ll Principe (The Prince) is a political treatise by the Florentine writer Niccolò Machiavelli, originally called “De Principatibus” (About Principalities). It was written around 1513, but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli’s death. The treatise is not actually representative of his published work during his lifetime, but it is certainly the best remembered one.
The Prince (Italian: Il Principe) is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus (About Principalities). But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. This was done with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII, but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of the Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings".
Although it was written as if it were a traditional work in the Mirror of Princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative. This is only partly because it was written in the Vernacular (Italian) rather than Latin, a practice which had become increasingly popular since the publication of Dante's Divine Comedy and other works of Renaissance literature.
The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics.
Thoreau, Henry David
Walden by Henry David Thoreau is one of the best-known non-fiction books written by an American. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s life for two years, two months, and two days around the shores of Walden Pond. Walden is neither a novel nor a true autobiography, but a social critique of the Western World, with each chapter heralding some aspect of humanity that needed to be either renounced or praised. Along with his critique of the civilized world, Thoreau examines other issues afflicting man in society, ranging from economy and reading to solitude and higher laws. He also takes time to talk about the experience at Walden Pond itself, commenting on the animals and the way people treated him for living there, using those experiences to bring out his philosophical positions. This extended commentary on nature has often been interpreted as a strong statement to the natural religion that transcendentalists like Thoreau and Emerson were preaching.
First published in 1886 at Nietzsche’s own expense, the book was not initially considered important. In it, Nietzsche denounced what he considered to be the moral vacuity of 19th century thinkers. He attacked philosophers for what he considered to be their lack of critical sense and their blind acceptance of Christian premises in their considerations of morality and values. Beyond Good and Evil is a comprehensive overview of Nietzsche’s mature philosophy.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a nineteenth-century German philosopher. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, using a distinctive German language style and displaying a fondness for aphorism. Nietzsche's influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialism and postmodernism.
Thus Spake Zarathustra (Also sprach Zarathustra), is a work composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885. Much of the work deals with ideas such as the "eternal recurrence of the same", the parable on the "death of God", and the "prophecy" of the Overman, which were first introduced in The Gay Science. Described by Nietzsche himself as "the deepest ever written", the book is a dense and esoteric treatise on philosophy and morality, featuring as protagonist a fictionalized Zarathustra. A central irony of the text is that the style of the Bible is used by Nietzsche to present ideas of his which fundamentally oppose Judaeo-Christian morality and tradition.
The modern British philosopher, Anthony M. Ludovici, said that this text “is unquestionably Nietzsche’s opus magnum.” However, he warns the reader that since “the book with the most mysterious, startling, or suggestive title, will always stand the best chance of being purchased by those who have no other criteria to guide them in their choice than the aspect of a title-page … ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ is almost always the first and often the only one of Nietzsche’s books that falls into the hands of the uninitiated.” He therefore recommends reading this text alongside some scholarly annotations, which Ludovici gratefully supplies in the volume read here. To keep Ludovici’s intention, in this version of ‘Zarathustra’ the reader includes these annotations (where available) immediately after the reading. Summary by jvanstan
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote their Manifesto in December 1847, as a guide to the fundamental principles and practices of Communists. The Manifesto also predicted the ultimate downfall of the capitalist system.
The Problems of Philosophy is one of Bertrand Russell's attempts to create a brief and accessible guide to the problems of philosophy. Focusing on problems he believes will provoke positive and constructive discussion, Russell concentrates on knowledge rather than metaphysics.
Russell guides the reader through his famous distinction between "knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description" and introduces important theories of Plato, Aristotle, René Descartes, David Hume, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel and others to lay the foundation for philosophical inquiry by general readers and scholars alike.
This is a letter written from prison in 1897 by Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, in which he recounts how he came to be in prison and charts his spiritual development.
An important, controversial, and often cited work on public education. Dewey discusses the role of public education in a democracy and the different methods for achieving quality in education. After its initial publication, this book began a revolution in educational thinking; one that emphasized growth, experience, and activity as key elements in promoting democratic qualities in students and educators alike.
Tocqueville, Alexis de
When Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s he found a thriving democracy of a kind he had not seen anywhere else. Many of his insightful observations American society and political system, found in the two volume book he published after his visit, still remain surprisingly relevant today.
