The Non-fiction Books that have Influenced Me

Over the years there have been many deep and insightful books which have shaped my thought and how I view and interpret the world.  I include the list below both as a reminder to myself of the books worth revisiting, as well as for friends who are interested in the ideas which have helped shape me and who might be interested in exploring on their own (I will update this list as time progresses).

  • Isaac Asimov was the first author who got me fascinated about the world around me and interested in trying to understand it.  As a teenager, back in a time when I never thought I would ever be able to attend university, let alone eventually get a PhD, his books filled me with wonder, excitement, and a desire to learn more.  These were some of the non-fiction books which had the greatest impact on me at that young age:

Isaac Asimov:

Exploring the Earth and the Cosmos

The Roving Mind

Extraterrestrial Civilizations

Asimov’s Chronology of the World

In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920-1954

In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954-1978

  • Sometimes you discover a book which stands out from all others; it changes how – and what – you think, and ends up transforming you as a person. This book did that for me:

Martin Heidegger: Being and Time

  • Existential Philosophy, Psychology and Theology.  Great books to read if one is interested in examining and understanding the mysteries of human existence, and reflect upon the descriptive experiences of these struggles in the world.

Emmy van Deurzen: Everyday Mysteries: A Handbook of Existential Psychotherapy

Rollo May: Man’s Search for Himself

Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning: an Introduction to Logotherapy

Karl Jaspers: Philosophy of Existence

Jean Wahl: Philosophies of Existence

Martin Buber: I and Thou

Paul Tillich:

The Courage to Be

The Dynamics of Faith

  • History of Science, Science and Religion, Religious Studies.  Key texts useful for getting a clear grasp of the development of science, its relationship with religion, and the core features of what makes up religion.

Edward Grant:

The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts

Science and Religion 400 B.C. – A.D. 1550: From Aristotle to Copernicus

David C. Lindberg: The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to AD 1450.

John Hedley Brooke: Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives

Gary B. Ferngren (editor): Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction

Ronald L. Numbers (editor): Galileo Goes to Jail and other Myths about Science and Religion

Ronald L. Numbers and David C. Lindberg (editors): God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science

James Hannam: God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science

Robert N. Bellah: Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age

James L. Cox: Expressing the Sacred: An Introduction to the Phenomenology of Religion

Mircea Eliade: The Sacred & Profane: The Nature of Religion

Rudolph Bultmann: Primitive Christianity: In its Contemporary Setting

  • Works roughly located within the American Pragmatic Naturalist school of thought.  These are great books to get oneself acquainted with philosophy, science, history and culture.  It is an area of philosophy which is highly neglected these days, which is unfortunate, since I think these writers have important things to say:

John Ryder:

American Philosophic Naturalism in the Twentieth Century (editor) 

The Things in Heaven and Earth: An Essay in Pragmatic Naturalism

Thomas M. Alexander: The Human Eros: Eco-Ontology and the Aesthetics of Existence

James S. Gouinlock: Eros and the Good: Wisdom According to Nature

John Lachs: Stoic Pragmatism

Lawrence E. Cahoone: The Orders of Nature

Justus Buchler:

Nature and Judgment

Metaphysics of Natural Complexes

John Herman Randall Jr.:

Nature and Historical Experience: Essays in Naturalism and in the Theory of History

The Making of the Modern Mind: A Survey of the Intellectual Background of the Present Age

John Dewey:

Experience and Nature

Reconstruction in Philosophy

A Common Faith

The Essential Dewey (2 volumes)

Roy Wood Sellars: Reflections on American Philosophy from Within

George Santayana: The Essential Santayana

Will Durant:

The Story of Philosophy

The Story of Civilization (11 volumes, plus 1 supplement)

  • Texts I drew upon for my PhD, covering Selfhood, Phenomenology and Enactive/Embodied Cognition:

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception

Martin Heidegger: Being and Time

Shaun Gallagher:

