“Throughout his life Einstein was a man of the book, to a much higher degree than other scientists. The remarkably diverse collection of volumes in his library grew constantly. If we look only at the German-language books published before 1910 that survived Einstein’s Princeton household, the list includes much of the cannon of the time: Boltzmann, Buchner, Friedrich Hebbel, the works of Heine in two editions, Helmholtz, von Humboldt, the many books of Kant, Gotthold Lessing, Mach, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. But what looms largest are the collected works of Johann von Goethe in a thirty-six volume edition and another of twelve volumes, plus two volumes on his Optics, the exchange of letters between Goethe and Schiller, and a separate volume of Faust.”
Galison, Peter, Holton, Gerald J., and Schweber, Silvan S. (2008). Einstein for the 21st Century: His Legacy in Science, Art, and Modern Culture (ch. 1: Who Was Einstein? Why is He Still so Alive?, pgs 3-15; quote: pg. 10). Princeton University Press.
Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant laid out a framework upon which the whole of modern philosophy is based. It presents a profound and challenging investigation into the nature of human reason, its knowledge and illusions. Reason, Kant argues, is the seat of certain concepts that precede experience and make it possible, but we are not therefore entitled to draw conclusions about the natural world from these concepts. The Critique brings together the two opposing schools of philosophy: rationalism, which grounds all our knowledge in reason, and empiricism, which traces all our knowledge to experience. Kant's transcendental idealism indicates a third way that goes far beyond these alternatives.
A System of Logic : Ratiocinative and Inductive by John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill's 'System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive' was a ground-breaking and highly influential work of philosophy, first published in 1843. Mill espoused the empiricist view of political and social philosophy, and formulated the five principles of inductive reasoning that are now known as Mill's Methods.
A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell (1945)
Since its first publication in 1945 Lord Russell's A History of Western Philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject—unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century
A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume
One of the most significant works of Western philosophy, Hume's Treatise was published in 1739-40, before he was thirty years old. A pinnacle of English empiricism, it is a comprehensive attempt to apply scientific methods of observation to a study of human nature, and a vigorous attack upon the principles of traditional metaphysical thought. With masterly eloquence, Hume denies the immortality of the soul and the reality of space; considers the manner in which we form concepts of identity, cause and effect; and speculates upon the nature of freedom, virtue and emotion. Opposed both to metaphysics and to rationalism, Hume's philosophy of informed scepticism sees man not as a religious creation, nor as a machine, but as a creature dominated by sentiment, passion and appetite.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Don Quixote is the epic tale of the man from La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza. Their picaresque adventures in the world of seventeenth-century Spain form the basis of one of the great treasures of Western literature.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina is one of the most loved and memorable heroines of literature. Her overwhelming charm dominates a novel of unparalleled richness and density.
Tolstoy considered this book to be his first real attempt at a novel form, and it addresses the very nature of society at all levels,- of destiny, death, human relationships and the irreconcilable contradictions of existence. It ends tragically, and there is much that evokes despair, yet set beside this is an abounding joy in life's many ephemeral pleasures, and a profusion of comic relief.
Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza
A profoundly beautiful and uniquely insightful description of the universe, Benedict de Spinoza's Ethics is one of the masterpieces of Enlightenment-era philosophy. Published shortly after his death, the Ethics is undoubtedly Spinoza's greatest work - an elegant, fully cohesive cosmology derived from first principles, providing a coherent picture of reality, and a guide to the meaning of an ethical life. Following a logical step-by-step format, it defines in turn the nature of God, the mind, the emotions, human bondage to the emotions, and the power of understanding - moving from a consideration of the eternal, to speculate upon humanity's place in the natural order, the nature of freedom and the path to attainable happiness. A powerful work of elegant simplicity, the Ethics is a brilliantly insightful consideration of the possibility of redemption through intense thought and philosophical reflection.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the ""wicked and sentimental"" Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons--the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.
inventiveness of Dostoevsky's prose, preserving the multiple voices, the humor, and the surprising modernity of the original. It is an achievement worthy of Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel.
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Einstein started a book club, and here's the reading list
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