The Three Initiates
The Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy is a 1908 book claiming to be the essence of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, published anonymously by a group or person under the pseudonym of "the Three Initiates". The Kybalion was first published in 1908 by the Yogi Publication Society and is now in the public domain, and can be found on the internet. The book purports to be based upon ancient Hermeticism, though many of its ideas are relatively modern concepts arising from the New Thought movement. The book early on makes the claim that it makes its appearance in one's life when the time is appropriate and includes variations of material found in the book of Proverbs. The book devotes a chapter to each of its seven "Principles", or axioms: The Principle of Mentalism, The Principle of Correspondence, The Principle of Vibration, The Principle of Polarity, The Principle of Rhythm, The Principle of Cause and Effect, and The Principle of Gender. Summary by Wikipedia
Allen's books illustrate the use of the power of thought to increase personal capabilities. Although he never achieved great fame or wealth, his works continue to influence people around the world, including the New Thought movement. Allen's most famous book, As a Man Thinketh, was published in 1902. It is now considered a classic self-help book. Its underlying premise is that noble thoughts make a noble person, while lowly thoughts make a miserable person.
Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus
Consolation of Philosophy (Latin: Consolatio Philosophiae) is a philosophical work by Boethius written in about the year 524 AD. It has been described as the single most important and influential work in the West in medieval and early Renaissance Christianity, and is also the last great work that can be called Classical. - Consolation of Philosophy was written during Boethius' one year imprisonment while awaiting trial, and eventual horrific execution, for the crime of treason by Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great. Boethius was at the very heights of power in Rome and was brought down by treachery. It was from this experience he was inspired to write a philosophical book from prison reflecting on how a lord's favor could change so quickly and why friends would turn against him. It has been described as “by far the most interesting example of prison literature the world has ever seen.” - The Consolation of Philosophy stands, by its note of fatalism and its affinities with the Christian doctrine of humility, midway between the heathen philosophy of Seneca the Younger and the later Christian philosophy of consolation represented by Thomas Aquinas. - The book is heavily influenced by Plato and his dialogues (as was Boethius himself).
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Nature is a short essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson published anonymously in 1836. It is in this essay that the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. Recent advances in zoology, botany, and geology confirmed Emerson's intuitions about the intricate relationships of Nature at large. The publication of Nature is usually taken to be the watershed moment at which transcendentalism became a major cultural movement.
Henry David Thoreau had read "Nature" as a senior at Harvard College and took it to heart. It eventually became an essential influence for Thoreau's later writings, including his seminal Walden. (Summary excerpted from Wikipedia by Neeru Iyer)
In one of Plato's more accessible works, Apollodorus tells a friend about a drinking party (or symposium) attended by many of intellectuals of late 5th century Athens. The men are one their second night of celebration for Agathon's victory at the city Dionysia, and decide that instead of drinking, they should give speeches in praise of love.
Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she argued that women are not naturally inferior to men, but only appeared to be because they lacked education. She suggested that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagined a social order founded on reason. - Today, Wollstonecraft is considered a foundational thinker in feminist philosophy. Her early advocacy of women's equality and her attacks on conventional femininity and the degradation of women presaged the later emergence of the feminist political movement. Feminist scholars and activists have cited both her philosophical ideas and personal struggles as important influences in their work.
This is one of the 12 Books That Changed the World by Melvyn Bragg.
This book deals mainly with some aspects of what may be termed the psychical life of the inhabitants of the Madras Presidency, and the Native States of Travancore and Cochin.
In Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, philosopher David Hume examines whether belief in God can be rational. The work takes the form of a debate between three characters: Cleanthes, who argues that the existence and nature of God can be empirically verified; Demea, who argues that God is completely beyond human knowledge; and Philo, a philosophical skeptic widely thought to represent Hume's own beliefs. Much of the debate centers around Cleanthes' presentation of the analogical argument from design. According to this argument, the complexity and beauty of the universe can only be explained by inferring an intelligent designer, in the same way that one would infer a designer if one came across an intricately complicated machine. Philo presents several objections to this argument, with rejoinders by Cleanthes and occasional interjections by Demea.
The Book of Tea was written by Okakura Kakuzo in the early 20th century. It was first published in 1906, and has since been republished many times. - In the book, Kakuzo introduces the term Teaism and how Tea has affected nearly every aspect of Japanese culture, thought, and life. The book is noted to be accessibile to Western audiences because though Kakuzo was born and raised Japanese, he was trained from a young age to speak English; and would speak it all his life, becoming proficient at communicating his thoughts in the Western Mind. In his book he elucidates such topics as Zen and Taoism, but also the secular aspects of Tea and Japanese life. The book emphasises how Teaism taught the Japanese many things; most importantly, simplicity. Kakuzo argues that this tea-induced simplicity affected art and architecture, and he was a long-time student of the visual arts. He ends the book with a chapter on Tea Masters, and spends some time talking about Sen no Rikyu and his contribution to the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Essays: First Series is a series of 12 essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson concerning transcendentalism, including Self-Reliance. It was published in 1841.
