100 books like How Physics Makes Us Free

By J.T. Ismael,

Here are 100 books that How Physics Makes Us Free fans have personally recommended if you like How Physics Makes Us Free. 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 The Order of Time

Isabel Hoving Author Of The Dream Merchant

From my list on showing that our world is a wildly different place.

Why am I passionate about this?

My favorite books all show me that reality is much, much richer and stranger than it seems. And that is exactly what makes me write myself. Already as a child, I wanted the world to be different. I longed for the other, richer realities that were, I felt, just around the corner. So I started to travel, to Senegal and beyond, and learn about other people’s life experiences. When I became a researcher of world literature, it truly came home to me how one-sided my view of the world was. Ouch. Fortunately, there is a wealth of stories out there to tell us about everything we have been blind to. 

Isabel's book list on showing that our world is a wildly different place

Isabel Hoving Why did Isabel love this book?

Carlos Rovelli’s The Order of Time is not at all a fantasy book—it is science—but nevertheless the most inspiring, life changing fantasy I’ve ever read. If I look around me with scientist Rovelli’s eyes, I too see that “the world is made up of networks of kisses, not of stones.” Beautiful, weird, and scientifically accurate. True fantasy! 

By Carlo Rovelli,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Order of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE #1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

One of TIME's Ten Best Nonfiction Books of the Decade

'Captivating, fascinating, profoundly beautiful. . . Rovelli is a wonderfully humane, gentle and witty guide for he is as much philosopher and poet as he is a scientist' John Banville

'We are time. We are this space, this clearing opened by the traces of memory inside the connections between our neurons. We are memory. We are nostalgia. We are longing for a future that will not come'

Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored…


Book cover of What Makes Time Special?

Adrian Bardon Author Of A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time

From my list on time and our perception of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University, with a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I teach courses in the philosophy of space and time, the history of philosophy, and the philosophy of science. In addition to several authored and edited books on the philosophy of time, I have published many scholarly articles on time, perception, knowledge, and the history of the philosophy of time. I have always been attracted to the philosophy of time because time is quite simply at the root of everything: through the study of time we confront and illuminate the deepest possible questions both as to the nature of the physical world and as to the nature of human existence.

Adrian's book list on time and our perception of time

Adrian Bardon Why did Adrian love this book?

Our best physical understanding of the universe has no place for the passage of time as a distinct dynamical process. What time it is ‘now’ is no more a fundamental aspect of the universe than what place is ‘here’. This strikes many as counter-intuitive or impossible. Philosopher Craig Callender takes the reader on a very thorough examination of modern physical theories of time in search of an explanation as to why the time of physics seems to diverge from the time of human experience. He argues that, due to the way the laws of physics are constituted, time is just the dimension that allows for the most informative explanations for physical phenomena.

By Craig Callender,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Makes Time Special? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As we navigate through life we instinctively model time as having a flowing present that divides a fixed past from open future. This model develops in childhood and is deeply saturated within our language, thought and behavior, affecting our conceptions of the universe, freedom and the self. Yet as central as it is to our lives, physics seems to have no room for this flowing present. What Makes Time Special? demonstrates this claim in detail and then turns
to two novel positive tasks. First, by looking at the world "sideways" - in the spatial directions - it shows that physics…


Book cover of Felt Time: The Science of How We Experience Time

Adrian Bardon Author Of A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time

From my list on time and our perception of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University, with a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I teach courses in the philosophy of space and time, the history of philosophy, and the philosophy of science. In addition to several authored and edited books on the philosophy of time, I have published many scholarly articles on time, perception, knowledge, and the history of the philosophy of time. I have always been attracted to the philosophy of time because time is quite simply at the root of everything: through the study of time we confront and illuminate the deepest possible questions both as to the nature of the physical world and as to the nature of human existence.

Adrian's book list on time and our perception of time

Adrian Bardon Why did Adrian love this book?

What is our ‘sense of time’, and why does it vary so much depending on circumstances and our state of mind? Cognitive psychologist Marc Wittmann explores the relationship between consciousness and the sense of being an embodied agent persisting through time. Drawing on cognitive science and neuroscience, he investigates the many factors that affect our experience of time, such as occupation, impulsivity, and mindfulness.

By Marc Wittmann, Marc Wittmann, Erik Butler (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An expert explores the riddle of subjective time, from why time speeds up as we grow older to the connection between time and consciousness.

We have widely varying perceptions of time. Children have trouble waiting for anything. (“Are we there yet?”) Boredom is often connected to our sense of time passing (or not passing). As people grow older, time seems to speed up, the years flitting by without a pause. How does our sense of time come about? In Felt Time, Marc Wittmann explores the riddle of subjective time, explaining our perception of time—whether moment by moment, or in terms…


Book cover of Relativity Visualized

Adrian Bardon Author Of A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time

From my list on time and our perception of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University, with a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I teach courses in the philosophy of space and time, the history of philosophy, and the philosophy of science. In addition to several authored and edited books on the philosophy of time, I have published many scholarly articles on time, perception, knowledge, and the history of the philosophy of time. I have always been attracted to the philosophy of time because time is quite simply at the root of everything: through the study of time we confront and illuminate the deepest possible questions both as to the nature of the physical world and as to the nature of human existence.

