Attempts to take readers from no knowledge about the science of human intelligence to a stage where they are able to make judgements for themselves about some of the key questions about human mental ability differences. Each chapter deals with a central issue, and is structured around a diagram, which is explained in the course of the chapter.
A. C. Grayling's accessible introduction to Wittgenstein's work describes both his early and later philosophy, the differences and connections between them, and gives a fresh assessment of Wittgenstein's continuing influence on contemporary thought.
Arguably, nationality is the most important social phenomenon in the world today. But what is the nation? Why is it so important to human beings? What is its relation to religion and commerce? Steven Grosby shows how closely linked the concept of nationalism is with being human.
How have the Jews survived? For millennia, they have defied odds by overcoming the travails of exile, persecution, and recurring plans for their annihilation. This book charts the long journey of the Jews through history. At the same time, it points to two unlikely factors to explain the survival of the Jews: antisemitism and assimilation.
Few Americans and even fewer citizens of other nations understand the electoral process in the United States. The second edition of this Very Short Introduction offers an up-to-date overview of American political parties and elections, providing an insider's view of how the system actually works while shining a light on some of its flaws.
John C. Maher explains why societies everywhere have become more multilingual, despite the disappearance of hundreds of the world languages. He considers our notion of language as national or cultural identities, and discusses why nations cluster and survive around particular languages even as some territories pursue autonomy or nationhood.
Law touches every aspect of our daily lives, and yet the main concepts, terms, and processes of the legal system remain obscure to many. This Very Short Introduction, in its second edition, provides a lucid, accessible guide to modern legal systems, explaining how the law works across our contemporary digital world.
Clinical psychology treats people who are facing difficulties or changes in their lives. Approaching personal distress as an unhappy outcome of certain ways of thinking, behaving and relating, often occurring within difficult circumstances, practitioners work with people to try and help them change what is distressing or concerning them.
Shakespeare's tragedies contain an astonishing variety of suffering, from suicides and murders to dismemberments and grief. Stanley Wells considers how the bard's tragic plays drew on the literary and theatrical conventions of his time. Discussing the individual plays, he also explores why tragedy is regarded as a fit subject for entertainment.
Fundamentalism is seen as the major threat to world peace today, a conclusion impossible to ignore since the events in New York on September 11 2001. But what is fundamentalism? Malise Ruthven tackles the polemic and stereotypes surrounding this complex phenomenon - one that eludes simple definition, yet urgently needs to be understood.
In the wake of the Eurozone crisis and Brexit the European Union faces difficult questions about its future. In this debate, the law has a central role to play. But what exactly is EU law about? And why do its Member States respect the commitments they made when they signed the treaties so much more effectively than other treaty-based regimes?
What are the origins of the Catholic Church? How has Catholicism changed and adapted over the centuries? What challenges does the Catholic Church face in the twenty-first century? Gerald O'Collins answers these and other questions, and in this new edition considers the impact of Pope Francis' leadership of the Church since 2013.
In this Very Short Introduction to the gene Jonathan Slack explores the discovery, nature, and role of genes in evolution and development. Looking at how genes are understood as a concept, the nature of genetic variation, and how their mutation can lead to disease, this is an ideal guide for anyone curious about what genes are and how they work.
This Very Short Introduction examines Voltaire's (1694-1778) remarkable life and career. Exploring his most important writings, the impact his work had on our understanding of the European Enlightenment, and his status as a literary celebrity at the time, Nicholas Cronk considers his continued relevance in literature, politics, and philosophy.
Computers form a vital part of most people's lives. But what is the nature of the computer? How does it work? What will the next generations of computers look like? Darrel Ince looks at the basic concepts behind all computers; the range of their uses, the effects of computers in the workplace, and novel forms such as quantum computers.
This book tells the story of modern drama through its seminal, groundbreaking plays and performances, and the artistic diversity that these represent. Exploring the new note of artistic hostility between dramatists and their audience, Shepherd-Barr draws on a range of theories and performances to reveal what makes modern drama "modern".
