Born OTD in 1842, Russian activist, zoologist, scientist, geographer, & philosopher who advocated anarcho-communism, Peter Kropotkin. The essays, initially published in the English periodical ‘The 19th Century’ between 1890 & 1896, explore the role of mutually-beneficial cooperation & reciprocity (or “mutual aid”) in the animal kingdom & human societies both past & present. It is an argument against theories of social Darwinism that emphasize competition and survival of the fittest.

Writing partly in response to Social Darwinism, Kropotkin draws on his scientific knowledge to illustrate the phenomenon of cooperation. After … More

Born OTD in 1757, English poet, painter, and printmaker, William Blake. His poetry consistently embodies an attitude of rebellion against the abuse of class power as documented in David Erdman’s large study Blake: Prophet Against Empire: A Poet’s Interpretation of the History of His Own Times. Blake was concerned about senseless wars & the blighting effects of the Industrial Revolution. Much of his poetry recounts in symbolic allegory the effects of the French and American revolutions. Erdman claims Blake was disillusioned with them, believing they had simply replaced monarchy with irresponsible mercantilism and notes Blake was deeply opposed to slavery, and believes some of his poems read primarily as championing “free love” have had their anti-slavery implications short-changed.

Peter Marshall’s study draws on Blake’s complete writings, his poetry and his prose. It offers a lively and perceptive account … More

The greatest wisdom comes from the smallest creatures. There is so much we can learn from birds. Through twenty-two little lessons of wisdom inspired by how birds live, this charming french book will help you spread your wings and soar. We often need the help from those smaller than us. Having spent a lifetime watching birds, Philippe and Elise – a French ornithologist and a philosopher – draw out the secret lessons that birds can teach us about how to live, and the wisdom of the natural world. Along the way you’ll discover why the robin is braver than the eagle, what the arctic tern can teach us about the joy of travel, and whether the head or the heart is the best route to love (as shown by the mallard and the penguin).

By the end you will feel more in touch with the rhythms of nature and have a fresh perspective on … More

Born OTD in 1821, Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist & philosopher, Fyodor Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky’s literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, & spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, & engage with a variety of philosophical & religious themes. Notes from Underground & Other Stories is a comprehensive collection of Dostoevsky’s short fiction. Many of these stories, like his great novels, reveal his special sympathy for the solitary & dispossessed, explore the same complex psychological issues & subtly combine rich characterization and philosophical meditations on the (often) dark areas of the human psyche, all conveyed in an idiosyncratic blend of deadly seriousness and wild humour.

In Notes from Underground, the Underground Man casually dismantles utilitarianism and celebrates in its stead a perverse but vibrant masochism. … More

Born OTD in 1935, professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, & a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies, Edward Said. For generations now, Said’s Orientalism has defined our understanding of colonialism & empire, and this Penguin edition contains a preface written by Said shortly before his death in 2003. In this highly-acclaimed work, Said surveys the history & nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering orientalism as a powerful European ideological creation – a way for writers, philosophers & colonial administrators to deal with the ‘otherness’ of eastern culture, customs and beliefs.

He traces this view through the writings of Homer, Nerval and Flaubert, Disraeli and Kipling, whose imaginative depictions have greatly … More

Born OTD in 1935, Marxist economic geographer and Distinguished Professor of anthropology and geography, David Harvey. This major new textbook from the premier Marxist political thinker guides us through the classic text of political economy. For nearly forty years, David Harvey has taught and lectured on Marx’s “Capital”. In this book he draws on his rich knowledge of the text to create a step-by-step guide to the most important and influential study of capitalism.

Aimed to guide first-time readers through a dense and complicated as well as a rich and fascinating text, the book … More

Born OTD in 1806, Johann Kaspar , AKA Max Stirner. Max Stirner, was a German philosopher who is often seen as one of the forerunners of nihilism, existentialism, psychoanalytic theory, postmodernism, & individualist anarchism. “The Ego & His Own,” the seminal defence of individualism, coloured the thinking of Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Emst, Henrik Ibsen & Victor Serge, among many others, some of whom would vigorously deny any such influence in later years. Less reticent was Marcel Duchamp, who described Max Stimer as the philosopher most important to his work.

Challenging the religious, philosophical and political constraints on personal freedom, Stimer criticizes all doctrines and beliefs that place the interests … More

Born OTD in 1906, German-American philosopher and political theorist, Hannah Arendt. A hero of political thought, the largely unsung and often misunderstood Hannah Arendt is perhaps best known for her landmark book, The Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt led an extraordinary life. Having endured Nazi persecution firsthand, she fled across Europe, coming to live in a world inhabited by such luminaries as Marc Chagall, Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.

She ultimately sacrificed her unique genius for philosophy and her love of a much-compromised man – the philosopher and Nazi-sympathiser … More

Born OTD in 1921, Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a leading advocate of critical pedagogy, Paulo Freire. Freire proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. It was first published in Portuguese in 1968, and was translated by Myra Ramos into English and published in 1970. The book is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy.

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