The best 19 Theoretical Philosophy books

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Theoretical Philosophy Books: Philosophy for Life by Jules Evans

Philosophy for Life

Jules Evans
And Other Dangerous Situations
4.6 (376 ratings)

What's Philosophy for Life about?

These blinks will teach you the ancient wisdom that inspired the modern science of well-being. Your teachers are the greatest ancient philosophers, and each lesson reveals questions and techniques that can help you on your path to leading a good life. Philosophy for Life has been published in 19 countries and was selected as a Times book of the year 2013.

Who should read Philosophy for Life?

  • Anyone interested in self-development and living a good life
  • Anyone interested in learning from great thinkers like Aristotle and Plutarch
  • Anyone interested in refreshing their knowledge of philosophy
  • Anyone interested in cognitive behavioral therapy

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes

Meditations on First Philosophy

René Descartes
4.1 (189 ratings)

What's Meditations on First Philosophy about?

Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) is one of Descartes’s most influential works, known as the source of the classic quote: “I think, therefore I am” or “cogito ergo sum.” These blinks capture Descartes’ thoughts on how we know what we know, and his attempts to prove God’s existence along the way.

Who should read Meditations on First Philosophy?

  • Students of philosophy
  • People interested in philosophy and the foundations of Western thinking
  • Religious people who are interested in another view of the existence of God

Theoretical Philosophy Books: The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

The Beginning of Infinity

David Deutsch
Explanations That Transform the World
4.2 (171 ratings)

What's The Beginning of Infinity about?

Everyday, we benefit from huge advances in both scientific theory and practice. What triggered this progress? In The Beginning of Infinity (2011) – a journey through the fundamental fields of science and philosophy – physicist David Deutsch argues that all progress results from one single human activity: the quest for explanations. Human creativity opens up limitless opportunities for progress, making knowledge the “beginning of infinity.”

Who should read The Beginning of Infinity?

  • Fans of science and philosophy
  • Anyone fascinated by the power of knowledge and creativity
  • Readers interested in the future of our species

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Mindware by Richard E. Nisbett


Richard E. Nisbett
Tools for Smart Thinking
3.9 (115 ratings)

What's Mindware about?

Mindware (2015) is a guide to reason. These blinks explain why we make irrational assumptions while presenting the cognitive tools that statisticians, logicians and philosophers use to approach everyday problems with objectivity.

Who should read Mindware?

  • Anyone interested in psychology, statistics or economics
  • Anyone who wants to make better professional, business and personal decisions
  • Teachers and coaches who want to teach the art of logical decision making

Theoretical Philosophy Books: The Ego Trick by Julian Baggini

The Ego Trick

Julian Baggini
What Does it Mean To Be You?
3.9 (48 ratings)

What's The Ego Trick about?

The Ego Trick (2011) explores the slippery topic of what we call “I” or “me.” These blinks give insight into the many factors that shape our sense of self, including brain function and dysfunction, society, culture and technological changes, and introduce the key philosophical questions behind our ideas about identity, souls and free will.

Who should read The Ego Trick?

  • Readers who suspect that our world is illusory
  • Students seeking a compact introduction to the philosophy of mind
  • Those interested in the parallels between Western philosophy and Buddhist thought

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Conscious by Annaka Harris


Annaka Harris
A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind
4.3 (210 ratings)

What's Conscious about?

Conscious (2019) offers a contemplative and probing look at one of life's central mysteries: consciousness. Author Annaka Harris explores two fundamental questions: How do we define consciousness? And how widespread is its existence in the universe?

Who should read Conscious?

  • Curious people interested in life’s mysteries
  • Students of philosophy and biology
  • Anyone curious about the human brain

Theoretical Philosophy Books: A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry

A Brief History of Thought

Luc Ferry
A Philosophical Guide to Living
4.3 (272 ratings)

What's A Brief History of Thought about?

A Brief History of Thought (1996) chronicles the big moments in the history of Western philosophy in a lucid and accessible way – from the Stoicism of classical Greece right through to twentieth-century postmodernism. Not simply a description of abstract ideals, it shows how we can apply the wisdom of the world’s best thinkers to live happier and more meaningful lives.

Who should read A Brief History of Thought?

  • Those who find philosophy cryptic and confusing
  • History students not up to speed with the development of Western thought
  • Introspective humans searching for a meaning to life

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Doing Philosophy by Timothy Williamson

Doing Philosophy

Timothy Williamson
From Common Curiosity To Logical Reasoning
4.2 (101 ratings)

What's Doing Philosophy about?

Doing Philosophy (2018) dispels some of the stereotypes that continue to hound philosophers. In particular, it takes aim at the pervasive idea that philosophy has become irrelevant in light of the success of the natural sciences, and makes a compelling case for why philosophy is still important and influential today.

Who should read Doing Philosophy?

  • Scientifically-minded people convinced that science can solve all problems
  • Skeptics unconvinced by philosophy’s pretense that it is a science
  • Anyone curious to know what exactly philosophers do all day long

Theoretical Philosophy Books: The Art of Logic by Eugenia Cheng

The Art of Logic

Eugenia Cheng
How to Make Sense in a World that Doesn’t
4.1 (201 ratings)

What's The Art of Logic about?

The Art of Logic (2018) tackles an increasingly important question: How do we navigate through a post-truth world, where fake news and social media are shaping reality? Mathematician Eugenia Cheng demonstrates how we can use logic to challenge our assumptions and seek truth. And surprisingly, she shows us that when we combine logic with emotion, we’re better able to navigate through our illogical world.

