The best Aristotle books

Who picked these books? Meet our 54 experts.

54 authors created a book list connected to Aristotle, and here are their favorite Aristotle books.
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Book cover of Memory, History, Forgetting

Guy Beiner Author Of Forgetful Remembrance: Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster

From the list on forgetting.

Who am I?

Guy Beiner specializes in the history of social remembering in the late modern era. An interest in Irish folklore and oral traditions as historical sources led him to explore folk memory, which in turn aroused an interest in forgetting. He examines the many ways in which communities recall their past, as well as how they struggle with the urge to supress troublesome memories of discomfiting episodes.

Guy's book list on forgetting

Discover why each book is one of Guy's favorite books.

Why did Guy love this book?

A landmark philosophical tome, which argues for the ‘imbrication of forgetting in memory’. The disentangling of the complex relationships between history, memory and forgetting raises ethical questions about abuses of memory and interrogates the connection between forgetting and forgiving.

By Paul Ricoeur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A landmark work, "Memory, History, Forgetting" examines the reciprocal relationship between remembering and forgetting, revealing how this symbiosis influences both the perception of historical experience and the production of historical narrative. A momentous achievement in Ricoeur's career, this book provides the crucial link between his "Time and Narrative" and "Oneself as Another", and his recent reflections on ethics and the problems of responsibility and representation.

Book cover of Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

Jerry Toner Author Of The Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx

From the list on Roman slavery.

Who am I?

I'm the Director of Studies in Classics at Churchill College, Cambridge University. My research looks at Roman cultural history, with a focus on history "from below," meaning that I'm most interested in ordinary Romans, slaves and the poor. There have been thirty-five translations of my books into sixteen languages. I come from a modest background and was the first in my family to go to university. I found moving up the social ladder a bewildering and sometimes terrifying experience. Classics back then was still an elite subject, dominated by people from wealthy backgrounds. My research interests have always reflected my fascination with those at the bottom of the social ladder.

Jerry's book list on Roman slavery

Discover why each book is one of Jerry's favorite books.

Why did Jerry love this book?

Peter Garnsey was my PhD supervisor and he is a generous soul with a love of big topics. This book gives an overview of the many ways in which the ancients thought about slavery. It is true that there was no Roman abolition movement, but many ancient writers thought deeply about slavery and the issues involved. Sometimes they justified it, other times they criticised it, but throughout slavery was seen as unavoidable. The Christians called their God “dominus” just as slaves would have done their master.

By Peter Garnsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study, unique of its kind, asks how slavery was viewed by the leading spokesmen of Greece and Rome. There was no movement for abolition in these societies, nor a vigorous debate, such as occurred in antebellum America, but this does not imply that slavery was accepted without question. Dr Garnsey draws on a wide range of sources, pagan, Jewish and Christian, over ten centuries, to challenge the common assumption of passive acquiescence in slavery, and the associated view that, Aristotle apart, there was no systematic thought on slavery. The work contains both a typology of attitudes to slavery ranging…

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Kirk D. Strosahl, Kelly G. Wilson, Steven C. Hayes, Steven C. Hayes

Book cover of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Process and Practice of Mindful Change

Peter Vernezze Author Of Blogging The Plague: Camus, Covid-19, and the Current Chaos

From the list on psychotherapy and its philosophical origins.

Who am I?

As an emeritus professor of philosophy now working as a licensed therapist, I feel uniquely qualified to span the two worlds of philosophy and psychotherapy. In addition to dozens of academic articles which no one has ever read, I’ve published books on modern China, ancient Greek Stoicism, Bob Dylan, and the TV show The Sopranos, which at least a few people seem to have picked up.

Peter's book list on psychotherapy and its philosophical origins

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books.

Why did Peter love this book?

The best way to characterize Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is: if Victor Frankl (above) and Jon Kabat-Zinn (the father of the modern mindfulness movement) had a kid, it would be Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ACT is one part mindfulness and one part the belief that a meaningful life is one that is based on values. It is in this second part of ACT, the emphasis on values and the belief that happiness consists in the virtuous life, that the authors owe an unacknowledged debt of gratitude to Aristotle, while of course, we can thank the Buddha for the mindfulness practices that flourish today.

