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Gabe Gottlieb

Great question. Here are two biographies and one autobiography I read last summer: Hegel, by Terry Pinkard (not only an excellent overview of Hegel's thought and life, but a overview of the history and politics of the era, especially as relevant to his thought and life); Isaiah Berlin: A Life, Michael Ignatieff (Picked this up at a used bookstore on a whim, and was really surprised by how well written it is and especially how interesting Berlin's life was); Mill's autobiography is a must read. Rudiger Safranski's biographies on Heidegger and Nietzsche are fun, too.

Markku Roinila

I love reading 'em. I would recommend Leibniz. An Intellectual Biography by Maria Rosa Antognazza, Descartes. A Biography by Stephen Gaukroger and Spinoz's biography by Steven Nadler. Also, Russell's autobiography is fun in parts and the biography of Wittgenstein by Ray Monk is good. Personally, I plan to read Mossner's biography of Hume this summer.


Augustine's Confessions
Rousseau's Confessions
Cavell's A Pitch of Philosophy

A.N. Wilson's Iris Murdoch as I Knew Her
Manfred Kuehn's Kant: A Biography
Desmond Clarke's Descartes: A Biography
Doxiadis and Papadimitriou's Logicomix (primarily about Russell)


This might not be what you had in mind, but I have recently discovered and thoroughly enjoyed Diogenes Laeartius' "Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers." Some of the stabs at poetry are lackluster, and you have to take things with a grain of salt, and of course it is not modern biographical writing. But all that said, it is also a pretty terrific read.

Chike Jeffers

I second Mill's autobiography.


Diogenes Laertius is great (though you might want to find an annotated edition, as the scholarly consensus is that some parts are more reliable than others).

I enjoyed The Courtier and the Heretic by Matthew Stewart (about Leibniz and Spinoza). There's also a lot of good stuff in David Berman's George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man.

Adam Edwards

Right now I'm reading *Four Reasonable Men* by Brand Blanshard. The book focuses on Marcus Aurelius, J. S. Mill, Ernest Renan, and Henry Sidgwick. It's part biography and part speculation on a common trait that unites them. It's been thoroughly enjoyable so far and the biographies do a great job of situating the philosophical work of each of them in context.


@Adam Edwards: Brand Blanshard is great. I highly recommend his slim volume *On Philosophical Style* It's one of very few books I've ever seen on style in philosophical writing. It's interesting and informative and you could get through the whole thing in an afternoon or two. Definitely worth a read.

Matt DeStefano

Thank you all for the great suggestions! I'm looking forward to picking up a few of these.

Jenny S

I went to see the Hannah Arendt film yesterday, and thought I would add it to this thread in case any Cocooners are interested.


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