The most recommended books on rationalism

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to rationalism, and here are their favorite rationalism books.
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What type of rationalism book?


The Order of Things

By Michel Foucault,

Book cover of The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences

Stuart Walton Author Of An Excursion Through Chaos: Disorder Under the Heavens

From the list on chaos and disorder.

Who am I?

My work has always been interested in the ways in which systems can be disrupted and subverted by taking radical fresh approaches to them, even where the prevailing view is that overturning them can only lead to the dreaded chaos.

Stuart's book list on chaos and disorder

Why did Stuart love this book?

Foucault’s groundbreaking work from the 1960s looks at how systems of order and classification came into being during the age of rationalism with Descartes, culminating in the 18th-century Enlightenment’s project of subjecting every field of knowledge to its own self-enclosed order. It remains of the great works of theoretical synthesis, patiently dissecting the structures of knowledge, of order and priority, that western learning continues to take for granted. At half a century’s distance, Foucault is the one French thinker whose legacy remains intact for his lucidity, polemical edge, and refusal of esoteric linguistic games.

By Michel Foucault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When one defines "order" as a sorting of priorities, it becomes beautifully clear as to what Foucault is doing here. With virtuoso showmanship, he weaves an intensely complex history of thought. He dips into literature, art, economics and even biology in The Order of Things, possibly one of the most significant, yet most overlooked, works of the twentieth century. Eclipsed by his later work on power and discourse, nonetheless it was The Order of Things that established Foucault's reputation as an intellectual giant. Pirouetting around the outer edge of language, Foucault unsettles the surface of literary writing. In describing the…

Against Method

By Paul Feyerabend,

Book cover of Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge

Alex M. Thomas Author Of Macroeconomics: An Introduction

From the list on becoming a critical economist.

Who am I?

I am passionate about the dissemination of economic ideas both inside and outside university spaces. In addition to classroom lectures at my university, I give a lot of public lectures on economics. Through these talks, I introduce the audience to the tradition of doing economics using a critical perspective. I have an MA and MPhil in Economics from the University of Hyderabad and a PhD in Economics from the University of Sydney.

Alex's book list on becoming a critical economist

Why did Alex love this book?

Feyerabend argues against monism in science.

Drawing on the history of science, he demonstrates that science has progressed from pluralism. In other words, there is no the scientific method. 

Currently, mainstream economics education does not include history or philosophy in its curriculum. And economists are enthusiastically adopting a monist approach to knowledge production.

Feyerabend’s book tells us why such a naïve and narrow approach to knowledge dissemination (and production) is problematic. I feel extremely lucky to have been exposed to his work along with other philosophers of science during my master’s.

By Paul Feyerabend,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Contemporary philosophy of science has paid close attention to the understanding of scientific practice, in contrast to the previous focus on scientific method. Paul Feyerabend's acclaimed work, which sparked controversy and continues to fuel fierce debate, shows the deficiencies of many widespread ideas about the nature of knowledge. He argues that the only feasible explanation of any scientific success is a historical account, and that anarchism must now replace rationalism in the theory of knowledge. This updated edition of this classic text contains a new foreword by Ian Hacking, a leading contemporary philosopher of science, who reflects on Feyerabend's life…

Book cover of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

Jason Brennan Author Of Democracy: A Guided Tour

From the list on democracy, its promises and perils.

Who am I?

I’m a philosopher by training and professor of economics, ethics, and public policy at Georgetown University’s business school. My work often begins by noting that philosophy debates often take certain empirical claims for granted, claims which turn out to be false or mistaken. Once we realize this mistake, this clears the ground and helps us do better work. I focus on issues in immigration, resistance to state injustice, taboo markets, theories of ideal justice, and democratic theory. I’m also a native New Englander now living near DC, a husband and father, and the guitarist and vocalist in a 70s-80s hard rock cover band.

Jason's book list on democracy, its promises and perils

Why did Jason love this book?

Political scientists and economists have long argued that voters are rationally ignorant.

On this theory, people tend to acquire and retain information only if the expected benefits exceed the expected costs. This explains why students cram material to pass a test but let themselves forget it afterward, why Americans who speak English at home don’t usually bother to learn a foreign language but so many people learn English, or why you don’t bother attempt to memorize your local phonebook.

It also explains why voters know so little. Since individual votes make so little difference, individual voters can afford to remain ignorant. Political information is a collective action problem: what we know matters, but what any one of us knows does not. 