A primer for those interested in the basic philosophy, beliefs and secrets of the Rosicrucians.
Aristotle’s Poetics from the 4th century B.C. aims to give a short study of storytelling. It discusses things like unity of plot, reversal of situation, and character in the context of Greek tragedy, comedy and epic poetry. But it still applies today. It is especially popular with screenwriters as seen in many script gurus’ how-to books.
Jordan, William George
Change your life by changing your thoughts. The Majesty of Calmness is your guide to attracting prosperity, manifesting opportunities, and managing stress—all while discovering the values most precious to you.
Wells, H. G.
Wells considered this book one of his most important, a natural follow-up to such works as his Man of the Year Million and The Time Machine. His goal was to get people to think and act in new ways. The book starts with a look at how humans get along socially and how they carry out their business ventures. It then discusses how these elements influence others, such as politics, the world of work, and education. H. G. tried to make clear how the current social order was disintegrating without preparing another to take its place. He then traced the roots of democracy, which in its present state he saw as unworkable. Instead, he proposed a new republic. He also critiqued modern warfare.
The Way of Peace is your guide to the power of meditation; self and truth; the acquirement of spiritual power; the realization of selfless love; entering into the infinite; saints, sages, and saviors; the law of service; and the realization of perfect peace.
“This book is a prolonged effort to establish a distinction between what is called mind and what is called matter. Nothing is more simple than to realise this distinction when you do not go deeply into it; nothing is more difficult when you analyse it a little. At first sight, it seems impossible to confuse things so far apart as a thought and a block of stone; but on reflection this great contrast vanishes, and other differences have to be sought which are less apparent and of which one has not hitherto dreamed.” (from The Mind and the Brain)
As Russia goes to war against Japan, Tolstoy urges those at all levels of society, from the Tsar down to the common soldier, to consider their actions in the light of Christ's teaching. "However strange this may appear, the most effective and certain deliverance of men from all the calamities which they inflict upon themselves and from the most dreadful of all—war—is attainable, not by any external general measures, but merely by that simple appeal to the consciousness of each separate man which, nineteen hundred years ago, was proposed by Jesus—that every man bethink himself, and ask himself, who is he, why he lives, and what he should and should not do."
Thomas Troward was a divisional Judge in British-administered India. His avocation was the study of comparative religion. Influences on his thinking, as well as his later writing, included the teachings of Christ, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. After his retirement from the judiciary in 1896, Troward set out to apply logic and a judicial weighing of evidence in the study of matters of cause and effect.
The philosopher William James characterized Troward’s Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science as "far and away the ablest statement of philosophy I have met, beautiful in its sustained clearness of thought and style, a really classic statement."
According to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) archivist Nell Wing, early AA members were strongly encouraged to read Thomas Troward's Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science. In the opening of the 2006 film The Secret , introductory remarks credit Troward's philosophy with inspiring the movie and its production.
Faith and reason, love and virtue, morality and mortality! In these two short volumes the famous novelist, essayist, and playwright, Upton Sinclair, confided his most prized worldly wisdom for generations to come. His kind and witty personal advice both provokes and enlightens page by page.
Bennett asks us to consider our brains as the most wonderful machine, a machine which is the only thing in this world that we can control. As he writes: "I am simply bent on calling your attention to a fact which has perhaps wholly or partially escaped you -- namely, that you are the most fascinating bit of machinery that ever was."
As ever, his prose is honeyed, his thoughts inspired, and his advice as relevant today as when it was written.
Before the beginning of World War II, during the time of the Modernist movement in philosophy, George Santayana wrote these five descriptive essays. He examined John Locke’s sensationalism, British Idealism, the “Theory of Relativity”, Freud’s psychology, and Julien Benda’s preachment on the relations between God and the world.
