Recent studies of Spinoza’s political theory in a contemporary perspective often place it in one of two categories, depicting him either as a defender of individual free speech and liberal democracy or as a champion of radical democracy and collective popular power. For some, he is something like a liberal supporter of the equal individual rights of all citizens to express whatever is on their mind, an early defender of “free speech.”
Haggis, to quote the OED, is “a dish consisting of the heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep, calf, etc. (or sometimes of the tripe and chitterlings), minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned with salt, pepper, onions, etc., and boiled like a large sausage in the maw of the animal.”
We’re often told that the situation created by the attack of the new coronavirus is “unique” and “unprecedented.” And yet, at the same time, scientists assure us that the emergence of new viruses is “natural”—that viruses are always mutating or picking up and losing bits of DNA. But if lethal new viruses have emerged again and again during human history, why has dealing with this one been such a struggle?
Belief in the existence of a “warrior gene” has been around for more than 25 years, one of many examples where genetic effects on behavior have been misunderstood.
No matter the contemporary crisis trending on Twitter, from climate change to the US Senate filibuster, people who follow the news have little trouble finding a congenial source of reporting. The writers who worry about polarization, folks like Ezra Klein and Michael Lind, commonly observe the high levels of tribalism that attends journalism and consumption of it. The feat of being skeptical of the other side’s position while turning the same doubts on your own team is apparently in short supply. The consequences of skepticism about disagreeable points of view for the virtues of intellectual curiosity are not good.
Refugees have fallen down the political agenda since the “European refugee crisis” in 2015-16. COVID-19 has temporarily stifled refugee movements and taken the issue off the political and media radar. However, the impact of the pandemic is gradually exacerbating the drivers of mass displacement.
Etymologists often deal with a group of words that seem to be related, and yet the nature of the relationship is hard or impossible to demonstrate. Such groups are particularly instructive to investigate. I have long been interested in a possible connection between “limp” (adjective), “limp” (verb), and “lump.”
Right-wing and reactionary forces in the USA and UK are once again stoking panic about trans people and practices of gender and sexual variation. Their arguments, though, rely upon faulty assumptions about gender, particularly in relation to history and religion.
Serial killers—people who repeatedly murder others—provoke revulsion but also a certain amount of fascination in the general public. But what can modern psychology and neuroscience tell us about what might be going on inside the head of such individuals?
Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family have featured prominently in the British state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expectation that the monarch should articulate a spiritual response to the threat of disease has deep roots. It took its modern form with Queen Victoria, whose reign decisively transformed the relationship between religion, the sovereign, sickness, and health.
It is no secret that movies about Hollywood come with built-in Oscar buzz. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood, the saying goes.
A claim of “This is mine!” is not the end of property. If it were, then property would be as purely subjective as “I want this” is. Rather, property requires that people other than me also know the circumstances of when my claim of “Mine!” is indeed true.
In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist responds to readers’ queries, discussing “evil”, “wicked”, “sward”, “hunt”, “thraúō”, “trash”, and “tomorrow”.
This past month marked an anniversary like no other. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and with it, normal life of eating out, commuting to work, and seeing grandparents came to a sudden halt. One year later, my new book about the intersection of psychology and the workplace was published. With wide-scale vaccinations on the rise, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of where we are and just how much has changed.
November 2018 saw the release of the first ever professional recording of Arthur Sullivan’s oratorio, The Light of The World, based on Biblical texts and focused on the life and teaching of Jesus. The critical reaction to this work, which had been largely ignored and rarely performed for over 140 years, was extraordinary.
One hundred and sixty years ago, on 12 April, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, a Union fort in Charleston harbour. The first shots of the Civil War had been fired. British attitudes to that war baffled both participants at the time, and perhaps still do.