100 books like Conjectures and Refutations

By Karl Popper,

Here are 100 books that Conjectures and Refutations fans have personally recommended if you like Conjectures and Refutations. 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 Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation

Will Kitchen Author Of Film, Negation and Freedom: Capitalism and Romantic Critique

From my list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in academic film analysis, although this has opened doors to many subjects: literature, music, philosophy, political economy… My students are always encouraged to think beyond their "home" discipline when they come to university. I believe that if you study a subject deep enough, it will lead to all the others. So far, my research has led me from classical music through Hollywood biopics and Romanic philosophy to some of the most fundamental questions about the construction and social organisation of creative labour in the modern world. I find that the most enjoyable books explain the world to us whilst reflecting upon what that act of explanation means. 

Will's book list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom

Will Kitchen Why did Will love this book?

Like most students, I first came to classes expecting to absorb knowledge from my teachers. Rancière made me think again.

Every good professor knows from experience that learning is always a two-way process. Rope learning might prepare us for ‘the real world,’ but the real world is not a place of freedom.

For Rancière, if we really want to change the world, the educator must be transformed from the venerable sage into the honest tyrant who proclaims: “You’ve got to think for yourselves, even if you must be told to do it.”

By Jacques Ranciere,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This extraordinary book can be read on several levels. Primarily, it is the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiles French schoolteacher who discovered in 1818 an unconventional teaching method that spread panic throughout the learned community of Europe.

Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who knew no French; knowledge, Jacotot concluded, was not necessary to teach, nor explication necessary to learn. The results of this unusual experiment in pedagogy led him to announce that all people were equally intelligent. From this postulate, Jacotot devised a philosophy and a method for what he…


Book cover of Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life

Will Kitchen Author Of Film, Negation and Freedom: Capitalism and Romantic Critique

From my list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in academic film analysis, although this has opened doors to many subjects: literature, music, philosophy, political economy… My students are always encouraged to think beyond their "home" discipline when they come to university. I believe that if you study a subject deep enough, it will lead to all the others. So far, my research has led me from classical music through Hollywood biopics and Romanic philosophy to some of the most fundamental questions about the construction and social organisation of creative labour in the modern world. I find that the most enjoyable books explain the world to us whilst reflecting upon what that act of explanation means. 

Will's book list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom

Will Kitchen Why did Will love this book?

As a writer, Adorno learned much from music–both what it says and what it fails to say. Each page is packed with enough ideas to inspire a dozen discussions.

For me, philosophy makes the most sense in this "continental" (as opposed to "analytic") style. The fragmentary, anti-systemic approach developed from the Early German Romantics, extending through Friedrich Nietzsche down to the poststructuralists.

Although falling short of the grandeur of his magnum opus, Negative Dialectics, Adorno’s most accessible book maintains a keen critical edge alongside an appealing balance between clarity and richness––reason and imagination. 

By Theodor Adorno, Edmund FN Jephcott (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written between 1944 and 1947, Minima Moralia is a collection of rich, lucid aphorisms and essays about life in modern capitalist society. Adorno casts his penetrating eye across society in mid-century America and finds a life deformed by capitalism. This is Adorno's theoretical and literary masterpiece and a classic of twentieth-century thought.


Book cover of Language and Symbolic Power

Will Kitchen Author Of Film, Negation and Freedom: Capitalism and Romantic Critique

From my list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in academic film analysis, although this has opened doors to many subjects: literature, music, philosophy, political economy… My students are always encouraged to think beyond their "home" discipline when they come to university. I believe that if you study a subject deep enough, it will lead to all the others. So far, my research has led me from classical music through Hollywood biopics and Romanic philosophy to some of the most fundamental questions about the construction and social organisation of creative labour in the modern world. I find that the most enjoyable books explain the world to us whilst reflecting upon what that act of explanation means. 

Will's book list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom

Will Kitchen Why did Will love this book?

Capital requires agreement. This was Bourdieu’s fundamental lesson, and he reveals how it can apply to everything: money, authority, language, prestige, leadership, education, and even knowledge itself. Bourdieu was not alone in subjecting the social field to market analysis, but in books like this one, he attained a level of analytical rigour and sociological imagination which has rarely been equalled.

