100 books like Spinoza on Learning to Live Together

By Susan James,

Here are 100 books that Spinoza on Learning to Live Together fans have personally recommended if you like Spinoza on Learning to Live Together. 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 Benedict de Spinoza: An Introduction

Steven Nadler Author Of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From my list on Spinoza.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have immersed myself in the study of seventeenth-century philosophy for almost forty years. Over that time, I have become particularly devoted to Spinoza. This is because, first, I think he got it all pretty much right; his views on religion, on human nature, and especially on what it is to lead a good life have always struck me as correct and relevant. You can be a Spinozist today, three and a half centuries after his death, and it would make perfect sense. Second, Spinoza is endlessly fascinating. I find that every time I read him⎯and I’ve been reading and re-reading him for a long time now⎯it gets more difficult. Just when you think you know him, there are always new questions that arise and new puzzles to solve.

Steven's book list on Spinoza

Steven Nadler Why did Steven love this book?

My first book is an oldie but a goodie (and is due to come out soon in a third edition). Published in 1987, this is a highly readable and accessible introduction to Spinoza’s philosophy. It includes discussion of his views on God, the human being, the passions, the life of reason, and our ultimate happiness. It also covers his political thought and his views on religion. I recommend this book to anyone approaching Spinoza for the first time. Because the Ethics is such a difficult read, it is good to have a guide like this by your side.

By Henry Allison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the rear cover of this 254 page book: "This highly acclaimed book provides a general introduction to the life and works of one of the major philosophers of the seventeenth century. In this revised edition, Henry E. Allison has rewritten the central chapters on the 'Ethics', taking into consideration the most important recent literature on Spinoza's metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, and moral theory. This is an excellent general introduction to Spinoza's thought. Allison expounds Spinoza sympathetically, but without glossing over the difficulties. Though written in a way which should make it accessible to undergraduates, his book also contains much that…


Book cover of Spinoza on Human Freedom: Reason, Autonomy and the Good Life

Steven Nadler Author Of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From my list on Spinoza.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have immersed myself in the study of seventeenth-century philosophy for almost forty years. Over that time, I have become particularly devoted to Spinoza. This is because, first, I think he got it all pretty much right; his views on religion, on human nature, and especially on what it is to lead a good life have always struck me as correct and relevant. You can be a Spinozist today, three and a half centuries after his death, and it would make perfect sense. Second, Spinoza is endlessly fascinating. I find that every time I read him⎯and I’ve been reading and re-reading him for a long time now⎯it gets more difficult. Just when you think you know him, there are always new questions that arise and new puzzles to solve.

Steven's book list on Spinoza

Steven Nadler Why did Steven love this book?

Continuing on the theme of how to make Spinoza accessible to non-specialists, this is an excellent study of the many dimensions of Spinoza’s moral philosophy. For a long time, most of the literature on Spinoza was devoted to his metaphysics and epistemology, essentially Parts One and Two of the Ethics. Kisner’s was one of the first books devoted to the work’s moral dimensions in Parts Three, Four, and Five --  the ethics of the Ethics, so to speak. He covers all the right ground: freedom, happiness, responsibility, benevolence, and so on, and does so in an engaging and illuminating way.

By Matthew J. Kisner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spinoza on Human Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spinoza was one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment, but his often obscure metaphysics makes it difficult to understand the ultimate message of his philosophy. Although he regarded freedom as the fundamental goal of his ethics and politics, his theory of freedom has not received sustained, comprehensive treatment. Spinoza holds that we attain freedom by governing ourselves according to practical principles, which express many of our deepest moral commitments. Matthew J. Kisner focuses on this theory and presents an alternative picture of the ethical project driving Spinoza's philosophical system. His study of the neglected practical philosophy provides an…


Book cover of Spinoza on Reason, Passions, and the Supreme Good

Steven Nadler Author Of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From my list on Spinoza.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have immersed myself in the study of seventeenth-century philosophy for almost forty years. Over that time, I have become particularly devoted to Spinoza. This is because, first, I think he got it all pretty much right; his views on religion, on human nature, and especially on what it is to lead a good life have always struck me as correct and relevant. You can be a Spinozist today, three and a half centuries after his death, and it would make perfect sense. Second, Spinoza is endlessly fascinating. I find that every time I read him⎯and I’ve been reading and re-reading him for a long time now⎯it gets more difficult. Just when you think you know him, there are always new questions that arise and new puzzles to solve.