Caplan adds an innovation. This point also applies to how we think, not just what we know. Political psychologists have long found that voters process what little information they…

By Bryan Caplan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Myth of the Rational Voter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book. Caplan argues that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand. Boldly calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans' voting behavior and opinions…

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 the list on Spinoza.

Who am I?

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

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…

Passions Within Reason

By Robert H. Frank,

Book cover of Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role of the Emotions

Ananish Chaudhuri Author Of Experiments in Economics: Playing Fair with Money

From the list on emotions and economic decisions.

Who am I?

I am Professor of Experimental Economics at the University of Auckland where my work lies at the interface of economics and psychology. In a discipline (and a world) that tends to emphasize human self-interest, I have always been interested in our willingness to engage in unselfish behavior. Incentivized decision-making experiments with human participants where payments depend on the nature of their decisions are a powerful way of analyzing behavior. Are people willing to put their money where their mouth is? My background running experiments made me well-positioned to study some of these questions; a lot of them in collaboration with other social scientists including psychologists and political scientists. 

Ananish's book list on emotions and economic decisions

Why did Ananish love this book?

I am tempted to say: Because Frank is a delightful writer and leave it at that.

This book reiterates similar themes in discussing how a variety of supposedly non-economic factors affect economic decisions.

In this book Frank discusses how noble human tendencies (moral sentiments) may have not only survived the pressures of the material world, but actually have been nurtured by them. The title is a play on the David Hume quote that “Reason is, and ought to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

To those interested, I also recommend any of Frank’s other books including Choosing the Right Pond, The Winner Take All Society, and The Darwin Economy

By Robert H. Frank,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The idea rests on a simple paradox, namely, that in many situations the conscious pursuit of self-interest is incompatible with its attainment. We are all comfortable with the notion that someone who strives to be spontaneous can never succeed. So too, on brief reflection, will it become apparent that someone who always pursues self-interest is doomed to fail.

Book cover of Dialectics of the Concrete: A Study on Problems of Man and World

Peter Hudis Author Of Marx's Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism

From the list on envisioning alternatives to capitalism.

Who am I?

Since before I was a teenager, I have been painfully aware of two things: the society I am living in is an extremely racist one, and capitalism fosters egotism, greed, selfishness, and a degradation of what is best in life. Ever since then I have been pursuing the goal of envisioning, and in some way advancing, an alternative to both (which in my view are related). I have suggested these five books because they have given me much inspiration for pursuing this goal, difficult as it surely is. I hope they will prove to be for you as well.

Peter's book list on envisioning alternatives to capitalism

Why did Peter love this book?

This remarkable study, first published in Czechoslovakia in 1964 and translated into English in the 1970s, is one of the most profound studies of the Hegelian and Phenomenological dimensions of Marx’s work ever written.

It argues that daily life in capitalist modernity takes the alienated form of a “world of the pseudo-concrete,” in which possibilities for self-development and purposeful creation that is integral to humanity become radically suppressed. If you want to understand why the world is not as you wish it to be, read this book.

By Karel Kosik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kosik writes that the history of a text is in a certain sense the history of its interpretations. In the fifteen years that have passed since the first (Czech) edition of his Dialectics of the Concrete, this book has been widely read and interpreted throughout Europe, in diverse centers of scholarship as well as in private studies. A faithful English language edition is long overdue. This publication of KosIk's work will surely provoke a range of new interpretations. For its theme is the characterization of science and of rationality in the context of the social roots of science and the…

Book cover of Flannery O'Connor Collected Works

Brian Malloy Author Of After Francesco

From the list on that mix comedy and tragedy.

Who am I?

I’m a gay Midwestern novelist who finds that literary fiction is often humorless, with a narrow emotional range that begins with ennui and ends in despair. If you're weary of trauma porn and want to read books with a broad emotional range, this list of recommendations is for you. My favorite writers ably mix laughter and tears, and are able to find the funny in just about anything life can throw at us. 

Brian's book list on that mix comedy and tragedy

Why did Brian love this book?

If you’re older, you probably read O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” for one or more lit classes; if you’re younger, you may have never heard of her as she is now “problematic” according to the unfunny woke-on-steroids crowd. I love O’Connor because I love characters with moral failings, I love mordant humor, and I love the possibility that even the most irredeemable among us can experience moments of grace. The brief details in her stories do such heavy lifting in terms of irony, for example when a Wellesley undergrad hits Mrs. Turpin in the head with a copy of Human Development in the short story “Revelation.” The action itself – a privileged white college student from an elite school inflicting violence upon a rural white woman – also speaks to our ongoing culture wars. 

