100 books like Personal Knowledge

By Michael Polanyi,

Here are 100 books that Personal Knowledge fans have personally recommended if you like Personal Knowledge. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge

Alex M. Thomas Author Of Macroeconomics: An Introduction

From my list on becoming a critical economist.

Who am I?

I am passionate about the dissemination of economic ideas both inside and outside university spaces. In addition to classroom lectures at my university, I give a lot of public lectures on economics. Through these talks, I introduce the audience to the tradition of doing economics using a critical perspective. I have an MA and MPhil in Economics from the University of Hyderabad and a PhD in Economics from the University of Sydney.

Alex's book list on becoming a critical economist

Alex M. Thomas Why did Alex love this book?

Feyerabend argues against monism in science.

Drawing on the history of science, he demonstrates that science has progressed from pluralism. In other words, there is no the scientific method. 

Currently, mainstream economics education does not include history or philosophy in its curriculum. And economists are enthusiastically adopting a monist approach to knowledge production.

Feyerabend’s book tells us why such a naïve and narrow approach to knowledge dissemination (and production) is problematic. I feel extremely lucky to have been exposed to his work along with other philosophers of science during my master’s.

By Paul Feyerabend,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Against Method as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Contemporary philosophy of science has paid close attention to the understanding of scientific practice, in contrast to the previous focus on scientific method. Paul Feyerabend's acclaimed work, which sparked controversy and continues to fuel fierce debate, shows the deficiencies of many widespread ideas about the nature of knowledge. He argues that the only feasible explanation of any scientific success is a historical account, and that anarchism must now replace rationalism in the theory of knowledge. This updated edition of this classic text contains a new foreword by Ian Hacking, a leading contemporary philosopher of science, who reflects on Feyerabend's life…


Book cover of The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change

Deirdre N. McCloskey Author Of The Rhetoric of Economics

From my list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor).

Who am I?

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics and of History, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, adjunct in classics and philosophy, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained at Harvard in the 1960s as an economist, she has written twenty-four books and some four hundred academic and popular articles on economic history, rhetoric, philosophy, statistical theory, economic theory, feminism, queer studies, liberalism, ethics, and law.

Deirdre's book list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor)

Deirdre N. McCloskey Why did Deirdre love this book?

The book is much better than his famous but often misread The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, because it gets down to detailed cases in physics, in which Kuhn was trained. Though he never accepted the term, it amounts to a “rhetoric” of physics, that is, a study of, in Aristotle’s definition, the available means of persuasion in a science or a court of law.

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Kuhn has the unmistakable address of a man, who, so far from wanting to score points, is anxious above all else to get at the truth of matters."-Sir Peter Medawar, Nature


Book cover of Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice

Deirdre N. McCloskey Author Of The Rhetoric of Economics

From my list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor).

Who am I?

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics and of History, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, adjunct in classics and philosophy, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained at Harvard in the 1960s as an economist, she has written twenty-four books and some four hundred academic and popular articles on economic history, rhetoric, philosophy, statistical theory, economic theory, feminism, queer studies, liberalism, ethics, and law.

Deirdre's book list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor)

Deirdre N. McCloskey Why did Deirdre love this book?

Collins is a brilliant and lucid exponent of the (mainly British) “strong programme” in the sociology of science. He is one of the numerous “children of Kuhn,” in the sense that like Kuhn he understands scientists to be (usually) honest and serious human beings, not machines implementing an alleged Scientific Method.

By Harry Collins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This fascinating study in the sociology of science explores the way scientists conduct, and draw conclusions from, their experiments. The book is organized around three case studies: replication of the TEA-laser, detecting gravitational rotation, and some experiments in the paranormal. "In his superb book, Collins shows why the quest for certainty is disappointed. He shows that standards of replication are, of course, social, and that there is consequently no outside standard, no Archimedean point beyond society from which we can lever the intellects of our fellows."--Donald M. McCloskey, Journal of Economic Psychology


Book cover of Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent

Deirdre N. McCloskey Author Of The Rhetoric of Economics

From my list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor).

