10 books like Ludwig Wittgenstein

By Ray Monk,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Ludwig Wittgenstein. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Alan Turing

By Andrew Hodges,

Book cover of Alan Turing: The Enigma

This is a book that is at once a biography, a testament to human genius in the face of imminent danger, and a story of human injustice. Alan Turing had an idea about a ‘universal machine’. A machine, when built at Bletchley Park, allowed the Allies in World War II to crack the German Enigma ciphers. This universal machine laid the foundations for modern computing and all the amazing advances we enjoy today. But at a price for Turing, he fought inner demons about his homosexuality and eventually paid the ultimate price.

I marveled at his genius, cheered his cryptographic successes with each cipher cracked, shouted against the tragedy of his arrest, cried at his untimely death. A death at his own hand at the age of 41. The world lost a genius due to a society’s labelling of homosexuality as a crime.

We still live in this world of…

Alan Turing

By Andrew Hodges,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Alan Turing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This New York Times-bestselling biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing's royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. Capturing both the inner…


The Inner Citadel

By Pierre Hadot, Michael Chase (translator),

Book cover of The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

The French philosopher and historian, Pierre Hadot, was the first modern author to systematically describe the “spiritual exercises” found in ancient Greek and Roman philosophical texts. This book is the most popular scholarly analysis of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius available. It provides essential information on the underlying structure of Marcus’ writing and how it fits into the broader system of Stoic philosophy. Although an academic work, most nonacademics find Hadot very readable. 

The Inner Citadel

By Pierre Hadot, Michael Chase (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Inner Citadel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today--as they have been over the centuries--as an inexhaustible source of wisdom. And as one of the three most important expressions of Stoicism, this is an essential text for everyone interested in ancient religion and philosophy. Yet the clarity and ease of the work's style are deceptive. Pierre Hadot, eminent historian of ancient thought, uncovers new levels of meaning and expands our understanding of its underlying philosophy.

Written by the Roman emperor for his own private guidance and self-admonition, the Meditations set forth principles for living a good and just life. Hadot probes…


The Transcendentalists

By Barbara L. Packer,

Book cover of The Transcendentalists

When I began writing about Emerson – not a usual task for a philosopher -- and was trying to figure out who the American Transcendentalists were, Barbara Packer’s brilliantly written study of the movement came to my assistance. She covers it all, from the background in European Biblical criticism and the idea that the sacred books of the world’s religious traditions are forms of poetry, to the Annus Mirabilus of 1836 when Emerson published Nature; to figures like Margaret Fuller, whose electrifying Conversations sparked a homegrown American feminism, Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May), and, of course, Emerson’s young friend, Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden and Resistance to Civil Government.

The Transcendentalists

By Barbara L. Packer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Barbara L. Packer's long essay ""The Transcendentalists"" is widely acknowledged by scholars of nineteenth-century American literary history as the best-written, most comprehensive treatment to date of Transcendentalism. Previously existing only as part of a volume in the magisterial ""Cambridge History of American Literature"", it will now be available for the first time in a stand-alone edition. Packer presents Transcendentalism as a living movement, evolving out of such origins as New England Unitarianism and finding early inspiration in European Romanticism. Transcendentalism changed religious beliefs, philosophical ideas, literary styles, and political allegiances. In addition, it was a social movement whose members collaborated…


A Stroll With William James

By Jacques Barzun,

Book cover of A Stroll With William James

In my college days, it seemed that everyone was carrying around a copy of Barzun’s book on Darwin, Marx, and Wagner, and I remember devouring his two-volume book on Berlioz and the Romantic Century, just for fun. When I began to seriously study William James, I was amazed to see that Barzun had written about him too. A Stroll with William James has one of my favorite titles, signifying a certain American informality and inherent movement that is characteristic of both James the man and his philosophy of pragmatism.

Barzun’s engagingly written book contains chapters on James’s life, his relation to his brother Henry James the novelist, and on William’s masterwork, The Principles of Psychology, with its great chapter on “the stream of thought.” Barzun also considers the brilliant “study in human nature” that James calls The Varieties of Religious Experience, with its chapters on conversion, mysticism, and…

A Stroll With William James

By Jacques Barzun,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Stroll With William James as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Analyzes the philosophical and psychological theories of William James and examines their contributions to the present state of Western civilization


Pursuits of Happiness

By Stanley Cavell,

Book cover of Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage

Cavell writes like no one else, and it took me some time before I could catch on, initially through his writing about Wittgenstein. I first heard his name years earlier, from a fellow American studying with me at Oxford. We were both attending what proved to be an intolerably boring and disheartening course on aesthetics. Having a cup of tea after abandoning the course, my new friend told me that his teacher at Harvard, Stanley Cavell, offered a brighter, more hopeful and imaginative version of what might be called aesthetics than the one we were presented with. He was right, and this wonderful book on American film classics is an example. One of the most accessible of Cavell’s books, it includes readings of It Happened One Night (1934), His Girl Friday (1940), and The Philadelphia Story (1940), in which issues of identity, acknowledgment, and the woman’s voice come to the…

Pursuits of Happiness

By Stanley Cavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the '30s and '40s, Hollywood produced a genre of madcap comedies that emphasized reuniting the central couple after divorce or separation. Their female protagonists were strong, independent, and sophisticated. Here, Stanley Cavell names this new genre of American film-"the comedy of remarriage"-and examines seven classic movies for their cinematic techniques and for such varied themes as feminism, liberty, and interdependence.

