About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

If you are looking for something to read

I'm often asked about what to read if you are interested in evolution, or in philosophy (two of the main themes of this blog). Well, I finally put together two "top-ten" lists on Amazon of both topics!

You will find my favorite books on evolution here, and my top classics in philosophy here.

Stay tuned for updates and new lists to come soon...


  1. And now I have my summer reading list. Thanks!

  2. I've read some of them but it appears as if I have some new titles to check out.
    I'm sure it's difficult to whittle the list down to 10 but here's one of my favorites: The Seashell on the Mountaintop

    When you read Darwin (both Voyage and Origin) he details his findings so well that you can easily see how he came to his conclusions. The evidence just kept building up and tying together until the conclusion becomes obvious. The Seashell book is similar in explaining how the early philosophers and naturalists (there were no 'scientists' back then) gradually came to understand the geological clues that the Earth was giving up. In many cases those early naturalists were monks and even bishops and they weren't particularly happy with the conclusions they were coming to but the evidence was there and (for the most part) they couldn't deny it.
    As an aside, it's kind of interesting that today's young-earthers are still scrabbling with the issues that the Catholic church faced back in the 17th and 18th centuries.
    Well, time to head for the library. Thanks for the list MP.

  3. Two books I would add to the evolution list are:
    1. "Your Inner Fish" by Neil Shubin

    I am reading this now and it is excellent. Very well written, accessible and extremely interesting.

    2. "Evolution: The History of an Idea" by Peter J. Bowler

    I read an earlier addition for a history class in college. It was a great book. I very nice discussion and overview of the history of evolutionary thought. I am keen on reading the revised and expanded third edition.

  4. How about Sean Carroll's Making of the Fittest? Or Kirschner's Plausibility of Life?

    I enjoyed Mayr's book--and Steve Jones'....

  5. A couple of years ago I bought a reading list about evolution suggested by you. It has been very helpfully guide me in the matter. And now the problem is that I don´t have money in my pocket, but this new list is a pretty good one. Thanks!


  6. I've read Mayr's What Evolution Is a couple of times. The last time I used it as a reference while reading The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins. The two books seemed to have about the same level of up-to-dateness. And I found that the almost unwieldy structure of Dawkins' book was compensated by the brevity of Mayr. And vice-versa. Sometimes Mayr's discussions are so brief, you do not even realize they are discussions (for example, when he explains concepts like "norm of reaction").


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