Utilitarianism is one of the most important and influential secular philosophies of modern times, and has drawn considerable debate and controversy. This Very Short Introduction considers its origins, its relevance to modern moral challenges, and the arguments and discussions around utilitarian approaches.
Our oceans are hugely important, as a source of food and mineral wealth, as an environment for a vast variety of wildlife, for the role they play in climate regulation, and as part of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements critical to life. Dorrik Stow explores what we know about how oceans originate and are maintained.
Politics, economics, ideology, culture, strategy, tactics, and philosophy have all shaped war, but none of these factors has driven the evolution of warfare as much as technology. Expanding on this compelling thesis, this Very Short Introduction traces the co-evolution of technology and war from the Stone Age to the age of cyberwar and nanotechnology.
Molecular Biology lies at the heart of all life sciences. This Very Short Introduction provides an account of the development of this important modern field, and considers its modern day applications such as the development of new drugs, genetically modified crops, and forensic science.
This Very Short Introduction describes the key threads in the history of Sikhism, from the late 15th century to the present day. It examines the development of a distinct Sikh identity, and explores Sikhism's meanings and myths, the teachings these embody, and its practices, rituals, and festivals.
Thinking is the essence of what it means to be human and defines us more than anything else as a species. Jonathan Evans explores cognitive psychological approaches to understanding the nature of thinking and reasoning, problem solving, and decision making.
David Norman discusses some of the most fascinating and iconic creatures to walk our Earth. Introducing the different famillies of dinosaurs, he discusses how they were first discovered and interpreted, and looks at how scientific break-throughs have changed our understanding of dinosaurs over the years.
This book describes the key threads in the history of Sikhism, from the late 15th century to the present day. It examines the development of a distinct Sikh identity, and explores the meaning of Sikhism - its teachings, practices, rituals, and festivals.
In this Very Short Introduction Geoffrey Nowell-Smith defines the field of cinema, and explores its fascinating history within the cultural and aesthetic sphere. Considering the influences of the other art forms from which it arose, he looks at how technological advances have opened up new horizons for the cinema industry.
North American Indigenous literature reaches back thousands of years to when the continent's original inhabitants first circled fires and shared tales. Sean Teuton tells its story, from when oral narrative first inspired Indigenous writers in English, through their later adaptations of the novel to serve creative and political needs.
Some of our most burning questions surround consciousness: What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Is consciousness itself an illusion? The rapid rate of developments in brain science continues to open up debate on these issues. This book clarifies the complex arguments and illuminates the major theories on consciousness.
Freemasonry is one of the oldest and most widespread voluntary organizations in the world. Andreas OEnnerfors sorts the facts from the colourful fictions surrounding this organization and outlines how the organization works, its rituals and symbols, its values, and the work it does in modern society.
India has become one of the world's emerging powers, rivaling China in terms of global influence. Yet people still know relatively little about the cultural changes unfolding in India today. Craig Jeffrey looks at the history of India, and considers the questions and challenges facing it today, informed by the everyday stories of Indian citizens.
Michael Beaney introduces analytic philosophy by exploring some of the key ideas of Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Susan Stebbing. He also considers how analytic philosophy has developed and spread to become the dominant philosophical tradition across the world.
Graham Priest shows that formal logic is a powerful, exciting part of modern philosophy - a tool for thinking about everything from the existence of God and the reality of time to paradoxes of probability. Explaining formal logic in simple, non-technical terms, this edition includes new sections on mathematical algorithms, axioms, and proofs.
o How do nations escape poverty and achieve economic and social progress? Ian Goldin, a former vice-president of the World Bank, explains what development means in its broadest sense - encompassing education, health, and gender equality as well as economic growth. He discusses the shift from state-led strategies, to ones driven by market forces.
Decadence: A Very Short Introduction provides an elegant overview of the culture of decadence - defined as the artistic expression of a conflicted sense of modernity - by tracing its origin in ancient Rome, development in nineteenth-century Paris and London, manifestation in early twentieth-century Vienna and Berlin, and present resonance in contemporary life.
This Very Short Introduction explores the thousand-year history of the Holy Roman Empire, from its origins in 800 as Charlemagne's Frankish kingdom, to its destruction by Napoleon. Throughout, Joachim Whaley analyses the empire's crucial impact and role in the history of European power and politics.
Fully updated to include the migrant crisis, the UK's decision to leave the Union, and the state of the Euro currency, this accessible Very Short Introduction shows how and why the EU has developed, how its institutions works, and what it does - from the single market to the Euro, and from agriculture to peace-keeping and the environment.
Marx is one of the most influential philosophers of all time, whose theories about society, economics, and politics have shaped and directed political and social thought for 150 years. In this new edition, Peter Singer discusses the legacy and impact of Marx's core theories, considering how they apply to twenty first century politics and society.
In this Very Short Introduction Simon Yarrow explores sainthood, sanctity, and the lives of saints themselves. Explaining their social, cultural, and political roles through history, he considers them as forms of literary and artistic expression, and concludes by looking at their relevance in the modern world.
Reading can inform, inspire, emancipate, and motivate us. Down the centuries, it has brought huge educational and social benefits. It can also unleash subversion, and its spread has been accompanied by censorship and control. Belinda Jack explores the global development and impact of reading - from ancient texts to digital texts today.
Martin Heidegger is one of the twentieth century's greatest yet most enigmatic and divisive philosophers. Michael Inwood explores the major themes of Heidegger's seminal work, Being and Time, as well his later thought and association with Nazism.
From folk music to worldbeat, world music holds the power to evoke the exotic and give voice to the voiceless. This new edition shows how dramatic political changes are affecting the ways in which people produce and listen to world music, and addresses how new technologies and the internet alter the way we disseminate and listen to it.
