A brief history of human dignity

What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.

Credit: Benjavisa Ruangvaree / AdobeStock
  • Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
  • That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
  • We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
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What the Greek classics tell us about grief and the importance of mourning the dead

The rites we give to the dead help us understand what it takes to go on living.

Photo by Stavrialena Gontzou on Unsplash

As the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March, the death toll quickly went up with few chances for families and communities to perform traditional rites for their loved ones.

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California cave art linked to early use of hallucinogens

The Chumash people poked bits of psychoactive plants into cave ceilings next to their paintings.

Credit: Rick Bury (art)/Melissa Dabulamanzi (Datura)/PNAS
  • Mysterious pinwheel paintings in a California cave are probably representations of the hallucinogen Datura wrightii.
  • The paintings were made by the Chumash people 400 years ago.
  • This is the first definitive connection between cave painting and hallucinogens.
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Top 5 theories on the enigmatic monolith found in Utah desert

A strange object found in the desert has prompted worldwide speculation.

A mysterious object was found in a Utah desert.

Credit: Utah Department of Public Safety
Culture & Religion
  • A monolithic object found in a remote part of Utah caused worldwide speculation about its origins.
  • The object is very similar to the famous monolith from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: Space Odyssey".
  • The object could be work of an artist or even have extraterrestrial origins.
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Plato’s utopia and why you don’t want to live there

History's first utopia shows how far we've come.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Public Domain
Culture & Religion
  • Plato's "Republic" is the first utopian novel, complete with an ideal city—the Kallipolis.
  • The totalitarian leanings of the Kallipolis have lead many thinkers to move in the opposite direction since then.
  • Even if we don't like it, having to explain why we don't is a useful exercise.
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Kind by nature: Have faith in humanity

Radical thinker Rutger Bregman paints a new, more beautiful portrait of humanity.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash
Culture & Religion

Optimism is what runs the world, and cynicism only serves as an excuse for the lazy.

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