How the Body Shapes the Mind


Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi: The Phenomenological Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science

Dan Zahavi: Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person Perspective

Evan Thompson: Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of the Mind

Mark Siderits, Evan Thompson, and Dan Zahavi (editors): Self, No Self? Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological, & Indian Traditions

Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch: The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience

John Stewart, Olivier Gapenne, and Ezequiel A. Di Paulo (editors): Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science

Maxine Sheets-Johnstone:

The Primacy of Movement

The Corporeal Turn: An Interdisciplinary Reader

Mark Johnson: The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding

Matthew Ratcliffe: Feelings of Being: Phenomenology, Psychiatry, and the Sense of Reality

Michael Wheeler: Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step

Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin (editors): Self & Identity: Contemporary Philosophical Issues

Antonio Damasio:

The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion, and the Making of Consciousness

Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain

Todd Feinberg:

Altered Egos: How the Brain Creates the Self

From Axons to Identity: The Neurological Explanation of the Nature of the Self

Jonathan St. B.T. Evans and Keith Frankish (editors): In Two Minds: Dual Processes and Beyond

Daniel N. Stern:

The Interpersonal World of the Infant: A View from Psychoanlaysis and Developmental Psychology

Forms of Vitality: Exploring Dynamic Experience in Psychology, the Arts, Psychotherapy, and Development

  • Works I consulted related to my Masters research on Personal Identity:

Lynne Rudder Baker:

Bodies and Persons: A Constitution View

The Metaphysics of Everyday Life: An Essay in Practical Realism

Saving Belief: A Critique of Physicalism

Explaining Attitudes: A Practical Approach to the Mind

Eric Olson:

The Human Animal: Personal Identity Without Psychology

What Are We? A Study in Personal Ontology

Julian Baggini: The Ego Trick: What Does it Mean to be You?

Kathleen V. Wilkes: Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments

  • Classic Works of Philosophy:

Patricia Curd (editor): A Presocratics Reader


The Republic


Lucretius: On the Nature of the Universe

David Hume: An Enquiry on Human Understanding

John Stuart Mill: On Liberty

Ludwig Feuerbach:

The Essence of Christianity

Principles of the Philosophy of the Future

Arthur Schopenhauer:

The World as Will and Representation (2 volumes)

On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Friedrich Nietzsche: The Portable Nietzsche

Henri Bergson:

Mind and Matter

An Introduction to Metaphysics

Bertrand Russell: The Problems of Philosophy

Gaston Bachelard: The Poetics of Space

Jean-Paul Sartre: The Transcendence of the Ego

Maurice Merleau-Ponty:

Phenomenology of Perception

The World of Perception

Martin Heidegger:

Being and Time

Introduction to Metaphysics

  • Humanism.  There have been many books written discussing and promoting a secular, non-religious Humanist life stance, but in my view, only a select few had the right pluralistic and expansive vision for what it is and what it can achieve:

Corliss Lamont: The Philosophy of Humanism

Paul Kurtz:

Meaning and Value in a Secular Age: Why Eupraxsophy Matters

Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy

Embracing the Power of Humanism

Toward a New Enlightenment: The Philosophy of Paul Kurtz

The Courage to Become: The Virtues of Humanism

Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism


  • Cultural Criticism:

Morris Berman:

The Twilight of American Culture

The Reenchantment of the World

Neil Postman: Amusing Ourselves to Death

  • Miscellaneous:

Charles Darwin:

The Voyage of the Beagle

Origin of Species


Darwin (Norton Critical Edition)

Oliver Sacks:


The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Carl Jung: The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung (Modern Library edition)

Anthony Stevens: The Two Million-Year-Old Self

Steven Mithen: The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion, and Science

Raymond Tallis: Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis, and the Misrepresentation of Humanity

Susan Blackmore: Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction

Being and Time Roving Mindmeaning and value 2The Courage to BeZahavi_Subjectivity and Selfhood    corporeal turn

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