The basic idea was this: a list of a hundred books, each providing a relatively accessible portal to philosophy, likely to have something of interest to a very wide range of people, in order to encourage a wider reading in philosophy, and perhaps an interest in philosophy among those who might be turned off by anything too academic. So that constrained the list to philosophical works available in English, not too difficult to find (at least with a good library), not too overwhelming (e.g., not too long or too jargonish), potentially enjoyable to all sorts of people; there was also the constraint, considerably more limiting, that only books I'd read in some version or translation or other could be included, since only if I had read the book at least once, at some point, could I be sure it was a reasonable candidate for the list. I also tried to limit relatively recent philosophical work in order to compensate for the bias of recency. Also, with a few very readable exceptions, I have bypassed standard college course fare. The result was as follows, in no particular order. (I have linked to those available online in some form. Needless to say, and although some of the editions are quite good, this does not always or even usually indicate that this is the best edition available. The rest should be accessible through a descent university library or good bookstore. Also, it should go without saying, but might not, that inclusion on the list, while it shows that I think the work interesting, does not show that I necessarily agree with it in any way.) I have a defense of each one's deserving a place on this list, if you have any questions about a particular entry. Did I miss any good ones? Which ones have you read? If you were going to make your own list, what would be on it?You can see why I find this irresistable...
Here's the list. I've bolded the one's that I've read:
1. Voltaire, Candide
2. Dante, Divine Comedy
3. Plato, Apology
4. Xenophon, Apology
5. Berkeley, Alciphron
6. Aquinas, Collationes super Credo in Deum
7. Astell, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part II
8. Scotus, A Treatise on God as First Principle
9. Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
10. Descartes, Discourse on Method
11. Hume, "Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences"
12. O. K. Bouwsma, "Descartes' Evil Genius"
13. Gilson, Forms and Substances in the Arts
14. Bonaventure, Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum
15. Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi; attr.), Zhuangzi
16. Fa-tsang, Treatise on the Golden Lion
17. Xuedoe/Yuanwu, The Blue Cliff Record
18. Sartre, No Exit
19. Chesterton, Manalive
20. Shaw, Saint Joan
21. Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy"
22. Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers
23. Darwin, The Descent of Man
24. Kingsley, Hypatia
25. James, "The Will to Believe"
26. Carroll, "What the Tortoise Said to Achilles"
27. Whewell, On the Principles of English University Education
28. Faraday, The Chemical History of a Candle
29. Masham, Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Virtuous Christian Life
30. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World
31. Lull, Book of the Gentile
32. Ibn Tufayl, Hayy ibn Yaqzan
33. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
34. Butler, Fifteen Sermons Preached at the Rolls Chapel
35. Epictetus, Enchiridion
36. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
37. Johnson, The History of Rasselas
38. More, Utopia
39. Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
40. Bacon, Essays [I've read some, anyway]
41. Justin Martyr, First Apology
42. Minucius Felix, Octavius
43. O'Brien, The Third Policeman
44. ***, IV Maccabees
45. Langland, Piers Plowman
46. Lewis, Abolition of Man
47. ***, Cleanness
48. Mill, Utilitarianism
49. Anselm, On Freedom of Choice (PDF)
50. Abelard, Historia Calamitatum
51. Ambrose, On the Duties of the Clergy
52. Kant, "Perpetual Peace"
53. Cicero, De Officiis
54. Pascal, Pensées [I've read some not all]
55. Sun Tzu, The Art of War
56. Clausewitz, On War
57. Shelley, "Queen Mab"
58. Pope, An Essay on Man
59. Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus
60. Beattie, An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth
61. Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond
62. Casanova, History of My Life
63. Lucian, Hermotimus
64. Lorris/Meun, The Romance of the Rose
65. Sophocles, Antigone
66. Christine de Pisan, Book of the City of Ladies
67. Augustine, Confessions
68. Nicholas of Cusa, On Learned Ignorance (PDF)
69. Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
70. Abbott, Flatland
71. Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
72. Gilman, Herland
73. Saadia, Beliefs and Opinions
74. Lessing & Mendelssohn, "Pope a Metaphysician!"
75. Hume, "A Dialogue"
76. Menkin, The Love of the Righteous
77. Lessing, Nathan the Wise
78. Chateaubriand, The Genius of Christianity
79. Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
80. Eliot, Romola
81. Maritain, Theonas
82. ***, The Great Learning
83. Stapledon, Sirius
84. Eco, The Name of the Rose
85. Novalis, Heinrich von Ofterdingen
86. Vico, De Nostri Temporis Studiorum Ratione (On the Study Methods of Our Time)
87. Fichte, The Vocation of Man
88. Edwards, Freedom of the Will
89. Rousseau, Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
90. Shaftesbury, "Sensus Communis: An Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humor" (PDF)
91. Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua
92. Dooyeweerd, In the Twilight of Western Thought
93. Kant, "On the Question: What is Enlightnment?"
94. Austen, Mansfield Park
95. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria
96. Duhem, German Science
97. Diderot, Rameau's Nephew
98. Dryden, Religio Laici
99. Chaucer, The Parson's Tale
100. Teresa of Avila, Life of Teresa of Avila, by Herself
Given that I don't reckon myself much of a philosopher, 20% probably isn't too bad. Most of the items I'd have to suggest probably fell under the "standard college fare" exclusion. I would have perhaps suggested the following:
Plato: Euthyphro, Phaedo, Republic
Aristotle: Ethics, Metaphysics
Aquinas: Selections from Summa
Anselm: Discourse on the Existence of God
But those are, of course, very, very standard. (What can I say, I guess I'm a standard sort of guy... )
I was glad to see that Lucretius made the list, as he's long been a favorite of mine.
I scored an unexpected point by having read Romance of the Rose -- though it strikes me as more interesting as a medieval cultural curiosity than as philosophy.
And I'm rather ashamed to admit that a few of the ones highlighted above, which I know that I read, I can recal virtually nothing about.