9 Thought-Provoking Books About Philosophy

Deep questions aren't just for college students. Pondering the complexity of life can bring contentment, engaging discussion, and a sense of purpose to anyone willing to give the topic a little bit of thought. The nine books listed here can fascinate and delight long-time students of philosophy and newcomers alike. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

9 Thought-Provoking Books About Philosophy

Title Author(s) Subject
1. Plato at the Googleplex Rebecca Goldstein Internet Culture
2. The Teachings That Came Before and After Ishmael Daniel Quinn Evolution Theory
3. The Art of Being Free Wendy McElroy Lifestyle
4. Give War and Peace a Chance Andrew D. Kaufman Literature
5. Other Minds Peter Godfrey-Smith Marine Life
6. Suicide of the West Jonah Goldberg Politics
7. Selfie Will Storr New Media
8. Contradictionary CrimethInc. Language
9. You Are the Universe Deepak Chopra & Menas Kafatos New Age

The 5 Major Branches of Philosophy

  1. Metaphysics & Epistemology
  2. Philosophical Traditions
  3. Value Theory
  4. Science, Logic, & Mathematics
  5. History of Philosophy

What is Philosophy?

In Depth

Why were humans put on this Earth? If we have a greater purpose here, what is it? These are questions that philosophers have been asking for centuries. Whether you've long been intrigued by the eye-opening aspects of philosophy or you're just starting to get curious, you've come to the right place. Here, in no particular order, are some amazing reads that will help you ponder the great mysteries of the universe.

In the #1 slot is "Plato at the Googleplex" by Rebecca Goldstein. Even in the age of Google, Twitter, and Instagram, philosophy still has its place. But what does actual progress look like in this field, and how can we learn from our mistakes as an ever-growing, developing society? Goldstein interprets the teachings of Plato within the framework of our own, Internet-obsessed age to provide a truly unique, accessible approach to tackling the big questions of our world.

At #2 is Daniel Quinn's "The Teachings That Came Before and After Ishmael." The cultural critic, novelist, and philosopher Quinn made a huge mark on the world with his 1992 novel "Ishmael," in which a man and an ape grapple with concepts of morality, mortality, and humanity. But Quinn's ideas don't start or end with his award-winning novel. Here, fans and new readers can get a closer look at the iconic writer's thoughts, teachings, and theories about the moral universe as we know it.

But Quinn's ideas don't start or end with his award-winning novel.

For #3, we have Wendy McElroy's "The Art of Being Free." What does it mean to truly be a free person? Does it mean an empty schedule, a blank slate, a clear conscience? Or is it something more internal, something less focused on fitting neatly into the constraints of a capitalistic life? In this thought-provoking book, writer McElroy calls up questions of personal privacy versus state-mandated participation, and explains how freeing ourselves from ideas about productivity and business could be the first step toward a healthier, more enriching inner life.

At #4 is "Give War and Peace a Chance" by Andrew D. Kaufman. Those who love reading will know Tolstoy by name. But even the most die-hard "Anna Karenina" fans might not be as aware of the famous Russian novelist's more philosophical works and aims. In this deeply researched book, Russian language professor Kaufman explores the themes of the famous but under-read "War and Peace," making the case for the work as one of the most crucial philosophical texts of the modern era.

In the #5 spot is Peter Godfrey-Smith's "Other Minds." Humans are used to thinking of themselves as being the smartest inhabitants of planet Earth. But not so fast: did you know that marine life like squid and octopus have incredible mental powers to rival our own? The world that lives beneath the sea might be a mystery to scientists and philosophers alike, but in this exploratory work, Godfrey-Smith argues that these prehistoric creatures could be working with some of the most advanced brainpower on the planet.

But not so fast: did you know that marine life like squid and octopus have incredible mental powers to rival our own?

At #6 is Jonah Goldberg's "Suicide of the West." In the past few years, Western thought has been criticized for being too focused on violence, greed, and individualism. Western thinking, however, has also helped us use moral lessons of the Enlightenment to build better governments and lives for ourselves. So is the West truly as evil as some say, or can Western thought be reclaimed and integrated into classrooms once more? This provocative text is sure to get people talking, no matter what side of the argument they fall on.

Coming in at #7 is "Selfie" by Will Storr. You might not think about the social and political implications of the act of taking a selfie each time you reach for your phone. That doesn't mean, however, that they're not there. In this book, journalist Storr takes a closer look at selfie culture and the ways in which the Internet has led us to lead more isolated, individualistic lives. What is the self, and how did it come to be as a concept?

For #8, we get "Contradictionary" by CrimethInc. Ever wonder what Stockholm Syndrome is? What about attachment theory? For the curious, confused, or intrigued, this delightful, encyclopedic take on some of the core terms and concepts from psychiatry and philosophy provides a window into both worlds. But instead of being intimidating and full of dense academic explanations for hard-to-explain phenomena, this lighthearted work is happy to provide the answers with a dose of humor and cheer.

But instead of being intimidating and full of dense academic explanations for hard-to-explain phenomena, this lighthearted work is happy to provide the answers with a dose of humor and cheer.

Finally, at #9 is Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos' "You Are the Universe." World-famous New Age icon Chopra wants you to know that there's more to the world than you think. By tackling questions as intimidating as "What is time?" and grappling with ancient quandaries like "What happens after death?" Chopra, in conjunction with esteemed physicist Kafatos, takes a closer look at human civilization's part in the vast, ever-expanding mystery of the physical world.