By Kirk D. Strosahl, Kelly G. Wilson, Steven C. Hayes, Steven C. Hayes

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since the original publication of this seminal work, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has come into its own as a widely practiced approach to helping people change. This book provides the definitive statement of ACT--from conceptual and empirical foundations to clinical techniques--written by its originators. ACT is based on the idea that psychological rigidity is a root cause of a wide range of clinical problems. The authors describe effective, innovative ways to cultivate psychological flexibility by detecting and targeting six key processes: defusion, acceptance, attention to the present moment, self-awareness, values, and committed action. Sample therapeutic exercises and patient-therapist dialogues…

On Anger (De Ira)

By Seneca, Aubrey Stewart (translator),

Book cover of On Anger (De Ira)

Michael Cholbi Author Of Grief: A Philosophical Guide

From the list on philosophy for dealing with difficult emotions.

Who am I?

As a philosopher, I’m not just interested in solving ‘academic’ problems that arise from philosophical inquiry. I also think philosophy should return to the role it often had in the ancient world, as a tool for helping us navigate the perennial challenges that being human presents us. Much of my own philosophical work has sought to help us figure out how to relate to arguably the biggest challenge we face: that we inevitably die. The books on this list are powerful examples of how philosophy can provide us with an emotional compass!

Michael's book list on philosophy for dealing with difficult emotions

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

Anger is a seemingly recalcitrant emotion – hard to avoid and difficult to manage. De Ira is the Stoic philosopher Seneca’s attempt to show us otherwise. To Seneca, anger is a wicked emotion. Yet a life free both of the turmoil of anger and of the desire for vengeance that Seneca thought defined anger is possible, he argued. Not only does anger lead us to lash out at others, it corrodes us from the inside – in Seneca’s image, like vinegar stored in a clay pot. While I find Seneca’s conclusion that we should eliminate all anger hard to swallow, his description of the dangers of anger, both to ourselves and to others, never fails to impress.

By Seneca, Aubrey Stewart (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Anger (De Ira) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

De Ira or “On Anger” is an essay on anger by Seneca the Younger. The work offers advice on controlling anger and to make it subject to reason. This essay contains an active table of contents for easy maneuverability throughout the eBook.

It is not clear to scholars who wrote the first work on the subject of passions or emotions (the terms are thought interchangeable), but while Xenocrates (396/5–314/3 BCE) and Aristotle (384–322 BCE) were students at Plato's Academy, a discussion on emotions took place which provided likely the impetus for all later work on the subject. The Stoic Posidonius…


By Paul Cartledge,

Book cover of Democracy: A Life

Robert Garland Author Of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

From the list on making Ancient Greece come alive.

Who am I?

I became enthralled by the ancient world when as a child I first saw those sand and sandals movies back in the sixties, Ben Hur and Spartacus especially. I began learning Latin aged nine and Greek aged twelve. I started a Ph.D., abandoned it, went to drama school, became a schoolteacher, worked as a professional gardener, became a schoolteacher again, eventually finished my Ph.D., and was lucky to get a job at Colgate University. Over time I realised that what really fascinated me about history was trying to insert myself imaginatively into the ancient world, so I began to ask questions about what it was like to be disabled, to be a refugee, to be a child, and so on.

Robert's book list on making Ancient Greece come alive

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

It’s impossible to enter the mindset of the ancient Greeks without understanding that democracy runs deeply in their cultural bloodstream. There are numerous books on the subject – I did a course called Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages for The Great Courses – but Cartledge’s book, as the title suggests, offers a biography from its beginnings down to the present day. It also provides a nuanced exploration of the connection between Greek politics and society. Democracy: A Life depicts democracy not as a theoretical model but at work, and, in the challenges it faces today, a work in progress. Get A Life!

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Democracy is either aspired to as a goal or cherished as a birthright by billions of people throughout the world today - and has been been for over a century. But what does it mean? And how has its meaning changed since it was first coined in ancient Greece?

