Books on Evolution and Philosophy

Here are books that I found to be interesting, provocative, insightful, or otherwise worthwhile in helping me develop my views. Where possible, a link is provided so you can quickly purchase a book at a substantial discount from the publisher's retail price. Though purchases through these links are supposed to earn commissions to help support this website, I hope you'll agree that providing them is better than simply offering a recommendation without such an opportunity!


Darwin's Dangerous Idea
by: Dennett, Daniel
Quality Paperback
This was probably the most helpful resource for supporting the radical positions I take. In addition, it is an extremely well presented view of selective processes -- what they are, how they work, and what they mean to us.

Kinds of Minds; Toward an Understanding of Consciousness
by: Dennett, Daniel
Quality Paperback
Very good treatment of the notion that minds come in differing degrees of complexity -- some we might not at first realize are minds -- and of what that means for us and our understanding of consciousness.

by: Dawkins, Richard
Quality Paperback
This has been called the best book ever written. Theoretically precise, yet understandable and very entertaining for the layman, it's probably the best single introduction to evolutionary theory available.

The Third Chimpanzee; The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal
by: Diamond, Jared
Quality Paperback
Very nicely done, this book examines a very good question: Given our close genetic kinship to the two species of chimpanzee, is there any good reason to put us in a separate genus?

Consilience; The Unity of Knowledge
by: Wilson, Edward O.
Quality Paperback
An enormous intellectual adventure, this groundbreaking new book showcases Wilson's argument for what he calls consilience--the proof that everything in our world is organized by a small number of fundamental natural laws that comprise the principles governing every branch of learning.

Good Natured
by: de Waal, Frans
Quality Paperback
Here's one of the top researchers into primate behavior, offering a look into the surprisingly moral lives of baboons and chimpanzees. A peek into a distorted mirror....

The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus
The Freedom Store
by: Sober, Elliott
Quality Paperback
This is probably the most rigorous philosophical treatment of evolutionary theory available. Truly remarkable -- and challenging; not a light read for casual entertainment!

Nature's Mind: The Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality, Language, and Intelligence
The Freedom Store
by: Gazzaniga, Michael S.
Quality Paperback
Perhaps the most famous living researcher in neuropsychology, Gazzaniga offers a provocative insight into the selection processes of the brain. Sadly, the book is apparently out of print -- but this link may still be able to find you a copy.

On Human Nature
by: Wilson, Edward O.
Quality Paperback
This book deservedly won a Pulitzer Prize. It explains Wilson's new science of sociobiology with intelligence, charm, and compassion. It is HUGELY controversial ... but right on target, I think.

A History of the Mind: Evolution and the Birth of Consciousness
The Freedom Store
by: Humphrey, Nicholas
Quality Paperback
Here's a wonderful examination of the nature of consciousness, with the bonus of a very original theory of the author's own. Very helpful in fine-tuning one's own theories on the subject!

Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
The Freedom Store
by: Churchland, Paul M.
Quality Paperback
This is a very good overview of theories about the mind and how it works. It's a standard (though slim) college text. Churchland's view, called 'eliminativism', is on the cutting edge.

Neurophilosophy: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
The Freedom Store
by: Churchland, Patricia Smith
Quality Paperback
This was a very early influence for me -- it came out just as I was beginning my study into the evolutionary origins of the mind. This book is truly a tour-de-force.

The Biological Roots of Human Nature: Forging Links between Evolution and Behavior
The Freedom Store
by: Goldsmith, Timothy
Quality Paperback
Here's a small, but VERY informative and concise book on cutting-edge evolutionary theory. Page for page, it's hard to beat for its clear presentation and wonderful examples.

Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind
The Freedom Store
by: Edelman, Gerald M.
Quality Paperback
This Nobel laureate offers a provocative theory of consciousness. Previously examined to considerable extent in his previous book, The Remembered Present, it is more than just food for thought.

The Anthropic Cosmological Principle
The Freedom Store
by: Barrow, John D., and Tipler, Frank J.
Quality Paperback
Though this is primarily a book on the fascinating topic of cosmology, it also contains one of the best synopses of evolutionary theory I've seen. A riveting read (even if you disagree, as I did, with the authors' conclusions)!

Please Understand Me
by: Keirsey, David, and Bates, Marilyn
Quality Paperback
Keirsey's theory of temperaments is a valuable extension of the Myers-Briggs type theory (which is based, in turn, on the work of Carl G. Jung). I like these theories because they mesh well with what we know about the modular functions of the brain. This book is probably the most useful "manual" you'll find for understanding how people tick.


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