100 books like The Proper Study of Mankind

By Isaiah Berlin,

Here are 100 books that The Proper Study of Mankind fans have personally recommended if you like The Proper Study of Mankind. 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 Russian Thinkers

Henry Hardy Author Of In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure

From my list on Isaiah Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had the supreme good fortune to know Berlin (1909–97) for nearly twenty-five years, and to work with him as his principal editor for most of that time; I continued this work after his death and it still occupies me now. He was one of the great human beings of the twentieth century, an essayist and letter-writer of genius, and a bewitching bridge between academia and the general civilised life of the mind. His ideas are fertile and illuminating to this day, and the immediately recognisable voice of his prose is the best possible intellectual company.

Henry's book list on Isaiah Berlin

Henry Hardy Why did Henry love this book?

As a Russian Jew and Russian-speaker by birth, a witness of the Russian Revolution, a historian of ideas by vocation, and a consummate prose-writer, Berlin was able to extract the pith of the nineteenth-century Russian intelligentsia and present it in English as no one else has before or since. Belinsky, Herzen, Tolstoy, Turgenev, and others come to life in these ten essays and speak to us and our concerns today in Berlin’s ventriloquistic tours de force.

In particular, Herzen’s passionate denunciation of political extremism plays a central role, and provides a moral underpinning for Berlin’s commitment to liberty. The book is a major contribution to the explanation of Russia to the West, and the reader is left in no doubt about the relevance and power of the ideas that Berlin illuminates.


By Isaiah Berlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few, if any, English-language critics have written as perceptively as Isaiah Berlin about Russian thought and culture. Russian Thinkers is his unique meditation on the impact that Russia's outstanding writers and philosophers had on its culture. In addition to Tolstoy's philosophy of history, which he addresses in his most famous essay, 'The Hedgehog and the Fox,' Berlin considers the social and political circumstances that produced such men as Herzen, Bakunin, Turgenev, Belinsky, and others of the Russian intelligentsia, who made up, as Berlin describes, 'the largest single Russian contribution to social change in the world.'


Book cover of Isaiah Berlin: A Life

Henry Hardy Author Of In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure

From my list on Isaiah Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had the supreme good fortune to know Berlin (1909–97) for nearly twenty-five years, and to work with him as his principal editor for most of that time; I continued this work after his death and it still occupies me now. He was one of the great human beings of the twentieth century, an essayist and letter-writer of genius, and a bewitching bridge between academia and the general civilised life of the mind. His ideas are fertile and illuminating to this day, and the immediately recognisable voice of his prose is the best possible intellectual company.

Henry's book list on Isaiah Berlin

Henry Hardy Why did Henry love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Isaiah Berlin: An Interpretation of His Thought

Henry Hardy Author Of In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure

From my list on Isaiah Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had the supreme good fortune to know Berlin (1909–97) for nearly twenty-five years, and to work with him as his principal editor for most of that time; I continued this work after his death and it still occupies me now. He was one of the great human beings of the twentieth century, an essayist and letter-writer of genius, and a bewitching bridge between academia and the general civilised life of the mind. His ideas are fertile and illuminating to this day, and the immediately recognisable voice of his prose is the best possible intellectual company.

Henry's book list on Isaiah Berlin

Henry Hardy Why did Henry love this book?

John Gray’s encounter with Berlin’s ideas, first published in Berlin’s lifetime, remains one of the most intriguing and challenging explorations of the intellectual territories that he inhabited. Gray is not afraid to disagree with Berlin, but makes clear where he goes beyond him to present his own interpretation of the topics by which they are both preoccupied: freedom, pluralism, history, nationalism, Romanticism, the Enlightenment, and liberalism.

