Feb 21, 2021
Is social mobility possible or even desirable in Britain today? In a timely polemic, an Oxford historian sets out her egalitarian vision
Although no book published when bookshops are closed can be said to be well-timed, the historian Selina Todd’s Snakes and Ladders arrives at a moment of particular relevance. Just when society feels as if it has ground to a halt, Todd looks at what she calls in her subtitle the Great British social mobility myth.
Of course the fact of social mobility is not a myth. As Todd shows, at various times over the past century or more there have been significant surges in dynamic social movement. In the postwar years, for example, there was a large expansion in the managerial class as industry modernised. Continue reading...
Nov 09, 2020
From the underrated octopus to Dante, the Italian physicist fuses his deep knowledge of science and the arts
We live in a golden age of science writing, where weighty subjects such as quantum mechanics, genetics and cell theory are routinely rendered intelligible to mass audiences. Nonetheless, it remains rare for even the most talented science writers to fuse their work with a deep knowledge of the arts.
One such rarity is the Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli who, like some intellectual throwback to antiquity, treats the sciences and the humanities as complementary areas of knowledge and is a subtle interpreter of both. His best-known work is Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, which was a bestseller, most notably in Italy, where he is also well known for his erudite articles in newspapers such as Corriere della Sera. Continue reading...
Aug 11, 2020
A study of bunker sites and the people preparing for the worst couldn’t be better timed
When we refer to someone as having a “bunker mentality” we usually mean they are so stuck in their ways that they’re unable to look around and see the world for what it is. But is it possible that the rational response to the state of the world is to retreat into a bomb-proof, virus-free bunker? Continue reading...
Jul 26, 2020
A philosopher’s contribution to saving the world is welcome but requires a huge leap of faith
There is much talk these days about decolonising – statues, buildings, curricula. All of that has to do with legacies of the past, but there is also a growing discussion among environmentalists about decolonising the future.
The idea is that colonised people are those who are denied representation and, as future generations have no say in the decisions taken today that will later affect them, they are effectively colonised by our present actions. Continue reading...