Robert G. Ingersoll
Col. Ingersoll explains the conflict he sees between the natural vs. the supernatural on a variety of philosophical topics; secular vs. theologically rooted government; a loving vs. a vengeful God; scientific vs. theological approach to curing diseases; the source of religion as divinely inspired or naturally produced; two theories of morals; reason vs. dogma; living for man vs. living for God; living for this life vs. the hereafter; and other dichotomies. Other lectures in Volume 3 of the 12 volume Dresden Edition), are presented on Librivox as separate audiobooks in the series called Ingersoll Lectures, Famous People. This one is included because it was presented in the same Volume. ( Michele Fry)
Marius the Epicurean is a philosophical novel written by Walter Pater, published in 1885. In it Pater displays, with fullness and elaboration, his ideal of the aesthetic life, his cult of beauty as opposed to bare asceticism, and his theory of the stimulating effect of the pursuit of beauty as an ideal of its own. The principles of what would be known as the Aesthetic movement were partly traceable to this book; and its impact was particularly felt on one of the movement's leading proponents, Oscar Wilde, a former student of Pater at Oxford.
“Who can help laughing when an ordinary journalist seriously proposes to limit the subject-matter at the disposal of the artist?”
“We are dominated by journalism.... Journalism governs for ever and ever.”[/i]
One of the nastiest of the British tabloids was founded a year too late to join in the moral panic generated to accompany Oscar Wilde’s court appearances in 1895. Yet there was no shortage of hypocritical journalists posing as moral arbiters to the nation, then as now.
This compendium work - skilfully assembled by the editor, Stuart Mason - ends with transcript of Wilde’s first appearance in the Old Bailey, when he was cross-examined on the alleged immorality of his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. The disastrous outcome of these trials provides an ironic conclusion to the earlier knockabout exchanges between Oscar and his reviewers. In these he is at his flamboyant best, revelling in the publicity he pretends to disdain. His brave performances in the dock did nothing, however, to save him from hard labour, the treadmill and complete physical and moral breakdown which the law found it necessary to inflict on him.
In contrast to the hacks and lawyers, two refreshingly open-minded Americans write perceptively about the novel, as does Walter Pater, the grand old man of Aestheticism.
This solo Librivox project complements a new dramatised reading of The Picture of Dorian Gray, currently in preparation, featuring the present reader as Narrator.
M. M. Mangasarian
The following work offers in book form the series of studies on the question of the historicity of Jesus, presented from time to time before the Independent Religious Society in Orchestra Hall, Chicago, 1909. No effort has been made to change the manner of the spoken, into the more regular form of the written, word.
Gordon, S. D
So far as I can find out, I have no theory about Jesus to make these talks fit into. I have tried to find out for myself what the old Book of God tells about Him. And here I am trying to tell to others, as simply as I can, what I found. It was by the tedious, twisting path of doubt that I climbed the hill of truth up to some of its summits of certainty. I am free to confess that I am ignorant of the subject treated here save for the statements of that Book, and for the assent within my own spirit to these statements, which has greatly deepened the impression they made, and make. There is no question raised here about that Book itself, but simply a taking and grouping up together of what it says.
Starrett, Helen Ekin
Helen Ekin Starrett, journalist, mother of two daughters, grandmother of seven granddaughters and teacher to many young girls at the Starrett School for Girls offers lessons in life and religion to girls about to "pass out from the guardianship of home into life with its duties and trials".
David Starr Jordan
The words in this essay on positive thought sing like those in Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." The author praises joyous living and recommends certain routes to its attainment. He explores schooling (public secondary and the university), travel, and the study of nature as ways to stay buoyant during life's trials. He also praises the power of the arts (literature, music, painting, sculpture) to keep spirits soaring.
The Three Initiates
The Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy is a 1908 book claiming to be the essence of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, published anonymously by a group or person under the pseudonym of "the Three Initiates".
Arthur Schopenhauer, an early 19th century philosopher, made significant contributions to metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. His work also informed theories of evolution and psychology, largely through his theory of the will to power – a concept which Nietzsche famously adopted and developed. Despite this, he is today, as he was during his life, overshadowed by his contemporary, Hegel. Schopenhauer's social/psychological views, put forth in this work and in others, are directly derived from his metaphysics, which was strongly influenced by Eastern thought. His pessimism forms an interesting and perhaps questionable contrast with his obvious joy in self-expression, both in the elegance of his prose and in his practice of playing the flute nightly.
His brilliance, poetry, and crushing pessimism can be seen immediately in this work, as for example in this claim from the first chapter: "The pleasure in this world, it has been said, outweighs the pain; or, at any rate, there is an even balance between the two. If the reader wishes to see shortly whether this statement is true, let him compare the respective feelings of two animals, one of which is engaged in eating the other." We see also, in this work, his misogyny, as for example in his claim that "as lions are provided with claws and teeth, and elephants and boars with tusks, . . . so Nature has equipped woman, for her defence and protection, with the arts of dissimulation; and all the power which Nature has conferred upon man in the shape of physical strength and reason, has been bestowed upon women in this form." Given his opening comment, the translator, T.B. Saunders, seems to have been at least somewhat sympathetic to this perspective.
