100 books like Aristotle's Politics

By Aristotle, Carnes Lord (translator),

Here are 100 books that Aristotle's Politics fans have personally recommended if you like Aristotle's Politics. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Prince

Keith Grint Author Of Leadership: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on understanding why we get the leaders we do.

Who am I?

There’s something about leadership that intrigues me. I was an army child and that might help explain why I was expelled from school and had a rather unorthodox pre-academic career: I had fourteen jobs in nine years between leaving school and starting university, and several of those involved significant leadership roles that clashed with managerial authority. Both my undergraduate degrees and my doctorate were focused on trying to understand how authority worked, so it was almost inevitable that I ended up as a leadership scholar. But my greatest achievements have been co-founding the journal Leadership in 2005 and its related International Studying Leadership Conference, now in its 20th year.

Keith's book list on understanding why we get the leaders we do

Keith Grint Why did Keith love this book?

Machiavelli is often despised as the man who promoted both authoritarian leaders and the notion that the ends justify the means, but this is to misunderstand the importance of the context within which he was writing: 16th century Florence – which was besieged by enemies on every side who proclaimed adherence to the Christian faith but acted as monsters. Machiavelli’s writing made two things clear to me. First, leaders and leadership cannot be understood if you abstract them from their context – when political morality is a contradiction in terms then leaders must be wary of sacrificing their followers for the sake of that same fallacious morality. Second, he lays out how dictators obtain and retain power – and in doing so establishes what we need to do to stop them or remove them. 

By Niccolò Machiavelli, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power.  Astonishing in its candor The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince . . . a king . . . a president.  When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post in his beloved Florence, he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealistic.  In The Prince he envisioned would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his prince would be man and beast, fox and lion.  Today, this small…


Book cover of Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

Immanuel Kant is often seen as a pure philosopher, one who was interested in abstract principles. He was that, but his essays on "Perpetual Peace" and especially his essay "Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective" are literally the best things I have ever read, and have so much resonance for us today.

Democracies tend not to go to war as much as dictatorships because the people are likely to be the ones who are killed on the battlefield. In Kant’s time Frederick the Great was able to go to war whenever he wanted. Today, Vladimir Putin can go to war without asking anyone and the people, and Russian conscripts too – suffer the consequences. Kant’s experience of living in a militarised state governed by a single man is eerily relevant today. Reading this thinker tells as much about contemporary politics as it teaches us about 18th…

By Immanuel Kant, David L. Colclasure (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Immanuel Kant's views on politics, peace, and history have lost none of their relevance since their publication more than two centuries ago. This volume contains a comprehensive collection of Kant's writings on international relations theory and political philosophy, superbly translated and accompanied by stimulating essays.
Pauline Kleingeld provides a lucid introduction to the main themes of the volume, and three essays by distinguished contributors follow: Jeremy Waldron on Kant's theory of the state; Michael W. Doyle on the implications of Kant's political theory for his theory of international relations; and Allen W. Wood on Kant's philosophical approach to history and…


Book cover of Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought

Peter J. Verovšek Author Of Memory and the Future of Europe: Rupture and Integration in the Wake of Total War

From my list on memory and postwar Europe.

Who am I?

I am an international political and critical theorist interested in the way that key events and experiences from the past continue to affect politics in the present. I was born in the US but moved back to Slovenia when I was in high school, before returning to the states to attend Dartmouth College as an undergraduate, and Yale University for my doctoral studies in political science. This international, bi-continental background – as well as my own family’s history of migration following World War II – has fueled my interest in twentieth-century European history, collective memory and European integration. 

Peter's book list on memory and postwar Europe

Peter J. Verovšek Why did Peter love this book?

Hannah Arendt is the most important political thinker of the post-totalitarian moment. While her 1951 Origins of Totalitarianism is more well-known and became a bestseller again after the election of President Donald Trump, in this collection of essays she lays out her ideas about the way that the past helps us to locate ourselves in the present by imagining and reimagining our futures. This book was hugely influential for me during my graduate studies at Yale. Unlike so many political theorists, Arendt is also a wonderfully accessible and engaging writer.

