The Favorite Books of Albert Einstein

According to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Albert Einstein, the following were important texts in Einstein’s life:

01. A Treatise of Human Nature, D. Hume

“Nothing is more usual and more natural for those, who pretend to discover anything new to the world in philosophy and the SCIENCES, than to insinuate the praises of their own systems, by decrying all those, which have been advanced before them.

And indeed were they content with lamenting that ignorance, which we still lie under in the most important questions, that can come before the tribunal of human reason, there are few, who have an acquaintance with the sciences, that would not readily agree with them.

‘Tis easy for one of judgment and learning, to perceive the weak foundation even of those systems, which have obtained the greatest credit, and have carried their pretensions highest to accurate and profound reasoning. PRINCIPLES taken upon trust, consequences lamely deduced from them, want of coherence in the parts, and of evidence in the whole, these are every where to be met with in the systems of the most eminent philosophers, and seem to have drawn disgrace upon philosophy itself.”

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02. The Analysis of Sensations, E. Mach

NATURE consists of the elements given by the senses. Primitive man first takes out of them certain complexes of these elements that present themselves with a certain stability and are most important to him. The first and oldest words are names for “things”. …

The sensations are no “symbols of things”. On the contrary the “thing” is a mental symbol for a sensation-complex of relative stability. Not the things, the bodies, but colours, sounds, pressures, times (what we usually call sensations) are the TRUE ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD.”

 

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03. ETHICS, B. de Spinoza

“The first element, which constitutes the actual being of the HUMAN MIND, is the idea of some particular thing actually existing.

The IDEA, which constitutes the actual being of the human mind, is not simple, but compounded of a great number of ideas.”

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04. Critique of Pure Reason, I. Kant

HUMAN REASON has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer.

THOUGHTS without content are empty, INTUITIONS without concepts are blind.”

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05. Popular Books on Natural Science, A. Bernstein

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06. Antigone, Sophocles

“Numberless are the WORLD’S WONDERS, but none more wonderful than man.

The IDEAL CONDITION would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct;but since we are all likely to go astray,the reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.”

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07. Don Quixote, M. de Cervantes

This book argues against the tendency to see spirituality as a form of self-improvement and that instead that liberation comes from the letting go of the self.

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