发布时间:2014-11-04    作者:Demasiado Aire    来源:Demasiado Aire    

Philosophical Youth

Philosophy Library

We asked some of the world’s most important philosophers which three books influenced them the most while undergraduate students…

*Photo by MjYj

Julian Baggini

(philosopher and writer):

Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit

Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle

Stages on Life’s Way, Søren Kierkegaard

Simon Blackburn

(University of Cambridge):

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, Bertrand Russell: “It opened the way to an interest in formal methods, and to the whole philosophy of mathematics. I went on to Frege, and eventually to harder logic, although that did not stick with me and I have never contributed to real formal logic. As a young student I owed most to my teacher, Casimir Lewy, but he never wrote much, and at that time had not written a book”.

Tractatus & Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein: “Both books captivated me, in different ways. Wittgenstein had the great gift of immediately impressing the reader that something absolutely fundamental and important was going on, even if it was going to be very difficult to discover exactly what it was. They were inspirational”.

Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume: “This really redirected my interests into a concern with induction and probability, which were the subjects of my PhD. Cambridge had a wonderful tradition in that direction: Frank Ramsey was well remembered, and Richard Braithwaite, Ian Hacking, and Mary Hesse were all teaching at the time. Eventually my interests broadened out into the whole spectrum of philosophy of language, epistemology, and the theory of value”.

Alain de Botton


In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust: “for teaching me that a novel could be philosophical”.

Mythologies, Roland Barthes: “for teaching me that you can spin ideas out of anything, even the supposedly mundane”.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera: “for being both novelistic and full of ideas”.

Wendy Brown

(University of California, Berkeley):

Capital, Karl Marx

One Dimensional Man, Herbert Marcuse

Republic, Plato

David Chalmers

(Australian National University):

“I was an undergraduate student in mathematics rather than philosophy, but the answer is”:

Gödel, Escher Bach, Douglas Hofstadter

The Mind’s I, Douglas Hofstadter & Daniel Dennett

Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit

Daniel Dennett

(Tufts University):

“That’s easy:

Word and Object, Quine.

The concept of mind, Gilbert Ryle

Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

“I got to study with Quine and Ryle, but Wittgenstein had died before I encountered his work”.

Bas van Fraassen

(Princeton University):

Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre

The Philosophy of Space, Hans Reichenbach

The Foundations of Mathematics, Evert Beth.

“But I could read these at all only because I had already read easier writings on the same subjects, especially Bertrand Russell’s”.

Guillermo Hurtado

(Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, UNAM):

Word and Object, W. V. Quine,

Essays on truth and interpretation, Donald Davidson

Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

Shelly Kagan

(Yale University):

Catch 22, Joseph Heller: “This is a novel, a work of fiction. It is a humorous book, though it is very dark humor, and the perspective gets progressively darker as the novel moves along. It is set in World War II, and portrays an American soldier who is desperately trying to stay alive while dealing with the insane military bureaucracy and the impossible-to-satisfy demands it makes upon him. But the book speaks to something larger that we all face from time to time, in that it portrays the difficulty and importance of staying whole and sane in a job–or society, or world–that is often both hostile and irrational”.

Night, Elie Wiesel: “This is a work of nonfiction, a memoir, though it is written in a highly terse almost poetic literary style.  It recounts the author’s experiences during the Holocaust, when as a young Jewish teen he was shipped to the concentration camp in Auschwitz.  This book is haunting and at times unbearably sad, and for me it serves as a unforgettable lesson in how appallingly cruel people can be –and continue to be– to one another”.

Critique of Religion and Philosophy, Walter Kaufmann: “This is a work of philosophy, written by one of my teachers in graduate school, although I first read it as an undergraduate several years earlier.  The book offers unusually penetrating accounts of both philosophy and of religion, and most centrally it criticizes the common tendency to give lip service to one’s religion without taking its various teachings and claims seriously.  Kaufmann was not himself a religious man, but he was a serious student of religion, and he knew it was too important to treat in the typical superficial manner”.

Dialogues, Plato: “This is a cheat, because of course this isn’t a single book, but a collection of books, or more properly, dialogues, by the first great philosopher of the western tradition.  What I have in mind in particular are the early Socratic dialogues and those that portray Socrates’ last days (like the Apology, or the Crito or Phaedo).  In these works, Plato paints a breathtaking portrait of his own teacher, Socrates, as someone who cared about philosophy so completely that he was willing to die for it, rather than give it up.  It was this portrait that first persuaded me that the life of the philosopher was both noble and admirable, and something to which I could aspire”.

