There are thousands of philosophy books out there each with their own arguments and niches. The power of these arguments is often immense, some have changed entire nation’s perspectives. These are five that have influenced me.
- Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder (1991)
- This is a fictional work that follows a young girl being given philosophy lessons by a strange man named Alberto Knox. This was one of the first philosophical books I ever read and it inspired me to read Philosophy at university. Gaarder’s insightful overview of all the major philosophical opinions and his flair for creative writing combined to make a great read.
- On the Genealogy of Morality – Friedrich Nietzsche (1887)
- The tale of Nietzsche’s life is a sad and complicated one, yet his work shows incredible genius. This work outlines how Nietzsche believes our morality was created. Amongst many other things, he outlines two opposing moralities of the master and the slave. This work has often let me questioning where my sense of right and wrong comes from and whether I should follow it.
- Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics – Paul W. Taylor (1986)
- I based much of my dissertation on Taylor’s work. He outlines his biocentric view of nature, these include arguments for reasons why humans shouldn’t view themselves as morally superior to all other creatures and why humans should respect all goal-orientated organisms. Although I don’t agree with all of his arguments, it helped shape my own current view of how we should treat the environment.
- Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant (1781)
- This book is renowned for being incredibly complicated, fortunately I had philosophy professor to explain it all to me. The thing that struck me about this work was how incredibly intelligent this man was, writing it must have been infinitely harder than reading it was.
- Self-Reliance and other essays – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)
- Emerson’s work is studied across classrooms throughout the western world, particularly ‘Self-Reliance’. This essay outlines his firm belief that people should follow their own ideas and not conform to others. He argues this point so forcefully it is hard to read the essay and not feel empowered after reading it.