By Hannah Arendt, Jerome Kohn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Between Past and Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Origins of Totalitarianism, “a book to think with through the political impasses and cultural confusions of our day” (Harper’s Magazine)
 
Hannah Arendt’s insightful observations of the modern world, based on a profound knowledge of the past, constitute an impassioned contribution to political philosophy. In Between Past and Future Arendt describes the perplexing crises modern society faces as a result of the loss of meaning of the traditional key words of politics: justice, reason, responsibility, virtue, and glory. Through a series of eight exercises, she shows how we can redistill the vital…


Book cover of On Liberty

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

While the cover only lists John Stuart as the author, he acknowledged in his autobiography that the book was “directly and literally our joint production” with his wife Harriet. And certainly, the book has a different tone than ‘his’ other works; less academic, and more lively. Anyway, what they wanted to show was that the “only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind.” This is so relevant today when autocrats from Beijing, through Moscow, to Budapest are muzzling voices with different degrees of severity. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. And the evidence shows that dictators and despots are fallible. Democracy works. Dictatorship does not.…

By John Stuart Mill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discussed and debated from time immemorial, the concept of personal liberty went without codification until the 1859 publication of On Liberty. John Stuart Mill's complete and resolute dedication to the cause of freedom inspired this treatise, an enduring work through which the concept remains well known and studied.
The British economist, philosopher, and ethical theorist's argument does not focus on "the so-called Liberty of the Will…but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual." Mill asks and answers provocative questions relating to the boundaries of social authority…


Book cover of The Complete Essays

Eric Schwitzgebel Author Of The Weirdness of the World

From my list on blow your mind about the weirdness of the world.

Who am I?

What I love about philosophy (I’ve been a philosophy professor at the University of California, Riverside, since 1997) is not its ability to deliver the one correct answer to the nature of the world and how to live but rather its power to open our mind to new possibilities that we hadn’t previously considered; its power to blow apart our presuppositions, our culturally given “common sense” understandings, and our habitual patterns of thinking, casting us into doubt and wonder. The science writing, fiction, and personal essays I love best have that same power.

Eric's book list on blow your mind about the weirdness of the world

Eric Schwitzgebel Why did Eric love this book?

In the 16th century, Montaigne literally invented the concept of an essay, literally, “essais” or attempts, attempts to find answers rather than treatises that present the answers ready-made.

I feel that rather than trying to sell a particular view, Montaigne invites me as a reader into his wandering thoughts, looping back and forth through his wonderful ideas. Montaigne is skeptical of conventional wisdom but also skeptical of his, our, my, ability to surpass conventional wisdom. Are we as much smarter than foxes as we think? Are cannibals more civilized than the French?

Montaigne feels like my intimate friend, my partner in reflection.

By Michel de Montaigne, M. A. Screech (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michel de Montaigne was one of the most influential figures of the Renaissance, singlehandedly responsible for popularising the essay as a literary form. This Penguin Classics edition of The Complete Essays is translated from the French and edited with an introduction and notes by M.A. Screech.

In 1572 Montaigne retired to his estates in order to devote himself to leisure, reading and reflection. There he wrote his constantly expanding 'assays', inspired by the ideas he found in books contained in his library and from his own experience. He discusses subjects as diverse as war-horses and cannibals, poetry and politics, sex…


Book cover of Spinoza on Learning to Live Together

Steven Nadler Author Of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From my list on Spinoza.

Who am I?

I have immersed myself in the study of seventeenth-century philosophy for almost forty years. Over that time, I have become particularly devoted to Spinoza. This is because, first, I think he got it all pretty much right; his views on religion, on human nature, and especially on what it is to lead a good life have always struck me as correct and relevant. You can be a Spinozist today, three and a half centuries after his death, and it would make perfect sense. Second, Spinoza is endlessly fascinating. I find that every time I read him⎯and I’ve been reading and re-reading him for a long time now⎯it gets more difficult. Just when you think you know him, there are always new questions that arise and new puzzles to solve.