By John Gray,

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 (1909-1997) was the greatest intellectual historian of the twentieth century. But his work also made an original and important contribution to moral and political philosophy and to liberal theory. In 1921, at the age of eleven, Isaiah Berlin arrived in England from Riga, Latvia. By the time he was thirty he was at the heart of British intellectual life. He has remained its commanding presence ever since, and few would dispute that he was one of Britain's greatest thinkers. His reputation extends worldwide--as a great conversationalist, intellectual historian, and man of letters. He has been called the century's…


Book cover of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Somi Arian Author Of Career Fear (and how to beat it): Get the Perspective, Mindset and Skills You Need to Futureproof your Work Life

From my list on preparing you for the digital era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm Somi Arian, a tech philosopher, award-winning filmmaker, author, LinkedIn-Top-Voice, and the founder of InPeak, a Web3 education and professional networking platform. My background in Philosophy of Science and Technology informs my role in society as a 'Transition Architect.' My documentary, The Millennial Disruption, featuring industry leaders, won three international awards. My book, Career Fear (and how to beat it), addresses the future of work and the skills we all need to survive and thrive in the age of Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. As a speaker, I give talks and workshops internationally on the impact of technology on society, the business landscape, the future of work, Web3, NFTs, the Metaverse, and blockchain technology.

Somi's book list on preparing you for the digital era

Somi Arian Why did Somi love this book?

Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow is a thought-provoking and insightful book that takes a deep dive into the future of humanity.

Harari's approach to the subject matter is engaging and his arguments are presented with clarity and precision, making it a valuable read for anyone interested in exploring the potential paths of human evolution. The book provides a compelling analysis of how science, technology, and human progress intersect, while also offering ideas and predictions about the future.

The author challenges readers to think about the state of current trends and how we can better shape our future touching on a wide range of topics, from artificial life to overcoming death, and raising important questions about the future of humanity.

I highly recommend this book for its ability to inspire readers to think critically and imaginatively about the future of humanity. Harari's engaging style and accessible language make the book…

By Yuval Noah Harari,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**THE MILLION COPY BESTSELLER**

Sapiens showed us where we came from. In our increasingly uncertain times, Homo Deus shows us where we're going.

'Spellbinding' Guardian

The world-renowned historian and intellectual Yuval Noah Harari envisions a near future in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century and beyond - from overcoming death to creating artificial life.

It asks the fundamental questions: how can we protect this fragile world from our own destructive power? And what does our future hold?

'Even more readable, even more important, than…


Book cover of Janus: A Summing Up

Andrée Ehresmann & Jean-Paul Vanbremeersch Author Of Memory Evolutive Systems: Hierarchy, Emergence, Cognition: Volume 4

From my list on mathematical approaches to complex systems.

Why are we passionate about this?

An accident of professional life led us, Jean-Paul Vanbremeersch and Andrée Ehresmann, to meet in 1979. Jean-Paul was then a young physician who was also interested in problems of emergence and complexity. Andrée was a mathematician working in Analysis and, more recently, in Category Theory with Charles Ehresmann (her late husband). With Charles, she shared the idea that: “a category theory approach could open a wealth of possibilities to the understanding of complex processes of any kind.”This idea appealed to Jean-Paul who suggested that we both try applying it to problems of emergence, complexity, and cognition. It led to our 40 years old development of MES. 

Andrée and Jean-Paul's book list on mathematical approaches to complex systems

Andrée Ehresmann & Jean-Paul Vanbremeersch Why did Andrée and Jean-Paul love this book?

We appreciate this book because it helped us to introduce the concept of a ‘hierarchical category,’ which is necessary to describe our MES. We accomplished this by translating Koestler's concept of a "hierarchy of holons," where a holon embodies a 'hybrid nature' akin to a two-faced Janus.

Technically, a hierarchical category organizes objects into numbered levels (0 to m). An object at level n is dual-faced: 'simple' compared to levels above n, but 'complex' compared to levels < n, this object being the "colimit" (or combination) of linked objects < n. Within a hierarchical category, we compute the 'complexity order' for each object. The category aligns with pure reductionism if it lacks objects with a complexity order greater than 1.

By Arthur Koestler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Excellent Book


Book cover of The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

Toby Walsh Author Of Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI

From my list on artificial intelligence and human intelligence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been dreaming about Artificial Intelligence (AI) since a young age. I am currently Professor of AI at UNSW, Sydney. I was named by the Australian newspaper as one of the ”rock stars” of Australia’s digital revolution. Although this is highly improbable, I have spoken at the UN, and to heads of state, parliamentary bodies, company boards, and many others about AI and how it is impacting our lives. I've written three books about AI for a general audience that have been translated into a dozen different languages.

