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‘Judging that a certain course of action is irrational is always relative to a host of other contextual considerations’ Photograph: iStock

Different thinkers down the ages have harboured the dream that irrationality can be eradicated. Plato believed the coronation of a philosopher king – (...)

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva: All rights depend upon the existence of an assembly of people to affirm them. Photograph: Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images

The abortion referendum campaign has been characterised by an emphasis on telling people’s stories rather than engaging in theoretical dialogue. That(...)

 Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has reversed the policies he voiced in opposition. Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi

If the function of a parliamentary opposition is to express “loyal dissent”, then many would see the current Syriza-led government of Alexis Tsipras a(...)

Larry David in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’: the ‘cringe comedy’ premiered in 2000

Ludwig Wittgenstein is reputed to have said that a good philosophical work could be written entirely of jokes but by praising humour he was in a mino(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

I have had bad bouts of insomnia in the past, but this one has involved more fretting than the rest. One night last week, deep into the long worry hou(...)

Plans are advanced for a new course at secondary level that provides students with no definite answers and may lead to a “higher state of confusion”. (...)

WB Yeats: unashamedly elevated imagination over rational calculation

‘Rational” is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of WB Yeats. He was a devoted follower of the occult, magic and astrology, and a(...)

Towards light: imagine your life from the standpoint of darkness beyond it. Photograph: Thinkstock

What might life after death look like? Philosopher, novelist and former clinical neuroscientist Raymond Tallis has never been afraid of tackling se(...)

From left, Joe Humphreys chairing the Unthinkable debate, with Cathy Barry, Kevin Mitchell, Siobhán Garrigan and William Reville. Photograph: Alan Betson

Unthinkable took to the road this month for a debate, “Are science and religion really in conflict?” Who won? Was there a knock-down argument t(...)

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, Luxembourg’s finance minister Pierre Gramegna and eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem: forgiveness of debt has been a great boon to Germany. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq

For most of human history the moral opprobrium associated with credit was attached to the lender, not the borrower. Aristotle and Plato poured scorn o(...)

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