10 books like Mortal Questions

By Thomas Nagel,

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

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The Problems of Philosophy

By Bertrand Russell,

Book cover of The Problems of Philosophy

In this book, one of the great philosophers of the first half of the 20th century sketches his take on two central philosophical tasks -- explaining what kinds of things exist in reality, and how they are related, and delineating what we can know and how we know it.  In so doing, Russell illustrates the new method of logical and linguistic analysis he used in The Philosophy of Logical Atomism (1918), to lay the foundations of an epistemological and metaphysical system rivaling the great systems of the past. A key transitional figure linking the history of the subject to contemporary concerns, he raised logic and language to central subjects of philosophical study in their own right, without losing sight of their relevance for more traditional philosophical quests.

The Problems of Philosophy

By Bertrand Russell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Problems of Philosophy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Immensely intelligible, thought-provoking guide by Nobel Prize winner considers such topics as the distinction between appearance and reality, the existence and nature of matter, idealism, inductive logic, intuitive knowledge, many other subjects. For students and general readers, there is no finer introduction to philosophy than this informative, affordable and highly readable edition.


Naming and Necessity

By Saul A Kripke,

Book cover of Naming and Necessity

This book, given as three lectures in 1970 by a 28-year-old wunderkind, made its author one of the greatest philosophers of our era.  Just as Russell transformed the philosophy of his day by demonstrating the significance of an advanced system logic he helped to found, so Kripke transformed the philosophy descending from Russell by inventing an expressively richer version logic, and illustrating its significance. This book, more than any other,  provided the starting point for contemporary metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. It is, nevertheless, remarkably accessible.  Delivered in a delightfully informal style, it presents ideas capable of far-reaching technical elaboration in their simplest and most comprehensible form, revealing their intuitive essence. If you want to understand philosophy today, you need to read this book.

Naming and Necessity

By Saul A Kripke,

Why should I read it?

2 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.


Plato

By John M. Cooper, G.M.A. Grube, Plato

Book cover of Plato: Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo

These dialogues introduce the ideas that gave birth to western philosophy and its contributions to civilization. Providing the foundations of rational thought and theoretical knowledge in multiple domains, Greek philosophers, especially Socrates and Plato, imbued the search for truth with the urgency of both a personal, and a communal, quest for meaning. Just as the advances of Greek mathematics required concepts that are precisely defined or rigorously governed by axioms, so, the dialogues teach, advances in our knowledge of the world, and of ourselves, require well-regulated concepts like truth, knowledge, justice, virtue, and happiness. In these dialogues, we see the birth of philosophy's two great projects--providing concepts needed to advance theoretical knowledge in every domain and charting the path to wisdom in leading a good and meaningful life.

Plato

By John M. Cooper, G.M.A. Grube, Plato

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The second edition of Five Dialogues presents G. M. A. Grube's distinguished translations, as revised by John Cooper for Plato, Complete Works . A number of new or expanded footnotes are also included along with an updated bibliography.


A Treatise of Human Nature

By David Hume,

Book cover of A Treatise of Human Nature

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.

A Treatise of Human Nature

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.…


Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Robin Waterfield (translator),

Book cover of Meditations: The Annotated Edition

This is the most recent translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, at the time of writing but I’m mainly including it because of Robin Waterfield’s very thorough annotations, which are invaluable when it comes to understanding some of the more obscure passages. They provide historical and philosophical context that’s otherwise missing and make it much easier to appreciate what Marcus was trying to say.

Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Robin Waterfield (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the sixteenth emperor of Rome -- and by far the most powerful and wealthy man in the world. Yet he was also an intensely private person, with a rich interior life and deep reservoirs of personal insight. He collected his thoughts in notebooks, gems which have come to be called his Meditations. Never intended for publication, the work survived his death and has proved an inexhaustible source of wisdom and one of the most important Stoic texts of all time. In often passionate language, the entries range from essays to one-line aphorisms, and from profundity to…


Steppenwolf

By Hermann Hesse, Basil Creighton (translator),

Book cover of Steppenwolf

Like many readers of my generation, I discovered Hermann Hesse when I was in high school. I think my favorite back then was his Narcissus and Goldmund, but Steppenwolf was the book that really stuck with me, with its portrayal of midlife anxieties and grumpiness paired with wild yet strangely wise youth—both somehow seeking enlightenment. When rereading Steppenwolf as an adult, I also began to realize the extent to which it is a novel about the Weimar Republic, set during that brief, culturally vibrant period between postwar economic disaster (Germany suffered hyperinflation of approximately 29,500 percent in 1923) and Hitler’s rise to power. The generational fears and hopes, and morose “Steppenwolf” Harry Haller’s curious redemption or rediscovery of self through sex, jazz, and drugs, eventually inspired my own novel.