Encompassing everything from great power politics to everyday objects such as smart phones, geopolitics affects citizens, governments, and international bodies, and is far more than simply the impact of geographical features on political developments. This book considers both geopolitics' intellectual historical origins and its current concerns.
Foucault is one of those rare philosophers who has become a cult figure. From aesthetics to the penal system; from madness and civilisation to avant-garde literature, he rejected old models of thinking and replaced them with versions that are still debated today. This book introduces and explores aspects of his life, work, and thought.
The study of human evolution is advancing rapidly. New fossil evidence is adding ever more pieces to the puzzle of our past; the new science of ancient DNA is completely reshaping theories of early human populations and migrations. Bernard Wood traces the field of palaeoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the present.
Drawing on the latest scientific research, from anthropology and psychology to neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Evans takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart, discussing the evolution of emotions and their biological basis, the science of happiness, and the role that emotions play in memory and decision making.
Christopher Taylor introduces the life and philosophy of Socrates, whose work has played a central role in shaping Western philosophical thinking for centuries. Examining what we can deduce about Socrates from the writings of his contemporaries (as he himself left none), Taylor traces the reception and influence of his thought to the modern day.
Quentin Skinner introduces Niccolo Machiavelli, Florentine diplomat, politician, and the writer known for that most infamous Early Modern work, The Prince. He explores Machiavelli's theory of princely virtu, tracing its roots in ancient historians and moralists, and considering its influence on contemporary politics.
William Doyle chronicles the unfolding events of the French Revolution, from the quarrels of the first revolutionaries with the king, to the Terror, to the rise of Napoleon. Considering how and why the revolution destroyed the age-old cultural, institutional, and social structures in France, Doyle also explores its lasting effects today.
Eric R. Scerri presents a modern and fresh exploration of this fundamental topic in the physical sciences, considering the deeper implications of the arrangements of the table to atomic physics and quantum mechanics. This new edition celebrates the completion of the 7th period of the table, with the naming of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118
This book presents an introduction to one of the most important treaties ever written, the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I in 1919. Controversial from the very beginning, the treaty still shapes the destinies of societies and states worldwide.
This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of federalism, from its origins and evolution to the key events and constitutional decisions that have defined its framework. While primary focus is on the United States, other federal systems, including Brazil, Canada, India, Germany, South Africa, Russia, and the EU, are addressed.
Nazi Germany may have only lasted for 12 years, but it has left a legacy that still echoes with us today. This book discusses the emergence and appeal of the Nazi party, the relationship between consent and terror in securing the regime, the role played by Hitler himself, and the dark stains of war, persecution, and genocide left by Nazi Germany.
Jenny Hartley introduces Charles Dickens's life and works, looking at the vitality of his characters and the energy which surges through his writing. Examining the themes running through his books, she considers the institutions which influenced his work (such as the workhouse) and looks at his critique of nineteenth century society.
Nazi concentration camps are by no means the only examples of these 'extreme institutions'; Dan Stone sets out the fuller story, from the Boer War to Bosnia. He shows how different regimes have used concentration camps at times of crisis to control populations that appeared threatening, and examines their role in consciousness and identity.
The three centuries following the conquests of Alexander were perhaps the most thrilling of all periods of ancient history. Culture, ideas, and individuals travelled freely over vast areas from the Rhone to the Indus, whilst dynasts battled for dominion over Alexander's great empire. Thonemann presents a brief history of this globalized world.
Secularism, the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education, is an increasingly hot topic in global public, political, and religious debates. Andrew Copson tells the story of secularism, discussing secular republics and the challenges they can face from resurgent religious identity politics.
Synaethesia is a neurological condition that gives rise to a 'merging of the senses': those with the condition might experience certain numbers as a specific colour, or certain words as a taste. Simner describes synaesthesia's many forms, discusses its links with artistic creativity and lateral thinking, and delves into the underlying neuroscience.
Applied mathematics plays a role in many different fields, especially the sciences and engineering. Goriely explains its nature and its relationship to pure mathematics, and through a variety of applications - such as mathematical modelling to predict the effects of climate change - he illustrates its power in tackling very practical problems.
Adam Sharr tells the story of how modern architecture developed and produced its powerful cultural images. Considering the new building materials and techniques which shaped the movement, such as innovations in steel and concrete and the advent of air conditioning, he concludes by asking whether contemporary architecture remains modern at heart.
Stoicism is two things: a long past philosophical school of ancient Greece and Rome, and an enduring philosophical movement that still inspires people in the twenty-first century to re-think and re-organize their lives in order to achieve personal satisfaction. Brad Inwood presents the long history that connects these.
Now a vital part of modern economies, the rapid growth of the finance industry in recent decades is largely due to the development of mathematical methods such as the theory of arbitrage. Asset valuation, credit trading, and fund management, now depend on these mathematical tools. Mark Davis explains the theories and their applications.
Albert Camus is one of the best known philosophers of the twentieth century, as well as a widely read novelist. This book contextualises Camus in his troubled and conflicted times, and analyses the enduring popularity of his major philosophical and literary works in connection with contemporary political, social, and cultural issues.
Despite the fascination with psychopaths in film, TV, and novels, psychopathy remains widely misunderstood. Most psychopaths are not murderers; most violent criminals are not psychopaths. Separating myth from fact, Essi Viding explores how we identify psychopaths, why they behave and develop the way they do, and whether treatment is possible.
Methodism began as renewal movement within Anglicanism in the eighteenth century, dominated the Protestant landscape of the USA in the nineteenth, and continues to be one of the most vibrant forms of Christianity worldwide today. William J Abraham traces its history, describes its particular identity and emphases, and looks to its future prospects.