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Paul Thagard's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Paul Thagard recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Paul Thagard's favorite book recommendations of all time.

The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer.

Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers--from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett--have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that it is only in modern times that the question has become problematic. But instead of...
Recommended by Paul Thagard, and 1 others.

Paul ThagardWhat’s valuable about his book is that he comes at it from a different perspective because he’s actually a professor of English. He’s talking about meaning in the context of literature. Which I think is very important, because I think the issue, the meaning of life, isn’t just a matter for philosophical discussion, though it certainly is that. But it’s also something about which people can learn... (Source)

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A passionate call for our colleges and universities to prepare young people for lives of fulfillment not just successful careers

The question of what living is for—of what one should care about and why—is the most important question a person can ask. Yet under the influence of the modern research ideal, our colleges and universities have expelled this question from their classrooms, judging it unfit for organized study. In this eloquent and carefully considered book, Tony Kronman explores why this has happened and calls for the restoration of life’s most important question...
Recommended by Paul Thagard, and 1 others.

Paul ThagardI like this book because it raises the question of why universities no longer spend much time addressing questions like the meaning of life. The author is a professor of law at Yale University and has been involved in educational planning there. He talks about the shift of the way that universities or colleges have viewed their educational function in the last 100-200 years. In both the United... (Source)

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A noted philosopher proposes a naturalistic (rather than supernaturalistic) way to solve the really hard problem: how to live in a meaningful way--how to live a life that really matters--even as a finite material being living in a material world.

If consciousness is the hard problem in mind science--explaining how the amazing private world of consciousness emerges from neuronal activity--then the really hard problem, writes Owen Flanagan in this provocative book, is explaining how meaning is possible in the material world. How can we make sense of the magic and mystery of...
Recommended by Paul Thagard, and 1 others.

Paul ThagardThis book is by Owen Flanagan who is one of the best people currently working in the philosophy of mind. He’s starting off with an idea from the philosophy of mind called the hard problem. The hard problem is the problem of figuring out how a physical system like the brain can have consciousness. And it certainly is a difficult problem. It’s one on which lots of progress is being made right now,... (Source)

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Since Descartes famously proclaimed, "I think, therefore I am," science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person’s true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended, until recently, to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of Descartes’ Error in 1995. Antonio Damasio—"one of the world’s leading neurologists" (The New York Times)—challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality. In this wondrously engaging book, Damasio takes the reader on a... more
Recommended by David Brooks, Paul Thagard, and 2 others.

David BrooksDamasio worked with people who have suffered strokes and as a result are incapable of feeling emotion. And far from making good decisions, they make terrible decisions, and their lives fall apart. (Source)

Paul ThagardThis book understood emotion in terms of what the brain does – not as a kind of abstract computational process but very much tied in with the particular brain processes. (Source)

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Learn how to achieve the happiness you deserve

"A guide to sustaining your newfound contentment."--Psychology Today

You see here a different kind of happiness book. The How of Happiness is a comprehensive guide to understanding the elemetns of happiness based on years of groundbreaking scientific research. It is also a practical, empowering, and easy-to-follow workbook, incorporating happiness strategies, excercises in new ways of thinking, and quizzes for understanding our individuality, all in an effort to help us realize our innate potential for...
Recommended by Jonathan Haidt, Paul Thagard, and 2 others.

Jonathan HaidtSonja Lyubomirsky has done the best studies on how simple interventions, simple things you can do, on a daily or weekly basis, have measurable effects on your happiness. (Source)

Paul ThagardWhat makes Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book different is that it’s actually based on scientific research on what makes people happy. (Source)

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