What are our human rights? What are their philosophical justifications and historical origins? Focusing on highly topical issues such as torture, arbitrary detention, privacy, and discrimination, this Very Short Introduction discusses the controversies and complexities behind these vitally relevant issues.
Forests have been entwined with human development and cultural history for centuries. In this Very Short Introduction Jaboury Ghazoul explores their origins, dynamics, and the range of goods and services they provide to human society, as well as looking at issues of deforestation, reforestation, and the effects of climate change.
The Industrial Revolution was one of the great, transforming events of world history. Robert C. Allen explains what happened during this period, and why. He asks why the revolution occured in Britain rather than other countries, and looks at the impact of changing technology and business organizations on contemporary social structures.
An understanding of the structure and function of the human body is vital for anyone studying the medical and health sciences. In this Very Short Introduction Leslie Klenerman provides a clear and accessible overview of the main systems of the human anatomy, illustrated with a number of clear explanatory diagrams.
This Very Short Introduction explores the science of sound and its nature, hearing and harmony. Considering sound we can't hear, the author also covers different sound worlds, as well as noise and its reduction.
The Celts have long been a subject of enormous fascination, speculation, and misunderstanding. This title seeks to reveal this fascinating people, exploring subjects such as trade, migration, and the evolution of Celtic traditions, and examining such characters as St Patrick, Cu Chulainn, and Boudica.
Do you think of atheists as immoral pessimists who live their lives without meaning, purpose, or values? Think again! Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral.
Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Camus were some of the most important existentialist thinkers. This book provides an account of the existentialist movement, and of the themes of individuality, free will, and personal responsibility which make it a 'philosophy as a way of life'.
What is socialism? Does it have a future, or has it become an outdated ideology in the 21st century? Michael Newman examines and explains the successes and failures of modern socialism, taking an international perspective, and discussing its evolution from the 19th century to the present day.
Although the great historic imperial systems have collapsed during the past, their legacies shape almost every aspect of life on a global scale. What has replaced the old territorial empires in world politics? Do the United States and its allies - the forces of 'globalization', constitute a new imperial system?
An account of the history of the doctrine and practice of democracy, from ancient Greece and Rome through the American, French, and Russian revolutions, and of the usages and practices associated with it in the modern world. This book argues that democracy is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for good governance.
Who or what is God? In this Very Short Introduction John Bowker considers questions like these. Exploring how the major religions interpret the idea of God, and have established their own distinctive beliefs about God's existence, Bowker shows how and why our understanding of God continues to evolve.
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55), one of the original thinkers of the nineteenth century, wrote on religious, psychological, and literary themes. This book shows how Kierkegaard developed his views in emphatic opposition to prevailing opinions. It provides an introduction by showing how Kiekegaard has influenced contemporary thought.
Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) is acknowledged to be a great writer on war. Even though he wrote his work at a time when the range of firearms was fifty yards, much of what he had to say remains relevant. This book explains his ideas in terms of his experiences as a soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, and of the intellectual background of his time.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) is one of the most famous and important philosophers of the twentieth century. In this account of his life and work A. C. Grayling introduces both his technical contributions to logic and philosophy, and his wide-ranging views on education, politics, war, and sexual morality.
Schopenhauer is the most readable of German philosophers. This book gives a succinct explanation of Schopenhauer's metaphysical system, concentrating on the original aspects of thought which inspired thinkers such as Nietzsche, Wagner, Freud, and Wittgenstein. It aims to reveal him as a challenging, progressive, and highly influential thinker.
Ideology is one of the most controversial terms in the political vocabulary, inciting both revulsion and inspiration. This book explains why ideologies deserve respect as a major form of political thinking, without which we cannot make sense of the political world. It also explores the changing understandings of ideology as a concept.
As well as being a remarkable statesman, Nelson Mandela has become a universal symbol of justice, a secular saint. Elleke Boehmer examines not only the great anti-apartheid leader's life, but also the ways in which images and representations have been used to create the Mandela we know today - an internationally recognized icon of freedom.