Democracy: A Life is a biography of the concept, looking at its many different manifestations and showing how it has changed over its long life, from ancient times right through to the present. For instance, how did the 'people power' of the Athenians emerge in the first place? Once it had…

We Contain Multitudes

By Sarah Henstra,

Book cover of We Contain Multitudes

Michael Cart Author Of Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism

From the list on beautifully capturing gay teens’ lives and loves.

Who am I?

I’ve been a full-time writer since 1994 and have so far published twenty-seven books, three of them with gay themes: My Father’s Scar, a gay coming-of-age novel and two about LGBTQ+ issues: Top 250 LGTBQ Books for Teens and The Heart Has Its Reasons, a history of queer literature. I’ve been interested in this literature since I was a gay teen myself, because there were no YA books with queer characters then. I missed seeing my face in the pages of a good book and so I promised myself that when I became an adult. I would make sure there was an ample assortment for today’s queer kids. And, guess what? I’ve kept my promise!

Michael's book list on beautifully capturing gay teens’ lives and loves

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

Here’s another book that I love because it’s a story about love, the love of two boys who are unlikely companions: one is a former football player, taciturn and withdrawn; the other is openly gay, a short, slender, fine-boned boy who idolizes the poet Walt Whitman, whose words become a leitmotif of this remarkable novel. Told in the form of. letters that the two boys exchange, it follows their emerging friendship as it gradually turns into a love that’s as poetic as Whitman’s well-chosen words. The relationship of the boys – who are characters to die for – is riveting and their story, unforgettable. Another terrific addition to gay literature for teens.   

By Sarah Henstra,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam 'Kurl' Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and familial abuse, Jonathan and Kurl must struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship, and each other.We Contain Multitudes is the sort of novel that has readers falling in love with their characters, becoming so invested in their stories and conflicts that it's impossible to put the book down. The literary languages and references throughout (particularly to…

Book cover of The Dangerous Art of Blending In

Ronni Davis Author Of When the Stars Lead to You

From the list on to make you ugly cry.

Who am I?

I’ve been a sensitive person for as long as I can remember, but crying over books? That’s not something I did when I was growing up. Truthfully, I never cried over a book until I was fully into adulthood and I read The Giver. Because it’s hard for me, still, to cry over a book, I am very intentional with the books I select to read and recommend. It takes a lot for me to feel that gut punch, and when I do, the payoff is tremendous. And if it’s making me cry, then it’s going to make many, many people cry.

Ronni's book list on to make you ugly cry

Discover why each book is one of Ronni's favorite books.

Why did Ronni love this book?

The Dangerous Art of Blending In is about Evan, who is trying to figure out his place in the world. He has a strict (read: abusive) Greek immigrant mother, a father who works works works, and he is struggling with his sexuality and the boy he kissed over the summer. Evan’s been silent about so much all this time, that it’s now time for him to find and use his voice. And he does so in such a beautiful and inspiring way. This book will make you feel so many things. 

By Angelo Surmelis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dangerous Art of Blending In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

~Lambda Literary Award finalist for the best LGBT YA novel of 2018~

A raw, powerful, but ultimately uplifting debut novel perfect for fans of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe from debut author Angelo Surmelis.

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict immigrant Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan finds that his only escape is to draw in…

On Film-Making

By Alexander Mackendrick,

Book cover of On Film-Making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director

Graham Rawle Author Of Woman's World: A Novel

From the list on storytelling and what makes great stories great.

Who am I?

I’m an artist, designer, writer. I usually work in collage. I enjoy how the constraints of collage generate more inventive thinking, forcing me to come up with unexpected solutions. I also like how the found material retains traces of its original context. I’ve always been interested in the interplay between words and images – for 15 years I did the weekly Lost Consonants series in the Weekend Guardian – and that gradually led me to writing fiction. All my books have visual or structural elements designed to bring an additional narrative dimension to the story. Over the years, I’ve become fascinated by what makes great stories great. Hence this list.

Graham's book list on storytelling and what makes great stories great

Discover why each book is one of Graham's favorite books.

Why did Graham love this book?