The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison with the second (Malthus).
Whitehead, Alfred North
In The Concept of Nature, Alfred North Whitehead discusses the interrelatedness of time, space, and human perception.
The idea of objects as 'occasions of experience', arguments against body-mind duality and the search for an all-encompassing 'philosophy of nature' are examined, with specific reference to contemporary (Einstein, with whose theory of relativity he has some complaints) and ancient (Plato, Aristotle) approaches.
Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali poet, philosopher, visual artist, playwright, composer, and novelist whose work reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He became Asia’s first Nobel laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Sadhana is a collection of essays, most of which he gave before the Harvard University, describing Indian beliefs, philosophy and culture from different viewpoints, often making comparison with Western thought and culture.
A collection of essays on the Hindu/Buddhist view of humankind's place in the universe. As the author says in his introduction: "in these papers, it may be hoped, western readers will have an opportunity of coming into touch with the ancient spirit of India as revealed in our sacred texts and manifested in the life of to-day."
Most of the essays were given as lectures before Harvard University in 1916 or before.
John Charlton Hardwick
This history of Western philosophy, published in 1920, explores how people have explained the natural world during the last few centuries, whether by spiritual interpretation or through advances in science. From the Preface: "The chapters which follow are not intended as even a slight sketch of the history of Thought since the Renaissance. Their object is more modest, i.e. to illustrate the thesis that mankind, being 'incurably religious,' insists (however hopeless the enterprise may sometimes seem) upon interpreting the universe spiritually."
Schopenhauer used the word "will" as a human's most familiar designation for the concept that can also be signified by other words such as "desire," "striving," "wanting," "effort," and "urging." Schopenhauer's philosophy holds that all nature, including man, is the expression of an insatiable will to life. It is through the will that mankind finds all their suffering. Desire for more is what causes this suffering. He used the word representation (Vorstellung) to signify the mental idea or image of any object that is experienced as being external to the mind. It is sometimes translated as idea or presentation. This concept includes the representation of the observing subject's own body. Schopenhauer called the subject's own body the immediate object because it is in the closest proximity to the mind, which is located in the brain.
In this work, Schopenhauer explains his fundamental idea that at the root of the reality we see around us is a Will that eternally, insatiably seeks to be satisfied. Each human Subject observes the Objects around her from the perspective of that fundamental Will working within each person. The human observer is distracted by the details of life and individual distinctions that obscure this Will; only by penetrating this “principium individuationis” (which is enslaved by the cause-and-effect tyranny of the Principle of Sufficient Reason) can the observer perceive the essential Thing-In-Itself. Art has the power to make us see the Thing-In-Itself, the Platonic Idea freed from the individual particular manifestation of it, thus enabling us to transcend the individual Will and perceive something of true Reality. Perceiving the common Will in all humanity, we are able to come closer to an ego-less love based on that shared essence. Schopenhauer squarely faces the fact that existence is fundamentally suffering, but it would be simplistic to label him (as is so often done) as nothing but a pessimist. His affirmation of Art and Love is a transforming principle, having a powerful influence on writers such as Tolstoy. In the end, he chooses the Way of Negation as the path toward peace; by denying our Will, by silencing the many outbreaks of Will in our lives, we can approach the ultimate peace of annihilation that is the theme of the great Vedic philosophy of India, to which Schopenhauer admits his profound debt. ( summary by Expatriate)
The Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a shortened and simplified version of Hume's masterpiece A Treatise of Human Nature. It sought to reach a wider audience, and to dispel some of the virulent criticism addressed toward the former book. In it, Hume explains his theory of epistemology, and argues against other current theories, including those of John Locke, George Berkeley, and Nicolas Malebranche.
John Locke's essays on human understanding answers the question “What gives rise to ideas in our minds?”. In the first book Locke refutes the notion of innate ideas and argues against a number of propositions that rationalists offer as universally accepted truth. In the second book Locke elaborates the role played by sensation, reflection, perception and retention in giving rise to simple ideas. Then he elaborates on how different modes, substances and relations of simple ideas (of the same kind) give rise to complex ideas v.g. space, time, infinity etc. Finally he discusses complex ideas of mixed modes which arise from a combination of simple ideas of different kinds v.g. identity and diversity, cause and effect, etc.