86 books like Against Authenticity

By Simon Feldman,

Here are 86 books that Against Authenticity fans have personally recommended if you like Against Authenticity. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Chemically Imbalanced

By Joseph E. Davis,

Book cover of Chemically Imbalanced: Everyday Suffering, Medication, and Our Troubled Quest for Self-Mastery

Adam Ellwanger Author Of Metanoia: Rhetoric, Authenticity, and the Transformation of the Self

From the list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless.

Who am I?

I'm a professor of rhetoric at the University of Houston – Downtown. In addition to my academic research, I write political and cultural commentary for a variety of right-of-center online publications. Much of my own work focuses on how individuals come to be persuaded about who they are. I argue that much of the frustration people feel when searching for their authentic identity is due to the fact that the existence of the hidden ‘true self’ is an illusion. The quest for authenticity is never complete. The good news, though, is that you can put an end to the suffering… only if you’re willing to give up the fevered pursuit of the “true self.”

Adam's book list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless

Why did Adam love this book?

Davis tackles the way that depression or sadness came to be medicalized. He reminds us that these feelings are normal, integral parts of the human experience and analyzes how modern people started to view those emotions as abnormal, psychological conditions in need of pharmaceutical treatment. In his account of conversations with people who use anti-depressants, Davis shows that the medicalization of sadness can actually compound the suffering of people who struggle with depression. Is it really normal to be happy all the time? This book suggests it might not be.

By Joseph E. Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chemically Imbalanced as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyday suffering-those conditions or feelings brought on by trying circumstances that arise in everyone's lives-is something that humans have grappled with for millennia. But the last decades have seen a drastic change in the way we approach it. In the past, a person going through a time of difficulty might keep a journal or see a therapist, but now the psychological has been replaced by the biological: instead of treating the heart, soul, and mind, we take a pill to treat the brain.

Chemically Imbalanced is a field report on how ordinary people dealing with common problems explain their suffering,…


The Pursuit of Happiness

By Howard Mumford Jones,

Book cover of The Pursuit of Happiness

Adam Ellwanger Author Of Metanoia: Rhetoric, Authenticity, and the Transformation of the Self

From the list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless.

Who am I?

I'm a professor of rhetoric at the University of Houston – Downtown. In addition to my academic research, I write political and cultural commentary for a variety of right-of-center online publications. Much of my own work focuses on how individuals come to be persuaded about who they are. I argue that much of the frustration people feel when searching for their authentic identity is due to the fact that the existence of the hidden ‘true self’ is an illusion. The quest for authenticity is never complete. The good news, though, is that you can put an end to the suffering… only if you’re willing to give up the fevered pursuit of the “true self.”

Adam's book list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless

Why did Adam love this book?

This is an older book that traces the development of the American definition of happiness from the founding of the nation until the mid-twentieth century. Jones carefully illustrates that happiness transformed from a collective political concept to an individual moral entitlement. His reading of self-help texts shows that earlier Americans tried to achieve happiness by learning to conform themselves to the obligations imposed on them by others outside the self. In contrast, Jones’ investigation shows that the modern understanding of happiness demands individual liberation from the expectations of others, a feat achieved by listening to the internal desires of the self.

By Howard Mumford Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pursuit of Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Number seven in the William W. Cook Foundation Lectures at the University of Michigan. Presented in January, 1952.


The Ethics of Authenticity

By Charles Taylor,

Book cover of The Ethics of Authenticity

Adam Ellwanger Author Of Metanoia: Rhetoric, Authenticity, and the Transformation of the Self

From the list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless.

Who am I?

I'm a professor of rhetoric at the University of Houston – Downtown. In addition to my academic research, I write political and cultural commentary for a variety of right-of-center online publications. Much of my own work focuses on how individuals come to be persuaded about who they are. I argue that much of the frustration people feel when searching for their authentic identity is due to the fact that the existence of the hidden ‘true self’ is an illusion. The quest for authenticity is never complete. The good news, though, is that you can put an end to the suffering… only if you’re willing to give up the fevered pursuit of the “true self.”

Adam's book list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless

Why did Adam love this book?

