Rene Descartes

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Slavoj Žižek: He’s been called the Elvis of cultural theory and the Borat of philosophy. Photograph: Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images

I’m 20 minutes into an interview with Slavoj Žižek when he propositions sex. As a thought experiment, I stress. “Imagine a love encounter. (...)

Prof Emily Thomas: ‘There’s a long history of arguing that armchair travel is better than real-world travel.’

This week normally sees legions of holiday-makers rushing to the ports and airports for an Easter getaway. But that’s all changed. Countless short bre(...)

TCD professor emeritus David Berman: ‘I was about six or seven when I had what is sometimes described as an “I am me” experience.’ Photograph: Dave Meehan

A few weeks ago, this column explored that ancient puzzle “How do you know you actually exist?”, one of the defining questions of philosophy. In doin(...)

If the self is located in the body, Richard Swinburne asks, where exactly can we find it? Photograph: iStock

A timeless question that still awaits a conclusive answer is whether you, in fact, exist. Sure, you think you exist. But where exactly are “you” locat(...)

A French stamp honouring Évariste Galois.

On the morning of May 30th, 1832, a young man stood 25 paces from his friend. Both men fired, but only one pistol was loaded. Évariste Galois, a 20-ye(...)

A spiral has appeared over the past decade or so on the beach between Booterstown station and the Merrion Gates, southeast of Dublin. A sandbank (pictured) has gradually built up, driven by the action of the sea waves, and has assumed a form close to a logarithmic spiral.

We all know what a spiral looks like. Or do we? Ask your friends to describe one and they will probably trace out the form of a spiral staircase. But (...)

Flight plan: the geodesic arcs – one northerly, one southerly – show the shortest routes between Singapore and Quito. They are shorter than the line of the equator between the two points as Earth is not a perfect sphere

Geodesy is the study of Earth’s shape and size, and of variations in its gravitational field. Earth was originally believed to be flat, but many clues(...)

I sometimes tease a certain teenager of my acquaintance when, for example, she looks gloomily into our fridge and asks: “Do we have any, like, food?” 

The inability of most teenagers to complete a sentence without interjecting the work “like” at least once is usually considered a bad habit.  And(...)

Danielle Dutton: Her second novel is a “vibrant rendition of a unique historical figure”. Photograph: Sarah Shatz

With a fondness for fame that would outshine any of today’s X Factor hopefuls, Margaret Lucas Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, took pleasure(...)

Astrology: a tool for interpreting the world? Illustration: Thinkstock

A time traveller from Jesus’s day would be shocked at what has happened to the discipline of astrology. Once ranked as a serious science, it is now a(...)

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