Toby's book list on artificial intelligence and human intelligence

Toby Walsh Why did Toby love this book?

This is an entertaining and lighter read than my other recommendations about AI. It is specifically about chatbots trying to pass the Turing Test, and ultimately is a witty story of what it means to be human. For anyone who has ever mistaken an answerphone for a person, or a person for an answerphone!

By Brian Christian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A playful, profound book that is not only a testament to one man's efforts to be deemed more human than a computer, but also a rollicking exploration of what it means to be human in the first place.

“Terrific. ... Art and science meet an engaged mind and the friction produces real fire.” —The New Yorker

Each year, the AI community convenes to administer the famous (and famously controversial) Turing test, pitting sophisticated software programs against humans to determine if a computer can “think.” The machine that most often fools the judges wins the Most Human Computer Award. But there…


Book cover of The Ascent of Man

Guy Crosby Ph.D Author Of Cook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking

From my list on history and future of agriculture, food, and cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since childhood I've been fascinated with the beauty of organic molecules. I pursued this passion in graduate school at Brown University and through a postdoctoral position at Stanford University. My professional career began at a startup pharmaceutical company in California, which evolved into research positions in agriculture and food ingredients. After 30 years I retired as a vice-president of research and development for a food ingredients company. I developed a passion for food and cooking and subsequently acquired a position as the science editor for America’s Test Kitchen, which I held for over 12 years. Today at the age of 80 I still write and publish scientific papers and books about food, cooking, and nutrition.

Guy's book list on history and future of agriculture, food, and cooking

Guy Crosby Ph.D Why did Guy love this book?

A fascinating history about the evolution of human life by a renowned expert in the field. The book focuses on the technological developments that drove the evolution of humans from the very beginning. A beautifully illustrated book. The source of my favorite lines of poetry by William Blake:

“To see a World in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

By Jacob Bronowski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dr Jacob Bronowksi's The Ascent of Man traces the development of human society through our understanding of science.

First published in 1973 to accompany the groundbreaking BBC television series, it is considered one of the first works of 'popular science', illuminating the historical and social context of scientific development for a generation of readers. In his highly accessible style, Dr Bronowski discusses human invention from the flint tool to geometry, agriculture to genetics, and from alchemy to the theory of relativity, showing how they all are expressions of our ability to understand and control nature.

In this new paperback edition,…


Book cover of Being Salmon, Being Human: Encountering the Wild in Us and Us in the Wild

Gavin Van Horn Author Of Planet

From my list on a living kinship with the more-than-human world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I remember, as a very young child, clandestinely sneaking out of the house on humid Houston nights to gather toads. How my parents never caught me in the act, I do not know. I only know holding these amphibians in my hands felt special, magical even. This compulsion toward other creatures speaks to the unfolding of my lifelong learnings, a path that led me to a PhD in Religion and Nature and then to work for the Center for Humans and Nature. I’ve never stopped reflecting on how humans might better care for our earthling kin, and I don’t suspect I’ll ever cease marveling at the earth’s wild generativity. 

Gavin's book list on a living kinship with the more-than-human world

Gavin Van Horn Why did Gavin love this book?

Hailed as a “new genre of nature writing,” Mueller’s book is species-specific, dwelling upon the lives and deaths of salmon, yet the subject matter could apply to any creature that has become a commodity within late-stage capitalism. Mueller contrasts the Norwegian farmed-salmon industry and the increasing mechanization and reduction of living beings to things with wild salmon populations and Native people’s perspectives from the Pacific Northwest. Critically, he dares to take on the perspective of salmon, sprinkling memorable and moving vignettes throughout the book, helping readers imagine the world from a salmon’s-eye-view. This work of interspecies empathy is a rare and welcome contribution to thinking about personhood through a lens that is other-than-human.

