The best books for eco-philosophy

The Books I Picked & Why

Lyrical Ballads: 1798 and 1802

By William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Fiona Stafford

Lyrical Ballads: 1798 and 1802

Why this book?

Why did Wordsworth and Coleridge decide to produce this book, together? Well, basically, it was because they regarded themselves as having something to say, something to contribute that went way beyond the sphere of pleasing or thought-provoking in a purely literary sense.

The form of the poetry was very shocking at the time and they were also bringing a new point to poetry. And that point is what really brings this very close to eco-philosophy. What they tried to do in the Lyrical Ballads was to produce a sort of poetic manifesto for thinking about nature in a different way, in a more serious way, than was customary at the time.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Letters From A Young Poet: 1887-1895

By Rosinka Chaudhuri

Letters From A Young Poet: 1887-1895

Why this book?

While not one of his best-known books, in my opinion, it is one of his very best. It’s a collection of letters to his niece. And when he wrote these, in most cases, there would have been absolutely no thought of publication, which makes their quality all the more remarkable. You might think of this book as an eastern epistolatory nature philosophy. It contains passages of astounding beauty about the natural world that Tagore was inhabiting, which was basically the river deltas around Calcutta. It also contains his reflections on how these give us a very different sense of what’s important and of how to live than one gets in the city. It’s a sort of Eastern counterpart, as I see it, of Romanticism, and again, very visionary.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age

By Hans Jonas

The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age

Why this book?

This book is more classically within the philosophical canon. The Imperative of Responsibility is probably Jonas’s masterpiece. He wrote this book in 1979. It’s a contemporary classic, in the sense that it’s really foundational, in my view (but not just in my view), for environmental ethics because it’s a book—and this is over 40 years ago now—that really takes seriously, as very few had before, the change that needs to come to philosophy. We need to start taking seriously the change that has come to us as a species as a result of industrialism, as a result of our growing technological power.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilisation

By Samuel Alexander

Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilisation

Why this book?

My next book is by far the least well-known of my authors, and it’s by far the least well-known book. It’s by my friend and colleague, Samuel Alexander, with whom I’ve co-written a couple of books now, including This Civilisation is Finished.

It’s a splendid read. For philosophers, it’s charming, because Sam is continually bringing in implicitly, and most explicitly, the great philosophers. He’s quoting or talking about Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, and the rest. His characters sometimes offer lines of one of them to each other. And, in that sense, it’s very much a novel of ideas in the tradition of utopias and dystopias.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime

By Bruno Latour

Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime

Why this book?

Latour was not one of my favourite thinkers before I read this book. I‘ve found him an interesting person to engage with, in person, and to read in the past, but I rarely found myself really agreeing with him very much. But this book has changed all of that. The title is translated from French—a better translation would be A Place to Land.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Random Book Lists