This book explores what it means to be rational in a variety of contexts, from personal decisions to those affecting large groups of people. It introduces ideas from economics, philosophy, and other areas, showing how the theory applies to particular situations such as gambling and the allocation of resources.
From prehistoric times to the origins of astrophysics in the mid nineteenth century, this title offers an introduction to the history of Western astronomy. It focuses on topics as the merging of Babylonian and Greek astronomy in later Antiquity, Kepler's conversion of astronomy into a branch of dynamics, and the explorations of the universe.
Exploring the geological research, this title explains how advances in the understanding of plate tectonics, seismology, and satellite imagery have enabled us to see the Earth for what it is. It introduces the concepts of continental drift, the earth's structure, sea floor spreading, and the relationship between the atmosphere and the oceans.
Postmodernism has been a buzzword of contemporary society for the last decade. But how can it be defined? In this Very Short Introduction Christopher Butler challenges and explores the key ideas of postmodernists, and their engagement with theory, literature, the visual arts, film, architecture, and music.
Intended for those interested in the African continent and the diversity of human history, this work looks at Africa's past and reflects on the changing ways it has been imagined and represented. It illustrates key themes in modern thinking about Africa's history with a range of historical examples.
In simple language, without mathematics, this book explains the strange and exciting ideas that make the subatomic world so different from the world of the every day. It offers the general reader access to one of the greatest discoveries in the history of physics and one of the oustanding intellectual achievements of the twentieth century.
Interest in citizenship has never been higher. But what does it mean to be a citizen in a modern, complex community? Richard Bellamy approaches the subject of citizenship from a political perspective and, in clear and accessible language, addresses the complexities behind this highly topical issue.
Explores the range of media employed by both Dada and Surrealism, whilst at the same time establishing the aesthetic differences between the movements. This book also examines the Dadaist obsession with the body-as-mechanism in relation to the Surrealists' return to the fetishized/eroticized body.
This wide-ranging exploration of the Renaissance sees the period as a time of unprecedented intellectual excitement and cultural experimentation and interaction on a global scale. It guides the reader through the key issues that defined the period, from art, architecture, and literature, to advances in science, trade and travel.
Photographs are an integral part of our daily lives - from snapshots and tabloid newspapers to art photography in galleries and exhibitions. Edwards combines a sense of the historical development of photography with an insightful analysis of its purpose and meaning within a wider cultural context.
Explores the place and importance of literature in Russian culture. How and when did a Russian national literature come into being? What shaped its creation? How have the Russians regarded their literary language? This book uses the figure of Pushkin, 'the Russian Shakespeare', as an example.
Explores the issues and debates about Northern Ireland in the historical context of hundreds of years of conflict. This book tackles many questions, such as: what accounts for the perpetuation of ethnic and religious conflict in Ireland? Why has armed violence proven so hard to control? And, who are the major figures and issues in the conflict?
Covers topics such as foreign policy, the world economy, and globalization, showing how many disciplines come together in the study of international events. This book explains the theories underlying the subject of International Relations and uses them to investigate issues of foreign policy, arms control, the environment, and world poverty.
Roland Barthes was the leading figure of French Structuralism, the theoretical movement of the 1960s which revolutionized the study of literature and culture, as well as history and psychoanalysis. But Barthes was a man who disliked orthodoxies. This book surveys Barthes' work in prose.
How, when, and why did the Cold War begin? What impact did it have on the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, and the Third World? Finally, what difference did it make to the history of the second half of the twentieth century? This overview of the Cold War aims to invite debate and encourage investigation.
This highly original and sophisticated look at architecture helps us to understand the cultural significance of the buildings that surround us. It avoids the traditional style-spotting approach in favour of giving an idea of what it is about buildings that moves us, and what it is that makes them important artistically and culturally.
