As Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so absolutely unbearable that we have to alter it every six months.” And yet it serves to make us beautiful, or at least make us feel beautiful. In this book, Mari Grinde Arntzen asks how and why this is—how can fashion simultaneously attract us to its glamour and repel us with its superficiality and how being called “fashionable” can be at once a compliment and an insult.
Arntzen guides us through the major figures and brands of today’s fashion industry, showing how they shape us and in turn why we love to be shaped by them. She examines both everyday, affordable “fast fashion” brands, as well as the luxury market, to show how fashion commands a powerful influence on every socioeconomic level of our society. Stepping into our closets with us, she thinks about what happens when we get dressed: why fashion can make us feel powerful, beautiful, and original at the same time that it forces us into conformity. Stripping off the layers of the world’s fifth largest industry, garment by garment, she holds fashion up as a phenomenon, business, and art, exploring the questions it forces us to ask about the body, image, celebrity, and self-obsession.
Ultimately, Arntzen asks the most direct question: what is fashion? How has it taken such a powerful hold on the world, forever propelling us toward its concepts of beauty?
In its pure form, carbon appears as the soft graphite of a pencil or as the sparkling diamond in a woman’s engagement ring. Underneath the surface, carbon is also the basic building block of the cells in our bodies and of all known life on earth. And at a molecular level, carbon bonds with oxygen to create carbon dioxide—a gas as vital to our life on this planet as it is detrimental at high levels in our atmosphere. As we face the climate change crisis, it’s now more important than ever to understand carbon and its life cycle.
The Many Lives of Carbon is the story of this all-important chemical element, labeled C on our periodic tables. It’s the story of balance—between photosynthesis and cell respiration, between building and burning, between life and death. Dag Olav Hessen is our guide as we discover carbon in minerals, rocks, wood, and rain forests. He explains how carbon is studied by scientists, as well as its role in the greenhouse effect, and, not least, the impact of manmade emissions. Hessen isn’t afraid to ask the difficult questions as he confronts us with the literally burning issue of climate change. How will ecosystems respond to global change, and how will this feed back into our climate systems? How bad could climate change be, and will our ecosystems recover? What are our moral obligations in the face of excess carbon production? Neither alarmist nor moralistic, Hessen takes readers on a journey from atom to planet in informative, compelling prose.
Freedom of speech, religion, choice, will—humans have fought, and continue to fight, for all of these. But what is human freedom really? Taking a broad approach across metaphysics, politics, and ethics, Lars Svendsen explores this question in his engaging book, while also looking at the threats freedom faces today. Though our behaviors, thoughts, and actions are restricted by social and legal rules, deadlines, and burdens, Svendsen argues that the fundamental requirement for living a human life is the ability to be free.
A Philosophy of Freedom questions how we can successfully create meaningful lives when we are estranged from the very concept of freedom. Svendsen tackles such issues as the nature of free agency and the possibility of freedom in a universe governed by natural laws. He concludes that the true definition of personal freedom is first and foremost the liberty to devote yourself to what really matters to you—to realize the true value of the life you are living. Drawing on the fascinating debates around the possibility of freedom and its limits within society, this comprehensive investigation provides an accessible and insightful overview that will appeal to academics and general readers alike.
For many of us it is the ultimate fear: to die alone. Loneliness is a difficult subject to address because it has such negative connotations in our intensely social world. But the truth is that wherever there are people, there is loneliness. You can be lonely sitting in the quiet of your home, in the still of an afternoon park, or even when surrounded by throngs of people on a busy street. One need only turn on the radio to hear a crooner telling us just how lonesome we can be. In this groundbreaking book, philosopher Lars Svendsen confronts loneliness head on, investigating both the negative and positive sides of this most human of emotions.
Drawing on the latest research in philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences, A Philosophy of Loneliness explores the different kinds of loneliness and examines the psychological and social characteristics that dispose people to them. Svendsen looks at the importance of friendship and love, and he examines how loneliness can impact our quality of life and affect our physical and mental health. In a provocative move, he also argues that the main problem in our modern society is not that we have too much loneliness but rather too little solitude, and he looks to those moments when our loneliness can actually tell us profound things about ourselves and our place in the world. The result is a fascinating book about a complex and deeply meaningful part of our very being.
We refer to time constantly, and we compulsively measure its passing—but do we know what it actually is? In What Is Time?, Truls Wyller enquires into time’s complex nature, juxtaposing the latest scientific theories with our personal experience of chronology. The book examines the notion of time in physics, history, religion, anthropology, philosophy, and literature, and Wyller concludes by proposing his own theory of time: that the temporal character of any series of events is essentially practical and derived from human life. Written from a philosophical perspective, What Is Time? gives an accessible, rounded portrait of the nature of time, and it is essential reading for those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the motion of our everyday existence.