100 books like Philosophical Investigations

By Ludwig Wittgenstein,

Here are 100 books that Philosophical Investigations fans have personally recommended if you like Philosophical Investigations. 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 Language, Truth and Logic

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Who am I?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

This is a widely-scorned book whose ideas are no longer in philosophical fashion. But it was the work that first hooked me into philosophy, and I recommend it for its sheer verve and confidence. Freddie Ayer visited Vienna in the 1930s and when he returned to the UK he introduced the ideas of the Vienna Circle into the Anglo-American world. The book argued that propositions that were not testable – for example some assertions about God, or about ethics or aesthetics – were meaningless because they were not verifiable. Amazing claims!

By Alfred Jules Ayer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Language, Truth and Logic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A delightful book … I should like to have written it myself." — Bertrand Russell
First published in 1936, this first full-length presentation in English of the Logical Positivism of Carnap, Neurath, and others has gone through many printings to become a classic of thought and communication. It not only surveys one of the most important areas of modern thought; it also shows the confusion that arises from imperfect understanding of the uses of language. A first-rate antidote for fuzzy thought and muddled writing, this remarkable book has helped philosophers, writers, speakers, teachers, students, and general readers alike.
Mr. Ayers…


Book cover of Reasons and Persons

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Who am I?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

Arguably the greatest work of moral philosophy of the 20th Century.  It’s rich with vivid thought experiments – including Parfit’s famous tele-transporter, which can make an exact copy of us and transport us to another planet. Is this copy of me the same person as me? The book makes us question some of our deepest assumptions - such as what it means to say that David Edmonds today is identical to David Edmonds yesterday or tomorrow. Parfit was my first supervisor, and I’m now writing his biography.

By Derek Parfit,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book challenges, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity. The author claims that we have a false view of our own nature; that it is often rational to act against our own best interests; that most of us have moral views that are directly self-defeating; and that, when we consider future generations the conclusions will often be disturbing. He concludes that moral non-religious moral
philosophy is a young subject, with a promising but unpredictable future.


Book cover of Practical Ethics

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Who am I?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

There’s a common prejudice that philosophy has nothing to do with the world in which non-philosophers live. I read Practical Ethics as an undergraduate and it came as a revelation. In crystal-clear prose, and with compelling logic, Singer addresses many issues in applied morality – abortion, capital punishment, charity, animal rights. Although some of his conclusions are radical, they’re hard to dissent from. Not long after reading the book I became a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat since.

By Peter Singer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For thirty years, Peter Singer's Practical Ethics has been the classic introduction to applied ethics. For this third edition, the author has revised and updated all the chapters and added a new chapter addressing climate change, one of the most important ethical challenges of our generation. Some of the questions discussed in this book concern our daily lives. Is it ethical to buy luxuries when others do not have enough to eat? Should we buy meat from intensively reared animals? Am I doing something wrong if my carbon footprint is above the global average? Other questions confront us as concerned…


Book cover of The View from Nowhere

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From my list on read before you turn 25.

Who am I?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

David Edmonds Why did David love this book?

Perhaps my favourite philosophy book of all time. Humans have the unique ability to take a detached view of our lives and actions. Call this an objective perspective. Thomas Nagel argues that many of our philosophical problems – such as the attempt to understand free will, or consciousness – stem from a clash between the subjective and objective standpoints. For example, we believe (subjectively), that we are free, that we have free will, that we can raise our right arm, or choose whether or not to go to shopping. But from an objective perspective we might reflect that, like everything else in the universe, we are governed by causal laws. A beautiful writer, Nagel can make the most complex issues seem simple.  He will make you feel cleverer than you are! The View From Nowhere is my model for how philosophy books should be written.

By Thomas Nagel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Much philosophical debate has attempted to reconcile the human capacity to view the world both objectively and subjectively. Thomas Nagel's ambitious and lively book tackles this fundamental issue, arguing that our divided nature is the root of a whole range of philosophical problems, touching, as it does, every aspect of human life. He deals with its manifestations in such fields of philosophy as the mind-body problem, personal identity, knowledge and scepticism,
thought and reality, free will, and ethics.
From reviews of the hardback:

`Remarkable ... all of his discussions are clear and insightful, but some reach a level of originality…


Book cover of Language Unlimited: The Science Behind Our Most Creative Power

Asya Pereltsvaig Author Of Languages of the World: An Introduction

From my list on how human language works.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by languages since my teenage years, when, in addition to my native Russian, I learned English, French, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew, and Esperanto to varying degrees of fluency. But it was in college that I decided to pursue linguistics as a profession, in part influenced by one of the books on my list! After 20 years of doing scientific research and teaching linguistics at different universities, I switched gears and now focus on bringing linguistic science to the general audience of lifelong learners. Even if you don’t change your career, like I did, I hope you enjoy reading the books on my list as much as I have!  

