Addresses question such as: how did Darwin use fossils to support his theory of evolution? What are 'living fossils'? Building on the scientific aspects, this book places fossils in a human context, highlighting their impact on philosophy, mythology, our concept of time, and popular culture. It provides an explanation of fossils as a phenomenon.
Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77) was at once the father of the Enlightenment and the last sad guardian of the medieval world, who attempted to reconcile the conflicting moral and intellectual demands of his epoch. This book presents an analysis of Spinoza's thought, and shows its relevance to the intellectual preoccupations in the modern times.
Christian images have a long history within the Western art tradition from the devotional works of the Renaissance period, to the interpretations of the 21st century. This book explores the changing nature of the representation of themes and subjects found in Christian art, covering the Eucharist, the crucifixion, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.
Simon Glendinning explores Jacque Derrida's work, from his engagement with the history of metaphysics to his views on law and justice and ethics and politics. Confronting and refuting claims that Derrida was an irresponsible 'postmodernist' or 'nihilist' he instead reveals Derrida's significant contributions to philosophy.
Adopting a different approach to ancient Egypt, this book aims to illuminate the complex world of Egyptian myth. It explores the cultural and historical background behind a variety of sources and objects, from Cleopatra's Needle and Tutankhamun's golden statue, to a story on papyrus of the gods misbehaving.
Film is considered to be the dominant art form of the twentieth century. It can be considered many other things; a record of events, a modern mythology, a career, an industry, an art, a hobby, and much else. Michael Wood explores the history of film, its venture into the digital age, and its role and impact on modern society.
Botticelli, Holbein, Leonardo, Durer, Michelangelo: the names are familiar, as are the works. But, who were these artists, why did they produce such memorable images, and how would their beholders have viewed these objects? This book answers such questions by considering famous and lesser-known artists, patrons, and works of art from the period.
As public interest in modern art continues to grow, there is a real need for a book that will engage general readers, offering them not only information and ideas about modern art, but also explaining its contemporary relevance and its history. This book does just that.
Amid the catastrophes of the twentieth century, the Spanish Civil War continues to exert a particular fascination. The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction provides a powerfully-written explanation of the war's complex origins and course, and explores its impact on a personal and an international scale.
The Roman Empire was a remarkable achievement. This introduction covers the history of the empire at its height, looking at its people, religions and social structures. It explains how it deployed violence, 'romanisation', and tactical power to develop an astonishingly uniform culture from Rome to its furthest outreaches.
Shows how John Locke, a great English philosopher of 18th century, arrived at his theory of knowledge. This work also shows how the liberal values of toleration formed the backbone of European thought of the 18th century. It looks at the questions which he addressed with such tenacity: 'how Man can know' and 'how Man should try to live'.
Racism exists in many different forms, in almost every facet of society. This book demystifies the subject and explores its history, science, and culture. Shedding light on how racism has evolved since its earliest beginnings, it examines the notion of race from a modern genetic viewpoint.
The Viking reputation is of bloodthirsty seafaring warriors. Yet Vikings were also traders, settlers, and farmers, with a complex artistic and linguistic culture. Using archaeological evidence, this book attempts to reveal the whole Viking world: their history, society and culture, and their expansion overseas for trade, colonization, and plunder.
The WTO has a deep and far reaching impact on people's everyday lives, and in its short lifetime has generated debate, controversy and outrage. This VSI provides an essential and accessible explanation of the political, economic, and ethical controversies: What the WTO is, what it does, and whether it works.
What is 'contemporary' about contemporary art? Who is really running the art world? This controversial and witty exploration of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the art world since the fall of the Berlin Wall provides a critical look at the reasons for the current art boom, and reveals the politics behind the business.
In this Very Short Introduction Terence Allen introduces the reader to the full spectrum of microscopy techniques and advances. Explaining the history of microscopic techniques, development, principles, and recent technological advances, this is an ideal introduction for anyone studying the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering.
In 336 BC Alexander the Great became king of Macedon. During his twelve-year reign he conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire, the largest to have yet existed, and in the process had a profound effect on the world he moved through. In this examination of his life and career, Hugh Bowden explores his cultural and historical legacy.
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?
Presenting an introduction to ethics, this work tackles the moral questions surrounding birth, death, happiness, desire, and freedom. It also shows us how we should think about the meaning of life, and how we should mistrust the soundbite-sized absolutes that often dominate moral debates.
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.
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.
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.