Throughout my education, I have found (and still find) that the best books will expose the reader to completely new ideas that seem like the kind of thing you always already knew. That could almost be a definition of ‘philosophy’–one that empowers the reader. Bourdieu writes that way. 

By Pierre Bourdieu, Gino Raymond (translator), Matthew Adamson (translator) , John Thompson (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume brings together Pierre Bourdieu's highly original writings on language and on the relations among language, power, and politics. Bourdieu develops a forceful critique of traditional approaches to language, including the linguistic theories of Saussure and Chomsky and the theory of speech-acts elaborated by Austin and others. He argues that language should be viewed not only as a means of communication but also as a medium of power through which individuals pursue their own interests and display their practical competence.

Drawing on the concepts that are part of his distinctive theoretical approach, Bourdieu maintains that linguistic utterances or expressions…


Book cover of Explanation and Power: The Control of Human Behavior

Will Kitchen Author Of Film, Negation and Freedom: Capitalism and Romantic Critique

From my list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in academic film analysis, although this has opened doors to many subjects: literature, music, philosophy, political economy… My students are always encouraged to think beyond their "home" discipline when they come to university. I believe that if you study a subject deep enough, it will lead to all the others. So far, my research has led me from classical music through Hollywood biopics and Romanic philosophy to some of the most fundamental questions about the construction and social organisation of creative labour in the modern world. I find that the most enjoyable books explain the world to us whilst reflecting upon what that act of explanation means. 

Will's book list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom

Will Kitchen Why did Will love this book?

An interdisciplinary study taken to its logical conclusion. Starting with a powerful interpretation of Romanticism back in the 1950s, Peckham’s work culminated in an ambitious "general theory of human behaviour."

In essence, this book helped me understand that explanation is a form of violence–all languages, and all cultures, strive to enforce predictable behaviour in other human beings. Despite his flaws, Peckham offers a fascinating example of the power of interdisciplinarity. All subjects, when followed through, lead to all the others. 

By Morse Peckham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explanation and Power was first published in 1988. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The meaning of any utterance or any sign is the response to that utterance or sign: this is the fundamental proposition behind Morse Peckham's Explanation and Power. Published in 1979 and now available in paperback for the first time, Explanation and Power grew out of Peckham's efforts, as a scholar of Victorian literature, to understand the nature of Romanticism. His search ultimately led back to-and built upon-the…


Book cover of Understanding Ignorance: The Surprising Impact of What We Don't Know

Michael Smithson Author Of Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

From my list on ignorance, uncertainty, and risk.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in ignorance and uncertainty was sparked when I was an undergraduate mathematics student. I was taking my first courses in probability and then reading about Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, realizing that even mathematics contains untamed unknowns. Later, as a PhD student in sociology I read theories about how knowledge is socially constructed, the foundation of the “sociology of knowledge”. I wondered why there wasn’t also a “sociology of ignorance”. That ignited my interest, and the social construction of ignorance became my life-long research topic. I have since seen it grow from my solo efforts in the 1980s to a flourishing multidisciplinary topic of research and public debate.  

Michael's book list on ignorance, uncertainty, and risk

Michael Smithson Why did Michael love this book?

If you’d like to take a relatively straightforward but sophisticated tour through ignorance, this book is for you. 

Frankly, it’s a book I would like to have written. The author is a philosopher and I’m not, so his viewpoint and voice differ from mine, but his book echoes, parallels, and expands my own work and a host of others’ writings on ignorance. DeNicola uses four engaging metaphors as vehicles for his tour: ignorance as a place, a boundary, a limit, and a horizon. 

His treatment of ignorance nicely avoids the usual negative bias against it. Like me, he recognizes that ignorance has its uses and even can be beneficial or virtuous. And his footnotes and bibliography provide plenty of material if you want to find out more. 

By Daniel R. DeNicola,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exploration of what we can know about what we don't know: why ignorance is more than simply a lack of knowledge.