By Martin Lee Mueller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nautilus Award Silver Medal Winner, Ecology & Environment

In search of a new story for our place on earth

Being Salmon, Being Human examines Western culture's tragic alienation from nature by focusing on the relationship between people and salmon-weaving together key narratives about the Norwegian salmon industry as well as wild salmon in indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest.

Mueller uses this lens to articulate a comprehensive critique of human exceptionalism, directly challenging the four-hundred-year-old notion that other animals are nothing but complicated machines without rich inner lives and that Earth is a passive backdrop to human experience. Being fully…


Book cover of The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs

Charles Spinosa Author Of Leadership as Masterpiece Creation: What Business Leaders Can Learn from the Humanities About Moral Risk-Taking

From my list on creating thoughtful good lives in our current age.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a freshman in my Columbia University humanities class, I remember when we debated whether Achilles did the right thing in fighting Hector when Achilles could have led a peaceful life as a shepherd. I was arguing that only in risking our lives could we fully live them. A senior challenged me, saying, “I’ve struggled here for four years. I want a life of ease.” That debate has guided me through my years as a professor of English literature and philosophy and then as a management consultant. Only in conversations over the good life do admirable ways of treating customers, managing employees, or competing come to life. 

Charles' book list on creating thoughtful good lives in our current age

Charles Spinosa Why did Charles love this book?

This is the most readable philosophy book I know. Nietzsche wrote it in his brilliantly witty, epigrammatic style. Each episode is about a page long.

Concentrate on "Book Four." There, Nietzsche famously tells us that God is dead. Find out what he really means. (We criticize everything and can feel no true reverence.) Consequently, we seek convenience and flexibility over and over again. Stunningly, Nietzsche sets out four contrarian, incompatible good lives. (Philosophers have always sought to define one good life.)

If you read nothing else, read epigrams 290, 295, and 303: "The life of constant revision to perfect a style," "The life of short stories," "The life of brilliant improvisation," and "The risk-taking life." I use Nietzsche’s model of good lives to help business leaders restore their businesses and themselves.

By Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Kaufmann (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The book Nietzsche called "the most personal of all my books." It was here that he first proclaimed the death of God—to which a large part of the book is devoted—and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence.

Walter Kaufmann's commentary, with its many quotations from previously untranslated letters, brings to life Nietzsche as a human being and illuminates his philosophy. The book contains some of Nietzsche's most sustained discussions of art and morality, knowledge and truth, the intellectual conscience and the origin of logic.

Most of the book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the last part five years…


Book cover of The Reapers Are the Angels

Martin Rodoreda Author Of Salvage

From my list on action-packed, post-apocalyptic fictions with a female protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been heavily immersed in the fantasy and sci-fi world since the age of nine, across fiction novels, role-playing games, tabletop miniature gaming, and movies. My first love was fantasy, and that’s one of the reasons why the post-apocalyptic genre particularly appeals to me when it comes to sci-fi. It plays in that dark, gritty place between futuristic, sci-fi, technology, and dark-age style fantasy. In addition, I’ve always felt socially conscious and value writing that highlights themes that are relevant today. This is another place that the post-apocalyptic genre slides comfortably into. And, of course, there’s the zombies. Another fantasy element that works beautifully in post-apocalyptic, sci-fi settings.

Martin's book list on action-packed, post-apocalyptic fictions with a female protagonist

Martin Rodoreda Why did Martin love this book?

What I love most about this book is how Bell uses a zombie apocalypse to explore the complexities of humanity. I felt that Bell uses the zombie threat as a backdrop to look at how people respond under intense pressure.

I enjoyed the contrast of each character’s response to the apocalypse, ranging from kindness and fellowship to exploitation, violence, and madness. I liked the way Bell creates the protagonist Temple to be both innocent and kind whilst being plagued by guilt and tormented by a belief that she is a sinner.

I also liked the complexities and seeming paradox of the antagonist Moses Todd, whose dogged pursuit of Temple is at times Terminator-like and yet somehow almost chivalric in nature, operating under a code of honor, even if it is a misguided one. 

By Alden Bell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Reapers Are the Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe...

Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is just trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnant of mankind who have survived, at times, seem to retain little humanity themselves.

This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization - and to those who…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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