Another book focusing on the medium of film, but again the lessons to be learned about good storytelling are universal. Alexander ‘Sandy’ Mackendrick directed such classic Ealing comedies as The Man in the White Suit and The Ladykillers, also the Hollywood masterpiece, Sweet Smell of Success. After retiring from filmmaking in 1969, he spent nearly 25 years as a professor at CalArts in Los Angeles where he helped students to write better stories and communicate them effectively through the craft of filmmaking.

This book is compiled from Mackendrick's legacy of masterly handouts and lectures. One section I found incredibly insightful is his comparison of two versions of a key scene from the script of Sweet Smell of Success (initially written by Ernest Lehman and subsequently rewritten by Clifford Odets), seeing how increased tension between the characters is achieved.

By Alexander Mackendrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Film-Making as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An invaluable analysis of the director's art and craft, from one of the most revered of all film school directors. Alexander 'Sandy' Mackendrick directed classic Ealing comedies plus a Hollywood masterpiece, Sweet Smell of Success. But after retiring from film-making in 1969, he then spent nearly 25 years teaching his craft at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.

Mackendrick produced hundreds of pages of masterly handouts and sketches, designed to guide his students to a finer understanding of how to write a story, and then use those devices peculiar to cinema in order to tell that story…

Going Nowhere

By Sam Leith,

Book cover of Going Nowhere: A Life in Six Videogames

Clark Nielsen Author Of Growing Up Gamer: A Video Game Memoir

From the list on reliving playing video games from your childhood.

Who am I?

Video games have always been an important part of my life. I love playing games. I love talking about them. I love (trying) to make them. I love writing about them! Over the years, I’ve realized these various game consoles have been the backdrop to some very important milestones in my life. It’s been fun to go back and piece together which games helped me at which age. It’s been just as fun to explore this gaming relationship from the perspective of other authors/gamers. If you, too, grew up gaming, you’ll appreciate the books on this list.

Clark's book list on reliving playing video games from your childhood

Discover why each book is one of Clark's favorite books.

Why did Clark love this book?

This one’s an intentionally short read, fast-forwarding through Leith’s life at breakneck speed, only stopping to check in every few years to see what game he was into then. The whole thing feels like a strange fever dream or stream of consciousness, particularly in the first few chapters when his childhood memories are probably as fuzzy as the TV he played Planetoid on. Still, it’s a fascinating look at how certain games stick with you over the years. I have my own collection of games that don’t necessarily reflect my favorites of all time but certainly define key moments in my life.

By Sam Leith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Videogames are among the defining artforms of our age. They are variously adored and reviled, but their influence is felt everywhere. Every game is its own little universe – and hundreds of millions of us now spend part of our time living in those universes.
But what does it mean to play them? What does it feel like to be a member of the generation that grew up with them? Where do they take us, and what needs do they serve? In this short memoir, Sam Leith tells the story of his life through his relationship with games.
It’s a…

Book cover of What Is Mathematics, Really?

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From the list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Who am I?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

Reuben Hersh is responsible for a revolution in the way we look at mathematics. His main idea is very simple: mathematics is something that is created by human beings. Isn’t that obvious, you say? Not if you believe that mathematics is there even before life itself, that it is built into the nature of reality in some way. In philosophy, this view is called Platonism. Hersh had the radical but obvious idea that if we want to understand what mathematics is we should look at what mathematicians actually do when they create mathematics. Like all great ideas it can be stated very simply but the implications are enormous.  His ideas are what got me started writing my own books about math and science.

By Reuben Hersh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is Mathematics, Really? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book tackles the important questions which have engaged mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers for thousands of years and which are still being asked today. It does so with clarity and with scholarship born of first-hand experience; a knowledge both of the ideas and of the people who have pronounced on them. The main purpose of the book is to confront philosophical problems: In what sense do mathematical objects exist? How can we have knowledge of them? Why do mathematicians think mathematical entities exist for ever, independent of human action and knowledge? The book proposes an unconventional answer: mathematics has existence…

Practical Wisdom

By Barry Schwartz, Kenneth Sharpe,

Book cover of Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing

Linda T. Kaastra Author Of Grounding the Analysis of Cognitive Processes in Music Performance: Distributed Cognition in Musical Activity

From the list on meaningful engagement with objects and people.