By Flannery O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flannery O'Connor Collected Works as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her short lifetime, Flannery O’Connor became one of the most distinctive American writers of the twentieth century. By birth a native of Georgia and a Roman Catholic, O’Connor depicts, in all its comic and horrendous incongruity, the limits of worldly wisdom and the mysteries of divine grace in the “Christ-haunted” Protestant South. This Library of America collection, the most comprehensive ever published, contains all of her novels and short-story collections, as well as nine other stories, eight of her most important essays, and a selection of 259 witty, spirited, and revealing letters, twenty-one published here for the first time.…

Book cover of The Greeks and the Irrational

Josiah Ober Author Of The Greeks and the Rational: The Discovery of Practical Reason

From the list on why ancient Greece still matters today.

Who am I?

I fell in love with the ancient Greeks a half-century ago. Ever since I have tried to learn from the past, by recognizing the ways in which the ancients were at once very like us and shockingly different. I only recently grasped that the Greeks were like us in their self-consciousness about human motivation: They recognized that many (perhaps most) people are driven by self-interest. But only a few of us are skilled at strategic choice-making. They knew that cooperation was necessary for human flourishing, but terribly hard to achieve. Today working together on common projects remains the greatest challenge for business, politics – and your everyday life. 

Josiah's book list on why ancient Greece still matters today

Why did Josiah love this book?

A long time ago, back in the mid-1970s, my Greek history professor told me that Dodds’ Greeks and the Irrational was one of the most important books on Greek history of the 20th century. He was right. It is a wonderful book, full of amazing facts about magic, ritual, and religion. It has had a huge impact on the field of classical studies and is still in print 70 years after its first publication. Dodds was a distinguished Greek scholar (the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford) but wrote for a wide audience interested in not only Greek civilization but social science as well. I have thought hard and long about his book ever since reading it on my professor’s recommendation. 

By Eric R. Dodds,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this philosophy classic, which was first published in 1951, E.R. Dodds takes on the traditional view of Greek culture as a triumph of rationalism. Using the analytical tools of modern anthropology and psychology, Dodds asks, 'Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from 'primitive' modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation?'. Praised by reviewers as "an event in modern Greek scholarship" and "a book which it would be difficult to over-praise", "The Greeks and the Irrational" was Volume 25 of the "Sather Classical Lectures" series.

Today and Tomorrow

By Henry Ford,

Book cover of Today and Tomorrow

Dr. Gerhard Plenert Author Of The XLs

From the list on developing innovative and creative thinkers.

Who am I?

Dr. Gerhard Plenert has a PhD in Resource Economics and Operations Management, which are fancy words for “a whole lot of math.” He spent 12 years as a university professor and the remainder of his life living and working all over the world in places like Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and of course North America. He has 8 children, and his grandchildren are just starting to get numbered, the last count was 15. He has successfully published over 30 books and close to 200 articles on various business and academic topics. But his loves include Sci-Fi movies like Avatar, Star Trek, and Star Wars, and mysteries like Jason Bourne and James Bond.

Dr.'s book list on developing innovative and creative thinkers

Why did Dr. love this book?

This book first came out in 1926 but it’s interesting how much of what he teaches in this book is still relevant and lacking in today’s workplace. He is falsely remembered for his operations concepts as if they were more important than the employee, but he stresses over and over again the importance of focusing on the needs of the employee. This is also reflected in his objective of creating a vehicle for the average man, making his life easier and happier. If we would have listened and learned from him long ago we may not be rehearing these same messages again coming from Japanese automakers.

By Henry Ford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Henry Ford is the man who doubled wages, cut the price of a car in half, and produced over 2 million units a year. Time has not diminished the progressiveness of his business philosophy, or his profound influence on worldwide industry. The modern printing of Today and Tomorrow features an introduction by James J. Padilla, Group Vice President, Ford North America. It also includes an enhanced selection of photos illustrating the processes and facilities Ford covers in the text. Taiichi Ohno acknowledged that a key stimulus to JIT was his close reading of this book. Today, these same ideas are…

The Enlightenment

By Ritchie Robertson,

Book cover of The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790

David Prior Author Of Between Freedom and Progress: The Lost World of Reconstruction Politics

From David's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Researcher

David's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did David love this book?

I found this work to be a complex and nuanced introduction to the much-debated and poorly understood intellectual revolution that was the Enlightenment.

