100 books like What Philosophy Can Do

By Gary Gutting,

Here are 100 books that What Philosophy Can Do fans have personally recommended if you like What Philosophy Can Do. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Scott Galloway Author Of The Algebra of Wealth: A Simple Formula for Financial Security

From my list on helping you be your best self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I try to use my platform to  help people consider how to live a more meaningful life. I've made mistakes, learned from them, and want to pass on those lessons. There are many definitions of success and fulfillment and many paths to achieve it. I hope by telling my story others can avoid some of the mistakes I made.

Scott's book list on helping you be your best self

Scott Galloway Why did Scott love this book?

Professor Kahneman’s ideologies on decision-making have helped me in business and my personal life.

His insights have enhanced my decision-making process and helped me navigate the strait between instinct and decision. His insights have encouraged me to delegate routine decisions, allowing me to reserve my mental energy for the most critical choices.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


Book cover of How We Think

Jonathan Haber Author Of Critical Thinking

From my list on becoming a better critical thinker.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Boston-based educational researcher and consultant specializing in critical-thinking education and technology-enabled learning.  My 2013 Degree of Freedom One-Year-BA project on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which involved taking 32 online college classes in just twelve months, was featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications.  That work led to my first book for MIT Press, and an Inaugural fellowship at HarvardX, the organization at Harvard responsible for MOOC development.  I am also the author of two books on critical thinking and work with educators on how to improve critical-thinking education for students at all grade levels.

Jonathan's book list on becoming a better critical thinker

Jonathan Haber Why did Jonathan love this book?

Where did the concept originate that there is a form of thinking, distinct from knowledge and wisdom, unique enough to be called “critical.” As it turns out, “critical thinking” has its origin point in this 1910 book by America’s most famous philosopher of education, John Dewey. In How We Think, Dewey identifies the kind of thinking – which he calls “reflective thinking” – required for citizens in a democracy to properly make decisions and perform their civic responsibilities. He also talks about how the development of reflective thinking skills (today called “critical thinking skills”) can be incorporated into the education process. If you are interested in improving your own thinking or teaching others to reason more effectively, John Dewey’s How We Think is Ground Zero for any critical-thinking project.  

By John Dewey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of America’s foremost philosophers, John Dewey (1859-1952) fought for civil and academic freedom, founded the Progressive School movement, and steadfastly promoted a scientific approach to intellectual development.
In How We Think, Dewey shares his views on the educator’s role in training students to think well. Basing his assertions on the belief that knowledge is strictly relative to human interaction with the world, he considers the need for thought training, its use of natural resources, and its place in school conditions; inductive and deductive reasoning, interpreting facts, and concrete and abstract thinking; the functions of activity, language, and observation in…


Book cover of The Dream of Reason: A History of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance

Jonathan Haber Author Of Critical Thinking

From my list on becoming a better critical thinker.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Boston-based educational researcher and consultant specializing in critical-thinking education and technology-enabled learning.  My 2013 Degree of Freedom One-Year-BA project on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which involved taking 32 online college classes in just twelve months, was featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications.  That work led to my first book for MIT Press, and an Inaugural fellowship at HarvardX, the organization at Harvard responsible for MOOC development.  I am also the author of two books on critical thinking and work with educators on how to improve critical-thinking education for students at all grade levels.

Jonathan's book list on becoming a better critical thinker

Jonathan Haber Why did Jonathan love this book?

While critical thinking is not synonymous with philosophy, philosophical principles like logic and epistemology play a huge role in thinking systematically and productively. If you’re interested in how these new and revolutionary ways of thinking were born, I highly recommend this 2003 tour of the history of early Western philosophy, from Ancient Greece through the Medieval Age, by former Executive Editor of the Economist Anthony Gottlieb. If that book leaves you hungry for more, Gottlieb’s second title the series, The Dream of Enlightenment, continues the story of Western philosophy through the start of the modern era.  

By Anthony Gottlieb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Already a classic, this landmark study of early Western thought now appears in a new edition with expanded coverage of the Middle Ages. This landmark study of Western thought takes a fresh look at the writings of the great thinkers of classic philosophy and questions many pieces of conventional wisdom. The book invites comparison with Bertrand Russell's monumental History of Western Philosophy, "but Gottlieb's book is less idiosyncratic and based on more recent scholarship" (Colin McGinn, Los Angeles Times). A New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Best Book, and a Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2001.