Joshua Knobe

(Yale University):

Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche

Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard

Christine Korsgaard

(Harvard University):

Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant

A Theory of Justice, John Rawls

“I was puzzled about how there can be “objective” answers to ethical questions, and Aristotle and Kant showed me the way:  ethics is a branch of practical reason.  Rawls influenced me as he did all of us in those days:  by showing that moral and political philosophy that is both theoretically profound and directly practical in its implications can still be done.  Of course, he also influenced me because I went off to graduate school at Harvard to study with him. Also, If you mean which books in general, not just philosophy books, I would add Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.  That’s not a book I read in college, but rather one I found on my mother’s bookshelf.  It helped me to think about what life might be for a woman”.

Steven Kuhn

(Georgetown University):

Methods of Logic, W. V. Quine,

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn: “the subject of conversation among my teachers and fellow student”.

The Concept of Mind, Gilbert Ryle: “old even then, but still full of topics and ideas new to me”.

Peter Millican

(Oxford University):

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume

Critique of Pure Reason, Kant

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume

Adrian W. Moore

(Oxford University):

Critique of Pure Reason, Kant

Word and Object, W. V. Quine

Gödel’s Proof, Ernest Nagel & James Newman

Alexander Nehamas

(Princeton University):

Apology of Socrates, Plato

Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle

Ethics, Spinoza

“Also, I should point out that Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality had a huge effect on me when I was a graduate student and had a formative influence on my philosophical development”.

Derek Parfit

(Oxford University):

Methods of Ethics, Henry Sidwick

Utilitarianism, J. S. Mill

The View from Nowhere, Thomas Nagel: “my favourite book published in the 20th Century, and which seems to me to make many very interesting claims about fundamental philosophical questions”.

Philip N. Petit

(Princeton University):

Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre

The Language of Morals, R. M. Hare

Insight, Bernard Lonergan

Alvin Plantinga

(University of Notre Dame):

Republic, Plato

The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, Etienne Gilson

Perceiving: a Philosophical Study, Roderick Chisholm

Thomas Pogge

(Yale University):

“It’s hard in my case as my first four years of study were in sociology (though I took some philosophy classes)”:

Critique of Pure Reason, Kant

Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, Ludwig Wittgenstein

Collected works, C.S. Pierce

–Habermas: “mainly his work on communicative action, scattered over many publications”.

Graham Priest

(City University of New York, CUNY):

Principia Mathematic, Bertrand Russell

Logical Syntax of Language, Rudolf Carnap

From a Logical Point of View, W. V. Quine

Agustín Rayo


Introduction to Mathematical Logic, Elliott Mendelson

Gödel, Escher Bach, Douglas Hofstadter

The Foundations of Arithmetic, Gottlob Frege

Julian Savulescu

(Oxford University):

Practical Ethics, Peter Singer

A Treatise on Human Nature, David Hume

Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit

T. M. Scanlon

(Harvard University):

As an undergraduate:

From a Logical Point of View, W. V. Quine

The Foundations of Arithmetic, Gottlob Frege

And in the year between undergraduate and graduate study:

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant

Roger Scruton

(free-lance writter and philosopher):

Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

Critique of Pure Reason, Kant

Individuals, Strawson

Barry Stroud

(University of California, Berkeley):

Critique of Pure Reason, Kant: “This is the book that, as an ndergraduate studying philosophy (which I knew nothing about before I started), by far had the greatest effect on me, lasting until the present day. It made me want to pursue the questions it raised at such a deep level”.

Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes: “a very good place to start thinking philosophically”.

Language Truth and Logic, A. J. Ayer: “I think it appealed to many young people at the time, offering a simple, bold attack on a whole tradition while promising something completely new and easily understandable”.

Ernest Sosa

(Rutgers University):

Republic, Plato

Meditations, Descartes

The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

Charles Taylor

(McGill University):

Phénoménologie de la Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty

The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky

–Jalons pour use théologie du Laïcat, Yves Congar

Timothy Williamson

(Oxford University):

Monadology and other writings, Leibniz: “I had an abortive plan to write my doctoral thesis on formalizing his principle of sufficient reason”:

The Structure of Appearance, Nelson Goodman: “for its analytic techniques”.

Objects of Thought, Arthur Prior: “for its emphasis on logical grammar.

“Amongst other books that I could easily have included were Frege’s Grundlagen, Russell’s Lectures on Logical Atomism, Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia, and Quine’s Word and Object”.

Most popular:

 1) Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

2) Critique of Pure Reason, Kant

3) Dialogues, Plato