Philosophy

The scroll is part of a vast library found in the ancient town of Herculaneum.

Three Students Just Deciphered the First Passages of a 2,000-Year-Old Scroll Burned in Vesuvius' Eruption

The trio used artificial intelligence to decode sections of the text, which appear to be a philosophical exploration of pleasure

Icaria was guided by a single principle: “to each following his needs, from each following his strengths,” as Cabet put it.

The 19th-Century Novel That Inspired a Communist Utopia on the American Frontier

The Icarians thought they could build a paradise, but their project was marked by failure almost from the start

The letter “x” often symbolizes something unknown, with an air of mystery that can be appealing.

A Brief History of the Letter 'X,' From Algebra to X-Mas to Elon Musk

A math historian explores how "x" came to stand in for an unknown quantity

Scientists have long debated how we perceive the absence of sound waves hitting our ears.

We Can Hear Silence Like a Sound, Scientists Say

In a study, participants were tricked by "silence illusions" in the same way that illusions with sound fool the brain

At the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Vivekananda presented a paternal, all-inclusive vision of India that made America seem young and provincial.

The Indian Guru Who Brought Eastern Spirituality to the West

A new biography explores the life of Vivekananda, a Hindu ascetic who promoted a more inclusive vision of religion

“The Great Divide” explores how ideas that came to the fore during the Enlightenment at once blurred social hierarchies and reinforced them, particularly along lines of gender and race. 

These 18th-Century Shoes Underscore the Contradictions of the Age of Enlightenment

An exhibition at Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum examines fashion's role in supporting social hierarchies that emerged during the landmark intellectual movement

Max Brod, a fellow writer and the literary executor of Kafka's estate, preserved the newly digitized collection of letters, manuscripts and drawings.

You Can Now Explore an Unseen Trove of Franz Kafka's Personal Papers Online

The National Library of Israel has digitized a rare collection of the "Metamorphosis" author's letters, drawings and manuscripts

The statue's base is engraved with a quote from Wollstonecraft: “I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.”

Nude Statue Honoring 'Mother of Feminism' Mary Wollstonecraft Sparks Controversy

The artist says the sculpture depicts an everywoman, reflecting the 18th-century philosopher's continuing relevance today

Herbert Spencer introduced the phrase "survival of the fittest" in his 1864 book, Principles of Biology.

The Complicated Legacy of Herbert Spencer, the Man Who Coined 'Survival of the Fittest'

Spencer's ideas laid the groundwork for social Darwinism, but scholars say there was much more to the Victorian Age thinker than that

Jeremy Bentham's auto-icon is now on display in a glass case in University College London's Student Centre.

English Philosopher's Dressed-Up Skeleton Goes on View in New Glass Display

When utilitarian thinker Jeremy Bentham died in 1832, he requested his preserved remains be displayed in "an appropriate box or case"

The 1966 Honda CB77, or Super Hawk, that Robert Pirsig rode on his 1968 trip from Minnesota to California that inspired the book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

The Cycle From 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Comes to the Smithsonian

The 1966 Honda Super Hawk featured in Robert Pirsig’s book on values was recently acquired by the National Museum of American History

One of the scrolls being scanned by the Diamond Light Source and digitally deciphered.

Light Billions of Times Brighter Than the Sun Used to Read Charred Scrolls From Herculaneum

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. carbonized papyrus scrolls, which may now be readable

Unknown John Locke Manuscript Found at a College in Maryland

Written well before the philosopher wrote his seminal treatise on the subject, the text discusses religious tolerance

'A Clockwork Orange' Follow-Up Found in Burgess Archives

'The Clockwork Condition' was intended to be a philosophical examination of themes raised in his most popular and problematic novel

Smithsonian.com's Chief Digital Officer Shares His Favorite Books of the Year

Our own William Allman describes the 2018 titles he found to be the most enjoyable and eye-opening reads

A famous Enlightenment era writer and philosopher, Voltaire made a splash with his first play, Oedipe.

How Voltaire Went from Bastille Prisoner to Famous Playwright

Three hundred years ago this week, the French philosopher and writer began his career with a popular retelling of Sophocles' 'Oedipus'

Saturated invites visitors to contemplate the essence of color, and the fascinating ways in which different hues interact.

How Newton, Goethe, an Ornithologist and a Board Game Designer Helped Us Understand Color

A new exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum explores the kaleidoscope of figures who shaped color theory

After the 1943 publication of Ayn Rand's book "The Fountainhead," she amassed a cult-like following that spread her message far and wide.

The Literary Salon That Made Ayn Rand Famous

Seventy-five years after the publishing of ‘The Fountainhead’, a look back at the public intellectuals who disseminated her Objectivist philosophy

French philosopher Michael Foucault in a studio during a radio broadcast in Paris, France, on December 16, 1981.

Unfinished Volume of Foucault’s ‘History of Sexuality’ Released in France

Foucault did not want the work to be published posthumously, but his family and heirs decided that the time had come for the book to be released

Why a Collection of Simone de Beauvoir’s Love Letters Was Just Sold to Yale

The 112 letters were written to filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, who had a seven-year relationship with the French philosopher

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