Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • What is magic? May 22, 2018 - Rupert Sheldrake and I have published the latest in our discussions, on the nature of magic. We've also renamed the conversations from Science Set Free to the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues. What is magic? How does it relate to psi and animism? Is prayer a kind of magic? We explore how people have engaged with the spirited economy of the natural world
  • Avengers: Infinity War as a dream May 4, 2018 - This piece was written for The Idler. Avengers: Infinity War is one of the biggest movies of all time. That’s official, after a record busting release weekend across the planet. The film is generating cash as extravagantly as its superheroes perform feats. Marvel is making billions. But why? Critics have argued that the franchise is a licence to print money.
  • The virtues of perception Apr 22, 2018 - Rupert Sheldrake and I have published the latest in our discussions, on the nature of virtue and morality. Our discussions are also available streamed and on iTunes. The subject of the virtues can be met with an inner groan, only sparking interest in relation to their shadowy opposites, the vices. It’s partly the product of an assumption that we are
  • The message of Easter the churches forgot Mar 29, 2018 - A piece written for The Idler. This week Western Christianity celebrates just about the most profound spiritual truth that human beings have discovered, as Jordan Peterson might put it. It is that death is not the end of things but is, rather, the pathway to life. It’s not, actually, a Christian truth. It’s a universal one. Plato wrote about it
  • Lessons in narcissistic personality disorders Mar 23, 2018 - This piece was published a month back in the Church Times. ABUSIVE church leaders are in the headlines. The reports range from horrific instances of serial sexual abuse to cases of everyday bullying, manipulation, and making threats. The Church is grappling with the problem, but seems to be struggling to find ways of managing it. A crop of newly published
  • The Jordan Peterson effect Mar 19, 2018 - Rupert Sheldrake and I have published the latest in our Science Set Free podcasts, discussing the new generation of celebrity gurus and popular intellectuals. The clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, the historian Yuval Noah Harari and the comedian Russell Brand are three prominent examples. They command podcast downloads that run into six figures, their books are at the top of amazon
  • Civilisations and the undiscovered self Mar 5, 2018 - A piece written for The Idler, featuring the ideas of Carl Jung, who is the central figure in part 6 of An Introduction to Psychotherapy, released this week. A flurry of public intellectuals are currently promoting their version of our Big Story. They've been appearing on screens and in bookstores. Steven Pinker crossed the Atlantic to inform us that the
  • The psychodynamics of Brexit Mar 2, 2018 - A piece written for The Idler to coincide with the release of part 5 of An Introduction to Psychotherapy. What is going on with Brexit? Some try to disentangle the issues. Only, the truth is that they're issues tied up in a Gordian knot. So, instead, how about some psychology? It offers an alternative approach to the confusion, with the
  • Donald Winnicott and the need to be idle Feb 20, 2018 - A thought on the gaps in life, coinciding with the release of part 4 of the Introduction to Psychotherapy course with the Idler Academy, focusing on the work of Donald Winnicott. The British psychotherapist, Donald Winnicott, became a prominent public intellectual after the Second World War. He spoke on the radio about how to raise children, coining a phrase that
  • What to make of the Old Testament Feb 18, 2018 - Rupert Shedrake and I have published the latest in our Science Set Free podcasts, discussing what Christians know as the Old Testament. The psalmist sings that God knew us before we were born. The book of Joshua says God ordered that everything with breath should be destroyed in the land of Canaan. The writer of Genesis affirms that God said

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