Who am I?

As an interdisciplinary scholar with professional musical training, I surveyed the literature in cognitive science for conceptual frameworks that would shed light on tacit processes in musical activity. I was tired of research that treats the musician either as a “lab rat” not quite capable of fully understanding what they do or as a “channel” for the mysterious and divine. I view musicians as human beings who engage in meaningful activity with instruments and with each other. Musicians are knowledgeable, skilled, and deeply creative. The authors on this list turn a scientific lens on human activity that further defines how we make ourselves through meaningful work and interactions.

Linda's book list on meaningful engagement with objects and people

Discover why each book is one of Linda's favorite books.

Why did Linda love this book?

I love this book because it demonstrates the human value of being excellent in personal and professional contexts. Like many musicians, I strive for excellence and in this book Schwartz &  Sharpe draw a picture of excellence that includes “practical wisdom” – knowing how to do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reasons. A lovely book that is sure to be a helpful guide for those of us seeking personal fulfillment through any kind of meaningful activity.

By Barry Schwartz, Kenneth Sharpe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A reasoned yet urgent call to embrace and protect the essential, practical human quality that has been drummed out of our lives: wisdom.

It's in our nature to want to succeed. It's also human nature to want to do right. But we've lost how to balance the two. How do we get it back?

Practical Wisdom can help. "Practical wisdom" is the essential human quality that combines the fruits of our individual experiences with our empathy and intellect-an aim that Aristotle identified millennia ago. It's learning "the right way to do the right thing in a particular circumstance, with a…

The Analects of Confucius

By Confucius, Simon Leys (translator),

Book cover of The Analects of Confucius

Alan E. Johnson Author Of Reason and Human Ethics

From the list on a rational approach to ethics.

Who am I?

Since I was a teenager, I have thought about the connection between reason and ethics. This preoccupation was present during my formal education (A.B. and A.M., University of Chicago; J.D., Cleveland State University), during my three decades as a practicing lawyer, and, finally, as an independent philosopher during more than a decade of retirement from law practice. My book Reason and Human Ethics is the culmination of my reflection about this philosophical issue. The books I have recommended have been among those references that have been most helpful to me in formulating my own conclusions, though my own views are not identical with those of any other writing.

Alan's book list on a rational approach to ethics

Discover why each book is one of Alan's favorite books.

Why did Alan love this book?

The Analects of Confucius are a treasure trove of ancient ethical wisdom. Without explicitly discussing reason, as it came to be known in the West, Confucius’s maxims were implicitly based on reason and moderation. He articulated the concept of the ethical mean (avoiding both excess and deficiency) about 150 years before Aristotle taught a similar concept. He expressed the principle of the Golden Rule hundreds of years before Jesus, though other thinkers had formulated it even earlier. Much of what Confucius said had to do with ritual and political matters unique to his time and place. However, some of his ethical sayings are as true today as they were when he first uttered them millennia ago. In reading and reflecting upon them, I was struck by their contemporary relevance.

By Confucius, Simon Leys (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this terse, brilliant translation, Simon Leys restores the human dimension to Confucius. He emerges a full-blooded character with a passion for politics and a devotion to the ideals of a civilization he saw in decline. Leys's notes draw Confucius into conversation with the great thinkers of the Western tradition. In all, this volume provides new readers the perfect introduction to a classic work.

Greek Science in Antiquity

By Marshall Clagett,

Book cover of Greek Science in Antiquity

J. Baird Callicott Author Of Greek Natural Philosophy: The Presocratics and Their Importance for Environmental Philosophy

From the list on how and why science began.

Who am I?

I studied Greek philosophy in college and graduate school and wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on Plato. In response to the environmental crisis, first widely recognized in the 1960s, I turned my philosophical attention to that contemporary challenge, which, with the advent of climate change, has by now proved to be humanity’s greatest. I taught the world’s first course in environmental ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1971 and, with a handful of other philosophers, helped build a literature in this new field over the course of the next decade—a literature that has subsequently grown exponentially. With Greek Natural Philosophy, I rekindled the romance with my first love. 