Ignorance is trending. Politicians boast, “I'm not a scientist.” Angry citizens object to a proposed state motto because it is in Latin, and “This is America, not Mexico or Latin America.” Lack of experience, not expertise, becomes a credential. Fake news and repeated falsehoods are accepted and shape firm belief. Ignorance about American government and history is so alarming that the ideal of an informed citizenry now seems quaint. Conspiracy theories and false knowledge thrive. This may be…


Book cover of A Treatise of Human Nature

Steven Pinker Author Of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

From my list on rationality and why it matters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Harvard professor of psychology and a cognitive scientist who’s interested in all aspects of language, mind, and human nature. I grew up in Montreal, but have lived most of my adult life in the Boston area, bouncing back and forth between Harvard and MIT except for stints in California as a professor at Stanford and sabbatical visitor in Santa Barbara and now, Berkeley. I alternate between books on language (how it works, what it reveals about human nature, what makes for clear and stylish writing) and books on the human mind and human condition (how the mind works, why violence has declined, how progress can take place).

Steven's book list on rationality and why it matters

Steven Pinker Why did Steven love this book?

When I wrote Rationality, I mentioned Hume 32 times. He didn’t think of everything, but he explained an astonishing range of topics related to rationality, including causation versus correlation, is versus ought, and individual versus collective self-interest.

His follow-up, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, explained why we shouldn’t believe in miracles. He explored all of these topics with clarity and wit, putting modern academic writing to shame.

By David Hume,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Treatise of Human Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the greatest of all philosophical works, covering knowledge, imagination, emotion, morality, and justice." — Baroness Warnock, The List
Published in the mid-18th century and received with indifference (it "fell dead-born from the press," noted the author), David Hume's comprehensive three-volume A Treatise of Human Nature has withstood the test of time and has had enormous impact on subsequent philosophical thought. Hume — whom Kant famously credited with having "interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a quite new direction" — intended this work as an observationally grounded study of human nature.…


Book cover of Critique of Pure Reason

Adrian Johnston Author Of Zizek's Ontology: A Transcendental Materialist Theory of Subjectivity

From my list on understanding the work of Slavoj Žižek.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to developing interests in both psychoanalysis and German idealism during my time as a student, I came across Slavoj Žižek’s writings in the mid-1990s. Žižek immediately became a significant source of inspiration for my own efforts at interfacing philosophies with psychoanalysis. By the time I began writing my dissertation – which became my first book, Time Driven: Metapsychology and the Splitting of the Drive – I had the great fortune to meet Žižek. He soon agreed to serve as co-director of my dissertation and we have remained close ever since. I decided to write a book demonstrating that Žižek is not dismissible as a gadfly preoccupied with using popular culture and current events merely for cheap provocations.

Adrian's book list on understanding the work of Slavoj Žižek

Adrian Johnston Why did Adrian love this book?

In Žižek’s view, philosophy as we know it today does not well and truly begin until the late-eighteenth century, with Kant’s critical-transcendental “Copernican revolution.” The Critique of Pure Reason inaugurates this revolution. It insists on the ineliminable centrality of the structures and dynamics of minded subjectivity for the constitution of what we experience as objective reality. Moreover, on Žižek’s psychoanalytic rereading of Kant’s epoch-making 1781/1787 masterpiece, Kant anticipates, among many other things, Lacan’s idea of an internally divided subject as the ultimate unconscious condition of possibility for how we humans register and understand ourselves and our world. Moreover, the Kant of the first Critique is crucial for Žižek as the inspiration for the entire tradition of post-Kantian German idealism so central to Žižek’s own philosophical program.

By Immanuel Kant, Paul Guyer (translator), Allen W. Wood (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This entirely new translation of Critique of Pure Reason is the most accurate and informative English translation ever produced of this epochal philosophical text. Though its simple and direct style will make it suitable for all new readers of Kant, the translation displays an unprecedented philosophical and textual sophistication that will enlighten Kant scholars as well. This translation recreates as far as possible a text with the same interpretative nuances and richness as the original. The extensive editorial apparatus includes informative annotation, detailed glossaries, an index, and a large-scale general introduction in which two of the world's preeminent Kant scholars…


Book cover of The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 1

Charles P. Webel Author Of The World as Idea: A Conceptual History

From my list on how the world may or may not be what you think it is.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong student with what I sometimes call “a multidisciplinary disorder,” I have been intrigued both about “the outer world,” or the “external environment of life on planet Earth, and “the mind that knows the world.” Hence, as a teenager in New York City, I read voraciously books in philosophy, history, and the social and natural sciences to learn what “great minds” have thought about “the world.” Much later, as an “academic” researcher and writer, I scoured the shelves of university libraries to examine what I considered the strengths and weaknesses of the academic disciplines that addressed our “knowledge of the world,” and their applications for “changing the world for the better.” My book The World as Idea is the first volume of a projected trilogy modestly entitled The Fate of This World and The Future of Humanity. I’m now working on the second volume, The Reality of This World.