Steven's book list on Spinoza

Steven Nadler Why did Steven love this book?

This is another important contribution to our understanding of Spinoza as a moral philosopher. It is a denser read than the first three books, but fascinating nonetheless for those already with a little Spinoza under their belt. Rather than concentrating on just the latter parts of the Ethics, where most scholars interested in Spinoza’s moral philosophy focus and where we find the mature discussion of the “free person” who lives under the “guidance of reason”, Sangiacomo is especially concerned with the evolution of Spinoza’s moral thought from his earliest writings to his final, uncompleted work. He considers tensions within, and pressures upon, Spinoza’s understanding of the “Supreme Good” and how to achieve it, and the changes that that account consequently undergoes. Sangiacomo’s thesis is thus both historical and philosophical.

By Andrea Sangiacomo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spinoza on Reason, Passions, and the Supreme Good as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spinoza's thought is at the centre of an ever growing interest. Spinoza's moral philosophy, in particular, points to a radical way of understanding how human beings can become free and enjoy supreme happiness. And yet, there is still much disagreement about how exactly Spinoza's recipe is supposed to work. For long time, Spinoza has been presented as an arch rationalist who would identify in the purely intellectual cultivation of reason the key for ethical progress.
Andrea Sangiacomo offers a new understanding of Spinoza's project, by showing how he himself struggled during his career to develop a moral philosophy that could…


Book cover of Potentia: Hobbes and Spinoza on Power and Popular Politics

Steven Nadler Author Of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From my list on Spinoza.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have immersed myself in the study of seventeenth-century philosophy for almost forty years. Over that time, I have become particularly devoted to Spinoza. This is because, first, I think he got it all pretty much right; his views on religion, on human nature, and especially on what it is to lead a good life have always struck me as correct and relevant. You can be a Spinozist today, three and a half centuries after his death, and it would make perfect sense. Second, Spinoza is endlessly fascinating. I find that every time I read him⎯and I’ve been reading and re-reading him for a long time now⎯it gets more difficult. Just when you think you know him, there are always new questions that arise and new puzzles to solve.

Steven's book list on Spinoza

Steven Nadler Why did Steven love this book?

It is impossible to read Spinoza and not think often of Thomas Hobbes. Spinoza read Hobbes’s works and was clearly influenced by the English philosopher both in his account of human nature and, especially, in his political thinking. This is, as far as I know, the first book devoted explicitly to the two thinkers together. Field’s focus is on the political, and she does a beautiful job of analyzing and distinguishing different conceptions of ‘power’ (both in the individual and in the group), as well as illuminating similarities and contrasts between these two of the most important early modern thinkers on politics and the state.

By Sandra Leonie Field,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We live in an age of growing dissatisfaction with the standard operations of representative democracy. The solution, according to a long radical democratic tradition, is the unmediated power of the people. Mass plebiscites and mass protest movements are celebrated as the quintessential expression of popular power, and this power promises to transcend ordinary institutional politics. But the outcomes of mass political phenomena can be just as disappointing as the
ordinary politics they sought to overcome, breeding skepticism about democratic politics in all its forms.

Potentia argues that the very meaning of popular power needs to be rethought. It offers a…


Book cover of On Compromise and Rotten Compromises

Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow Author Of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

From my list on ethical negotiators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am one of the founders of the American dispute resolution field and have taught negotiation, legal ethics, mediation, alternative dispute resolution and international dispute resolution for 40 years in over 25 countries on every continent. I have mediated, negotiated or arbitrated hundreds of cases. I am a law professor who has taught legal ethics since it was required post-Watergate for all law students. As a negotiation teacher and practitioner, I have seen the effects of deceit and dishonorable negotiations in law and diplomacy and peace seeking and I have also seen what can happen when people treat each other fairly to reach better outcomes for problems than they could achieve on their own.

Carrie's book list on ethical negotiators

Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow Why did Carrie love this book?

This book explores the expedients of political negotiations and compromises—when should we (not) negotiate with evil people or regimes or those we can’t trust? It explores some of the most controversial negotiations in history (Munich, Yalta, Arab-Israel peace negotiations) and provides both vivid stories and good philosophical standards for trying to do the best one can in problematic settings. How can we make things better when things are already bad? How can we distinguish good acts and bad acts and well-meaning actors in tough situations, and necessary, if painful, political compromises? Major historical events provide guidance even for everyday negotiations.