Book cover of Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion

Jonathan Haber Author Of Critical Thinking

From my list on becoming a better critical thinker.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Boston-based educational researcher and consultant specializing in critical-thinking education and technology-enabled learning.  My 2013 Degree of Freedom One-Year-BA project on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which involved taking 32 online college classes in just twelve months, was featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications.  That work led to my first book for MIT Press, and an Inaugural fellowship at HarvardX, the organization at Harvard responsible for MOOC development.  I am also the author of two books on critical thinking and work with educators on how to improve critical-thinking education for students at all grade levels.

Jonathan's book list on becoming a better critical thinker

Jonathan Haber Why did Jonathan love this book?

Why would I include a book on rhetoric right after a set of recommendations of titles covering philosophy, given the two-thousand-year rivalry between those two ancient disciplines? In contrast to other people who teach critical thinking, I place great value on persuasive communications, commonly referred to as rhetoric, given the need to see through the rhetoric of others when analyzing their arguments, and the ability of persuasive language to turn valid and sound arguments into unstoppable ones. In his recently updated bestseller Thank You for Arguing, author Jay Heinrich lays out a powerful case for why effective argumentation can bring people together to solve problems, providing potential offramps from today’s polarized, destructive pseudo-debates. Heinrich’s book is accessible and entertaining, drawing from pop culture and his own life experiences, alongside the wisdom of Aristotle and other great thinkers from history, to demonstrate how to productively argue out our disagreements,…

By Jay Heinrichs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thank You for Arguing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive guide to getting your way, revised and updated with new material on writing, speaking, framing, and other key tools for arguing more powerfully
 
“Cross Cicero with David Letterman and you get Jay Heinrichs.”—Joseph Ellis, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Quartet and American Sphinx
 
Now in its fourth edition, Jay Heinrichs’s Thank You for Arguing is your master class in the art of persuasion, taught by history’s greatest professors, ranging from Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill to Homer Simpson and Barack Obama. 

Filled with time-tested secrets for emerging victorious from any dispute, including Cicero’s three-step strategy for inspiring action…


Book cover of Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1973--1974

Michael J. Prince Author Of Weary Warriors: Power, Knowledge, and the Invisible Wounds of Soldiers

From my list on the psyche of disabled war veterans.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Canadian academic, Michael J. Prince is an award-winning author in the field of modern politics, government, and public policy. The Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria, he has written widely on issues of disability activism and social change, including on veterans and their families. He is co-author, with Pamela Moss, of Weary Warriors: Power, Knowledge, and the Invisible Wounds of Soldiers, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2014. 

Michael's book list on the psyche of disabled war veterans

Michael J. Prince Why did Michael love this book?

This consummate French philosopher explores the lineage of psychiatry as an intertwined field of knowledge and form of power. For Foucault, moving beyond asylums, in the nineteenth and twentieth century armies called on psychiatry to assert the reality of military power and the functioning of military purposes. A similar relationship has taken place with the family in relation to nation-states and military establishments. The author provides many useful concepts to appreciate the psychiatrization of soldiers as shocked, exhausted, hysterical, neurotic, and traumatized, among other diagnostic categories. From this work, a significant value I gained is a historical understanding of how modern psychiatry developed in relation to armed forces and warfare.

By Michel Foucault, Jacques Lagrange (editor), Arnold I. Davidson (editor) , Graham Burchell (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this addition to the College de France Lecture Series Michel Foucault explores the birth of psychiatry, examining Western society's division of 'mad' and 'sane' and how medicine and law influenced these attitudes. This seminal new work by a leading thinker of the modern age opens new vistas within historical and philosophical study.


Book cover of The Courage of Truth

Paul Allen Miller Author Of Horace

From my list on the art of living.

Why am I passionate about this?

While I am Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina and the author of ten books, I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City. My parents were from rural Missouri. I never met a professor, a writer, or an artist growing up. I never seriously considered going to college. But I loved to read. When I went to college and discovered you could major in literature and ancient languages, my life changed. I am now at work on a book entitled Truth and Enjoyment in Cicero: Rhetoric and Philosophy Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which reflects on what Cicero can teach us about living in a post-truth age.

Paul's book list on the art of living

Paul Allen Miller Why did Paul love this book?

These are Foucault’s final lectures in 1984. They are a remarkable testament to philosophical courage. In late December of 1983, Foucault fell ill. At this time he may have received a diagnosis of AIDS, but it is not sure. By March, he was regularly in and out of the hospital. At this point, he no longer sought a diagnosis but only inquired how much time he had. The editor Frédéric Gros observes that, like Socrates, whom Foucault references repeatedly in these lectures, he was more concerned with failing to complete his mission than with death. At the beginning of his final lecture, Foucault stood before his audience and said, “I am going to try to give you two hours of lecture today, but I am not absolutely sure I will make it.” He gave the full lecture.