Although the book lies outside my own area of academic expertise, I could easily follow its sweeping narrative as it moved through both familiar and obscure writers and thinkers. Few subjects escape its attention, and the volume is particularly strong in exploring the complex relationship between Enlightenment rationalism and Christianity. 

By Ritchie Robertson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The best single-volume study of the Enlightenment that we have' Literary Review

The Enlightenment is one of the formative periods of Western history, yet more than 300 years after it began, it remains controversial. It is often seen as the fountainhead of modern values such as human rights, religious toleration, freedom of thought, scientific thought as an exemplary form of reasoning, and rationality and evidence-based argument. Others accuse the Enlightenment of putting forward a scientific rationality which ignores the complexity and variety of human beings, propagates shallow atheism, and aims to subjugate nature to so-called technical progress.

Answering the question…

God Is Not Great

By Christopher Hitchens,

Book cover of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

James G.S. Clawson Author Of A Song of Humanity: A Science-Based Alternative to the World's Scriptures

From the list on science vs. religion.

Who am I?

My core curiosity has been trying to understand the way the world is. Like all defenseless children, early on I trusted parents and elder others for that – for nearly half a century before I had the courage to question their comprehensive dogmas. I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful education and to have traveled most of the globe, both of which assailed my assumptions. After a mid-life crisis/near-death experience, I decided to start over in understanding the world we live in. Before I died, I wanted to leave a science-based alternative to the world’s scriptures that open-minded parents could read to their children. My motto now is “In Truth We Trust.”  

James' book list on science vs. religion

Why did James love this book?

Following your reading of Bryson, Harari, and Greene, Hitchens approaches the science/religion dilemma from an examination of the impact of religion in general on the human race. His examination is scathing and scintillating and highly provocative. Do we trust our beliefs or evidence? Are we even willing to look at the evidence? This leads us to Kahneman. 

By Christopher Hitchens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God Is Not Great as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether you're a lifelong believer, a devout atheist, or someone who remains uncertain about the role of religion in our lives, this insightful manifesto will engage you with its provocative ideas.

With a close and studied reading of the major religious texts, Christopher Hitchens documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe,…

Reasons and Persons

By Derek Parfit,

Book cover of Reasons and Persons

David Edmonds Author Of Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

From the list on read before you turn 25.

Who am I?

David Edmonds is a philosopher, podcaster, and curry fanatic. A distinguished research fellow at Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, he is the author of many books including Wittgenstein’s Poker (with John Eidinow), The Murder of Professor Schlick, Would You Kill The Fat Man?, and Undercover Robot (with Bertie Fraser). If you eat at his local restaurant, The Curry Paradise, he recommends you order the Edmonds Biriani.

David's book list on read before you turn 25

Why did David love this book?

Arguably the greatest work of moral philosophy of the 20th Century.  It’s rich with vivid thought experiments – including Parfit’s famous tele-transporter, which can make an exact copy of us and transport us to another planet. Is this copy of me the same person as me? The book makes us question some of our deepest assumptions - such as what it means to say that David Edmonds today is identical to David Edmonds yesterday or tomorrow. Parfit was my first supervisor, and I’m now writing his biography.

By Derek Parfit,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book challenges, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity. The author claims that we have a false view of our own nature; that it is often rational to act against our own best interests; that most of us have moral views that are directly self-defeating; and that, when we consider future generations the conclusions will often be disturbing. He concludes that moral non-religious moral
philosophy is a young subject, with a promising but unpredictable future.

Book cover of The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre

Colin Jones Author Of The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris

From the list on the life of Maximilien Robespierre.

Who am I?

France has always been my special inspiration in life and I am lucky to have made a career writing about its history. Many of my books are framed in a long-term perspective. Paris: Biography of a City (2004)  and The Cambridge Illustrated History of France (1994), for example, take the story back to the earliest times and comes up to the present. Wanting a complete change and a new challenge, I shifted focus dramatically in my current book: the history of a city in a single day – the dramatic day in the French Revolution when the Parisians overthrew Maximilien Robespierre.

Colin's book list on the life of Maximilien Robespierre

Why did Colin love this book?

Jordan’s is probably the most elegantly written of the five studies and stands out for providing a particularly generous allocation of space to Robespierre’s voice, telling the story of his life as much as possible through his own words. At the same time, Jordan’s intellectual biography is quietly attentive to providing a sense of the complex political environment in which any French revolutionary statesman had to act.

By David P. Jordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In changing forever the political landscape of the modern world, the French Revolution was driven by a new personality: the confirmed, self-aware revolutionary. Maximilien Robespierre originated the role, inspiring such devoted twentieth-century disciples as Lenin—who deemed Robespierre a Bolshevik avant la lettre.

