100 books like Critique of Pure Reason

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

Here are 100 books that Critique of Pure Reason fans have personally recommended if you like Critique of Pure Reason. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Philosophical Investigations Into the Essence of Human Freedom

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?

Schelling’s 1809 Freiheitschrift is one of Žižek’s favorite philosophical works of all time. Schelling therein strives to develop an account of evil as a positive ontological reality unto itself, rather than a negative rendition of it as a simple privation of goodness. In so doing, he is led to elaborate a metaphysics in which determinism, à la a Spinoza-inspired ontological monism, and freedom, à la the self-legislating subject of German idealism, are rendered compatible. As part of this vision, Schelling distinguishes between “ground” and “existence”—with free subjectivity depicted as the resurgence, within the pacified, stable reality of existence, of the unruliness of shadowy, primordial ground. Žižek’s repeated recourses to quantum physics for ontological insights are heavily reliant on this Schelling in particular.

By F.W.J. Schelling, Jeff Love (translator), Johannes Schmidt (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Philosophical Investigations Into the Essence of Human Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Schelling’s masterpiece investigating evil and freedom.

Jeff Love and Johannes Schmidt offer a fresh translation of Schelling’s enigmatic and influential masterpiece, widely recognized as an indispensable work of German Idealism. The text is an embarrassment of riches—both wildly adventurous and somberly prescient. Martin Heidegger claimed that it was “one of the deepest works of German and thus also of Western philosophy” and that it utterly undermined Hegel’s monumental Science of Logic before the latter had even appeared in print. Schelling carefully investigates the problem of evil by building on Kant’s notion of radical evil, while also developing an astonishingly original…


Book cover of Hegel's Science of Logic

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?

By Žižek’s own admission, Hegel is as important to him as Lacan. And, Hegel’s mature Logic, spelled out in greatest detail in his hulking Science of Logic, sits at the very center of the entire Hegelian system in all its sprawling, encyclopedic scope. In the Science of Logic, Hegel elaborates and explores at great length the basic categories most fundamental to the very intelligibility of anything whatsoever. In addition to delineating the various conceptual contents contributing to reality being knowable, Hegel also provides, in the Science of Logic, a virtuoso display of the ways of thinking peculiar to his (in)famous speculative dialectics. One cannot fully appreciate Hegel without appreciating his Logic. Likewise, one cannot fully appreciate Žižek without appreciating Hegel.

By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, A.V. Miller (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hegel's Science of Logic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.


Book cover of Beyond the Pleasure Principle

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?

Of all Freud’s writings, 1920's Beyond the Pleasure Principle occupies a special place in relation not only to Žižek’s conception of psychoanalysis but also to his philosophical/theoretical framework as a whole. This is the text in which Freud introduces his audacious and controversial hypothesis of the “death drive” (Todestrieb). It is not until 1920 that Freud fully brings to light tendencies within the psyche disrupting and disobeying the pleasure principle, forces of negativity able to suspend (if only momentarily) the psyche’s usual pursuits of gratification, satisfaction, well-being, and the like. Žižek repeatedly insists that his core intellectual agenda ultimately is to demonstrate an underlying equivalence between the Cogito-like subject of German idealism and the death drive as per Freud and Lacan.

By Sigmund Freud, James Strachey (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond the Pleasure Principle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This short work by world-renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud marks a major turning point in the author's theoretical approach. Prior to this work Freud's examination of the forces that drive man focused primarily on the Eros of man, the life instinct innate in all humans. In "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" Freud moves beyond these creative and pleasure-seeking impulses to discuss the impact on human psychology of the Thanatos, or death instinct, which Freud describes as "an urge inherent in all organic life to restore an earlier state of things".


Book cover of Écrits

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?

One prominent feature of Žižek’s oeuvre that initially brought him to fame is his impressive ability to make Lacan’s writings and ideas crystal-clear and tangibly concrete—and this by contrast with Lacan himself, who often is described as “notoriously difficult.” Écrits is Lacan’s magnum opus, containing his most important essays and articles from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. Although the volumes of Lacan’s Seminar are comparatively easier to read, Écrits provides the single most comprehensive survey of Lacan’s thinking provided by Lacan himself. This 1966 book contains such Lacanian contributions to psychoanalytic theory as the mirror stage, the unconscious structured like a language, and the Real-Symbolic-Imaginary triad. Neither Lacan nor Žižek can be fully comprehended without a tour of the Écrits.

By Jacques Lacan, Bruce Fink (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brilliant and innovative, Jacques Lacan's work lies at the epicenter of modern thought about otherness, subjectivity, sexual difference, the drives, the law, and enjoyment. This new translation of his complete works offers welcome, readable access to Lacan's seminal thinking on diverse subjects touched upon over the course of his inimitable intellectual career.