Asya's book list on how human language works

Asya Pereltsvaig Why did Asya love this book?

A whirlwind tour of what state-of-the-art linguistic science has to offer!

Even after 25 years of working in the field, I learned many new things from this book, ranging from how children acquire sign languages of the deaf to experiments trying to teach apes human language. I particularly liked the many clearly-presented examples from English and other languages.

But what was especially fun for me was a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how Adger designed an alien language for a TV show. It made me wonder how I would have done it differently and how our personal experiences influence us as scientists.

By David Adger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Language Unlimited explores the many mysteries about our capacity for language and reveals the source of its endless creativity.

All humans, but no other species, have the capacity to create and understand language. It provides structure to our thoughts, allowing us to plan, communicate, and create new ideas, without limit. Yet we have only finite experiences, and our languages have finite stores of words. Where does our linguistic creativity come from? How does the endless scope of language emerge from our limited selves?

Drawing on research from neuroscience, psychology, and linguistics, David Adger takes the reader on a journey to…


Book cover of About Philosophy

Thomas Cathcart and Danny Klein Author Of Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between

From my list on a taste of philosophy.

Who are we?

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein have been thinking deep thoughts and writing jokes for decades, and now they are here to help us understand philosophy through jokes, and jokes through philosophy. They like philosophy and they like jokes, not necessarily in that order. Best of all, they like combining them. 

Thomas' book list on a taste of philosophy

Thomas Cathcart and Danny Klein Why did Thomas love this book?

It’s one of the best and most accessible introductions to philosophy, now in its tenth edition. It’s also by our favorite college teacher.

By Robert Wolff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Four Decades of Student-Friendly Philosophy



About Philosophy is an introductory text that covers all the major fields of philosophy in an easy-to-read language, interspersed with short selections from the major philosophers. It has been a best-selling leader in the field for more than forty years and it is written by an internationally recognized author of more than twenty books.


Book cover of The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

Chad LeJeune Author Of "Pure O" OCD: Letting Go of Obsessive Thoughts with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

From my list on thoughts, and our relationship with them.

Who am I?

As a clinical psychologist, I listen to thoughts all the time. I’m also having my own, constantly. We rely on our thoughts to help us navigate the world. However, our thoughts can also be a source of suffering. At times, they're not such reliable guides or helpers. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a way of thinking about thinking. ACT captured my imagination early in my clinical career. I trained with ACT’s originator, Steven Hayes, in the early 1990’s. I’ve come to believe that being more aware of our own thoughts, and our relationship to them is key to creating positive change and living a life grounded in our values.

Chad's book list on thoughts, and our relationship with them

Chad LeJeune Why did Chad love this book?

In this witty and provocative book, psycholinguistics researcher Steven Pinker explores the role of language in shaping our experience of reality. 

Human-style thinking would not be possible without our capacity for language. Thoughts are basically internal language. Among the basic experiences shaped by linguistics is our experience of time. 

We use language to construct a spatial metaphor for time, thinking in terms of “moving” “forward” or “backward” in time. Pinker takes us for a walk around the metaphorical space of consciousness, examining how language shapes our experience of the world.   

By Steven Pinker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize finalist author of The Blank Slate presents an accessible study of the relationship between language and human nature, explaining how everything from swearing and innuendo to prepositions and baby names reveal facts about key human concepts, emotions, and relationships.


Book cover of More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor

Paul Frank Spencer Author Of Marvelous Light

From my list on revealing God’s reality through metaphor.

Who am I?

My very intelligent, very (self-described) un-literary father taught me all about the complexities and beauty of God. My librarian mother gave me the literature that would introduce me to the most profound descriptions of those complex beauties. As the author of Marvelous Light, numerous metaphor-dependent blog posts, and future allegorical novels, I hope to introduce each of my readers to the divine realities on which I depend daily.