Included are Adam's Rib, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve, and The Philadelphia Story.


The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Book cover of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written. Kuhn is one of the most brilliant thinkers in human history, the creator of the word “paradigm.” This book examines how science progresses over time, one worldview replacing another. More significantly, Kuhn argued that defenders of the current paradigm resist any challenge to its tenets to maintain respect and privilege. In short, science is limited by human insecurity and ego. I found this book to be imperative to any understanding of how the world works. 

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were-and still are. "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. And fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Kuhn challenged long-standing…


Labyrinths

By Jorge Luis Borges,

Book cover of Labyrinths

Borges writes only short fiction—and his collection of stories Labyrinths made a huge impression on me. The stories have a clean, almost mathematical style, and are often based on a single, bizarre concept. For instance: just suppose there existed a library in which the books represent all the possible combinations of the letters of the alphabet—so some books consist of nonsense, others consist of the complete works of Shakespeare, or even Shakespeare’s works differing by one letter from the original. In my book, I include an inset story about a man called Mr. N, who spends fifteen years of his life cataloguing every word in The Pickwick Papers and this story was strongly influenced by Borges.

Labyrinths

By Jorge Luis Borges,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking trans-genre work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) has been insinuating itself into the structure, stance, and very breath of world literature for well over half a century. Multi-layered, self-referential, elusive, and allusive writing is now frequently labeled Borgesian. Umberto Eco's international bestseller, The Name of the Rose, is, on one level, an elaborate improvisation on Borges' fiction "The Library," which American readers first encountered in the original 1962 New Directions publication of Labyrinths.

This new edition of Labyrinths, the classic representative selection of Borges' writing edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby (in translations…


Fact, Fiction, and Forecast

By Nelson Goodman,

Book cover of Fact, Fiction, and Forecast

The philosophical key to getting yourself estranged from the everyday is the famous ‘problem of induction’, which goes back to the philosopher David Hume, and asks why we expect things to carry on in the same way: might my garden be a fiery pit next time I open the front door? 

Nelson Goodman invented a new version of the problem – ‘the new riddle of induction’. This book might come across as a bit technical, but the general drift of the new riddle is that every bit of evidence and experience we have for the grass being green is also a bit of evidence and experience for it being ‘grue’ – roughly ‘green every time I’ve seen it but blue tomorrow;’ think about it!  You can extend this argument as much as you like, and Goodman takes us through the counterpart colour ‘bleen’. Goodman thinks our expectations of stability are…

Fact, Fiction, and Forecast

By Nelson Goodman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Here, in a new edition, is Nelson Goodman's provocative philosophical classic-a book that, according to Science, "raised a storm of controversy" when it was first published in 1954, and one that remains on the front lines of philosophical debate.

How is it that we feel confident in generalizing from experience in some ways but not in others? How are generalizations that are warranted to be distinguished from those that are not? Goodman shows that these questions resist formal solution and his demonstration has been taken by nativists like Chomsky and Fodor as proof that neither scientific induction nor ordinary learning…


Isaiah Berlin

By Michael Ignatieff,

Book cover of Isaiah Berlin: A Life

Ignatieff’s intensely readable authorised biography of Berlin is based on a decade of recorded conversations with his subject about all aspects of his life, as well as on a study of the massive archive of letters and other papers that Berlin left at his death. As a result it has many of the characteristics of the autobiography that Berlin never wrote, but one filtered through Ignatieff’s shrewd critical intelligence, deployed in the service of the liberal humanist outlook that he shares with his subject.

Isaiah Berlin

By Michael Ignatieff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Isaiah Berlin refused to write an autobiography, but he agreed to talk about himself - and so for ten years, he allowed Michael Ignatieff to interview him. Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) was one of the greatest and most humane of modern philosophers; historian of the Russian intellgentisia biographer of Marx, pioneering scholar of the Romantic movement and defender of the liberal idea of freedom. His own life was caught up in the most powerful currents of the century. The son of a Riga timber merchant, he witnessed the Russian Revolution, was plunged into suburban school life and the ferment of 1930s…


Correction

By Thomas Bernhard,

Book cover of Correction

In most introvert-theme fiction, not much “happens.” Instead, the author focuses on the texture of characters’ thoughts, experiences, and memories. I found this novel, by an Austrian writer not well known in the English-speaking world, fascinating for two reasons. First, it explores the life, work, and thinking process of an obsessive genius – someone introverted to the nth degree. And second, it does so in a book of just two paragraphs, going on and on in musical prose where the repetitive rhythms of the sentences have just as much impact as what they’re narrating. The architectural genius in Correction is partly based on Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, which added interest for me since I find Wittgenstein a uniquely inspiring figure.

Correction

By Thomas Bernhard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The scientist Roithamer has dedicated the last six years of his life to “the Cone,” an edifice of mathematically exact construction that he has erected in the center of his family’s estate in honor of his beloved sister. Not long after its completion, he takes his own life. As an unnamed friend pieces together—literally, from thousands of slips of papers and one troubling manuscript—the puzzle of Rotheimer’s breakdown, what emerges is the story of a genius ceaselessly compelled to correct and refine his perceptions until the only logical conclusion is the negation of his own soul.
 
Considered by many critics…


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