Everyone has an opinion about the core issues of medical law; from clinical negligence and organ transplantation to abortion, confidentiality, and euthanasia - it deals with matters of life and death. Using case studies to explore the key principles, Charles Foster presents a fascinating Very Short Introduction to medical law.
Psychology influences the way we think about everything, from education and intelligence to relationships and advertising. This updated Very Short Introduction by Gillian Butler and Freda McManus provides an exploration of the leadings ideas and theories of psychology for anyone interested in understanding the human mind.
What do we mean by 'tragedy' now? When we turn on the news, does a report of the latest atrocity have any connection with Sophocles and Shakespeare? Addressing questions about belief, blame, revenge, pain, witnessing and ending, this book demonstrates the enduring significance of attempts to understand terrible suffering.
Thomas Hobbes, the first great English political philosopher, has had the reputation of being a pessimistic atheist. This study evaluates Hobbes's philosophy, describing him to have been passionately concerned with the refutation of scepticism, and to have developed a theory of knowledge, which rivalled that of Descartes in its importance.
In this Very Short Introduction, Ritchie Robertson provides the newcomer with an up-to-date and accessible examination of this fascinating author. Beginning with an examination of Kafka's life, he then goes on to discuss some of the major themes that emerge in Kafka's work, using his short story Metamorphosis as a recurring example.
In its heyday in the late 1990s, neoliberalism emerged as the world's dominant economic paradigm. But the global financial crisis of 2008-9 fundamentally shocked a globalized economy built on neoliberal assumptions. This VSI examines the origins, core claims, and considerable variations of neoliberalism with examples from around the world.
In this Very Short Introduction Jonathan A. Brown presents both the Muslim version of Muhammad's life, as well as the efforts of Western scholars to uncover the historical Muhammad. He considers the prominent roles that Muhammad's persona has played in the lives of Muslims throughout history, looking at his life and legacy.
English Literature: A Very Short Introduction discusses why literature matters, how narrative works, and what is distinctly English about English literature. Jonathan Bate considers how we determine the content of the field, and looks at the three major kinds of imaginative literature - English poetry, English drama and The English novel.
Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the best-known and most influential human person in world history. Richard Bauckham explores the life of the historical Jesus, using the four Gospels to reconstruct his character, showing how their differences provide us with an insight into more than one angle of a complex historical figure.
Jennifer Roberts introduces the background and writing of the 5th century Greek thinker and researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who invented the genre of historical investigation. She discusses all aspects of his work, including his fascination with his origins; his travels; his interest in seeing the world; and the recurring themes of his work.
Risk is everywhere - from genetically modified crops, dams, and stem-cell therapy to heartbreak, online predators, inflation, and robbery. This Very Short Introduction examines what science has learned about how people deal with risks, what we can learn through decision theory, and how we can evaluate risk in our own lives.
Civil engineering produces the structures of all human settlements worldwide. In this Very Short Introduction, David Muir Wood demonstrates the nature and importance of civil engineering; not only in the history of civilization and urbanization, but its range of facets today, and its challenges for the future.
Engineering is part of almost everything we do - from the water we drink and the food we eat, to the buildings we live in and the roads and railways we travel on. In this Very Short Introduction, David Blockley explores the nature and practice of engineering, its history, its scope, and its relationship with art, science, and technology.
In this Very Short Introduction, Terence Allen and Graham Cowling describe the nature of cells - their basic structure, their varying forms, their division, their differentiation, their signalling, and programmed death. Cells are the basic constituent of life, and understanding cells and how they work is central to all biology and medicine.
In this Very Short Introduction Jamie Woodward examines the environmental shifts that took place during the Great Ice Age of the Quaternary Period. Looking at evidence from the continents, the oceans, and the ice core records, he explores the evolution of ideas about our geological past, the great debates, and the human stories behind it all.
