Great Thinkers

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In the midst of multiple crises, these six crucial works of philosophy invite us to reexamine our world inside and out. Simone Weil’s On the Abolition of All Political Parties is a brief and trenchant critique of antagonistic partisanship that resonates ever more forcefully today. This volume includes an illuminating essay on Weil by the poet Czeslaw Milosz, as well as a study of Weil’s friendship with Albert Camus by the translator Simon Leys. Charisma and Disenchantment offers a new translation of Max Weber’s famed vocation lectures, which analyze the meaning of academic and political work in the modern age as well as the nature of political charisma. His assessments remain shockingly relevant over a hundred years later.

Edited and with an introduction by W. H. Auden, The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard is a vital introduction to one of the greatest thinkers of the nineteenth century. These collected writings interrogate authenticity, subjectivity, and the Christian faith. We Have Only This Life to Live, a selection of essays by Jean-Paul Sartre, takes up everything from Kierkegaard, Bataille, and Fanon to jazz, Faulkner, and the culture of New York City. Spanning nearly four decades, it’s a uniquely expansive look at the staggeringly gifted existentialist. 

Consciousness, free will, and the construct of the self take center stage in Galen Strawson’s Things That Bother Me. With his refreshing clarity and wit, there’s little wonder he’s found admirers in Ian McEwan and Stephen Fry. And in On Being Blue, the postmodernist William H. Gass assesses the titular hue in all of its iterations and associations—sexual, emotional, intellectual. It is a book, writes the New Republic, that “no person who loves writing and the sound writing makes should be without.”