Although he dominated the Committee for Public Safety only during the last year of his life, Robespierre was the Revolution in flesh and blood. He embodies its ideological essence, its unprecedented extremes, its absolutist virtues and vices; he incarnated a new, completely politicized self to lead a new, wholly regenerated society.

Yet as historian David P. Jordan observes,…

The Conquest of Happiness

By Bertrand Russell,

Book cover of The Conquest of Happiness

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

Why did Andrew love this book?

This is a self-help book with serious depth and substance. Although some of it is dated, the timeless reflections that Russell draws from the humanist tradition of which he was a part contain wisdom that can transform your life. He is strongest on the ingredients of happiness and the last chapter, on the happy person, is still a go-to for me to remind myself of what matters most. 

By Bertrand Russell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Conquest of Happiness is Bertrand Russell's recipe for good living. First published in 1930, it pre-dates the current obsession with self-help by decades. Leading the reader step by step through the causes of unhappiness and the personal choices, compromises and sacrifices that (may) lead to the final, affirmative conclusion of 'The Happy Man', this is popular philosophy, or even self-help, as it should be written.

The Principle of Reason

By Martin Heidegger, Reginald Lilly (translator),

Book cover of The Principle of Reason

John D. Caputo Author Of What to Believe? Twelve Brief Lessons in Radical Theology

From the list on now that religion has made itself unbelievable.

Who am I?

I grew up in a world steeped in pre-Vatican II Catholicism including four years spent in a Catholic religious order. My theological training led me to philosophy, to question my theology, and to my life as a philosophy professor. There's a blaze of light in every word, Leonard Cohen says, so I've been seeking the blaze of light in the word God. My idea is that God is neither a real being nor an unreal illusion but the focus imaginarius of a desire beyond desire, and the “kingdom of God” is what the world would look like if the blaze of light in the name of God held sway, not the powers of darkness.

John's book list on now that religion has made itself unbelievable

Why did John love this book?

This book contains a magisterial rendering of the mystical poet Angelus Silesius’s verse, “The Rose Is Without Why” as part of a critical analysis of the emergence of the modern idea of “reason.”

This book has never left me since I first encountered it in my doctoral dissertation on Heidegger back in the 1960s. It landed like a bombshell on a young Catholic like me, opening a poetic and mystical sense of life free from the creeds and authoritarianism of religion as well as from the doctrinaire dismissiveness of Enlightenment rationalism.

Written at the end of his career, it encapsulates everything Heidegger was getting at. We must never forget the horrible stain of Heidegger’s National Socialism, which I have analyzed (Demythologizing Heidegger), but there is more to Heidegger than that, and you can find it here.

By Martin Heidegger, Reginald Lilly (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Principle of Reason, the text of an important and influential lecture course that Martin Heidegger gave in 1955-56, takes as its focal point Leibniz's principle: nothing is without reason. Heidegger shows here that the principle of reason is in fact a principle of being. Much of his discussion is aimed at bringing his readers to the "leap of thinking," which enables them to grasp the principle of reason as a principle of being. This text presents Heidegger's most extensive reflection on the notion of history and its essence, the Geschick of being, which is considered on of the most…

Reasons as Defaults

By John F. Horty,

Book cover of Reasons as Defaults

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From the list on reasons in ethics.

Who am I?

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

Why did Mark love this book?

In this book, Horty uses tools that were originally developed in the fields of artificial intelligence and non-monotonic logic in order to develop an explanatory theory of how reasons compete with one another. The main thing that has led contemporary moral philosophers to be so interested in reasons is that they seem to be able to compete. For example, if on the one hand, you promised your friend to keep a secret, that is a reason that counts against telling anyone else, but if the secret is that they are having an affair with the spouse of another of your friends, that is a reason that counts in favor of telling, and to figure out what you should do, it seems like we have to weigh these reasons together to see which one is more important. But very few ethicists have gotten very far in thinking about the distinctive challenges…

By John F. Horty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although the study of reasons plays an important role in both epistemology and moral philosophy, little attention has been devoted to the question of how, exactly, reasons interact to support the actions or conclusions they do. In this book, John F. Horty attempts to answer this question by providing a precise, concrete account of reasons and their interaction, based on the logic of default reasoning. The book begins with an intuitive, accessible introduction to
default logic itself, and then argues that this logic can be adapted to serve as a foundation for a concrete theory of reasons. Horty then shows…