Spanning the divide between Europe and Asia, Russia is a multi-ethnic empire with a huge territory. In this Very Short Introduction, Geoffrey Hosking discusses all aspects of Russian history, from the struggle by the state to control society, Russia's relationship with the West/Europe, the Soviet experience, and the post-Soviet era.
The Devil has fascinated writers and theologians since the time of the New Testament, and inspired many dramatic and haunting works of art. Today he remains a potent image in popular culture. The Devil: A Very Short Introduction presents an introduction to the Christian Devil through the history of ideas and the lives of real people.
For over a hundred years 'the avant-garde' has been the most influential concept in modern art; its impact on the history of modern culture has been profound. In this Very Short Introduction, David Cottington explores why the avant-garde carries so much authority, and places it within the context of western modernity and capitalist culture.
Magna Carta has long been considered the foundation stone of the British Constitution, yet few people today understand either its contents or its context. With a full English translation of the 1215 charter, Nicholas Vincent introduces the document to a modern audience; explaining its origins and tracing the significance of its role in our history.
In this Very Short Introduction Peter M. Higgins presents an overview of the number types featured in modern science and mathematics. Providing a non-technical account, he explores the evolution of the modern number system, examines the fascinating role of primes, and explains their role in contemporary cryptography.
Organization happens in the act of working with others to accomplish a desired future state. It can happen through intentionally designed activity, spontaneous improvisation, or some combination of the two, but it always requires coordinated effort. This Very Short Introduction provides a lively and thought provoking introduction to the topic.
What do anaesthetists do? How do anaesthetics work? What are the risks? And how does the anaesthetist know if you are really asleep? Anaesthesia is a mysterious and sometimes threatening process. In this Very Short Introduction, Aidan O'Donnell takes the reader on a tour through the whole of the modern anaesthetic practice.
Nuclear power is a highly topical issue and there is widespread debate concerning future energy budgets and how to replace our dependence on fossil fuels. Here, Maxwell Irvine provides an introduction to the nature of nuclear energy, looking at the risks, the relevance of nuclear power, and the potential of nuclear fusion.
Martyrdom is a controversial topic, with a long history of provoking fierce debate. In this Very Short Introduction Jolyon Mitchell provides a historical analysis to understand the contemporary debates surrounding martyrdom. Using examples from a variety of contexts around the world, he explores how it has evolved, and what it means today.
Astrobiologists study the origin and evolution of life on Earth and the possibility of life beyond Earth; a question that has fascinated scientists for hundreds of years. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the latest scientific understanding of astrobiology, incorporating aspects of microbiology, geology, and astronomy.
Where does our conscience come from, and how reliable is it? Exploring its deep historical roots, Paul Strohm considers what conscience has meant to successive generations. Using examples from popular culture and contemporary politics he demonstrates that conscience is as important today as it has ever been.
What is leadership? Are leaders born or bred? How do leaders lead? In this Very Short Introduction, Keith Grint considers these questions, prompting the reader to rethink their understanding of what leadership is. He examines the way leadership has evolved over time and explores how it is perceived, and used, in society today.
The weather affects everyone on Earth, influencing both our day-to-day decisions and long term plans for leisure and work. But the Earth's weather systems are extremely complex, and conditions and events may have an effect 'half a world away'. Storm Dunlop explores the processes at work behind our daily weather.
Among the many laws of science, there are four laws that direct and constrain everything that happens in the Universe. From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas to the unfurling of a leaf they help us understand the course of life itself. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Atkins' explains what the four laws are and how they work.
There are many debates about utopia - What constitutes a utopia? Are utopias benign or dangerous? The idea of utopia has become commonplace in social and political thought, both negatively and positively. This Very Short Introduction explores utopianism, its history, and its role in modern debates.
This Very Short Introduction discusses the nature of planets and gas giants, and their rings and moons. It also looks beyond Pluto, in the Kuiper Belt, at the knowledge we have about planets around other stars. With many striking photos to illustrate the details, it demonstrates the unique world of every planet.