Adrian's book list on time and our perception of time

Adrian Bardon Why did Adrian love this book?

Relativity Visualized is simply the secret weapon for understanding Einstein’s theory of relativity. Professor of physics Lewis Carroll Epstein uses brilliant, accessible visualizations (and no equations!) to help any reader to a good conceptual grasp of special and general relativity. If you want relativity without the math, this is the one.

By Lewis Carroll Epstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The latest book in the brilliant, bestselling Sharpe series brings Sharpe to Portugal, and reunites him with Harper.

It is 1809 and Lieutenant Sharpe, who belongs to a small British army that has a precarious foothold in Portugal, is sent to look for Kate Savage, the daughter of an English wine shipper. But before he can discover the missing girl, the French onslaught on Portugal begins and the city of Oporto falls.

Sharpe is stranded behind enemy lines, but he has Patrick Harper, he has his riflemen and he has the assistance of a young, idealistic Portuguese officer. Together, they…


Book cover of An Essay on Free Will

John T. Maier Author Of Options and Agency

From my list on defending the reality of free will.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a philosopher and psychotherapist, with a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton. From the beginning of my work in philosophy, I have been interested in the nature of agency: what is it to be an agent, and how is agency even possible in the first place? These questions naturally drew me to the metaphysics of free will, as well as related topics in the logic and semantics of agentive modality (that is, the kind of possibility and necessity that is characteristic of agents). Much of my recent work has been on more clinical issues, especially on understanding addiction. I continue to be fascinated by fundamental topics in metaphysics, and especially the question of free will.

John's book list on defending the reality of free will

John T. Maier Why did John love this book?

This book is now 40 years old, but it continues to set the agenda for analytic discussions of free will.

It is remarkably clear and honest about the difficulties faced by the author’s preferred view, as well as all alternative views. Despite its influence, a number of the ideas in this book (for example, parallels between the free will debates and external world skepticism) still remain largely unexplored.

By Peter van Inwagen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Essay on Free Will as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author defends the thesis that free will is incompatible with determinism. He disputes the view that determinism is necessary for free will and argues that free will is necessary for moral responsibility.


Book cover of A Metaphysics for Freedom

John T. Maier Author Of Options and Agency

From my list on defending the reality of free will.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a philosopher and psychotherapist, with a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton. From the beginning of my work in philosophy, I have been interested in the nature of agency: what is it to be an agent, and how is agency even possible in the first place? These questions naturally drew me to the metaphysics of free will, as well as related topics in the logic and semantics of agentive modality (that is, the kind of possibility and necessity that is characteristic of agents). Much of my recent work has been on more clinical issues, especially on understanding addiction. I continue to be fascinated by fundamental topics in metaphysics, and especially the question of free will.

John's book list on defending the reality of free will

John T. Maier Why did John love this book?

This book, I would argue, is among the most innovative books on free will in years.

Its key insight – that humans are just one kind of animal, and so the key question about free will is whether animals generally have free will – overturns the anthropocentric bias that has governed much of the philosophical literature on free will. 

By Helen Steward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Metaphysics for Freedom argues that agency itself-and not merely the special, distinctively human variety of it-is incompatible with determinism. For determinism is threatened just as surely by the existence of powers which can be unproblematically accorded to many sorts of animals, as by the distinctively human powers on which the free will debate has tended to focus. Helen Steward suggests that a tendency to approach the question of free will solely
through the issue of moral responsibility has obscured the fact that there is a quite different route to incompatibilism, based on the idea that animal agents above a…


Book cover of Why Free Will Is Real

John T. Maier Author Of Options and Agency

From my list on defending the reality of free will.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a philosopher and psychotherapist, with a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton. From the beginning of my work in philosophy, I have been interested in the nature of agency: what is it to be an agent, and how is agency even possible in the first place? These questions naturally drew me to the metaphysics of free will, as well as related topics in the logic and semantics of agentive modality (that is, the kind of possibility and necessity that is characteristic of agents). Much of my recent work has been on more clinical issues, especially on understanding addiction. I continue to be fascinated by fundamental topics in metaphysics, and especially the question of free will.

John's book list on defending the reality of free will

John T. Maier Why did John love this book?

The previous two authors, van Inwagen and Steward, are libertarians: they believe free will exists and is incompatible with determinism (so determinism is false).

List, on the other hand, is a compatibilist: he believes free will exists and is compatible with determinism (so determinism might be true). This is a view that has surprising few book-length defenses, and List takes up that challenge with characteristic thoughtfulness and rigor.

By Christian List,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Free Will Is Real as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A crystal-clear, scientifically rigorous argument for the existence of free will, challenging what many scientists and scientifically minded philosophers believe.

