articles by Aeon


Dystopian fiction offers lessons in fighting injustice, but genre's proliferation can encourage violent rhetoric, action

Responses to dystopian fiction suggest that people might be more inclined to draw ‘political life lessons’ from a narrative about an imaginary political world than from fact-based reporting about the real world.


The problem with 'do what you love': The perils of allowing Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualisation to shape careers

While work can be meaningful and pleasurable, we should think carefully before accepting managerial ideas of fulfilment through work, because they risk detracting from the economic and social structures that govern work.


In a democracy, the importance of voting with a view for collective benefit

Elections are cooperative ventures and the rationality of participating in them depends on more than an individual-level cost-benefit analysis of the effort involved in each pull of a voting-machine lever or crossing of a ballot paper. An individual’s true interest in voting is inextricably intertwined with the interests of the polity as a whole.


'Stalin jokes': How humour helped relieve tension, cope with harsh realities in a repressive regime

We laugh in the darkest times, not because humour can change our circumstances, but because it can always change how we feel about them. Jokes never mean only one thing, and the hidden story of political humour under Stalin is far more nuanced than a simple struggle between repression and resistance.


The meaning to life? A Darwinian existentialist has his answers

When I meet my nonexistent God, I shall say to Him: ‘God, you gave me talents and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun using them. Thank you.’


Do we possess our possessions or do they possess us?

Human acquisition of possessions often surpass functionality. With perspectives from psychology and evolutionary biology, an attempt to deconstruct the value of possessions and how our identity is tied to the things we own.


Science is deeply imaginative: Why is this treated as a closely guarded secret?

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."


Meritocracy, an assessment based on praise and blame, reflects existing hierarchies of power, status

To criticise our praise for the wealthy and powerful as excessive inevitably raises the question of meritocracy. To what extent do we live in a meritocracy, and is that a good or a bad thing?


What a 70-deer-tooth necklace tells us about the lives of our Ice Age ancestors

Around 19,000 years ago in France, an adult woman was buried with a necklace made of 70 red-deer teeth.


Hamburg Open: World No 5 Alexander Zverev eliminated from hometown tournament day after split from coach Ivan Lendl

Zverev trailed 3-1 in the third set before coming back to lead 5-4 with two match points but Basilashvili clinched his spot in the final against Russia's Andrey Rublev who defeated Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.


Muslim tradition of sci-fi and speculative fiction has thrived despite being overlooked by most Western readers

Exploring the Muslim tradition of sci-fi and speculative fiction shows that pondering fantastical technologies, imagining utopian social arrangements, and charting the blurry boundaries between mind, machine and animal, are not the sole preserve of the West


Eleanor of Aquitaine to Lady Hao, what big history says about how royal women exercise power

Anthropologist Paula Sabloff has compared the roles and political clout of royal women in eight premodern societies spanning five continents and more than 4,000 years in a recently published paper


Forced sex fantasies and rape culture: What does one have to do with the other?

How can the many women who experience rape fantasies, but reject rape culture, reconcile their erogeny and ideology, especially in an era of heightened cultural scrutiny?


Why we dance: Studies increasingly indicate the reason is closely tied in with human evolution

Time and again, researchers are discovering the vital role played by bodily movement (such as in dance) not only in the evolution of the human species, but in the present-day social and psychological development of healthy individuals.


Protecting the natural world with human-style rights is wrongheaded, exclusionary

There are certain dangers in using human rights to capture & represent the interests of the nonhuman.


Modern technology is akin to Vedanta metaphysics, and society may be better placed than ever to grasp its insights

Thanks to our growing familiarity with computing, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), ‘modern’ societies are now better placed than ever to grasp the insights of Vedanta tradition.


How to end extremism: In an increasingly polarised world, good arguments and an ability to listen can spell hope

By exchanging reasons in the form of arguments, we show each other respect and come to understand each other better


In an age of fast-paced technologies, attention is not a resource but a way of being alive to the world

The ‘attention economy’ is a phrase that’s often used to make sense of what’s going on: it puts our attention as a limited resource at the centre of the informational ecosystem, with our various alerts and notifications locked in a constant battle to capture it.


Love in a time of migrants: Rethinking arranged marriages and the dismissiveness of cultures

Can choosing an arranged marriage be the act of a free person, and does that person then feel with as much depth as those who met through a friend, or at college, or via a dating app?