Paul's book list on revealing God’s reality through metaphor

Paul Frank Spencer Why did Paul love this book?

Lakoff famously contends that metaphor is the crux of all human understanding. This classic academic, literary, philosophical, and sociological text suggests that at the root of what it means to be human is an absolute need to describe all experience and knowledge through comparison. Read More Than Cool Reason to begin gaining an appreciation for the theory of how metaphor makes us who we are and establishes our place in the universe.

By George Lakoff, Mark Turner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More Than Cool Reason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The authors restore metaphor to our lives by showing us that it's never gone away. We've merely been taught to talk as if it had: as though weather maps were more 'real' than the breath of autumn; as though, for that matter, Reason was really 'cool.' What we're saying whenever we say is a theme this book illumines for anyone attentive." - Hugh Kenner, Johns Hopkins University

"In this bold and powerful book, Lakoff and Turner continue their use of metaphor to show how our minds get hold of the world. They have achieved nothing less than a postmodern Understanding…


Book cover of The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention

Mark Burgess Author Of Smart Spacetime: How information challenges our ideas about space, time, and process

From my list on mind bending scientific discovery and courageous rethinking.

Who am I?

I am a scientist and technologist, trained in theoretical quantum physics, who became an Emeritus Professor of Network Technology from Oslo’s metropolitan university. I’ve strenuously tried to communicate the wonder of science to students and industry throughout my career. I’ve been privileged to know some of the great movers and shakers of science in my lifetime and it always gives me great pleasure to open someone’s mind to new ideas. These books have been an integral part of my own intellectual journey. I hope these recommendations will inspire the youngest and the oldest readers alike.

Mark's book list on mind bending scientific discovery and courageous rethinking

Mark Burgess Why did Mark love this book?

Linguistics is at the root of so many issues on information science, as well as in biology.

The language of genes is one of symbolic storytelling. This book explains how something as apparently rule-based and human can emerge from completely general evolutionary processes. It was influential for me as a scientist as it underlines the important of linguistics as well as the rich spirit of intellectual curiosity and humour that Deutscher brings to the unfolding of science itself.

This is another book that I admire amongst the best science writing of all time.

By Guy Deutscher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Blending the spirit of Eats, Shoots & Leaves with the science of The Language Instinct, an original inquiry into the development of that most essential-and mysterious-of human creations: Language

Language is mankind's greatest invention-except, of course, that it was never invented." So begins linguist Guy Deutscher's enthralling investigation into the genesis and evolution of language. If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of "man throw spear," how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced degrees of meaning?

Drawing on recent groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation…


Book cover of Proust's Way: A Field Guide to in Search of Lost Time

Eric Karpeles Author Of Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to in Search of Lost Time

From my list on Marcel Proust and expanding your grasp of him.

Who am I?

I first read Swann’s Way when I was seventeen. Throughout the following five decades, In Search of Lost Time has always remained within reach, a parallel universe more enriching than words can express. As a painter, I’m drawn to Proust’s subtle use of paintings to reveal and mystify the relationship between what we see and what we know. I’ve spoken on Proust at Berkeley, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Houston, and was invited to give the annual Proust lecture at the Center for Fiction in New York as well as the Amon Carter Lecture on the Arts at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin.

Eric's book list on Marcel Proust and expanding your grasp of him

Eric Karpeles Why did Eric love this book?

"Like the Bible, In Search of Lost Time embodies its own sources, myths, and criticism. Like an archaeological site, the novel has come to stand for a state of civilization.” Roger Shattuck is masterful in reach and insight; his “field guide” is aptly named. The reader journeys alongside him to traverse the vast and incomparable terrain of a seven-volume novel. Full of wit and provocation, he leads us through thick and thin, and best of all, he allows our own reading of the great work to revive within us, illuminating the very experience of reading that Proust so brilliantly mined.

By Roger Shattuck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Proust's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For any reader who has been humbled by the language, the density, or the sheer weight of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Roger Shattuck is a godsend. Winner of the National Book Award for Marcel Proust, a sweeping examination of Proust's life and works, Shattuck now offers a useful and eminently readable guidebook to Proust's epic masterpiece, and a contemplation of memory and consciousness throughout great literature. Here, Shattuck laments Proust's defenselessness against zealous editors, praises some translations, and presents Proust as a novelist whose philosophical gifts were matched only by his irrepressible comic sense. Proust's Way, the…


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