What Books Should Every Intelligent Person Read?: Tell Us Your Picks; We’ll Tell You Ours

Dan Colman, Strange Remains, Apr 08, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I find the lists offered by Dan Colman and Neil DeGrasse Tyson to be a bit parochial, steeped in (their) local culture and issues of the day. Why else include Darwin and de Tocqueville? Why else include the Bible but not the Qu'ran or the Upanisads, or Sun Tzu but not Lao Tze? So, what would my list of (say, top ten) must-reads be? How about this?

  • Rene Descartes, Meditations
  • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
  • Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  • On Certainty and Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgeinstein
  • Confucius, Analects

Why these? Balance. Yet I suppose my list is parochial as well, reflecting a Canadian heritage (and yet, no Canadians) and philosphical background. I regret not adding Gibbon, McLuhan, Kant, Chomsky, Ruark, and many more. And my list would probably be different tomorrow.

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