Sunday, October 24, 2004

Books that Changed My Life

If you're looking for something to read, be inspired or educated by, or just want to understand some of the thought behind my brand of libertarianism, here're a few of the most significant books that I've ever read.

Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School (Gene Callahan)
Just great, a very basic introduction to the Austrian school that nobody should go without reading. Entertaining as well as informative.

Culture of Fear (Barry Glassner)
While suffering from the same flaw it points out in the rest of American culture, the author rightly points out the misuse of fear in politics and social life.

The Future and its Enemies (Virginia Postrel)
One of David's favorites, I love the premise. The authoress draws a distinction between those that seek to control development (economic, cultural, and otherwise) and those that permit it and make it happen, those the author calls Dynamists. Dynamists drive the economy as well as all manner of change, and the future, like it or not, is in their hands - and that's OK!

Democracy: The God that Failed (Hans-Hermann Hoppe)
This book woke me up to the possibility of the absolute dispensibility of government.

The Evolution of Cooperation (Robert Axelrod)
Axelrod does a good job of demonstrating how cooperation can spontaneously arise from the interaction of self-interested agents. His later books are worth checking out after reading this one.

The Selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins)
Dawkins explains the nature of life, and why we shouldn't expect any help from our genetic heritage in the establishment of an altruistic social order.

The Philosophy of Aristotle (ASIN = 0451627830)
A stunning masterpiece, covering everything from logic and metaphysics to politics and ethics. Aristotle's philosophy continues to provide a practical foundation for the conduct of inquiry. Get it.

Suicide (Emile Durkheim)
Durkheim's exploration into the social phenomenon of suicide introduces some powerful concepts of social integration and control. Essentially functionalist, his paradigm can be used to explain and analyze many phenomena.

Law/Society (John Sutton)
This book made me very keenly aware of the lengths to which a special interest group will go to further their own security, power, wealth, etc. In this case, we're talking about the American Bar Association, but the AMA and other professional groups can be plugged into the analysis with equal applicability.

The McDonaldization of Society (George Ritzer)
A great introduction to the sociology of Max Weber with very specific applications in modern society and everyday life. Detailing the seemingly inexorable progression of rationality (i.e. attempts to control things) in institutions, this book will acclimate you with some of the most important trends to be aware of.

I hope this list finds you readers well, and that some of these selections enrich your lives as they have my own.

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