Philosopher Charles Taylor, best known for his contributions to political philosophy and the philosophy of social science, discusses some conditions of a viable democracy. The essay was originally published almost 25 years ago on the eve of the fall of the Iron Curtain. As Taylor observes, democracy not only  relies on its institutions, like parliament, elections, party pluralism,  etc., but also, and essentially, on the "relations in which people stand when they are common citizens of a democratic regime."

Alaska's permafrost is thawing. "Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it  to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming."

An appreciation of Fernando Pessoa on the occasion of the publication of the English translation of the complete edition of The Book of Disquiet.

Arthur Schopenhauer: the first European Buddhist. Part of a new series from the Times Literary Supplement, appraising the  works and legacies of the great thinkers and philosophers.

Francis Fukuyama still believes in progress.

The mysteries of the Russian mindset. Der Spiegel correspondent Christian Neef spent three decades reporting  on Russia. On the eve of his departure from Moscow, he reflects on a unique Russian mindset that Putin did not create but is brilliant at  exploiting.

The mathematical secrets of a Babylonian clay tablet have finally been unlocked.

An interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard about his reading habits.

An interview with mathematician and author John Mighton.