Who am I?

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics and of History, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, adjunct in classics and philosophy, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained at Harvard in the 1960s as an economist, she has written twenty-four books and some four hundred academic and popular articles on economic history, rhetoric, philosophy, statistical theory, economic theory, feminism, queer studies, liberalism, ethics, and law.

Deirdre's book list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor)

Deirdre N. McCloskey Why did Deirdre love this book?

Booth was a professor of English at the University of Chicago and a president of the Modern Language Association. Surprisingly, he wrote this elegant book showing that Cartesian doubt as the basis of science (or of anything else) is silly, not a dogma that anyone can actually live by. Like the other books here, he shows even science to have—or course—a “rhetoric,” that is, “the art of discovering good reasons, finding what really warrants assent because any reasonable person ought to be persuaded by what has been said.”

By Wayne C. Booth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When should I change my mind? What can I believe and what must I doubt? In this new "philosophy of good reasons" Wayne C. Booth exposes five dogmas of modernism that have too often inhibited efforts to answer these questions. Modern dogmas teach that "you cannot reason about values" and that "the job of thought is to doubt whatever can be doubted," and they leave those who accept them crippled in their efforts to think and talk together about whatever concerns them most. They have willed upon us a "befouled rhetorical climate" in which people are driven to two self-destructive…


Book cover of The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science

Andrew Shtulman Author Of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong

From my list on the cognitive foundations of science.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of psychology at Occidental College, where I direct the Thinking Lab. I hold degrees in psychology from Princeton and Harvard and have published several dozen scholarly articles on conceptual development and conceptual change. I’m interested in how people acquire new concepts and form new beliefs, especially within the domains of science and religion. My research investigates intuitions that guide our everyday understanding of the natural world and strategies for improving that understanding.

Andrew's book list on the cognitive foundations of science

Andrew Shtulman Why did Andrew love this book?

Science has revolutionized the way we live and the way we understand reality, but what accounts for its success? What method sets science apart from other forms of inquiry and ensures that it yields ever-more accurate theories of the world? Strevens argues that the scientific method is not a special kind of logic, like deriving hypotheses from first principles or narrowing hypotheses through falsification, but a simple commitment to arguing with evidence. Strevens shows, with historical case studies, how this commitment is seemingly irrational, as it provides no constraints on what counts as evidence or how evidence should be interpreted, but also incredibly powerful, fostering ingenuity and discovery.

By Michael Strevens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* Why is science so powerful?
* Why did it take so long-two thousand years after the invention of philosophy and mathematics-for the human race to start using science to learn the secrets of the universe?

In a groundbreaking work that blends science, philosophy, and history, leading philosopher of science Michael Strevens answers these challenging questions, showing how science came about only once thinkers stumbled upon the astonishing idea that scientific breakthroughs could be accomplished by breaking the rules of logical argument.

Like such classic works as Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of…


Book cover of The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

Bettina von Stamm Author Of The Other Side of Growth: An Innovator's Responsibilities in an Emerging World

From my list on today’s complex world and help our planet.

Who am I?

As an innovation expert for over 30 years, I've been cautioning about the "dark side" of innovation and emphasized the importance of sustainability. Though in light of the urgency of our planet's situation, we need to shift our focus from sustainability to regeneration. The unprecedented complexity and connectedness of today’s world demand thinking in systems, and the kind of innovation that leads to the transformation of our current social and economic systems so we can live in harmony with nature. This requires us to question who we collaborate with, what we value, and how we create value. We need to work together differently, with different leadership, and to change our own ways of thinking.

Bettina's book list on today’s complex world and help our planet

Bettina von Stamm Why did Bettina love this book?

For too long we have considered everything in the world through the lens of linear relationships.

Slowly – too slowly in my view – are we realizing the systemic nature of most things.

What Fritjof and Luigi do in their book is enable the reader to truly internalize the systemic nature of the world that we are part of. The ‘being part of’ aspect is critical.

Too many of us humans seem to consider ourselves to be the pinnacle of evolution, tobe in control, to have the right to plunder our planet at our heart’s content.

