Must-Read Philosophical Books

  • by Gitabushi

The following are all the books on my Must Read List.

These are the books that had the greatest impact on my understanding of the world, that taught me the most about how the world works, that contain the ideas, paradigms, and methods that I still use almost daily.

UPDATE: I guess I should explain why I chose these books.

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, Richards J. Heuer, Jr.

https://www.amazon.com/Psychology-Intelligence-Analysis-Richards-Heuer/dp/B0016OST3O/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=psychology+of+intelligence+analysis&qid=1574439241&s=books&sr=1-1

This book really teaches you how to reason, how to recognize your tendency to bias, and ways to minimize the impact of bias on you.  Great book on how to think.

Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do And Why They Do It, by James Q Wilson

https://www.amazon.com/Bureaucracy-Government-Agencies-Basic-Classics/dp/0465007856/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=bureaucracy+wilson&qid=1574439466&s=books&sr=1-1

The study of bureaucracy is really the study of humanity, the study of unexpected consequences, of revealed preferences, etc.  None of us is as dumb as all of us, and this book explains why.

Intelligence Analysis, a Target-Centric Approach:

https://www.amazon.com/Intelligence-Analysis-Target-Centric-Approach-2nd/dp/1933116935

Another “How to Think Better” book. It talks about how when you want to think about something, you have to think of a model of it, useful in the same way as studying a 1:10 scale model of an aircraft carrier can help you understand the whole more easily than studying a full-size aircraft carrier.  If the first book teaches you to avoid bias and know your blind spots, this book is about thinking with more skill about things.

Hellburner and Cyteen, CJ Cherryh

https://www.amazon.com/Hellburner-Questar-Book-C-Cherryh/dp/0446516171/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=hellburner&qid=1574439596&s=books&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.com/Cyteen/dp/B007JQNCPI/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=cyteen&qid=1574439623&s=books&sr=1-1

Hellburner is another bureaucracy book, but not just bureaucracy.  It is a very unusual book in that there is no antagonist. There is a protagonist, but the obstacles come from people doing the right things for the right reasons, but with different skills and conclusions from the protagonist.  I mean, there *is* evil done, but it didn’t intend evil. And yet evil nonetheless results.  A great insight into how groups work.

Cyteen is the book that taught me that you can control your own thinking, and reprogram your emotional reactions if you don’t like what they currently are.  Lots of other stuff in there, too.  The nature of personality/identity/character. 

Inferno, Niven and Pournelle

https://www.amazon.com/Inferno/dp/B001PU0US6/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=inferno+niven+pournelle&qid=1574439644&s=audible&sr=1-1

This is the book that really made me consider sin. Sin (being wrong and hurting others, and pride, etc.) was a concept that carried over into my loss of faith, throughout my agnostic period, and ultimately brought me back to faith.  This book explores a lot of that.

Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce, by CS Lewis

https://www.amazon.com/Mere-Christianity/dp/B0009NS97E/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3P2ZXP5TR4SLB&keywords=mere+christianity&qid=1574439735&s=audible&sprefix=mere+christianity%2Caudible%2C451&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.com/Unknown-The-Screwtape-Letters/dp/B000ICM1G6/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=screwtape+letters&qid=1574439717&s=audible&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Divorce/dp/B00JPJH18G/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+great+divorce&qid=1574439697&s=audible&sr=1-1

I really admire C.S. Lewis.  These books are all philosophy of life, and God, and our purpose, and sin, and why we hurt each other, and who we are, and what God’s plan is for us, and why we are farther apart from God than anyone wants to be.  This trio is well worth the read.

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