Philosophers have argued about the nature and the very existence of free will for centuries. Today, many scientists and scientifically minded commentators are skeptical that it exists, especially when it is understood to require the ability to choose between alternative possibilities. If the laws of physics govern everything that happens, they argue, then how can our choices be free? Believers in free will must be misled by habit, sentiment, or religious doctrine. Why Free Will Is Real defies scientific orthodoxy…


Book cover of Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity

John T. Maier Author Of Options and Agency

From my list on defending the reality of free will.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a philosopher and psychotherapist, with a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton. From the beginning of my work in philosophy, I have been interested in the nature of agency: what is it to be an agent, and how is agency even possible in the first place? These questions naturally drew me to the metaphysics of free will, as well as related topics in the logic and semantics of agentive modality (that is, the kind of possibility and necessity that is characteristic of agents). Much of my recent work has been on more clinical issues, especially on understanding addiction. I continue to be fascinated by fundamental topics in metaphysics, and especially the question of free will.

John's book list on defending the reality of free will

John T. Maier Why did John love this book?

This 17th-century debate remains both engaging and unresolved – testimony to the endurance of the free will problem.

Bramhall upholds a traditional view of free will, while Hobbes defends a more modern “materialist” view that is an ancestor to the views defended by List and Ismael above.

While many contemporary discussions of free will often focus on implications for moral responsibility, this debate is notable for the far broader range of considerations that the authors invoke, suggesting that the question of free will touches just about every aspect of our agency.

By Vere Chappell (editor), Thomas Hobbes, John Bramhall

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Do human beings ever act freely, and if so what does freedom mean? Is everything that happens antecedently caused, and if so how is freedom possible? Is it right, even for God, to punish people for things that they cannot help doing? This volume presents the famous seventeenth-century controversy in which Thomas Hobbes and John Bramhall debate these questions and others. The complete texts of their initial contributions to the debate are included, together with selections from their subsequent replies to one another and from other works of Hobbes, in a collection that offers an illuminating commentary on issues still…


Book cover of Semio Physics: A Sketch

Andrée Ehresmann & Jean-Paul Vanbremeersch Author Of Memory Evolutive Systems: Hierarchy, Emergence, Cognition: Volume 4

From my list on mathematical approaches to complex systems.

Why are we passionate about this?

An accident of professional life led us, Jean-Paul Vanbremeersch and Andrée Ehresmann, to meet in 1979. Jean-Paul was then a young physician who was also interested in problems of emergence and complexity. Andrée was a mathematician working in Analysis and, more recently, in Category Theory with Charles Ehresmann (her late husband). With Charles, she shared the idea that: “a category theory approach could open a wealth of possibilities to the understanding of complex processes of any kind.”This idea appealed to Jean-Paul who suggested that we both try applying it to problems of emergence, complexity, and cognition. It led to our 40 years old development of MES. 

Andrée and Jean-Paul's book list on mathematical approaches to complex systems

Andrée Ehresmann & Jean-Paul Vanbremeersch Why did Andrée and Jean-Paul love this book?

Thom's work on the "physics of meaningful forms," also known as Semiophysics, deeply influenced our approach to modeling structural changes in Memory-Evolutive Systems (MES). Indeed, in ‘natural’ systems, he classifies these changes as one of four standard changes—Birth, Death, Confluence, and Scission—which offer valuable insights into how components and interactions evolve over time within these systems. Integrating Thom's framework has enriched our understanding of MES dynamics. 

In MES, this led us to formulate the "Complexification Theorem," which characterizes the resulting category following structural changes: Birth or Death corresponds to adding or removing components, while Confluence leads to the formation of a colimit for a specific pattern of interconnected components, and Scission results in the decomposition of a given colimit.

By R. Thom, Vendla Meyer (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Thom Rene


Book cover of Quantum Dialogue: The Making of a Revolution

Tim Maudlin Author Of Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory

From my list on quantum theory and its history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at New York University, but my interests have always fallen at the intersection of physics and philosophy. Unable to commit to just one side or the other, I got a joint degree in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. My fascination with Bell’s Theorem began when I read an article in Scientific American in 1979, and I have been trying to get to the bottom of things ever since. My most recent large project is a Founder and Director of the John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics.

Tim's book list on quantum theory and its history

Tim Maudlin Why did Tim love this book?

Beller did a lot of the historical work that Becker relies on, delving deeply into the personal interaction between Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and the other founders of quantum theory. The presentation is more scholarly than Becker’s but is a goldmine for anyone who wants to understand the fine details of how quantum theory emerged from that set of distinctive personalities.

By Mara Beller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work seeks to show that science is rooted not just in conversation but in disagreement, doubt and uncertainty. Mara Beller argues that it is precisely this culture of dialogue and controversy within the scientific community that fuels creativity. Beller draws her argument from her reading of the history of the quantum revolution, especially the development of the Copenhagen interpretation. One of several competing approaches, this version succeeded largely due to the rhetorical skills of Niels Bohr and his colleagues. Using archival research, Beller shows how Bohr and others marketed their views, misrepresenting and dismissing their opponents as "unreasonable" and…


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