By Avishai Margalit,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Compromise and Rotten Compromises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When is political compromise acceptable--and when is it fundamentally rotten, something we should never accept, come what may? What if a rotten compromise is politically necessary? Compromise is a great political virtue, especially for the sake of peace. But, as Avishai Margalit argues, there are moral limits to acceptable compromise even for peace. But just what are those limits? At what point does peace secured with compromise become unjust? Focusing attention on vitally important questions that have received surprisingly little attention, Margalit argues that we should be concerned not only with what makes a just war, but also with what…


Book cover of A Theory of Justice

Alexandre Lefebvre Author Of Liberalism as a Way of Life

From my list on politics and the good life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the question of where people get their values, particularly in our secular age. If you have a religion, the question is easy to answer: just point to your church or faith. For the unchurched like me, however, it’s tricky. We feel there’s something we should be able to point to, but what? As a professor of politics and philosophy, I’ve been exploring this question for more than a decade. My latest book argues that liberalism has become a comprehensive worldview and may be the key to who you and I are deep down.

Alexandre's book list on politics and the good life

Alexandre Lefebvre Why did Alexandre love this book?

John Rawls (or rather, his estate) hardly needs my recommendation. This is the most famous work of political philosophy of the twentieth century. However, it’s a challenging read. Its own publisher describes it as a “600-page work of abstract and uncompromising philosophy.”

Despite the difficulty, the effort is well worth it. Within its pages, you’ll find the most inspiring (and, I believe, realistic) vision of how our countries and our lives can become more just.

By John Rawls,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Theory of Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since it appeared in 1971, John Rawls's A Theory of Justice has become a classic. The author has now revised the original edition to clear up a number of difficulties he and others have found in the original book.

Rawls aims to express an essential part of the common core of the democratic tradition--justice as fairness--and to provide an alternative to utilitarianism, which had dominated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political thought since the nineteenth century. Rawls substitutes the ideal of the social contract as a more satisfactory account of the basic rights and liberties of citizens as free and equal…


Book cover of The Tyranny of the Ideal: Justice in a Diverse Society

Scott E. Page Author Of The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You

From my list on for aspiring or inspiring social scientist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor at The University of Michigan, external faculty at The Santa Fe Institute, and an editor of Collective Intelligence. As a theorist, I build mathematical and computational models and frameworks. My research explores the functional contributions of diversity – different ways of thinking and seeing – on group performance, a topic I explore in my book The Difference. Recently, I’ve become interested in how to build ensembles of markets, democracies, hierarchies, self-organized communities, or algorithms so that societies prosper. That agenda drives the books I have chosen for this list.

Scott's book list on for aspiring or inspiring social scientist

Scott E. Page Why did Scott love this book?

This book challenges the notion that we should rely on the ideal as a guidepost. Set aside whether we could decide on an ideal; Gaus, a philosopher, makes a four-part argument against pursuing it. First, how could we contemplate the incomprehensible number of possible institutional, legal, and organizational configurations? We couldn’t. Second, the components of those configurations interact, resulting in a rugged landscape: the path to the ideal would not be entirely uphill, that is, it would require sacrifices. Hence, the book’s title. Third, owing to the interactions among choices, we cannot evaluate collective well-being in alternative configurations with any accuracy. What hubris to assume that we could. And finally, the landscape responds to our positioning, as we adapt our physical, organizational, and institutional (both formal and invisible) environments, we alter what we can achieve and what we desire.

By Gerald Gaus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his provocative new book, The Tyranny of the Ideal, Gerald Gaus lays out a vision for how we should theorize about justice in a diverse society. Gaus shows how free and equal people, faced with intractable struggles and irreconcilable conflicts, might share a common moral life shaped by a just framework. He argues that if we are to take diversity seriously and if moral inquiry is sincere about shaping the world, then the pursuit of idealized and perfect theories of justice-essentially, the entire production of theories of justice that has dominated political philosophy for the past forty years-needs to…


Book cover of The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism, Second Edition

Ronald Beiner Author Of Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right

From my list on the intellectuals of the contemporary far right.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a political theorist recently retired from the University of Toronto. Around fall 2014, I became aware that a hyper-energetic, well-educated intelligentsia was trying to move heaven and earth to make fascism intellectually respectable again. I resolved to educate myself about these scary characters. I was truly alarmed, and wrote my book to convey my alarm to fellow citizens who hadn’t yet woken up to the threat. Sure enough, within a couple of years, Richard Spencer rose to media stardom; and one of the first things that Trump did after being elected in November of 2016 was to decide that a crypto-fascist Steve Bannon was worthy of a senior position in the White House. 

