95 books like Explanation and Power

By Morse Peckham,

Here are 95 books that Explanation and Power fans have personally recommended if you like Explanation and Power. 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 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 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 Ballads and Lyrical Pieces

Virginia Crow Author Of Beneath Black Clouds and White

From my list on inspirational stories of the romantics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Romantic poetry when I was young. Then, after a gap of several years, I began to write historical fiction, and it was at this time that I found myself being drawn once more to the Romantic poets, this time as people as much as for their work. I discovered their place in the world, contested and controversial, and their influence became a driving light to me and my characters. In Beneath Black Clouds and White, Delphi explains: “It has a pulse, you see, like any other living thing. You must treat each poem as though it were alive.” I feel the same way!

Virginia's book list on inspirational stories of the romantics

Virginia Crow Why did Virginia love this book?

I’m a person with limited interests so, as well as loving history and poetry, I also collect bits of both… Ballads and Lyrical Pieces is one of the only books I can boast about having a first edition of!

I have a lot of time for Walter Scott, not only as a writer, but as a cultural politician and a folklorist. A lot of the pieces in this book are not solely his work, but the reimagining of local ballads. After scooping up these, there’s no wonder he went on to invent the romanticised “Scottishness” we recognise today. This book, 15 years before Scott influenced George IV’s visit to Scotland, shows where his own influences came from.

By Walter Scott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Leopold is delighted to publish this classic book as part of our extensive Classic Library collection. Many of the books in our collection have been out of print for decades, and therefore have not been accessible to the general public. The aim of our publishing program is to facilitate rapid access to this vast reservoir of literature, and our view is that this is a significant literary work, which deserves to be brought back into print after many decades. The contents of the vast majority of titles in the Classic Library have been scanned from the original works. To ensure…


Book cover of The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Fiona Sampson Author Of Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

From my list on literary biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fiona Sampson is a leading British poet and writer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, awarded an MBE for services to literature. Published in thirty-seven languages, she’s the recipient of numerous national and international awards. Her twenty-eight books include the critically acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and she’s Emeritus Professor of Poetry, University of Roehampton.

Fiona's book list on literary biographies

Fiona Sampson Why did Fiona love this book?

The granddaddy of literary autobiography and biography, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions was written in 1769 but published posthumously in 1782. Rousseau, whose pioneering Romantic political philosophy was by then already influential, was setting out to do something equally new when he decided to study human nature, taking as his experimental model the human he knew best – himself. The rollicking result, sometimes self-flagellating, occasionally exhibitionist, deviates from its own model, St Augustine’s fourth-century religious-philosophical Confessions, in being chock-full of what nowadays we call emotional intelligence.

By Jean-Jacques Rousseau, J. Cohen (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Widely regarded as the first modern autobiography, The Confessions is an astonishing work of acute psychological insight. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) argued passionately against the inequality he believed to be intrinsic to civilized society. In his Confessions he relives the first fifty-three years of his radical life with vivid immediacy - from his earliest years, where we can see the source of his belief in the innocence of childhood, through the development of his philosophical and political ideas, his struggle against the French authorities and exile from France following the publication of Emile. Depicting a life of adventure, persecution, paranoia, and…


Book cover of Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Michael K. Ferber Why did Michael love this book?

When I was a student I found this book an inspiration. Beautifully written, it brings out deep affinities between the poetry and ideas of Wordsworth, Shelley, and other poets in England and the idealist philosophers in Germany, and the ways both groups rewrote the cosmic ideas of Christianity and ancient esoteric systems. It continually sets off sparks with its surprising comparisons. In the fifty years since it appeared, scholars have complained about how many writers the book leaves out, but given that its theme is “The High Romantic Argument” and not all of Romanticism, I am still impressed by how much it takes in.

By M. H. Abrams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this remarkable new book, M. H. Abrams definitively studies the Romantic Age (1789-1835)-the age in which Shelley claimed that "the literature of England has arisen as it were from a new birth." Abrams shows that the major poets of the age had in common important themes, modes of expression, and ways of feeling and imagining; that the writings of these poets were an integral part of a comprehensive intellectual tendency which manifested itself in philosophy as well as poetry, in England and in Germany; and that this tendency was causally related to drastic political and social changes of the…


Book cover of The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition

Lawrence Lipking Author Of The Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

From my list on the arts as crucial elements of human life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chameleon scholar. Though my first love is poetry, I have written about all the arts, about 18th-century authors (especially Samuel Johnson), about theories of literature and literary vocations, about Sappho and other abandoned women, about ancients and moderns and chess and marginal glosses and the meaning of life and, most recently, the Scientific Revolution. But I am a teacher too, and The Ordering of the Arts grew out of my fascination with those writers who first taught readers what to look for in painting, music and poetrywhat works were best, what works could change their lives. That project has inspired my own life and all my writing.

Lawrence's book list on the arts as crucial elements of human life

Lawrence Lipking Why did Lawrence love this book?

This classic study introduced me and the whole world of critics and scholars to theoretical perspectives that still resonate among historians of literature and culture. 

It defines a momentous change: the shift from views of art as a mirrora reflection of things as they areto a lampa radiant projection from the hearts and minds of its creators. This revolution in aesthetic principles, formulated by German and British theorists, also resulted in new ways of looking at nature and in new kinds of poetry. 

Abrams charts the depths of Romantic theory; and his work helped spur a revival of interest in the Romanticsnow often cherished as the first modern poets.

By M. H. Abrams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This highly acclaimed study analyzes the various trends in English criticism during the first four decades of this century.


Book cover of Romanticism

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Michael K. Ferber Why did Michael love this book?

Art history also knows a Romantic movement, as does music history. Brown’s book has 250 color plates, mostly of painting from Constable, Turner, Blake, Friedrich, Delacroix, Goya, and many others, but also of some architectural wonders. Brown makes continual connections to the poetry and philosophy of the time, and to political events, as he organizes his chapters by theme: the cult of the artist, the religion of nature, the sense of the past, orientalism, and the exotic, and so on. There are several fine books on Romantic painting, but this is probably the best place to begin.

By David Blayney Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Romanticism was a way of feeling rather than a style in art. In the period c.1775-1830 - against the background of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars - European artists, poets and composers initiated their own rebellion against the dominant political, religious and social ethos of the day. Their quest was for personal expression and individual liberation and, in the process, the Romantics transformed the idea of art, seeing it as an instrument of social and psychological change.

In this comprehensive volume, David Blayney Brown takes a thematic approach to Romanticism, relating it to the concurrent, more stylistic movements…


Book cover of The Roots of Romanticism

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Michael K. Ferber Why did Michael love this book?

Though he declines to define it, Berlin says “The importance of romanticism is that it is the largest recent movement to transform the lives and the thought of the Western world.” In this brief set of lectures he dwells mainly on German writers, since Germany was arguably the homeland of romanticism. Berlin seems to know everything, but his erudition does not interfere with his lively style. What the book lacks in thoroughness it more than makes up with sharp and provocative ideas.

By Isaiah Berlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Roots of Romanticism, one of the twentieth century's most influential philosophers dissects and assesses a movement that changed the course of history. Brilliant, fresh, immediate, and eloquent, these celebrated Mellon Lectures are a bravura intellectual performance. Isaiah Berlin surveys the many attempts to define romanticism, distills its essence, traces its developments from its first stirrings to its apotheosis, and shows how it still permeates our outlook. He ranges over a cast of some of the greatest thinkers and artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Kant, Rousseau, Diderot, Schiller, the Schlegels, Novalis, Goethe, Blake, Byron, and Beethoven.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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