If you want to learn about the history of the concept of authenticity and how it is understood in the western world, this is probably the best book to read (after my book, of course!). Charles Taylor is one of the most prominent living philosophers of selfhood, and this book (topping out at only a little over 100 pages) is an easy-to-read digestion of the ideas that he elaborated in his much-longer book Sources of the Self. Taylor is ambivalent about whether personal authenticity is a good or a bad thing in our era. He recognizes the harms imposed by some of the debased forms that it takes in modern society, but Taylor also tries to articulate an ethics that could rehabilitate authenticity in a way that affirms the dignity of and respect for each individual. I don’t like the fence-sitting, but this remains required reading.

By Charles Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ethics of Authenticity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everywhere we hear talk of decline, of a world that was better once, maybe fifty years ago, maybe centuries ago, but certainly before modernity drew us along its dubious path. While some lament the slide of Western culture into relativism and nihilism and others celebrate the trend as a liberating sort of progress, Charles Taylor calls on us to face the moral and political crises of our time, and to make the most of modernity's challenges.

"The great merit of Taylor's brief, non-technical, powerful book...is the vigor with which he restates the point which Hegel (and later Dewey) urged against…


Book cover of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution

Adam Ellwanger Author Of Metanoia: Rhetoric, Authenticity, and the Transformation of the Self

From the list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless.

Who am I?

I'm a professor of rhetoric at the University of Houston – Downtown. In addition to my academic research, I write political and cultural commentary for a variety of right-of-center online publications. Much of my own work focuses on how individuals come to be persuaded about who they are. I argue that much of the frustration people feel when searching for their authentic identity is due to the fact that the existence of the hidden ‘true self’ is an illusion. The quest for authenticity is never complete. The good news, though, is that you can put an end to the suffering… only if you’re willing to give up the fevered pursuit of the “true self.”

Adam's book list on why looking for your ‘true self’ is pointless

Why did Adam love this book?

While Trueman reviews some of the ideas covered by other thinkers on this list, his new book is notable because it focuses on how personal sexual identity (sexual orientation, gender, desire, etc.) came to be the most important site for the expression of individualism. His analysis underscores the threat that a radically subjectivized sexual ethic posed to longstanding social norms and cultural traditions. This one also includes a gushing foreword by best-selling author Rod Dreher of The American Conservative magazine.

By Carl R. Trueman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Carl Trueman traces the historical roots of many hot-button issues such as transgenderism and homosexuality, offering thoughtful biblical analysis as he uncovers the profound impact of the sexual revolution on modern human identity.


I Am a Strange Loop

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

Book cover of I Am a Strange Loop

Bernard Beckett Author Of Genesis

From the list on get your head around consciousness.

Who am I?

I’m an educator at heart and have been teaching in high schools for over thirty years now. I get a kick out of helping young people see the world anew and think about ideas in ways that at first seem strange and challenging to them, both in the classroom and through my novels. Of course, to be any good at that, I have to be inquisitive and open myself, and there’s nothing like the topic of consciousness to make you feel feeble-minded and ill-informed. It’s such a wondrous topic because it sits at the precise meeting point of so many of our scientific, cultural, artistic, religious, and philosophical traditions.

Bernard's book list on get your head around consciousness

Why did Bernard love this book?

I think glorious failures are far more interesting than modest successes, and let’s face it, any book that attempts to explain consciousness is bound to fail on so many levels. What I love about Hofstadter’s work is its boldness and reach. He’s as happy in the world of abstract metaphor as he is speaking of science or mathematics, and understands that we need new metaphors of consciousness just as badly as we need new scientific models. And even though he flounders at times, it kind of doesn’t matter, because of the sheer energy and verve of his quest: sort of Don Quixote with a calculator. For the math geeks amongst you, there’s an unusually clear and careful discussion of the incompleteness theorem as well. What’s not to like?

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am a Strange Loop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can thought arise out of matter? Can self, soul, consciousness, I" arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here? I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the strange loop",a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. The most central and complex symbol in your brain is the one called I." The I" is the nexus in our brain, one of many symbols seeming to have free will and to have gained the paradoxical ability to push particles around, rather than the reverse.…


The Mind's I

By Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett,

Book cover of The Mind's I: Fantasies And Reflections On Self & Soul

Amit S. Mukherjee Author Of Leading in the Digital World: How to Foster Creativity, Collaboration, and Inclusivity

From the list on global leadership capabilities needed now.