J.'s book list on how and why science began

Discover why each book is one of J.'s favorite books.

Why did J. love this book?

A renowned historian of science, Clagett carries the story of Greek science forward all the way to the sixth century CE—a span of 1200 years. From that point in time, Greek science passed into the hands of Islamic scholars who advanced it further, especially the mathematical sciences.

This book is not, like ours, organized chronologically and developmentally but according to modern scientific domains—biology and medicine, mathematics, physics, and astronomy. And it focuses on specific scientific inquiries, while we focus on more general and fundamental things like ontology (what exists), cosmology (the overall structure of the universe), the laws of nature, and the drivers of change and motion.

This book is thus a complement to ours in its wide historical sweep and in what it highlights.

By Marshall Clagett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greek Science in Antiquity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Greek Science in Antiquity is a comprehensive book written by Marshall Clagett that explores the scientific advancements made by ancient Greeks. The book covers a wide range of topics, including mathematics, astronomy, mechanics, and medicine, and provides a detailed account of the theories and discoveries made by Greek scientists from the 6th century BCE to the 5th century CE. The book begins by examining the early Greek philosophers and their contributions to the development of science, including Thales, Pythagoras, and Aristotle. It then delves into the mathematical achievements of the Greeks, such as the invention of geometry and the discovery…

Book cover of Essays on the Aristotelian Tradition

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages

From the list on religion, love, and science in the Middle Ages.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University and have been working for years trying to understand the causes of and methods of resolving religious conflicts. I studied the Middle Ages thinking that I’d find a story about Catholic fundamentalists persecuting innovative thinkers like Copernicus and Galileo. Instead, I found a story about religious leaders such as Pope Innocent III, Peter Abelard, and Thomas Aquinas borrowing ideas from the Greeks, Muslims, and Jews, revolutionizing Catholic thought, and opening the door to modern ideas about the power of reason and the need for compassion. What a trip!            

Richard's book list on religion, love, and science in the Middle Ages

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

Readers seriously interested in the continuing influence of Aristotle on Western and global thinking will find the short book of Sir Anthony Kenney’s essays both useful and enjoyable. The author, a well-known authority on the history of Western philosophy, Thomas Aquinas, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, writes with panache on a wide variety of topics relevant to Aristotelian thought and modern intellectual and social life.      

By Sir Anthony Kenny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Essays on the Aristotelian Tradition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During most of the Christian millennia Aristotle has been the most influential of all philosophers. This selection of essays by the eminent philosopher and Aristotle scholar Anthony Kenny traces this influence through the ages. Particular attention is given to Aristotle's ethics and philosophy of mind, showing how they provided the framework for much fruitful development in the Middle Ages and again in the present century. Also included are some contributions to the
most recent form of Aristotelian scholarship, computer-assisted stylometry. All who work on Aristotle and his intellectual legacy will find much to interest them in these Essays on the…


By Simon May,

Book cover of Love: A History

John Cottingham Author Of In Search of the Soul: A Philosophical Essay

From the list on the human search for meaning.

Who am I?

I have spent my career writing and teaching philosophy, working on early-modern philosophers, especially that most controversial and enigmatic figure, René Descartes. In recent years my main interest has been in the philosophy of religion, focusing on grand traditional questions about the meaning of life, and on the spiritual dimension of religious thought and practice. I have argued for a ‘humane’ turn in philosophy, meaning that philosophical inquiry should not confine itself to abstract intellectual argument alone, but should draw on a full range of resources, including literary, poetic, imaginative, and emotional modes of awareness, as we struggle to come to terms with the mystery of human existence. 

John's book list on the human search for meaning

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

This astonishingly rich and beautifully written survey shows how deeply love is involved in what has always been one of my main philosophical preoccupations – the human search for meaning. Simon May reveals love as the ‘harbinger of the sacred,’ while at the same time warning of how often it bears the burden of unrealistic and misconceived expectations.