Steppenwolf

By Hermann Hesse, Basil Creighton (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine. The tale of the Steppenwolf culminates in the surreal Magic Theater—for mad men only.

Steppenwolf is Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work. With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, it is one of literature's most poetic evocations of the soul's journey…


The Book of Delights

By Ross Gay,

Book cover of The Book of Delights: Essays

In Ross Gay’s linked essay collection, The Book of Delights, the desire to record joyous observations, and to examine the complexities and “underbellies” of such quotidian moments—becomes, as the book progresses, an act of political commentary, and unexpected engagement of social justice. The essay, “Bird Feeding,” shows Gay obsessively watching a man feed a pigeon until their bodies—that of the man and that of the bird—seem to fuse together. “How often do you get to see someone slow dancing with a pigeon!” Gay exclaims, revealing the often-hidden tenderness that can exist between human beings and wild birds.   

The Book of Delights

By Ross Gay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
As Heard on NPR's This American Life
'The delights he extols here (music, laughter, generosity, poetry, lots of nature) are bulwarks against casual cruelties . . . contagious in their joy' New York Times

The winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry offers up a spirited collection of short lyric essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders.

Among Gay's funny, poetic, philosophical delights: a friend's unabashed use of air quotes, cradling a tomato seedling aboard an aeroplane, the silent nod of…


Oh, the Places You'll Go!

By Dr. Seuss,

Book cover of Oh, the Places You'll Go!

I first read this book when I was young and then read this book to my daughter when she was young. This book, like many of Dr. Seuss’s books, instills wonder and awe. Oh, the Places You’ll Go makes me dream of my next holiday and remember why we travel in the first place.

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

By Dr. Seuss,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Oh, the Places You'll Go! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrate life's ups and downs in this exquisite slipcase and hardback edition of the bestselling Dr. Seuss classic!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

For more than thirty years, this Dr. Seuss classic has carried us through life's ups and downs - from fun times and triumphs, to lurches and slumps!

Take an entertaining look at the adventures life has in store for all of us in this very special slipcase and hardback edition of the beloved classic.

The perfect gift for every moment in life, from graduations, weddings and birthdays, to…


A New Science of Life

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Book cover of A New Science of Life

When I was an undergraduate, the editor of Nature called this book "the best candidate for burning there has been for many years". I therefore rushed out to buy a copy to see why, and I have treasured the book and recommended it ever since. Almost every idea between its covers is wrong, but marshalling evidence to refute the ideas makes readers ask the most fundamental questions about biology and why they believe what they do. I am eternally grateful to Sheldrake for making me justify my opinions properly, with evidence, not just because they were what I read or heard in some classroom. And he will do the same for anyone else: heretics like Sheldrake are really important for testing mainstream science.

A New Science of Life

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A New Science of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**The fully revised edition of Rupert Sheldrake's controversial science classic, from the author of the bestselling Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2021!**


After chemists crystallised a new chemical for the first time, it became easier and easier to crystallise in laboratories all over the world. After rats at Harvard first escaped from a new kind of water maze, successive generations learned quicker and quicker. Then rats in Melbourne, Australia learned yet faster. Rats with no trained ancestors shared in this improvement.

Rupert Sheldrake sees these processes as examples of morphic resonance.…


Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh,

Book cover of Gift from the Sea

Although times have certainly changed since Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote Gift from the Sea in 1955, the struggle to define ourselves and our relationships has not. Secluding herself on an almost deserted island, Lindbergh uses a variety of distinctive beach shells as writing prompts to philosophically examine the way we live and relate to each other.

The simplicity of being isolated in a rustic cottage beside a beautiful beach with only seagulls as companions allows Lindbergh the freedom to explore and question the choices we make. In today’s noisy, frenetic world, who among us wouldn’t like to escape to an island to contemplate our life’s trajectory? A soft breeze, the rhythmic music of the waves, the sun on our backs, and time to think. Sign me up.

Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gift from the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Quietly powerful and a great help. Glorious' Emma Thompson

'Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.'

Holidaying by the sea, and taking inspiration from the shells she finds on the seashore, Anne Morrow Lindbergh meditates on youth and age, love and marriage, peace, solitude and contentment. First published in 1955 and an instant bestseller, Gift from the Sea's insights - into aspects of the modern world that threaten to overwhelm us, the complications of technology, the ever multiplying commitments that take us from our families - are as relevant today as they ever were,…


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