Who am I?

Currently a Professor of Leadership and Strategy at Hult, I’ve been on the faculties of other top business schools, and an executive officer of a NASDAQ company. I’ve led “new to the world” technology projects and advised CXOs of global companies. These experiences convinced me that poor leadership is the biggest reason organizational initiatives fail. Two decades ago, I switched from being a technology scholar; I began researching leadership and writing for practitioners, not academics. My first book was on a 2009 “best business books” list. This one is in Sloan Management Review’s Management on the Cutting Edge series—books that its editors believe will influence executive behavior.

Amit's book list on global leadership capabilities needed now

Why did Amit love this book?

To the best of my recollection, the word ‘leadership’ doesn’t appear in this book.

Yet, since I first encountered it in a Harvard Business School doctoral seminar on leadership—and ignored numerous assignments because I couldn’t put it down—I have recommended it to countless professionals.

Too often, leadership is presented as a disembodied (cap)ability, unmoored from its organizational context.

Philosopher Hofstadter and computer scientist Dennett’s remarkable collection of articles includes both fairy tales (yes!) and Alan Turing’s essay defining artificial intelligence. Collectively, they explore not just the “self and soul” in the sub-title but also how humans interact with organizations and technology.

This book taught me leadership isn’t about being a puppeteer. Each of the newest developments in artificial intelligence has reminded me that I must re-read this book.

By Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mind's I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With contributions from Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Dawkins, John Searle, and Robert Nozick, The Mind's I explores the meaning of self and consciousness through the perspectives of literature, artificial intelligence, psychology, and other disciplines. In selections that range from fiction to scientific speculations about thinking machines, artificial intelligence, and the nature of the brain, Hofstadter and Dennett present a variety of conflicting visions of the self and the soul as explored through the writings of some of the twentieth century's most renowned thinkers.


The Anxious Mind

By Charlie Kurth,

Book cover of The Anxious Mind: An Investigation Into the Varieties and Virtues of Anxiety

Michael Cholbi Author Of Grief: A Philosophical Guide

From the list on philosophy for dealing with difficult emotions.

Who am I?

As a philosopher, I’m not just interested in solving ‘academic’ problems that arise from philosophical inquiry. I also think philosophy should return to the role it often had in the ancient world, as a tool for helping us navigate the perennial challenges that being human presents us. Much of my own philosophical work has sought to help us figure out how to relate to arguably the biggest challenge we face: that we inevitably die. The books on this list are powerful examples of how philosophy can provide us with an emotional compass!

Michael's book list on philosophy for dealing with difficult emotions

Why did Michael love this book?

I enjoy being surprised by philosophical work on emotions. Kurth’s The Anxious Mind is full of unexpected insights into anxiety, an emotion that seems to have little to recommend it. But Kurth manages to persuade readers that we should actually be glad for the presence of anxiety in our lives. He explains how anxiety can enhance our performance and contribute to moral progress both individually and collectively. 

By Charlie Kurth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anxious Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An empirically informed, philosophical account of the nature of anxiety and its value for agency, virtue, and decision making.

In The Anxious Mind, Charlie Kurth offers a philosophical account of anxiety in its various forms, investigating its nature and arguing for its value in agency, virtue, and decision making. Folk wisdom tells us that anxiety is unpleasant and painful, and scholarly research seems to provide empirical and philosophical confirmation of this. But Kurth points to anxiety's positive effects: enhancing performance, facilitating social interaction, and even contributing to moral thought and action.

Kurth argues that an empirically informed philosophical account of…


Virtuous Violence

By Alan Page Fiske, Tage Shakti Rai,

Book cover of Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships

Jessica Scott Author Of A Soldier's Promise: A Coming Home Anthology

From the list on the Iraq War that go beyond bullets.

Who am I?