Steven's book list on Spinoza

Steven Nadler Why did Steven love this book?

James is one of our best Spinoza scholars, and she writes with a clarity and urgency not often found in history of philosophy literature. This is a broad study that covers a lot of ground in just over two hundred pages, with a particular emphasis on how Spinoza envisions political and social life. They are mostly previously published essays, but they all hang together under the theme of how we, as rational and passionate beings, can live together democratically, cooperatively, and in peace. An excellent contribution to envisioning Spinoza as an important moral and political thinker.

By Susan James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spinoza on Learning to Live Together as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Philosophising, as Spinoza conceives it, is the project of learning to live joyfully. Yet this is also a matter of learning to live together, and the surest manifestation of philosophical insight is the capacity to sustain a harmonious way of life. Here, Susan James defends this overall interpretation of Spinoza's philosophy and explores its bearing on contemporary philosophical debates around issues such as religious toleration, putting our knowledge to work, and
the environmental crisis.

Part I focuses on Spinoza's epistemology. Philosophical understanding empowers us by giving us access to truths about ourselves and the world, and by motivating us to…


Book cover of A Theory of Justice

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance: The Struggle against Kahanism in Israel

From my list on political philosophy justice, liberty, and equality.

Who am I?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, is Professor of Politics, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull, and Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA) and Nirma University (India). A prolific author with more than 300 publications to his name, Raphael has published extensively in the field of political philosophy, including Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Tolerance; Challenges to Democracy; The Right to Die with Dignity; The Scope of Tolerance; Confronting the Internet's Dark Side; Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism, and The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab.

Raphael's book list on political philosophy justice, liberty, and equality

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Why did Raphael love this book?

If there is a classic, great book in political philosophy that will be discussed and taught for many more years to come, alongside the iconic books of John Locke and JS Mill, then this is the one. When I studied at Oxford during the 1980s, it was near impossible to write about anything in political philosophy without referring to Rawls’ philosophy. Rawls convinced me that of all the values, justice is the most important value in life. And he provided a comprehensive answer to the intriguing question: What is justice? I engage with this book constantly, reread it and refer to its rationale in many of my writings. I keep copies of this seminal book at home and at my office. I was fortunate to meet Rawls at Tel Aviv University.

By John Rawls,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Theory of Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since it appeared in 1971, John Rawls's A Theory of Justice has become a classic. The author has now revised the original edition to clear up a number of difficulties he and others have found in the original book.

Rawls aims to express an essential part of the common core of the democratic tradition--justice as fairness--and to provide an alternative to utilitarianism, which had dominated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political thought since the nineteenth century. Rawls substitutes the ideal of the social contract as a more satisfactory account of the basic rights and liberties of citizens as free and equal…


Book cover of The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism, Second Edition

Ronald Beiner Author Of Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right

From my list on the intellectuals of the contemporary far right.

Who am I?

I’m a political theorist recently retired from the University of Toronto. Around fall 2014, I became aware that a hyper-energetic, well-educated intelligentsia was trying to move heaven and earth to make fascism intellectually respectable again. I resolved to educate myself about these scary characters. I was truly alarmed, and wrote my book to convey my alarm to fellow citizens who hadn’t yet woken up to the threat. Sure enough, within a couple of years, Richard Spencer rose to media stardom; and one of the first things that Trump did after being elected in November of 2016 was to decide that a crypto-fascist Steve Bannon was worthy of a senior position in the White House. 

Ronald's book list on the intellectuals of the contemporary far right

Ronald Beiner Why did Ronald love this book?

A strong case can be made that Richard Wolin got the jump on the rest of us with respect to appreciating the continued relevance of the Nietzsche-inspired intellectual far right. The first edition of Seduction of Unreason was published in 2004, 14 years before I published my book. I’m humbled by the fact that it took me so long to wake up to the fact that what was dangerous about Nietzsche in the 20th century remains dangerous today.