By Michel Foucault, Graham Burchell (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Courage of the Truth is the last course that Michel Foucault delivered at the College de France before his death in 1984. In this course, he continues the theme of the previous year's lectures in exploring the notion of "truth-telling" in politics to establish a number of ethically irreducible conditionsbased on courage and conviction.


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 Last And First Men

K.K. Edin Author Of The Measurements of Decay

From my list on exploring philosophy through fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a lawyer and novelist with a Master’s degree in philosophy. I read philosophy and its history to seek wisdom, knowledge, morality, meaning, and the means by which to think well. That is also why I read fiction. And a great philosophical novel can do what a treatise cannot: it can enlighten by style, perspective, the elicitation of empathy, by poignancy and aesthetic awe, and other qualities unique to good fiction. Although I could not possibly represent all the great philosophical novels in this short list, I’ve tried to present a meaningful cross-section. I hope you find these novels as enjoyable and meaningful as I have.

K.K.'s book list on exploring philosophy through fiction

K.K. Edin Why did K.K. love this book?

Last and First Men is an imagined history of the human race over two-billion years into the future. The beauty of this work is its ability to give the human race meaning and significance, whereas most other works of such scope instead seek to dwarf humanity and its significance under the scale of the universe. Stapledon achieves this by infusing his narrative with compassion, and with an underlying admiration for the process of evolution. Moreso than Darwinian evolution, the process humanity undergoes is more aligned with Hegelian, idealist dialectical movements, and implicitly evokes many questions about the nature of consciousness, our place in the universe, and what is essential about humanity. Though I cannot quite say why, the book has a refreshingly optimistic quality. I read this book shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, and it brought me much vitality.

By Olaf Stapledon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last And First Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most extraordinary, imaginative and ambitious novels of the century: a history of the evolution of humankind over the next 2 billion years.

Among all science fiction writers Olaf Stapledon stands alone for the sheer scope and ambition of his work. First published in 1930, Last and First Men is full of pioneering speculations about evolution, terraforming, genetic engineering and many other subjects.


Book cover of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Sam Kean Author Of The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

From my list on the wonders of biology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including The Bastard Brigade, The Dueling Neurosurgeons, and The Disappearing Spoon. He edited The Best American Nature and Science Writing in 2018, and his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate. His work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air,” and his podcast, The Disappearing Spoon, debuted at #1 on the iTunes charts for science podcasts.

Sam's book list on the wonders of biology

Sam Kean Why did Sam love this book?

The ultimate big-picture book. Wilson outlines how fields like history and the humanities can incorporate insights from biology and the study of human nature—to the benefit of both science and the arts. A bracing look at the future of human knowledge.

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking new book, one of the world's greatest living scientists argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for what he calls consilience, the composition of the principles governing every branch of learning. Edward O Wilson, the pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, once again breaks out of the conventions of current thinking. He shows how our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos. It is a vision that found its apogee in the…


Book cover of Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

Mahmoud Elsayed Author Of The Bitter Truth of Reality: The route to skepticism and the case against objective reality

From my list on to understand humanity and the universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mahmoud Elsayed has always been interested in finding rational answers to the big existential questions. This could clearly be noticed in his writings and philosophy. He has also worked in various and somehow diverse fields of engineering and science which allowed him to smoothly, flexibly, and knowledgeably jump from a field of expertise to another in order to make his philosophical arguments comprehensive. 

Mahmoud's book list on to understand humanity and the universe

Mahmoud Elsayed Why did Mahmoud love this book?

In this masterpiece, Jostein Gaarder presents the whole history of philosophy in the form of a novel. This is by far the most interesting historical presentation of philosophy I have ever come across. The genius of Jostein Gaarder could be clearly seen in the narrative as he does not just explain the ideologies of the philosophers across the decades, but also picks some ideas, visualize them, and smoothly integrate them into the story. 

By Jostein Gaarder, Paulette Møller (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The international bestseller about life, the universe and everything.

When 14-year-old Sophie encounters a mysterious mentor who introduces her to philosophy, mysteries deepen in her own life. Why does she keep getting postcards addressed to another girl? Who is the other girl? And who, for that matter, is Sophie herself? To solve the riddle, she uses her new knowledge of philosophy, but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.

An addictive blend of mystery, philosophy and fantasy, Sophie's World is an international phenomenon which has been translated into 60 languages and sold more than 40 million copies.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in philosophy, Michel Foucault, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about philosophy, Michel Foucault, and presidential biography.

Philosophy Explore 1,621 books about philosophy
Michel Foucault Explore 17 books about Michel Foucault
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography