Ortega y Gasset’s Subjective Perspectivism

José Ortega y Gasset’s contribution to philosophy is manifold if one takes into account his wide-ranging essays on literary, cultural and sociological matters. The thinker’s Spanish roots gave him a unique perspective on the historical evolution of Western philosophy from the seventeenth-century onwards. If the great theologians and jurists of the Golden Age, like Francisco de Vitoria and Francesco Suarez, exerted a profound influence on a nascent imperial state, their legacy did not cross the Pyrenees to play a significant ...

On the Convergence of Two Creative Revolutions

The “Roaring Twenties” are generally associated with a period of unbridled excess after the traumatic experience of the First World War. While young Americans revelled to the syncopated rhythms of jazz music, two groups of European philosophers and artists were desperately searching for new meanings after the annihilation of all previous moral certainties.  The first group, led by the German architect Walter Gropius, set out to redefine the rules of architecture as well as craft and design. Their vision of a ...

A Story of Cheating

In a recent visual arts workshop, we had a lot of discussions about academic honesty and how to detect plagiarism, and one of the teachers described this encounter: One of his students returned to school after the summer break with an absolutely outstanding artwork – big, colourful, complex, clever and thought-provoking. …and completely unlike (and better than) anything the student created in the entire first year. Academic honesty alarm bells started ringing loudly for our teacher. He asked the student to show the ...

Acid Base Theory

I’m just about to start teaching the acids and bases topic to my students. Acids and bases are interesting compounds because the terms ‘acid’ and ‘base’ are just labels we have given to explain different types of reactions. The topic always starts with an introduction to acid base theory and usually covers the ‘Bronsted Lowry’ theory, as well as the ‘Lewis’ theory (of acids and bases). So what are these different theories and are there any differences between what is a ...

High yielding seeds in East Africa

In eastern Uganda, population growth has forced farmers to farm smaller plots of land. Whereas in the past many farmers had access to manure from their animals, increasingly they are having to rely on chemical fertilisers. Moreover, farmers used to keep part of one year’s crop to plants for the following year’s produce. This has become less common and farmers are more likely to buy high yielding varieties (HYVs) of seed to produce their crop. HYVs, along with irrigation water ...

Deforestation in Brazil

Brazil accounts for around 40% of the world’s rain forests and around 10-15% of the world’s biodiversity. Over the last fifty years, it has lost about 20% of the original 4 million km2 of rainforest due to farming, logging, dam construction, mining and other infrastructural developments. At the same time, average temperatures have increased by 0.6ºC, and the area has experienced a number of severe droughts. Between 2004 and 2012, the rate of deforestation slowed down, but by 2017 it had ...

A cocktail party of literary theories

If you met Aristotle at a party he might inquire if you live the golden mean. This moralist theory is useful to consider characterisation, themes and reader response. Reader-response theorists believe texts need to have a reader before it can mean anything. They will ask you to fill the gaps and make connections. At this party, the post-structuralist host serves drinks, muttering “gaps and silences”. Those who are interested in psychoanalytical theory argue that the emotional conflicts between characters are most important ...

Working from Observation (“direct observation”)

In September, for many schools it’s the start of another school year, and if you are a DP visual arts student, you will be either returning for your 2nd year or starting your first. Where to Start? Of course, your teacher will probably suggest some initial directions that your art might follow to start with, but – depending on how much freedom you have – you might want to explore one of the most traditional routes in art-making: working from observation. I have ...

On the Inconvenience of Being Immortal

The most fundamental premise of philosophy is our human ability to propose some reasoned answers to questions related to the meaning of life, our place in the universe and the plausibility of immortality. Long before Montaigne, ancient thinkers regarded the philosophical activity as the way to become accustomed to the idea of dying and make it part of our daily existence. After all, as Epicurus pointed out, ‘why should we be anxious about death when we will never encounter it; ...

It’s all in the detail

Mathematics, as you will know from Theory of Knowledge, is at the top of the tree of knowledge. It is self-referential - that is, its theorems do not need to be proven by reference to the real world, but instead by starting with other axioms and theorems. Of course, maths has many real-world applications, and if you are starting out on the new Applications and Interpretations course, then you will spend a lot of time solving real-word problems. Many of the ...