100 books like Think Least of Death

By Steven Nadler,

Here are 100 books that Think Least of Death fans have personally recommended if you like Think Least of Death. 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 Rembrandt's Eyes

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From my list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Why did Hugh love this book?

His earlier and best-known book, The Embarrassment of Riches, may offer a more comprehensive synopsis of the culture of the Dutch Republic’s Golden Age, including everything from the fashions, drinking and dice games that paradoxically thrived amid the strictures of Calvinism to the interpretations placed on passing natural events such as comets in the sky or the appearance of a whale on the beach. But Schama here gives us a loving and humane portrait of its greatest artist, doing in words what Rembrandt did in paint for his subjects, presenting his humanity with truth and dignity enlivened by inimitable splashes of colour and brilliant strokes of the pen. Using the paintings themselves as his window, Schama allows us not only to see back in time to this astonishing period, but to view it as those who lived through it must have seen it.

By Simon Schama,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This dazzling, unconventional biography shows us why, more than three centuries after his death, Rembrandt continues to exert such a hold on our imagination. Deeply familiar to us through his enigmatic self-portraits, few facts are known about the Leiden miller's son who tasted brief fame before facing financial ruin (he was even forced to sell his beloved wife Saskia's grave). The true biography of Rembrandt, as Simon Schama demonstrates, is to be discovered in his pictures. Interweaving of seventeenth-century Holland, Schama allows us to see Rembrandt in a completely fresh and original way.


Book cover of Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From my list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Why did Hugh love this book?

The Dutch Golden Age produced some of the world’s greatest art, but – less known – it was also a period of astonishing scientific and technical innovation. Snyder gets to the heart of the intrinsic connection between the worlds of art and science when she examines the lives of two of the greatest innovators who were born in the same month of 1632 and lived and worked in the same tiny city of Delft, and yet who may never have known each other or even met: the painter Vermeer and the pioneer of the microscope, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.

Although it is frustrating that there is no record of the two men having met – we can only conjecture the kind of conversation they might have had, with their common interest in the use of light and the understanding of optical phenomena – this in a way is the point of…

By Laura J Snyder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On a summer day in 1674, in the small Dutch city of Delft, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek-a cloth salesman, local bureaucrat, and self-taught natural philosopher-gazed through a tiny lens set into a brass holder and discovered a never-before imagined world of microscopic life. At the same time, in a nearby attic, the painter Johannes Vermeer was using another optical device, a camera obscura, to experiment with light and create the most luminous pictures ever beheld.

"See for yourself!" was the clarion call of the 1600s. Scientists peered at nature through microscopes and telescopes, making the discoveries in astronomy, physics, chemistry, and…


Book cover of The Great Level

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From my list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Why did Hugh love this book?

Fiction allows for the portrayal of a kind of absorption in the processes and materials of a historical period that is unusual in nonfiction. It can give a powerful sense of how time actually passed for people. Vermeer’s chaotic domestic routine as a painter was splendidly imagined by Tracy Chevalier in Girl with a Pearl Earring, for example. But the technical innovators of the Dutch Golden Age – the telescopists, the astronomers, the surveyors and engineers – are yet to be celebrated in this way. Sadly, nobody has written the story of Simon Stevin, who built a sand-yacht that could outrun a galloping horse as it whipped along the Dutch strand, or of Cornelis Drebbel, who demonstrated a submarine for King James I that mysteriously managed to stay underwater with its crew for several hours in the River Thames.

However, Stella Tillyard has performed this service on behalf of…

By Stella Tillyard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A 'magical, haunting' (Philippa Gregory) novel of a tragic love affair in a threatened world

In 1649, Jan Brunt, a Dutchman, arrives in England to work on draining and developing the Great Level, an expanse of marsh in the heart of the fen country. It is here he meets Eliza, whose love overturns his ordered vision and whose act of resistance forces him to see the world differently.

Jan flees to the New World, where the spirit of avarice is raging and his skills as an engineer are prized. Then one spring morning a boy delivers a note that prompts…


Book cover of Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From my list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Why did Hugh love this book?

Perhaps no one object was more demonstrative of the Dutch thirst for beauty, novelty and showing-off-but-not-showing-off riches than the tulip. The famous mania for these exotic bulbs, bred to produce ever more exotic flowers and to command ever higher prices, supposedly produced the world’s first economic bubble, which burst spectacularly in February 1637.

The truth is less spectacular (few people were involved in the trade and even fewer were ruined) but, in Goldgar’s skilful telling, much richer and more nuanced than the myth. The episode tells us about the growth of maritime trade and the emergence of the modern financial industry (including the important concept of risk) as well as the cultural interests of Dutch people at this exciting time in their history when the accumulation and subtle display of wealth vied in importance with the quest for aesthetic novelty and genuine curiosity about the natural world. One fashion-conscious doctor…

By Anne Goldgar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1630s, the Netherlands was gripped by tulipmania: a speculative fever unprecedented in scale and, as popular history would have it, folly. We all know the outline of the story - how otherwise sensible merchants, nobles, and artisans spent all they had (and much that they didn't) on tulip bulbs. We have heard how these bulbs changed hands hundreds of times in a single day, and how some bulbs, sold and resold for thousands of guilders, never even existed. Tulipmania is seen as an example of the gullibility of crowds and the dangers of financial speculation.But it wasn't like…


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 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 Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

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?

