Main content


Street philosophy with Bettany Hughes, and changing ideas about technology through time at an archaeological dig, in mythology, at an electrical shop and in the future.

Bettany Hughes considers changing ideas about technology at an archaeological dig, in mythology, at an electrical shop and in the future.

This surprising and invigorating history of the most influential ideas in the story of civilisation, has been described as 'a double espresso shot of philosophy, history, science and the arts'. Award-winning historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes begins each programme with the first, extant evidence of a single word-idea in Ancient Greek culture and travels both forwards and backwards in time, investigating how these ideas have been moulded by history, and how they've shaped us.

In this programme Bettany explores technology with experts from the humanities and sciences, people who see these big philosophical ideas playing out in their own lives including philosopher Angie Hobbs, anthropologist Deborah Ruscillo, and historian Hannah Dawson and Yuval Harari author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Bettany reveals where these ideas were born and then explores the street markets, churches, offices and homes where they continue to morph and influence our daily lives, including a newly excavated Bronze Age Palace in Southern Greece.

Other ideas in this series are character, harmony, narcissism and hubris. Ideas examined previously include idea, desire, agony, fame, justice, wisdom, comedy, liberty, peace, hospitality, virtue, psyche, charisma, irony and nemesis.

Readings: Sean Baker

Series Producer: Dixi Stewart.

Available now

15 minutes


Watch animations from A History of Ideas

Watch animations from A History of Ideas

Explore some big questions about how we live today.