Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Baker’s Dozen of Influential Thinkers for Me

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution recently posted a list of his top 10 most influential books, and his site pointed the way to others who compiled such lists. I gave the matter some brief thought, but I found the project too intimidating. Only 10 books? I can't limit myself that that low a number for a year-end list, let alone a lifetime. However, perhaps more to the point, I tend to think in terms of authors and not single works (although there can be one hit wonders). Therefore, I decided upon a baker's dozen of thinkers whom I have found that have most affected my thinking, beliefs, and that have served in some way to inspire me. In a later post, I think I'll do a list of "classics", and then a list of Modern (since 1800) literature. For inclusion on this list, the person must have been alive during my lifetime, essentially, the 2nd half of the 20th century. I have read a number of works by each of the authors, so it's not a single work that I can easily point to. For each person, I'm considering a body of work that has had, and in some ways continues to have, an effect on my thinking and outlook. I will just name the list today (and honorable mentions), and I will try to comment on each member in later posts. In addition, I am attempting to compile the list (but not the honorable mentions) in roughly the order that I recall that I "discovered" each of them. Here goes:

  1. Hannah Arendt
  2. Garry Wills
  3. Alan Watts
  4. Robert Solomon
  5. Ken Wilber
  6. Reinhold Neibuhr
  7. John Patrick Diggins
  8. Northrup Frye
  9. Jon Elster
  10. Colin Wilson
  11. John Lukacs
  12. Pierre Hadot
  13. Nassim Taleb

Receiving honorable mentions in no particular order at all except in the order that they popped into mind:

  1. Jacob Needleman
  2. Phillip Bobbitt
  3. Neil Fergusson
  4. James Hillman
  5. Robert Anton Wilson
  6. Buddhist writers (have to work on this, as a number could pop into mind)
  7. Martha Nussbaum
  8. Robert Kaplan
  9. Charles Hartshorne
  10. William Irwin Thompson
  11. Gerry Spence

Enough for now. Food for thought.