Charles' book list on how the world may or may not be what you think it is

Charles P. Webel Why did Charles love this book?

Schopenhauer is one of the 19th century’s most important, and frequently overlooked, thinkers.

His multivolume work, translated as The World as Will and Representation, or The World as Will and Idea, has had the single greatest impact on my own thinking about “the world,” and as clearly written as a German philosopher can make it, this multi-volume, sometimes appearing as one-volume abridged edition, should be on every educated reader’s bucket list.

By Arthur Schopenhauer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century, the basic statement of one important stream of post-Kantian thought. It is without question Schopenhauer's greatest work. Conceived and published before the philosopher was 30 and expanded 25 years later, it is the summation of a lifetime of thought.
For 70 years, the only unabridged English translation of this work was the Haldane-Kemp collaboration. In 1958, a new translation by E. F. J. Payne appeared that decisively supplanted the older one. Payne's translation is superior because it corrects nearly 1,000…


Book cover of Naming and Necessity

Gary Kemp Author Of What is this thing called Philosophy of Language?

From my list on those interested in language itself.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a philosopher of language (and of art) and have been for 30+ years. Why philosophy of language? Well, it encourages a certain salutary kind of self-consciousness—which is extremely valuable to philosophy—and facilitates greater rigor. But it only got going some one hundred and twenty years ago. So it's modern(ish) as well as deep.  And whereas it might seem a narrow slice of the philosophical pie, it isn't; it seems to provide fruitful ways of thinking for almost any philosophical subject. For example, rather than 'What is X?', we ask 'What do we mean by "X"?'; a subtle difference perhaps but the change in perspective might be a key.

Gary's book list on those interested in language itself

Gary Kemp Why did Gary love this book?

I never believed a word of it, yet here is a most challenging, extremely well-written, and powerful statement of the "new theory" of reference, which is so satisfactory, so promising, yet even comforting in many ways.

Contained within are various arguments (akin to thought experiments) aimed at nudging one towards a way of thinking about language that is compelling, of the "I knew it all along! How could anyone not see?" variety. 

By Saul A Kripke,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Naming and Necessity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Naming and Necessity' has had a great and increasing influence. It redirected philosophical attention to neglected questions of natural and metaphysical necessity and to the connections between these and theories of naming, and of identity. This seminal work, to which today's thriving essentialist metaphysics largely owes its impetus, is here reissued in a newly corrected form with a new preface by the author. If there is such a thing as essential reading in metaphysics, or in philosophy of language, this is it.


Book cover of Thinking About Statistics: The Philosophical Foundations

Michael Anthony Lewis Author Of Social Workers Count: Numbers and Social Issues

From my list on quant geeks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've had a long-time interest in two things: mathematics and social issues. This is why I got degrees in social work (Masters) and sociology (PhD) and eventually focused on the quantitative aspects of these two areas. Social Workers Count gave me the chance to marry these two interests by showing the role mathematics can play in illuminating a number of pressing social issues.

Michael's book list on quant geeks

Michael Anthony Lewis Why did Michael love this book?

Jun Otsuka, a philosopher who also has training in statistics, zooms in on their philosophical foundations.

His book discusses the metaphysical, epistemological, and semantic assumptions on which Classical statistics, Bayesian statistics, predictive/classification AI models, and causal inference are based.

For those interested in these disciplines but who're also sensitive to the philosophical issues they raise, Otsuka's book is simply amazing. Run out and get a copy as soon as possible.   

By Jun Otsuka,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Simply stated, this book bridges the gap between statistics and philosophy. It does this by delineating the conceptual cores of various statistical methodologies (Bayesian/frequentist statistics, model selection, machine learning, causal inference, etc.) and drawing out their philosophical implications. Portraying statistical inference as an epistemic endeavor to justify hypotheses about a probabilistic model of a given empirical problem, the book explains the role of ontological, semantic, and epistemological assumptions that make such inductive inference possible. From this perspective, various statistical methodologies are characterized by their epistemological nature: Bayesian statistics by internalist epistemology, classical statistics by externalist epistemology, model selection by pragmatist…


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