Who should read The Art of Logic?

  • Sensitive souls feeling overwhelmed by our illogical society
  • Campaigners wanting to learn how to develop clear, considered arguments
  • People looking to deepen their understanding of other

Theoretical Philosophy Books: The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir

The Ethics of Ambiguity

Simone de Beauvoir
4.5 (265 ratings)

What's The Ethics of Ambiguity about?

The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947) is one of the foundational texts of existentialist philosophy. It's both a succinct summary of existentialist thought and a thorough interrogation of its ethical ramifications in the real world. By reflecting on what it means to be human, this book is a call to recognize and act upon one fundamental truth of our existence: that we are free.

Who should read The Ethics of Ambiguity?

  • Philosophically minded people who want to understand their existence.
  • Activists who seek to make the world a better place.
  • Anyone who exists and wants to know what to do about it.

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant

Critique of Pure Reason

Immanuel Kant
4.6 (530 ratings)

What's Critique of Pure Reason about?

The Critique of Pure Reason (1781) is one of the most groundbreaking, revolutionary, and influential books in the history of Western philosophy. Pointing out the limits of human reason, it argues that we can have knowledge about the world as we experience it, but we can never know anything about the ultimate nature of reality.

Who should read Critique of Pure Reason?

  • Skeptics 
  • Students of philosophy 
  • Adherents of both science and religion

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Making Sense by Sam Harris

Making Sense

Sam Harris
Conversations on Consciousness, Morality, and the Future of Humanity
4.3 (294 ratings)

What's Making Sense about?

Making Sense (2020) consists of conversations about some of life’s biggest questions: the nature of consciousness, the progression of tyranny, the history of racism, the mysteries of the universe, and the challenges posed by artificial intelligence. Though the topics it covers are wide-ranging, its ultimate goal is to explore the ways in which we can understand our minds and harness their power to build the best possible world for everyone.

Who should read Making Sense?

  • Open-minded thinkers, ponderers, and questioners
  • Fans of psychology, neuroscience, history, and technology
  • Gazers into the past and future

Theoretical Philosophy Books: War by Margaret MacMillan


Margaret MacMillan
How Conflict Shaped Us
4.0 (205 ratings)

What's War about?

War (2020) is a philosophical inquiry into the nature of human conflict. It considers war from different angles, examining what causes it, how we think about it, and how it affects us. By making an effort to understand war, we become better prepared to avoid it.

Who should read War?

  • Students of international and military history 
  • People interested in cultural and philosophical differences
  • Anyone fascinated or affected by human conflict

Theoretical Philosophy Books: The Logic of Scientific Discovery by Karl Popper

The Logic of Scientific Discovery

Karl Popper
4.7 (440 ratings)

What's The Logic of Scientific Discovery about?

The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1935) is Karl Popper’s classic work on the purpose of science and knowledge. Scientists should test their theories not to verify them, but to falsify them, and hence become even more accurate.

Who should read The Logic of Scientific Discovery?

  • Scientists interested in the big picture
  • Philosophers curious about scientific method
  • Logic lovers

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Humanly Possible by Sarah Bakewell

Humanly Possible

Sarah Bakewell
Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope
4.2 (202 ratings)

What's Humanly Possible about?

Humanly Possible (2023) traces the roots of humanism in literature and science back through history. While telling the stories of the great humanist thinkers, it sheds light on humanity today as well as how we can better relate to our lives and environment through humanist beliefs and pursuits. 

Who should read Humanly Possible?

  • Anyone interested in the humanities
  • People looking for non-religious alternatives to moral thinking
  • Optimists

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Life Worth Living by Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun and Ryan McAnnally-Linz

Life Worth Living

Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
A Guide to What Matters Most
4.3 (379 ratings)

What's Life Worth Living about?

Life Worth Living (2023) is about discovering your own vision for a meaningful life. It offers a wide spectrum of philosophic and theological ideas in order to better understand what is most important to you, and how to turn that understanding into action.

Who should read Life Worth Living?

  • Anyone who’s ever wondered about the meaning of life
  • People interested in theology and comparative religion studies
  • Curious minds looking for inspiration and guidance

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Being and Time by Martin Heidegger

Being and Time

Martin Heidegger
4.0 (58 ratings)

What's Being and Time about?

Being and Time (1927) is perhaps the most influential work of philosophy written in the twentieth century. Infamous for its infuriating, almost impenetrable complexity, its pages explore the most fundamental of all questions for a human being: what is it to be?

Who should read Being and Time?

  • Anyone – that is, everyone! – who can’t understand Being and Time
  • Philosophy nerds
  • Curious souls searching for answers to the deepest questions

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Ludwig Wittgenstein
4.0 (259 ratings)

What's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus about?

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) is a singular and ground-breaking work of modern philosophy that attempts to illuminate the relationship between logic, language, and reality.

Who should read Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus?

  • Big thinkers curious about contemporary philosophy
  • Language lovers interested in the relationship between language and reality
  • Anyone interested in the major thinkers of modernity

Theoretical Philosophy Books: Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

Being and Nothingness

Jean-Paul Sartre
A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology
4.4 (35 ratings)

What's Being and Nothingness about?

Being and Nothingness (1943) is a seminal work of existentialist philosophy. It explores the major themes of existentialism, such as the intricacies of human consciousness, free will, and the interplay of objectivity and subjectivity.

Who should read Being and Nothingness?

  • Students and scholars of philosophy
  • People interested in intellectual history and influential philosophical texts
  • Anyone grappling with questions of meaning, identity, and consciousness

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