Category Archives: Philosophy

In praise of lightness – Calvino’s Leggerezza.

The Italian writer, Italo Calvino, was invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University in 1985 but died before he was able to deliver them. Luckily, we have the text of 5 of these 6 planned lectures … Continue reading

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Knowledge-rich and skills-rich

We can learn a lot from the telly. Skills competitions like ‘Bake Off’ and ‘Strictly’ and quiz shows like ‘University Challenge’ and ‘Mastermind’ are among the most popular programmes on TV. These shows fall into two main camps, reflecting a … Continue reading

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Edgar Morin on ‘Thinking Global’.

How do we understand the difference between the behaviour of an individual and that of a society, between a small group of like-minded people and a political movement or between the ecosystem of a few acres and that of a … Continue reading

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Theodore Zeldin on ‘what is worth knowing?’

What is worth knowing? It’s a good question, given how much there is to know and the impossibility of knowing more than a tiny fraction of the total. Theodore Zeldin’s latest collection of essays, ‘The hidden pleasures of life’ (Quercus, 2015) … Continue reading

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What is Social Capital?

The Economy of Ideas #5 What is social capital? “Connections among individuals; social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.” Robert Putnam (b. 1941) Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community (2001) The American … Continue reading

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Capital as metaphor

The economy of ideas #4 We talk about social capital, cultural capital, creative capital, even ‘emotional capital’. It seems that capital can stand in for almost every human capacity. Why is this? Given its role as a real currency, it’s … Continue reading

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The global economy of care.

The economy of ideas #3. Is there a limit to how much we can care about others? Is it natural that we should care more about those who are closest to us? Is it in our nature to ‘look after … Continue reading

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