For the more philosophically minded this is a great short introduction to the major theories of ethicality, including what has been said about ethics by Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Adam Smith, Kant, Hobbes, Hegel, Marx, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen, and others for our orientations to external world issues of great moment and to the more specific issues of what we owe to each other as relatives, community members, world citizens, and human beings. How do we choose our personal (and national and cultural) ethical choices? What are their roots in religion, family, culture, professional training, and economic conditions (e.g., assumptions of scarcity or human flourishing)?  A very good background read for anyone who thinks before acting in negotiation. When do we act from “rights“ and when from “needs”? How should we treat our fellow human beings and have our conceptions changed over time?

By Simon Blackburn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Very Short Introductions: Brilliant, Sharp, Inspiring

Our self-image as moral, well-behaved creatures is dogged by scepticism, relativism, hypocrisy, and nihilism, and by the fear that in a Godless world science has unmasked us as creatures fated by our genes to be selfish and tribalistic, or competitive and aggressive. Here, Simon Blackburn tackles the major moral questions surrounding birth, death, happiness, desire, and freedom, showing us how we should think about the meaning of life, and why we should mistrust the soundbite-sized absolutes
that often dominate moral debates.

This second edition of the Very Short Introduction on Ethics has revised and…


Book cover of Agricultural Ethics: Research, Teaching and Public Policy

Robert Zimdahl Author Of Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

From my list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Several years ago I gave a paper - Human experiments in Teratogenicity - a brief exploration of the use of herbicides in the Vietnam. I was accused of and being a traitor to my discipline and siding with the environmentalists who wanted to diminish herbicide use in agriculture. I wasn't guilty as charged. The accusation encouraged me to explore agriculture's values and ethical foundation. I have continued to explore the ethics of agriculture, question the ethics of the whole agricultural enterprise. I've written, learned, and thought about the application of moral philosophy to agriculture. The book selected will help readers think about the questions and guide those interested in pursuing the application of moral philosophy to agriculture.

Robert's book list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Why did Robert love this book?

Paul Thompson is Professor of philosophy and holds the Kellogg chair in agricultural ethics at Michigan State University.

He was the first philosopher to explore the ethics of agriculture. It might be more correct to say he was the first to explore the lack of a specific ethical foundation for agriculture. He is a prolific writer and has published several books and numerous papers on agricultural ethics.

I have met him, read his work, and have benefited from his knowledge.

By Paul B. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Presents a collection of essays written over a period of 15 years by agricultural ethicist Paul B. Thompson. The essays address the practical application of ethics to agriculture in a world faced with issues of increased yield, threatened environment, and the disappearance of the family farm.


Book cover of The Moral Problem

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

There are a lot of great books about metaethics and a lot of great books about reasons, but this book nabs my top recommendation because Smith makes the topics so deceptively easy to get into and start thinking about. This is the book that I wrote my undergraduate senior thesis on that got me into studying and writing about philosophy for a living, and it is also one of the key books that everyone in my generation in my field grew up thinking about and reacting to. It also has a great balance between an overarching project that spans all of the chapters and some pretty self-contained discussions, especially in the earlier chapters, that helps the reader to focus on one question at a time while also getting a glimpse of how philosophical questions can add up to something bigger.

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This acclaimed volume offers a systematic introduction to and striking analysis of the central issues animating current debate in moral philosophy. It will be of interest to anyone with a serious interest in the philosophical foundations of ethics. Topics discussed in this book include: realist vs anti-realist accounts of moral truth; cognitivist vs expressivist accounts of moral judgement; internalist vs externalist accounts of the relation between moral judgement and the will; Humean vs anti-Humean theories of motivation; and the debate between those who think that morality is a system of hypothetical imperatives and those who think that moral requirements are…


Book cover of The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Doug White Author Of Wounded Charity: Lessons Learned from the Wounded Warrior Project Crisis

From my list on the complex worlds of philanthropy and nonprofits.

Why am I passionate about this?

The nonprofit sector is important to society and I often marvel at how many of us – which is to say all of us – have been touched by the generosity of others. With few exceptions, anyone who has graduated from college, who has been admitted to a hospital, who has attended a faith-based service, who has examined art at a gallery, who – literally, and there are no exceptions here – breathes air has benefited from the work of nonprofit organizations and the philanthropists who support them. It is therefore important to me to understand how the system works and how important charities are to society and a functioning democracy. 

Doug's book list on the complex worlds of philanthropy and nonprofits

Doug White Why did Doug love this book?

Our love for humanity – which is how “philanthropy” is defined – is rooted in our sense of morality. 

Adam Smith explains that morality is not driven only by reason, but is built into us because we are social beings. To understand philanthropy, therefore, I think we need a grounding in how and why we want to help others.  This book explores that desire, or need, to empathize. 

Smith says that when we see people happy or sad, we feel happy or sad too, that we derive pleasure when people do things we approve of. Even though The Theory of Moral Sentiments is almost three centuries old, it teaches us much about why nonprofits can be successful in the modern world.

By Adam Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The foundation for a general system of morals, this 1749 work is a landmark in the history of moral and political thought. Readers familiar with Adam Smith from The Wealth of Nations will find this earlier book a revelation. Although the author is often misrepresented as a calculating rationalist who advises the pursuit of self-interest in the marketplace, regardless of the human cost, he was also interested in the human capacity for benevolence — as The Theory of Moral Sentiments amply demonstrates.
The greatest prudence, Smith suggests, may lie in following economic self-interest in order to secure the basic necessities.…


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Interested in ethics, the Dutch Golden Age, and Baruch Spinoza?

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