It is high time everyone realizes that we are but part of a system, entirely dependent on it and its healthiness. While it might be a little heavy-going at times, the book takes the reader on a journey at the end of which any chance to still see the world through a linear lens…

By Fritjof Capra, Pier Luigi Luisi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Over the past thirty years, a new systemic conception of life has emerged at the forefront of science. New emphasis has been given to complexity, networks, and patterns of organisation, leading to a novel kind of 'systemic' thinking. This volume integrates the ideas, models, and theories underlying the systems view of life into a single coherent framework. Taking a broad sweep through history and across scientific disciplines, the authors examine the appearance of key concepts such as autopoiesis, dissipative structures, social networks, and a systemic understanding of evolution. The implications of the systems view of life for health care, management,…


Book cover of The Road Since Structure: Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993, with an Autobiographical Interview

K. Brad Wray Author Of Kuhn's Intellectual Path: Charting The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

From my list on science studies.

Who am I?

In Denmark, I teach at the Center for Videnskabsstudier. “Videnskabsstudier” is often translated as Science Studies. It thus connotes a rather broad field, which includes philosophical, historical, and sociological studies of science. And the notion of “videnskab”, which is frequently translated as science is interpreted rather broadly, to include, in addition to the natural science, the social sciences, and the humanities, indeed, basically any field one might study at a university. In fact, my own research intersects with and is influenced by research in all these fields.

K.'s book list on science studies

K. Brad Wray Why did K. love this book?

This is a collection of essays by Kuhn, written later in his life, as he tried to clarify and develop the view he initially presented in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Kuhn reflects on developments in the sociology of science that were influenced by his work, as the Strong Programme sociologists of science identified as Kuhnians and relativists.  Kuhn tries to clarify what he meant by “paradigm change”, motivated by a concern to address his critics and to distance his own view from certain types of relativist views.

The autobiographical interview is very engaging, as Kuhn takes this opportunity to reflect on the impact of his book, as well as on the effects the book has had on his life and career. I think much of what Kuhn had to say in these later papers provides important insight into understanding science, especially his remarks on scientific specialization.

By Thomas S. Kuhn, James Conant (editor), John Haugeland (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thomas Kuhn will undoubtedly be remembered primarily for The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a book that introduced one of the most influential conceptions of scientific progress to emerge during the twentieth century. The Road since Structure, assembled with Kuhn's input before his death in 1996, follows the development of his thought through the later years of his life: collected here are several essays extending and rethinking the perspectives of Structure as well as an extensive and remarkable autobiographical interview in which Kuhn discusses the course of his life and philosophy.


Book cover of Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness

Mitch Horowitz Author Of Daydream Believer: Unlocking the Ultimate Power of Your Mind

From my list on the extra-physical potentials of the mind.

Who am I?

I'm a PEN Award-winning historian of alternative spirituality and a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library. I track the impact and substance of supernatural beliefs—a source of fascination since my Queens, NY, boyhood—in books including Occult America, The Miracle Club, and Uncertain Places. I often say that if you do not write your own history, it gets written for you—usually by people who may not care about or even understand the values that emanate from your work. Given my personal dedication to the spiritual search, I call myself a believing historian (which most historians of religion actually are). I labor to explore the lives, ideas, and practices behind esoteric spirituality.

Mitch's book list on the extra-physical potentials of the mind

Mitch Horowitz Why did Mitch love this book?

The most controversial aspect of nearly a century of research in quantum mechanics is how the perspective of an observer, either sentient or mechanical, determines reality on the subatomic scale. What does this say—if anything—about life in our above-ground, macro world? With zero sensationalism and great rigor, not to mention witty and accessible writing, physicists Rosenblum and Kuttner sort out questions of particle mechanics, quantum theory, and consciousness in a manner that is understandable to the layperson yet faithful to the findings of this most confounding of the hard sciences. 