Book cover of The Critique of Pure Reason

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?

Kant is one the most important, and many, including myself, would argue the most seminal thinkers in the Western intellectual tradition.

His epistemological and metaphysical masterpiece, The Critique of Pure Reason, has had the single greatest impact on my own thinking about how we think and know “the world,” both in its “inner” and “outer” dimensions.

By Immanuel Kant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Critique of Pure Reason (1781) is one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. It is also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", being followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition Kant explains what he means by a critique of pure reason: "I do not mean by this a critique of books and systems, but of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience." “There is no single philosopher of…


Book cover of Philosophy of Material Nature: Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science and Prolegomena

Frank Scalambrino Author Of The Philosophy of Being in the Analytic, Continental, and Thomistic Traditions: Divergence and Dialogue

From my list on philosophical metaphysics on what is be-ing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a classically and formally trained philosopher. I have a Doctorate in Philosophy from Duquesne University (2011). I've been interested in philosophy for as long as I can remember; however, I began formally studying philosophy when I first discovered the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. I began teaching philosophy at the university level in 2004. I've taught over 100 university-level courses, including graduate-level courses in both philosophy and psychology. I'm presently finishing my tenth philosophy book, along with over 50 professional peer-reviewed articles in philosophy. These days my attention is devoted to sharing philosophy on the internet through The Philosophemes YouTube Channel, @Philosophemes on Instagram, and the Basic Philosophical Questions Podcast

Frank's book list on philosophical metaphysics on what is be-ing

Frank Scalambrino Why did Frank love this book?

Immanuel Kant is one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy – specifically regarding metaphysics – because he discovered the internal logic and organization for all of philosophical metaphysics. The book with which Kant accomplished that monumental feat is extremely difficult to read and understand. Therefore, Kant wrote an easier-to-read version, and that is the book that I am recommending: Philosophy of Material Nature. This book is highly affordable and readable.

The book that the Philosophy of Material Nature paraphrases is, of course, the Critique of Pure Reason. What all of these works show us is that philosophical metaphysics naturally divides into theological metaphysics, cosmological metaphysics, and psychological metaphysics. Kant’s achievement is standardly characterized as the articulation of philosophical metaphysics as a science. The general term for such a science is “transcendental philosophy.” Thus, the rest of the books in this recommendation list relate to…

By Immanuel Kant, James W. Ellington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume combines two of Kant's key works on the metaphysics of nature--the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science and Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science --in the preeminent translations of James W. Ellington. Each work is preceded by an expert Introduction by Ellington and is followed by a German-English List of Terms and an Index.


Book cover of Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge

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?

The book that made the philosophy of science relevant to everything.

Popper’s rejection of inductive reasoning had fascinating implications for politics, psychology, and (through E. H. Gombrich) art. The simple idea that perception is always predetermined by experience was not new, of course (Popper always credited his predecessors, including Xenophanes), but I find his ability to develop this theme against the contemporary vogue for empirical positivism deeply rewarding.

Popper helped to establish our modern intellectual climate with his most important lesson, adapted from Darwin: Embrace criticism. 

By Karl Popper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Conjectures and Refutations is one of Karl Popper's most wide-ranging and popular works, notable not only for its acute insight into the way scientific knowledge grows, but also for applying those insights to politics and to history. It provides one of the clearest and most accessible statements of the fundamental idea that guided his work: not only our knowledge, but our aims and our standards, grow through an unending process of trial and error.


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 Naming and Necessity

Yehonathan Sharvit Author Of Data-Oriented Programming

From my list on become a great developer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I boast a two-decade-long career in the software industry. Over the years, I have diligently honed my programming skills across a multitude of languages, including JavaScript, C++, Java, Ruby, and Clojure. Throughout my career, I have taken on various management roles, from Team Leader to VP of Engineering. No matter the role, the thing I have enjoyed the most is to make complex topics easy to understand.

Yehonathan's book list on become a great developer

Yehonathan Sharvit Why did Yehonathan love this book?

Naming and Necessity had a profound impact on my understanding of the importance of using proper names in programming (for functions, variables, etc.). I was fascinated by Kripke’s exploration of the usage of names in our day-to-day language. His arguments challenged my thinking and introduced me to new ways of considering reference and meaning.

The clarity and rigor of his analysis pushed me to refine my reasoning skills. Despite being a challenging read, I found it incredibly rewarding.

By Saul A Kripke,

Why should I read it?

4 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.


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