Can someone recommend me a good philosophy book please.
November 5, 2012 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Can someone recommend me a good philosophy book please.

K... So I have bought a few philosophy books. I haven't read them all, but I have a friend who has read all of my philosophy books.

So far he has read:

The Art of Happiness (The Dalai Lama)
The Death of Forever (Darryl Reanney)
50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need To Know (Ben Dupré)
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Thomas Kuhn)

He did like the last book in the list, but preferred the others.

Can I get some recommendations on some other books I could get him please.
posted by sockpim to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I very much enjoyed the parts of Philosophy and Social Hope that I read. Which was most of it. (Got bored of his politics which take up the last section of the book.)
posted by latkes at 2:04 PM on November 5, 2012

I would take a gander at the work of Alain de Botton.
posted by miles1972 at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you know what your friend liked about the Kuhn book? It is a history of science book, so you might look at other books in the category "intellectual history" or "history of science". But here are a few reasonably accessible philosophy books on a range of subjects, just as starting points:

Logicomix - a graphic novel that tells the story of big developments in logic and philosophy of language, in the early 20th century. Very accessible. If your friend likes this, it will give him a list of books by the philosophers discussed in it that he can read next.

The Mind's I by Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter - This is a collection of short pieces on things related to mind, self, consciousness. Both of these authors have other interesting, accessible books that make longer sustained arguments, too. Most famously, Dennett wrote a book called Consciousness Explained and Hofstadter wrote a book called Godel, Escher, Bach. Any of those would be nice.

The View From Nowhere by Thomas Nagel - or one of his other early essay collections, Mortal Questions or The Last Word. (His more recent books are not as good, IMO). These are a bunch of collections of essays exploring interesting philosophical topics like, is it bad for me to die and if so, why? can I really know what it's like to be someone else? etc.

Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit. This is about trying to be precise about what makes us the same person over time - what makes you the same person now as when you were younger, even though you've gone through many changes? And how does that affect what moral obligations we have (for example, if I borrow money from you, why does later-me have an obligation to pay it back)?

Justice by Michael Sandel. Based on a popular class he teaches, this explores some of the basics of political philosophy - how should we organize our society to make it as just as possible?

Practical Ethics by Peter Singer, a nice introduction to various questions in ethics about how we should live and act.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:15 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh dear, I misread you. You mean he did not like the Kuhn as well as the others! I was giving recommendations assuming the opposite.

Here's a list of some that might fit better with the first 3 books on your list:

Sophie's World, a novel about the history of philosophy.

The Enchiridion by Epictetus

Any of the pop-science oriented books by Damasio, Ramachandran, Sacks, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:23 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee is a fantastic, accessible, personal intro to basically the whole of Western philosophy.
posted by oliverburkeman at 2:26 PM on November 5, 2012

If he's in the mood for more of a serious dive into a topic rather than a survey, Chalmer's The Conscious Mind is a favorite. It's approachable by laypeople (assuming that he's willing to dig a bit into terms that are unfamiliar, either online or in a philosophical dictionary).
posted by ellF at 3:16 PM on November 5, 2012

Has he read any Kierkegaard? His Fear and Trembling is a classic.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:32 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friederich Engels.
They wrote it before they turned 30. You can listen to people ridicule it, praise it, explain it, denounce it, explicate it, disprove it, cry about it, suck up to it, recoil in horror from it. Or you can read it. It's about 80 pages long and it's free.
posted by LonnieK at 5:45 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar was an amusing and light hearted read
posted by jannw at 3:46 AM on November 6, 2012

There is no real genre of 'philosophy books' that encompasses all the books you have listed here, so it is a bit difficult to know what it is you want. You have listed what looks like one very dumbed-down popularisation of ideas in contemporary analytic academic philosophy, one New Age book that references developments in modern science, a book about ethics from a very prominent spiritual leader and an extremely important foundational text in contemporary analytic academic philosophy of science. To describe these as all being 'philosophy books' requires a definition of 'philosophy' so wide that it is virtually meaningless. I'm sorry to be blunt about this, but it's going to be difficult for you or your friend to learn about philosophy without appreciating that the term is used in very different ways in different contexts.

Are you interested in learning more about the academic discipline of philosophy? Being able to discuss key questions in a particular topic, eg ethics, in an intelligent and informed manner? Gaining spiritual insight? Finding some new ideas to play around with? Reading entertaining non-fiction books that aren't about history or science? All these will suggest very different books.
posted by Acheman at 4:52 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It would preferably be a factual book (without the focus being on/about someone's own personal journey) that covers philosophical (based) ideas. it could be spiritual or scientific orientated, but not focus on either subjects so intensively that one loses interest. It could be something like that.
posted by sockpim at 2:48 PM on November 6, 2012

I haven't read it yet but A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing is on my list. A recent book, written supposedly pretty plainly, exploring cosmology.
posted by arsey at 5:34 PM on November 6, 2012

Here it is on the blue.
posted by arsey at 5:36 PM on November 6, 2012

« Older Custom Celtic Jewellery For Christmas   |   I know not EVERYONE is a me... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.