Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Gottfried Leibniz: the last universal genius

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German seventeenth-century philosopher, an incredible logician, and one of the most important contributors to the philosophy of metaphysics, philosophical theology, mathematics, and ethics. His metaphysical career spanned over thirty years, and he was an inspiration to other contemporary philosophers from the Enlightenment period. Born in 1646 in Leipzig, Germany, Leibniz’s […]

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What face masks and sex scandals have in common

While Donald Trump’s legacy will be marked by many things, we can add to the list his resistance to wearing a face mask in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which up until recently he had not done in public. The overt reason for his hesitancy to follow this mainstream medical advice is that Trump […]

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How Buddhist monasteries were brought back from destruction

In Beijing in 1900, as the chaos of the Boxer Uprising raged on, a Buddhist monk arrived at Dafo Monastery, seeking master Datong to make him an offer. The visitor was abbot of Cihui Monastery and wanted to offer Cihui Monastery to Datong. Datong agreed, and he arrived at his new monastery to find it […]

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How ancient Christians responded to pandemics

Ancient Christians knew epidemics all too well. They lived in a world with constant contagion, no vaccines, medieval medical practices, and no understanding of basic microbiology. Hygiene was horrendous, sanitation sickening. People shared “toilette paper”(a sponge-on-a-stick). Besides that, in the second and the third centuries CE, two pandemics rocked the Roman World. The first, the […]

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Inspirational TV shows to watch during this pandemic

There are many ways people are passing time with staying home during the pandemic. Some are taking up new hobbies. Some are exploring virtual museums. Some may even be preparing for a neighborhood sing-along out their windows. But many people are turning to television to provide entertainment, comfort, and/or escape. Since the late 1990s, as […]

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How religious sects can be a force for good

On Sunday, 29 March, Russell M. Nelson, president of the 16-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released a video from Salt Lake City calling on church members everywhere to join in a fast “to pray for relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic.” Some 71 years before, on […]

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Why an Irish Buddhist resisted empire in Burma

On 2 March 1901, during the full moon festival at Rangoon’s Shwedagon pagoda, the Buddhist monk U Dhammaloka confronted an off-duty colonial policeman and ordered him to take off his shoes. Burmese pagodas are stupas, containing relics of the Buddha, so wearing shoes on them (as white colonials did) was a serious mark of disrespect. […]

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How religion affects global pandemics

People sometimes see religion as an unwelcome infection affecting the secular politics of international relations. Such attitudes easily present themselves in consideration of terrorism and violence. Religion is seen to distort and hamper the healthy peaceful progress of secular politics, operating as an outside pathogen that inflames tensions and challenges already present in global affairs. Religion […]

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How Roman skeptics shaped debates about God

More than a third of all millennials now consider themselves atheist, agnostic or “religiously unaffiliated.” But this doesn’t mean that they have all given up on spiritual life.  Some 28% of the unaffiliated attend religious services at least once or twice a month or a few times a year (and 4% go weekly). 20% of them […]

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How China spurs global dissent

China’s rulers launched the New Silk Road venture—a trillion-dollar development campaign that is often compared to the Marshall Plan—to promote connectivity across what they believed to be poorly integrated regions of Eurasia and Africa. Much to their surprise, however, they discovered that many of these societies were already wired to the hilt—not by the infrastructure […]

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W. T. Stead: A Newspaper Prophet for a Secular Age?

W. T. Stead (1849-1912) journalist, social reformer, women’s rights advocate, peace campaigner, and spiritualist–was one of the best-known public figures in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain. He pioneered in Britain what was called the New Journalism, or journalism with a mission; he is well known for his investigative journalism and political activism.

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Heretics to demigods: evangelicals and the American founders

In recent years, many evangelicals have lauded the American Founders.  It has become customary for them to heap effusive praise on the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  Even those who were openly contemptuous of Christian orthodoxy such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine […]

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Our souls make us who we are

The vast majority of today’s scientists and philosophers believe that human beings are just physical objects, very complicated machines, the essential part of which is our brain which is sometimes conscious. Richard Swinburne argues that on the contrary each human consists of a body which is a physical object, and a soul which is an immaterial thing, interacting with their body; it is our soul which is conscious and is the essential part of each of us.

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Natural disasters make people more religious

Philosophers once predicted that religion would die out as societies modernize. This has not happened. Today, more than four out of every five people on Earth believe in God. Religion seems to be serving a purpose that modernization does not replace. New research finds that people become more religious when hit by natural disasters. They are more likely […]

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John Duns Scotus – The ‘Subtle Doctor’ – Philosopher of the Month

John Duns Scotus (b. c. 1265/1266–d. 1308) was one of the most significant Christian philosophers and theologians of the medieval period. Scotus made important and influential contributions in metaphysics, ethics, and natural theology. Little was known of his life but he was born in Scotland, became a Franciscan monk, spent his learning and professional life […]

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The problem with Buddhist law in Sri Lanka

Several weeks after the Sri Lanka’s Easter tragedy, in which suicide attackers with links to ISIS killed more than 250 people in a series of coordinated bombings, the country’s president announced that he was releasing a Buddhist monk from prison. The monk, Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, was the country’s most controversial cleric, having risen to prominence […]

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