Environment

God, Darwin and Spinoza

People often ask me if I believe in God, and my honest answer is always: ‘It depends what you understand by the word “God”’. This word probably means something different for every person who professes such a belief, which is why there is such a thing as ‘orthodoxy’ in a church (let alone ‘dogma’): it…

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Climate change and the long walk back to ourselves

By Garret Barnwell The taps will run dry, fires will rage, new diseases will emerge and the weather will run an increasingly unpredictable gambit. This is what you likely have heard of the future in the era of climate change. But did you know the climate change and environmental destruction has a profound impact on…

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Pandora’s box has opened…again!

Everyone knows the story, or myth, of Pandora (etymologically meaning ‘all-gifted’ or perhaps ‘all-giving’), who was ancient Greek mythology’s counterpart to Eve of the Old Testament — that is, the first woman created by the gods (out of earth, or clay), all of whom gave her a gift of some kind. Her notoriety derives from…

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‘Beyond Humanism’ in Wroclaw, Poland

We are in the beautiful and ancient city of Wroclaw, Poland (the former Breslau, in German), at the 10th International ‘Beyond Humanism’ conference, where theorists of post- and transhumanism come together (in a different country) every year. It is the third of these inter- and multidisciplinary conferences that we have attended, and as before, the…

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The destructive approach to nature: ‘Geostorm’

We are in Porto, Portugal, for an interdisciplinary international conference, and already we are impressed by the beauty of this old city. As usual, because I find seats on a passenger jet too uncomfortable to sleep, I used the time to catch up on some movies, including I, Tonya, with Margot Robbie’s Oscar-quality performance in…

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The world has not learnt anything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s ‘Gothic’ (proto-)science fiction novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was published when the author was only 20 years old. It was the fruit of a contest among herself and two other literary figures — her future husband, the poet Percy Shelley, and another poet, Lord…

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The allure of Louisa Punt-Fouché’s poetry

Poetry is alluring. Who is there so insensitive among us that evocative poetic phrases would not move us? Yes, I know – there are indeed such people, but I believe that even they, when given the opportunity to learn from a gifted teacher, would develop a modicum of receptivity to poetry. Blake’s “He who binds…

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Where’s my invite?

Like many people I have not been invited to Jacob Zuma’s forthcoming wedding. I also have not been invited to address the crowds gathering at Jacob Zuma’s court appearances. In general Jacob Zuma and I have been on the outs ever since he said, “We don’t want Winner Take All”. I could have forgiven him…

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The politics of mental health provision in a liberal democracy

By Sipho Dlamini The recent discussion between Eusebius McKaiser and Mazibuko K Jara on the place of liberalism in South Africa sparked an interesting question on mental health provision in a liberal democracy such as ours. In reading these discussions, I was reminded about a simple and yet incisive point about liberalism given by Professor…

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Hey Bibi, Hey Bibi, Hey

Hey Bibi, Hey Bibi, Hey! What do they Say Bibi, Say Bibi, Say? Oh Bibi, Oh Bibi, Oh! So Bibi, So Bibi, So? That you’re crooked like a question mark That you’re dining on public like a lark That you’re turning greased wheels for greased ends That you’re taking gifts from well heeled friends That…

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