I’m a soldier, an author, and an army wife – the last fifteen years of my life have revolved around dealing with the fallout of the Iraq war, not only for my family but also as a soldier and a veteran. I write books because I wanted to read about people who stayed in the military after the war started. The best writing advice I ever got came from Robyn Carr who said, write the book that only you can tell. Wrestling with the legacy of a war that we as soldiers did not choose as we return home was something I deeply wanted to understand, both as an army officer and a novelist.

Jessica's book list on the Iraq War that go beyond bullets

Why did Jessica love this book?

This book technically isn’t about the Iraq war but instead, about violence more broadly and it's super nerdy but super important.

As a soldier and sociologist, I’ve always been fascinated by the ways academia deals with questions of violence. In particular, since the popularity of moral psychology theories like Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations theory (popularized in his book The Righteous Mind), the running assumption in a lot of academic circles is that harm = bad. But Fisk and Rai show that violence serves social purpose such as bonding people together or teaching them group boundaries.

It’s a difficult read because it challenges people’s assumptions about violence and harm but that makes it all the more important in understanding how people come home from war and the ways in which they wrestle with actions they’ve done. 

By Alan Page Fiske, Tage Shakti Rai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Virtuous Violence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What motivates violence? How can good and compassionate people hurt and kill others or themselves? Why are people much more likely to kill or assault people they know well, rather than strangers? This provocative and radical book shows that people mostly commit violence because they genuinely feel that it is the morally right thing to do. In perpetrators' minds, violence may be the morally necessary and proper way to regulate social relationships according to cultural precepts, precedents, and prototypes. These moral motivations apply equally to the violence of the heroes of the Iliad, to parents smacking their child, and to…


The Moral Problem

By Michael Smith,

Book cover of The Moral Problem

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From the list on reasons in ethics.

Who am I?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Why did Mark love this book?

There are a lot of great books about metaethics and a lot of great books about reasons, but this book nabs my top recommendation because Smith makes the topics so deceptively easy to get into and start thinking about. This is the book that I wrote my undergraduate senior thesis on that got me into studying and writing about philosophy for a living, and it is also one of the key books that everyone in my generation in my field grew up thinking about and reacting to. It also has a great balance between an overarching project that spans all of the chapters and some pretty self-contained discussions, especially in the earlier chapters, that helps the reader to focus on one question at a time while also getting a glimpse of how philosophical questions can add up to something bigger.

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moral Problem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This acclaimed volume offers a systematic introduction to and striking analysis of the central issues animating current debate in moral philosophy. It will be of interest to anyone with a serious interest in the philosophical foundations of ethics. Topics discussed in this book include: realist vs anti-realist accounts of moral truth; cognitivist vs expressivist accounts of moral judgement; internalist vs externalist accounts of the relation between moral judgement and the will; Humean vs anti-Humean theories of motivation; and the debate between those who think that morality is a system of hypothetical imperatives and those who think that moral requirements are…


Book cover of What We Owe to Each Other

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From the list on reasons in ethics.

Who am I?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Why did Mark love this book?

Featured prominently in the plot of the NBC comedy The Good Place, Scanlon’s 1998 book covers much more than reasons and metaethics – it offers an ambitious explanatory theory of where our moral obligations to one another come from, and why they have the particular shape that they do – including of why we can’t justify doing terrible things to someone just because it benefits many other people. But in the first two chapters of the book, Scanlon also offers a large range of important and influential arguments about the nature of reasons and their relationship to both desire and value, and those two chapters in their own right merit this book a place on this list, in addition to its many other virtues.

By T.M. Scanlon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What We Owe to Each Other as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we judge whether an action is morally right or wrong? If an action is wrong, what reason does that give us not to do it? Why should we give such reasons priority over our other concerns and values? In this book, T. M. Scanlon offers new answers to these questions, as they apply to the central part of morality that concerns what we owe to each other. According to his contractualist view, thinking about right and wrong is thinking about what we do in terms that could be justified to others and that they could not reasonably reject.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in metaphysics, philosophy, and epistemology?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about metaphysics, philosophy, and epistemology.

Metaphysics Explore 78 books about metaphysics
Philosophy Explore 1,395 books about philosophy
Epistemology Explore 39 books about epistemology