Ronald's book list on the intellectuals of the contemporary far right

Ronald Beiner Why did Ronald love this book?

A strong case can be made that Richard Wolin got the jump on the rest of us with respect to appreciating the continued relevance of the Nietzsche-inspired intellectual far right. The first edition of Seduction of Unreason was published in 2004, 14 years before I published my book. I’m humbled by the fact that it took me so long to wake up to the fact that what was dangerous about Nietzsche in the 20th century remains dangerous today.

By Richard Wolin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever since the shocking revelations of the fascist ties of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been extensive and widespread. He questions postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the Left, suggesting instead that it has long been enamored with the opposite end of the political spectrum. Wolin reveals how, during in the 1930s, C. G. Jung, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot were seduced by fascism's promise of political…


Book cover of Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

Immanuel Kant is often seen as a pure philosopher, one who was interested in abstract principles. He was that, but his essays on "Perpetual Peace" and especially his essay "Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective" are literally the best things I have ever read, and have so much resonance for us today.

Democracies tend not to go to war as much as dictatorships because the people are likely to be the ones who are killed on the battlefield. In Kant’s time Frederick the Great was able to go to war whenever he wanted. Today, Vladimir Putin can go to war without asking anyone and the people, and Russian conscripts too – suffer the consequences. Kant’s experience of living in a militarised state governed by a single man is eerily relevant today. Reading this thinker tells as much about contemporary politics as it teaches us about 18th…

By Immanuel Kant, David L. Colclasure (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Immanuel Kant's views on politics, peace, and history have lost none of their relevance since their publication more than two centuries ago. This volume contains a comprehensive collection of Kant's writings on international relations theory and political philosophy, superbly translated and accompanied by stimulating essays.
Pauline Kleingeld provides a lucid introduction to the main themes of the volume, and three essays by distinguished contributors follow: Jeremy Waldron on Kant's theory of the state; Michael W. Doyle on the implications of Kant's political theory for his theory of international relations; and Allen W. Wood on Kant's philosophical approach to history and…


Book cover of Aristotle's Politics

Rebecca Kingston Author Of Plutarch's Prism: Classical Reception and Public Humanism in France and England, 1500-1800

From my list on why politics matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a student of the history of ideas, with a particular interest in political thought, for over forty years. I have read countless books, both ancient and modern, and in several languages, that explore themes related to public life. I am a dedicated citizen of a contemporary liberal democracy, but today, I live in fear of a growing backlash against liberal democracy. The risk of democratic backsliding in the contemporary US is real as citizens become more disillusioned with politics. In other liberal democracies, some party leaders are adopting populist rhetoric to enhance their electoral appeal, but in doing so, they are undermining some of the established norms of public life. 

Rebecca's book list on why politics matter

Rebecca Kingston Why did Rebecca love this book?

Aristotle offers a classic statement and argument for politics as an extension of ethics. For people to live well and strive for good things, they need to live in a political community. How politics is done has a direct impact on the quality of people’s lives.

am always inspired by Aristotle’s recognition of how peaceful discussions over the nature of justice constitute the central feature of political life and how good politics necessarily implies reciprocity and efforts to advance the well-being of all citizens.

By Aristotle, Carnes Lord (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Aristotle's Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the fundamental works of Western political thought, Aristotle's masterwork is the first systematic treatise on the science of politics. For almost three decades, Carnes Lord's justly acclaimed translation has served as the standard English edition. Widely regarded as the most faithful to both the original Greek and Aristotle's distinctive style, it is also written in clear, contemporary English. This new edition of the Politics retains and adds to Lord's already extensive notes, clarifying the flow of Aristotle's argument and identifying literary and historical references. A glossary defines key terms in Aristotle's philosophical-political vocabulary. Lord has made revisions to…


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