By Bruce Rosenblum, Fred Kuttner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In trying to understand the atom, physicists built quantum mechanics, the most successful theory in science and the basis of one-third of our economy. They found, to their embarrassment, that with their theory, physics encounters consciousness. Authors Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner explain all this in non-technical terms with help from some fanciful stories and anecdotes about the theory's developers. They present the quantum mystery honestly, emphasizing what is and what is not speculation. Quantum Enigma's description of the experimental quantum facts, and the quantum theory explaining them, is undisputed. Interpreting what it all means, however, is heatedly controversial. But…


Book cover of The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Memory of Nature

Peter Mark Adams Author Of The Power of the Healing Field: Energy Medicine, Psi Abilities, and Ancestral Healing

From my list on energy healing, consciousness, and wellbeing.

Who am I?

Peter Mark Adams and his wife, Kenzie, have shared a healing and personal development practice for more than 20 years specializing in energy and meridian therapies, breathwork, and meditation. Peter and Kenzie have practiced and taught a range of meditative and energy-based techniques, including Mind Connection Healing (MCH), Usui Reiki, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Mindfulness, Vivation, Integrative and Rebirthing Breathwork. Peter’s non-fiction is published by Inner Traditions and Scarlet Imprint; literary prose and poetry by Corbel Stone Press and Paralibrum. His essays on energy healing have appeared in the peer-reviewed Paranthropology Journal and the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology as well as on his academia.edu page.

Peter's book list on energy healing, consciousness, and wellbeing

Peter Mark Adams Why did Peter love this book?

The amazing results achieved with energy healing raise profound questions concerning the nature of consciousness and the human energy anatomy and how these suggest the existence of a much broader conception of reality than consensual thought allows for, and it is with respect to this broader conception that Rupert Sheldrake proves such an informative guide. His central concept - that of the existence of ‘morphic fields’ connecting all sentient life-forms and the influence that they exert on our emotional and physical lives through the phenomena of ‘morphic resonance’ - provides the ‘missing link’ in our understanding of consciousness and as well as the root causes of much of the mental, emotional and physical ill-health that we encounter as healers. 

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explains how self-organizing systems, from crystals to human societies, share collective memories that influence their form and behavior

• Includes new evidence and research in support of the theory of morphic resonance

• Explores the major role that morphic resonance plays not just in animal instincts and cultural inheritance but also in the larger process of evolution

• Shows that nature is not ruled by fixed laws but by habits and collective memories

In this fully revised and updated edition of The Presence of the Past, Cambridge biologist Rupert Sheldrake lays out new evidence and research in support of his…


Book cover of Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist

Doug Macdougall Author Of Endless Novelties of Extraordinary Interest: The Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger and the Birth of Modern Oceanography

From my list on scientific discovery and what makes scientists tick.

Who am I?

I’m a geoscientist and writer, and ever since my childhood explorations of the ponds, creeks, cliffs and forests of my native Ontario I’ve been fascinated with the natural world. During my PhD studies and subsequent academic career I’ve been fortunate to experience the thrill of experiment and discovery, and I’m passionate about communicating the wonders of science to others. I try to do that in my own books. Those I’ve recommended here, in my opinion, do it superbly. 

Doug's book list on scientific discovery and what makes scientists tick

Doug Macdougall Why did Doug love this book?

This book is a collection of essays, letters, and lectures about the intrinsic value, importance, and beauty of science by one of its most talented and passionate communicators. Dawkins’s clear and often witty treatment of complex scientific issues is a breath of fresh air in this time of misinformation and ‘fake news.’ He writes primarily about biology, his own specialty, but ranges widely from ecology to evolution to genetics and even life beyond planet earth. Throughout, his incisive prose conveys the thrill and wonder of scientific discovery.

By Richard Dawkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Science in the Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Richard Dawkins - author of The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and The God Delusion - is one of science's greatest communicators. This anthology of more than forty pieces is a kaleidoscopic argument for the power and the glory of science.

Breathtaking, brilliant and passionate, these essays, journalism, lectures and letters make an unanswerable case for the wonder of scientific discovery and its power to stir the imagination; for the practical necessity of scientific endeavour to society; and for the importance of the scientific way of thinking - particularly in today's 'post-truth' world.

With an…


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