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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Why people disagree

People disagree. Human beings often express conflicting views about a variety of different issues, from food and music to science and politics. With the development of advanced communication technologies, this fact has become more visible than ever. (Think of Twitter wars.) The extent and depth of our disagreements can lead many to despair of making […]

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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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Completing your verbs—infinitive and gerunds

Most of us have been told at some point that a sentence has a subject and predicate and that the predicate consists of a verb and an object—the girl kicked the ball. We may have been introduced to distinctions such as transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs (like carry, snore, and become, respectively). But there is much more to the intricacies of what must follow a verb.

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The Kingmaker is a movie about Imelda Marcos that snubs earlier documentary

My thrill in seeing Ramona Diaz’s film Imelda (2004), streaming for free online this month, was dampened by the hype surrounding a new film about the former first lady of the Philippines. I was puzzled to read about The Kingmaker (2019) by Lauren Greenfield, touted for its “unprecedented access” (Showtime) by a filmmaker “perfect” for the subject (Variety). Frankly […]

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Polychromy in Greek and Roman sculpture [video]

Coined by archaeologist and architectural theorist Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy, the term “polychromy” has been in use since the early 19th century to denote the presence of any element of colour in Greek and Roman sculpture.

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Seven things you didn’t know could kill you

Medicine has advanced so much over the years, it’s hard to believe that some diseases still exist or don’t have a cure. Commonly known conditions such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease are scary enough, but there are plenty of other conditions that are potentially deadlier.

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An etymological aid to hearing

As promised, I am continuing the series on senses. There have already been posts on feel and taste. To show how hard it may be to discover the origin of some of our most basic words, I have chosen the verb hear. Germanic is here uniform: all the languages of this group have predictable reflexes (continuations) of the ancient form hauzjan.

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How Brexit may have changed Parliament forever

During 2019, the Brexit process has radically changed the dynamics between the prime minister and the House of Commons. Normally the United Kingdom’s government, led by the prime minister and her Cabinet, provides leadership, and drives and implements policy while Parliament exercises control over the government by scrutinising its actions and holding it to account.

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How to communicate with animals

More than ever, humans need to find new ways to connect to other animals. In the United States alone, over 150 million people have a pet. There are over 10,000 zoos worldwide, with each of the larger zoos having several thousand animals. These and millions of other animals rely on humans for their survival. It […]

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Brexit: when psychology and politics clash

With the recent publication of the UK Government’s Yellowhammer document outlining the financial disaster forecasted for Brexit, it would seem reasonable for people who voted to leave the European Union to change their opinions. Psychological research, however, suggests that once people commit to a decision, albeit a bad one, they are reluctant to change their minds. Why do […]

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How birth shapes human existence

Many classic existentialists—Camus, Beauvoir, Heidegger—thought that we should confront our mortality, and that human existence is fundamentally shaped by the fact that we will die. But human beings do not only die; we are also born. Once we acknowledge that birth as well as death shapes human existence, existentialism starts to look different. The outlines of a ‘natal existentialism’ appear.

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Our five senses: taste

Having discussed the origin of the verbs smell (“The sense and essence of smell”) and feel (“Fingers feel, or feel free”), I thought that it might be worthwhile to touch on the etymology of see, hear, and taste. Touch, ultimately of onomatopoeic origin, has been mentioned, though briefly, in one of the earlier posts. I’ll begin the projected series with taste.

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How alternative employment contracts affect low wage workers

Contemporary labour markets are characterised by more atypical or alternative work arrangements. Some of these – like independent contractors – have emerged in the context of self-employment, while others – like zero hours contracts and temporary work – are evolutions of traditional employment contracts.

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How Asia got richer

Two centuries ago, in 1820, Asia accounted for two-thirds of world population and more than one-half of world income. The subsequent decline of Asia was due largely to its integration with the world economy shaped by colonialism and driven by imperialism. By 1962, its share in world income had plummeted to 15%. Even in 1970, […]

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What does ‘Honest to God’ tell us about Britain’s “secular revolution”?

On 17 March 1963, John Robinson, the Anglican bishop of Woolwich, wrote an article for the Observer entitled “Our Image of God Must Go.” He was writing to advertise his new book, Honest to God, which made a deeply controversial argument: that modern Christians would eventually find it necessary to reject classical theism. God Himself, Robinson argued, was causing […]

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