Poststructuralism changes the way we understand the relations between human beings, their culture, and the world. Culture invests us with agency and choice, but also limits the possibilities. But the cultural script is not fixed, so we can intervene to increase the options. This introduction explains how, with illustrations from art and culture.
This clear and concise new introduction examines all the major debates and issues using a wide range of well-known examples. Importantly, this book explains how the traditional emphasis on periods and styles originates in western art production and can obscure other approaches, as well as art from non-western cultures.
Many people regard Hegel's work as obscure and extremely difficult, yet his importance and influence are universally acknowledged. Peter Singer eliminates any excuse for remaining ignorant of the outlines of Hegel's philosophy by providing a broad discussion of his ideas and an account of his major works.
Rousseau was both a central figure of the European Enlightenment and its most formidable critic. This study of his works, across a range of disciplines, shows how his thinking and writing were inspired by an ideal of humanity's self-realization in a condition of unfettered freedom.
Focusing on dreaming to explain the mechanisms of sleep, the author explores how the new science of dreaming affects theories in psychoanalysis, and how it is helps the understanding of the causes of mental illness. He investigates his own dreams to illustrate and explain some of the discoveries of modern sleep science.
Focuses on the philosophy and argument of Plato's writings, drawing the reader into Plato's way of doing philosophy and the general themes of his thinking. This work discusses his style of writing: his use of the dialogue form, his use of what we call fiction, and his philosophical transformation of myths.
Since the mid-19th century crime fiction has been one of the most popular sub-genres of the novel. In this Very Short Introduction, Richard Bradford explores its origins and the features that define its varied style. He considers its role in popular culture around the world and considers why its classification as 'literature' is still ambiguous.
In this Very Short Introduction, John Holland presents an introduction to the science of complexity. Using examples from biology and economics, he shows how complexity science models the behaviour of complex systems.
In this book John Marenbon discusses the extraordinary breadth of medieval philosophy as written by Christians in Greek and Latin, Muslims in Arabic and by Jews in Hebrew, from c. 500 to c. 1550. He considers important factors such as where and when it took place, its social setting and its links with religion.
Drawing on a mixture of science and history, Prof Lord John Krebs looks at the development of food and the four great transitions that affected the way we eat. From issues such as the obesity crisis and sustainable agriculture to food scares and the role of new technologies, Krebs provides a fascinating exploration of the history of human food.
Do we love someone for their virtue, their beauty, or their moral or other qualities? Are love's characteristic desires altruistic or selfish? Are there duties of love? What do the sciences tell us about love? In this Very Short Introduction, Ronald de Sousa explores the different kinds of love, from affections to romantic love.
William Allan's Very Short Introduction provides a concise and lively guide to the major authors, genres, and periods of classical literature. Drawing upon a wealth of material, he reveals just what makes the 'classics' such masterpieces and why they continue to influence and fascinate today.
Adolescence can be a turbulent period. Encompassing both classic and modern research, Smith explores its cultural and historical context, the biological changes to the adolescent brain, and the difficulties - the search for identity, relationship changes, risk-taking and anti-social behaviours - that adolescence brings.
Since the end of the Cold war, the international security agenda has become increasingly important. This Very Short Introduction considers traditional topics such as war and peace, military strategy and nuclear weapons, alongside other issues such as climate change, international migration, poverty, and international terrorism.
In this Very Short Introduction Ali Ansari provides a radical reinterpretation of Iranian history and politics, placing the Islamic Revolution in the context of a century of political change and social transformation, to gain a fuller understanding of Iran's identity, culture, and politics.
Theatre is one of the longest-standing art forms of modern civilization. Taking a global look at how various forms of theatre - including puppetry, dance, and mime - have been interpreted and enjoyed, this Very Short Introduction explores all aspects of the theatre, including its relationship with religion, literature, and its value worldwide.
Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was an English cleric whose ideas on population and political economy have had a profound influence on modern economic thought. In this Very Short Introduction, Donald Winch considers the context in which Malthus wrote, examines why his work matters, and why it remains so controversial.