By Richard Wolin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever since the shocking revelations of the fascist ties of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been extensive and widespread. He questions postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the Left, suggesting instead that it has long been enamored with the opposite end of the political spectrum. Wolin reveals how, during in the 1930s, C. G. Jung, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot were seduced by fascism's promise of political…


Book cover of Potentia: Hobbes and Spinoza on Power and Popular Politics

Steven Nadler Author Of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From my list on Spinoza.

Who am I?

I have immersed myself in the study of seventeenth-century philosophy for almost forty years. Over that time, I have become particularly devoted to Spinoza. This is because, first, I think he got it all pretty much right; his views on religion, on human nature, and especially on what it is to lead a good life have always struck me as correct and relevant. You can be a Spinozist today, three and a half centuries after his death, and it would make perfect sense. Second, Spinoza is endlessly fascinating. I find that every time I read him⎯and I’ve been reading and re-reading him for a long time now⎯it gets more difficult. Just when you think you know him, there are always new questions that arise and new puzzles to solve.

Steven's book list on Spinoza

Steven Nadler Why did Steven love this book?

It is impossible to read Spinoza and not think often of Thomas Hobbes. Spinoza read Hobbes’s works and was clearly influenced by the English philosopher both in his account of human nature and, especially, in his political thinking. This is, as far as I know, the first book devoted explicitly to the two thinkers together. Field’s focus is on the political, and she does a beautiful job of analyzing and distinguishing different conceptions of ‘power’ (both in the individual and in the group), as well as illuminating similarities and contrasts between these two of the most important early modern thinkers on politics and the state.

By Sandra Leonie Field,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We live in an age of growing dissatisfaction with the standard operations of representative democracy. The solution, according to a long radical democratic tradition, is the unmediated power of the people. Mass plebiscites and mass protest movements are celebrated as the quintessential expression of popular power, and this power promises to transcend ordinary institutional politics. But the outcomes of mass political phenomena can be just as disappointing as the
ordinary politics they sought to overcome, breeding skepticism about democratic politics in all its forms.

Potentia argues that the very meaning of popular power needs to be rethought. It offers a…


Book cover of The Tyranny of the Ideal: Justice in a Diverse Society

Scott E. Page Author Of The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You

From my list on for aspiring or inspiring social scientist.

Who am I?

I’m a professor at The University of Michigan, external faculty at The Santa Fe Institute, and an editor of Collective Intelligence. As a theorist, I build mathematical and computational models and frameworks. My research explores the functional contributions of diversity – different ways of thinking and seeing – on group performance, a topic I explore in my book The Difference. Recently, I’ve become interested in how to build ensembles of markets, democracies, hierarchies, self-organized communities, or algorithms so that societies prosper. That agenda drives the books I have chosen for this list.

Scott's book list on for aspiring or inspiring social scientist

Scott E. Page Why did Scott love this book?

This book challenges the notion that we should rely on the ideal as a guidepost. Set aside whether we could decide on an ideal; Gaus, a philosopher, makes a four-part argument against pursuing it. First, how could we contemplate the incomprehensible number of possible institutional, legal, and organizational configurations? We couldn’t. Second, the components of those configurations interact, resulting in a rugged landscape: the path to the ideal would not be entirely uphill, that is, it would require sacrifices. Hence, the book’s title. Third, owing to the interactions among choices, we cannot evaluate collective well-being in alternative configurations with any accuracy. What hubris to assume that we could. And finally, the landscape responds to our positioning, as we adapt our physical, organizational, and institutional (both formal and invisible) environments, we alter what we can achieve and what we desire.

By Gerald Gaus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his provocative new book, The Tyranny of the Ideal, Gerald Gaus lays out a vision for how we should theorize about justice in a diverse society. Gaus shows how free and equal people, faced with intractable struggles and irreconcilable conflicts, might share a common moral life shaped by a just framework. He argues that if we are to take diversity seriously and if moral inquiry is sincere about shaping the world, then the pursuit of idealized and perfect theories of justice-essentially, the entire production of theories of justice that has dominated political philosophy for the past forty years-needs to…


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