By Simon May,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An illuminating exploration of how love has been shaped, idolized, and misconstrued by the West over three millennia, and how we might differently conceive it

Love-unconditional, selfless, unchanging, sincere, and totally accepting-is worshipped today as the West's only universal religion. To challenge it is one of our few remaining taboos. In this pathbreaking and superbly written book, philosopher Simon May does just that, dissecting our resilient ruling ideas of love and showing how they are the product of a long and powerful cultural heritage.

Tracing over 2,500 years of human thought and history, May shows how our ideal of love…


By Aristotle, Joe Sachs (translator),

Book cover of Poetics

David Baboulene Author Of The Primary Colours of Story

From the list on how stories work and how to write your story.

Who am I?

I was lucky enough not only to get published in my thirties, I also got a film deal for those first two books. I was flown to Hollywood and it was all very grand. However, what they did to my stories in translating them into film scripts horrified me. And ruined them. And the films never got made. I started to look deeper into what ‘experts’ did, and it was awful. I became obsessed with how stories work, developed my own ‘knowledge gap’ theory, proved it through my Ph.D. research, and became a story consultant in the industry. Story theory has completely taken over my life and I love it!

David's book list on how stories work and how to write your story

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Aristotle was the world’s first story expert.

As a story consultant myself, it was incredible to have a man from 2,300 years ago talk to me about story theory! And more than that… everything he says is spot on. 

The real meaning of much of what Aristotle said has been debated for millennia. However, when I used his principles as story dynamics in real stories, they became very clear to me; so, in my own work, I have distilled Aristotle’s principles into a modern three-part interpretation, and I give examples of them working in classical and popular modern stories.

Aristotle’s principles are not only applicable today, but they are still better than almost any other new thinking of the last 100 years. Aristotle is amazing. I love him! 

By Aristotle, Joe Sachs (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Poetics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history

In his near-contemporary account of classical Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the Poetics introduced into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis ('imitation'), hamartia ('error') and katharsis ('purification'). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedies rely on complication and resolution, recognition and reversals. The Poetics has…

Book cover of The Unity of Mankind in Greek Thought

Andrew Copson Author Of The Little Book of Humanism: Universal Lessons on Finding Purpose, Meaning and Joy

From the list on humanism from a life long humanist.

Who am I?

I’m Chief Executive of Humanists UK and President of Humanists International, organisations acting as representative bodies for non-religious people both in the UK and around the world. I grew up in Nuneaton, home to 19th-century humanist and novelist George Eliot, and spent my childhood reading books about Greek myths and modern imaginary worlds. I now alternate between novels and academic Classics books. I've written a number of books including Secularism: A Very Short Introduction, The Little Book of Humanism, and The Little Book of Humanist Weddings – the last two with Professor Alice Roberts. Humanism is about life, not humanism, so I’ve gone for books that encapsulate the humanist outlook on life.

Andrew's book list on humanism from a life long humanist

Discover why each book is one of Andrew's favorite books.

Why did Andrew love this book?

Today it has become quite fashionable for people (especially Conservative Christians) to claim that a lot of the ideas that humanists value have their origin in Christianity. There are many reasons why this is largely nonsense, but this old (and slightly academic) book by Baldry outlines one of my favourites, by telling the story of how the concept of universal humanity grew and developed in pre-Christian Hellenic civilisation. This book opens your mind to the long history of ideas and reminds you that there’s nothing new under the sun…

By Baldry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The idea of the unity of mankind did not come easily to the Greeks. Its eventual emergence has been ascribed to various sources, not least to Alexander the Great. Professor Baldry believes that it cannot be attributed to any single individual, but that the true picture is a long and complicated chain of development to which many contributed. In this book Professor Baldry describes this development from Homer to Cicero when, although the traditional divisions and prejudices still remained string, the idea of unity had become part of the outlook of civilised man. He discusses the contribution of thinkers such…

Aristotle's Politics

By Aristotle, Carnes Lord (translator),

Book cover of Aristotle's Politics

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

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

Who am I?

"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

Discover why each book is one of Matt's favorite books.

Why did Matt love this book?

