gifts” of musical prodigies, it is easy to get caught up in the nature vs. nurture debate: are these prodigies born or made? But we won’t be entering here into the discussion as to whether genetics or education plays the greater role. Instead, there may be a secondary element to this debate that is often overlooked, an element that intrinsically ties together these two conflicting sides.

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Scottish independece referendum

A tale of two referendums

Post-referendum events, particularly, the SNP’s near clean sweep of Scottish seats in the 2015 general election, suggested that the question of Scotland’s future in or outside the union had not been resolved. The even narrower margin of victory for ‘Brexit’ in the EU referendum has brought the Scottish question back to centre stage.

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How workers can get a better deal out of Uber

Platform businesses are the current darlings of digital disruption. Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit, and their ilk dodge the overheads of traditional businesses. Their services are provided by private contractors and not by employees with all of their expensive entitlements.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

When Shakespeare’s plays call for music, what kind of sound should we imagine?

Music at that time was special— magical even— and its effect would have been diminished by constant presence even if that were possible for the musicians, which it was not. David Lindley, indeed, points out that, in contrast to the modern use of filmic underscoring, music in Shakespearean theatre was ‘always part of the world of the play itself, heard and responded to by the characters on- stage’.

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Are Americans information junkies?

It would seem so obvious that they are information junkies. With 70 plus percent of the population over the age of 10 walking around with their smart phones—more computer than telephone—they often hold them in their hands so they can instantly keep up. E-books are popular, while the sale of hardcopy books continues to rise. The New York Times boasted in 2016 that it now had over a million online subscribers. A number close to that reads the Harvard Business Review.

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Ready to explore the unknown

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has already delivered more high energy data this year than it had in 2015. If any new particle were found, it would open the doors to bright new horizons in particle physics.

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The new jazz films (and their old models)

Recent months have seen the release of two movies about great jazz trumpeters from the 1950s and 60s: Miles Ahead (Don Cheadle, 2015) focusing on Miles Davis, and Born to Be Blue (Robert Budreau, 2015) focusing on Chet Baker (although Miles plays an important role in the latter too: his second cinematic revival in one year). The similarities don’t end there: both films are semi-fictional, homing in on a moment of crisis in their respective protagonists’ real lives and spinning a mostly fictional story around it.

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The New Minority

Republican’s five stages of grief

Sixteen established Republican party candidates have slowly ended or suspended their presidential candidacies and party leaders are trying to divine whether Donald Trump’s unthinkable ascent actually spells the end of their party as we have known it since the late 1960s.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespearian opera in the shadow of war

Over the past few years, Britain has commemorated Shakespeare’s life, works, and death in parallel with an extensive remembrance of the First World War and those who served in it. The elision of Shakespeare’s work with this particular conflict is not a new trend: 100 years ago, similar celebrations of Shakespeare were occurring in the midst of wartime, and both Britain and Germany were employing his image and plays for propaganda and recruitment purposes.

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Does death rob our lives of meaning?

I fear death, you might think, because the fact that I will die robs the things I do in my life of their meaning or their value or their worth. This, if it were true, would justify the feeling of vertigo and emptiness that comes when we reflect that we will die.

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How to stay both active and safe this summer

It’s no secret that summer is one of the most universally enjoyed parts of childhood. Waiting out the seemingly eternal last days of school – some have even been known to have a countdown starting in April – is a true act of patience. Then school finally ends. And it is time to ride bikes, play on sports teams and in tournaments, swim, hike, and possibly attend sports camps.

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