Nothing we can do will make the world more free, fair and prosperous than giving women control over their own bodies

Marchers hold signs that say “Resist Sis” and “Viva La Revolucion” in front of Trump International Hotel on January 19, 2019

By Victoria Bateman

Women’s bodies are one of the biggest political battlegrounds of our time. What should in many ways be personal — a woman’s body — is instead political. The assault ranges from the recent clampdown on family planning in the United States (and its global gag rule prohibiting…


On Nias island, the heart can be ‘squeezed’, ‘hot’, even ‘hairy’. What can anthropology say about unfamiliar emotional zones?

By Andrew Beatty

In his classic thought experiment set out in ‘What Is An Emotion?’ (1884), William James, pioneer psychologist and brother of the novelist Henry, tried to imagine what would be left of emotion if you subtracted the bodily symptoms. What, for example, would grief be ‘without its tears…


Mindfulness promotes itself as value-neutral but it is loaded with (troubling) assumptions about the self and the cosmos

By Sahanika Ratnayake

Three years ago, when I was studying for a Masters in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, mindfulness was very much in the air. The Department of Psychiatry had launched a large-scale study on the effects of mindfulness in collaboration with the university’s counselling service. Everyone I…


Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre defied the gloomy existentialist stereotype. They enjoyed having a good time.

By Skye C Cleary

Existentialism has a reputation for being angst-ridden and gloomy mostly because of its emphasis on pondering the meaninglessness of existence, but two of the best-known existentialists knew how to have fun in the face of absurdity. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre spent a lot of…


We’re opportunistic, inventive and flexible animals, and there is no ‘natural’ or ‘right’ way to bring up our children

By Olga Mecking

Motherhood has never felt natural to me. I wasn’t very good at understanding my babies’ needs or what their cries meant, something that other parents seemed to know without giving it too much thought. ‘She’s just tired,’ they would say. Or: ‘This sound means he’s hungry.’ …


The backlash against antidepressants results from a suspicion of medicine, and misunderstands the very nature of depression

By Vasco M Barreto

I was first prescribed antidepressants in 2000. Ever since, I have been on and off these drugs, mostly because the idea of taking them made me uncomfortable. It was a mixture of guilt, probably not unlike the guilt some athletes must feel for taking a prohibited…


Across time and place, royal women wielded power in remarkably similar ways, building political agency on a par with kings

By Laura Spinney

Eleanor of Aquitaine is often portrayed as one of the most powerful queens in history. Wife, mother and counsellor of kings, crusader, landowner, patron of the arts, her power eventually grew so great — at least in the eyes of one royal husband, Henry II of England…


Mother Nature might be lovely, but moral she is not. She doesn’t love us or want what’s best for us.

By Molly Hodgdon

To live in Vermont is to be smothered by nature’s beauty on a daily basis. Everywhere you look is another peaceful pond, another shimmering lake or emerald hill or misty field graced by a family of grazing deer. …


A cat is alive, a sofa is not: that much we know. But a sofa is also part of life. Information theory tells us why.

By Sara Walker and Michael Lachmann

On a sofa in the corner of the room, a cat is purring. It seems obvious that the cat is an example of life, whereas the sofa itself is not. But should we trust our intuition? Consider this: Isaac Newton assumed a universal time…


If psychedelic substances are a portal to ultimate reality, why have they been the preserve of white, college-educated men?

By Mike Jay

A recent study of users of novel psychedelic substances found, probably to no-one’s surprise, that they are more likely than average to be male, white and college-educated. This has been the public face of psychedelic culture ever since it emerged more than half a century ago. All…

Aeon Magazine

Aeon asks the big questions and finds the freshest, most original answers, provided by leading thinkers on science, philosophy, society and the arts.

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