Reading Aristotle is easier than you might think. Even those who are not able to read him in the original Greek cannot fail to be enamoured by his enthusiasm. What is so fascinating about Aristotle’s Politika (in English normally translated as The Politics) is the way this enormously erudite man got carried away babbling and digressing in his lectures. Aristotle, simply, could not help but tell his students about a certain Hippodamus (“the son of Eryphon”). This 5th Century BC Athenian was, “the first man not engaged in politics to speak on the subject of the best Constitution,” and, according to Aristotle, this first philosopher of politics, was, “somewhat eccentric in his general mode of life owing to his desire for distinction [he] lived fussily, with a quantity of hair and expensive ornaments and a quantity of cheap clothes – not only in winter but also in the…

By Aristotle, Carnes Lord (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…

Explaining Explanation

By David-Hillel Ruben,

Book cover of Explaining Explanation

Marianne Talbot Author Of Critical Reasoning: A Romp through the Foothills of Logic for the Complete Beginner

From the list on to learn how to argue well better.

Who am I?

I taught philosophy (in particular critical reasoning!) for the colleges of Oxford University between 1987 and 2021. But, aged 15, I was thrown out of school (for truancy and disruption). Between the ages of 18 and 23 I travelled the world, hitch-hiking through Asia, living in Australasia, then travelling back through Africa. By the time I got home, starved of intellectual stimulation, I started an Open University Course and discovered logic. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. But also the most enjoyable. I loved getting to grips with difficult distinctions and concepts and having to use them precisely. Getting the answers right felt like an achievement. Getting them wrong, a challenge. I’ve loved logic ever since!

Marianne's book list on to learn how to argue well better

Discover why each book is one of Marianne's favorite books.

Why did Marianne love this book?

In this book, David-Hillel Ruben introduces the ways in which various philosophers have tried to explain the concept of explanation, before ending with his own account of explanation. Explaining is one of the most important actions a human being can engage in. Diagnoses, for example, are explanations of why you have the symptoms you have, or perhaps they are explanations of why that bridge collapsed or why those people bombed that mosque. In trying to explain something we make our first attempts at trying to understand the phenomenon under investigation. But what actually is an explanation? What do we do when we try to explain something. This is not an easy read, but it is an excellent book. 

By David-Hillel Ruben,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book introduces readers to the topic of explanation. The insights of Plato, Aristotle, J.S. Mill and Carl Hempel are examined, and are used to argue against the view that explanation is merely a problem for the philosophy of science. Having established its importance for understanding knowledge in general, the book concludes with a bold and original explanation of explanation.

Mr. Benson

By John Preston,

Book cover of Mr. Benson

Candace Blevins Author Of Quinacridone

From the list on kinky stories published before the internet was a thing.

Who am I?

I am fifty-five years old, and I’ve been active in the BDSM lifestyle since my early twenties. My Safeword series was written because, at the time, most of the BDSM hitting the ebook market was clearly written by people who’d never felt the sting of a whip. I was certain I could do better, and eventually, after six attempts, I wrote something I thought a publisher might be interested in. Fifteen years later, I write mostly paranormal romance, but a fair amount of kink and power exchange still sneaks in. Vampires and werewolves aren’t known for submitting to others, after all.

Candace's book list on kinky stories published before the internet was a thing

Discover why each book is one of Candace's favorite books.

Why did Candace love this book?

Mr. Benson was published in 1983, but I discovered it a decade later, in a conversation I had with people while in a BDSM club in Atlanta.

According to the gossip at the time, Anne Rice and John Preston had a contest involving both of them writing and publishing a kinky novel.

Mr. Benson is well written, and was clearly penned by someone in the lifestyle. This was also my first introduction to M/m books, and I was hooked.

By John Preston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mr. Benson is the compelling story of a young man’s quest for the perfect master. In a West Village leather bar, he finds wealthy, sophisticated, exacting Aristotle Benson, who leads him down the path of erotic enlightenment, teaching him to accept cruelty as love, anguish as affection, and ultimately, Mr. Benson as his master.

If John Preston, the masterly, handsome author of more than 30 books, was himself a gay icon, his character Mr. Benson defined the culture of gay sex for an entire generation. When Mr. Benson appeared in the pre-AIDS early 1980s, its unabashed celebration of male sexuality…