Update to the Free Man’s Reading List

Based on recommendations I have added a section to the Free Man’s Reading List on moral philosophy. While creating the list, I ended up starting, then removing a section on moral philosophy a number of times. In the end I decided not to keep it. I was hesitant to add moral philosophy to the list, as the purpose was to help a free man build himself, not to dictate a man’s values or life philosophy to him. I was worried adding moral philosophy would conflate being a good man and being good at being a man,to paraphrase Jack Donovan.

Upon reconsideration, Chevalier de Johnstone convinced me. I realize that no free man can be complete without some moral purpose. So, here’s a list that hopefully will allow for free men a broad sampling of moral philosophies.

The Bible – Is already in the list, now it has a proper home.

Marcus Aurelius – Meditations is a classic of stoic philosophy.

Plato – The Republic is a classic book on justice and the cardinal virtues.

Aristotle – Nicomachean Ethics is the classic books on virtue ethics (my preferred type of ethics/morality; I will probably write more on virtue ethics at a later time). Read it with Acquinas’ commentary.

Thomas Acquinas – Summa Theologica is the classic on Christian theology and morality.

Adam Smith – Moral Sentiments creates a moral foundation for capitalist action.

GK Chesteron – Everlasting Man is a Christian apologetics books.

CS Lewis –  Mere Christianity is another Christian apologetics book. Along with Chesterton, is among the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century.

Friedrich Nietzsche – On the Genealogy of Morality and the Antichrist present an anti-Christian moral framework.

Alasdair MacIntyre – After Virtue is a modern book arguing for the revival of virtue ethics.

John Stuart Mill – Utilitarianism is a defence of utilitarian ethics.

Immanuel Kant – Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals introduces the categorical imperative as opposed to deontology, virtue, or utilitarian ethics.

Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching is fundamental to much of oriental philosophy and religion.

Confuscious – Analects is another fundamental book in oriental philsophy.

I also added some other works elsewhere:

Mortimor Adler – How to Read a Book

GK Chesteron – What’s Wrong with the World

Ron Paul – Liberty Defined

Nassim Talib’s 3 books are added.

Ronald Reagan – Time for Choosing (Speech)

Here are some other notes based on reader responses:

The list is heavily libertarian and firmly planted in the English liberal (classical liberal, not the modern welfare state liberalism) tradition. The list is designed to help men make themselves free in the English tradition of freedom. This is not a reading list for re-establishing traditional culture, for building a reactionary society, or any other such end. It is a list to help a man learn what makes him free, how to think like a free man, and how to be a free man within the English liberal tradition. (I might further discuss freedom within the English liberal tradition and other concepts of liberty at a later time). The inclusion of other reactionary or conservative material would be outside the scope of the list.

Outside of violence and social skills, I tried to avoid adding books on learning specific skills out of the list. Again, the purpose is to let a free man to develop himself so he can be free, not to dictate what a free man should do and learn with his freedom. Outside a few very general, all-purpose skills (such as rational thought, leadership, and ability to react in a crisis), a free man should be able to figure out what specific skills (such as hunting or plumbing) he needs for his life. I will continue to leave what skills to develop out of the list at this time, but reserve the right to add one or two books outlining the general skills “every man should know” in the future should I come across them.

While I have been reading on the Dark Enlightenment, as people have taken to calling it, I did not include information on the DE for two reasons:
1) They did not fit the purpose of the list; while learning uncomfortable truths about forgotten and newly (re-)discovered realities is important, they are not necessary to being a free man.
2) The DE is primarily an internet phenomenon at this time, there is no standard canon for it, and few books, so making a reading guide is not quite so simple. You could point to some books on genetics, evolutionary psychology, the bell curve, etc. and then point people towards Moldbug, Sailer, La Griffe du Lion, et al., but that would require compiling a lot of blog posts.
I think it would be good to make such a reading list, but if I do, it will be in the future.

I considered adding some game resources, in particular Day Bang, but mostly decided against it, Athol’s book being the exception. This was again for two reasons:
1) The narrowness of game. Game literature, particularly the books, are generally aimed at a PUA life-style. While free men may choose to follow this lifestyle, the PUA lifestyle is one of narrow appeal, while this list was meant for all men wanting to be free. Athol’s book was included because it was as much a men’s self-improvement book as it was a game book, and the usefulness of it was much broader. Between MMSL and Greene’s Art of Seduction, I believe the topic of romantic success is covered.
2) Is much the same as #2 for the DE. Most of the “canon” is on the internet and it would require some work compiling the must-read blog posts.
3) Game, outside of the generalizable skills outlined in MMSL and Seduction, is a specific skill set (faking socio-sexual desirability) created for a specific goal (attracting women). I think it would fall into the category of specific skills I was trying to avoid loading the list with.
Same as with the DE, I think a game reading list would be good, but if I make one, it will be in the future.

A reading list has to be manageable. Even before adding the moral philosophy section it was already over 60 books. That’s over a whole year’s worth of reading if you read a book a week (and a lot of these books are heavy material). I want to avoid overloading the list as much as possible to make it possible to actually accomplish. That means a lot of good books will not be on the list. For example, however much I liked O’Rourke’s Eat the Rich (or any of his books/articles, he’s a great author/humourist/commentator), it is not an essential read. In addition, books that will more or less argue what is already contained in other books will not be added further.

6 responses to “Update to the Free Man’s Reading List

  • cogitansiuvenis

    Meditations is a favorite of man. There may have been no more worthy man to wear the purple than the reluctant emperor Marcus Arelius

  • Tim

    A History of Knowledge: http://www.amazon.com/History-Knowledge-Past-Present-Future/dp/0345373162/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1358684071&sr=8-2&keywords=a+brief+history+of+knowledge

    I wonder if you should include Mein Kampf, Das Kapital, and Mao’s little red book. If we’re going to read liberty oriented books, then it would be a mistake not to become familiar with the opposite, or the enemy.

  • Tim

    Oh, and read f’cking Musashi.


    or Taiko if you think more like me, than the average person.


    Even if they don’t make your list, I’d rather re-read one of them than Atlas Shrugged or the Fountainhead, or We the Living, or Anthem. These two books are as good as I’ve ever read, and they contain many of the same themes as do the books on your list.

  • Chevalier de Johnstone

    Well I think the additions make sense, of course. The whole list, and the purpose behind it, can be of great value to us as individuals and as the core of a new manhood in society.

    In fact, I think I will start reading these, some of them for the 2nd or 3rd time, and I’m almost tempted to start a blog to discuss my thoughts and findings. First I thought I would ask if Free Northerner or someone else already blogging in this online community wants to take on that project. I’ve said elsewhere that while I support localized small businesses for socioeconomic purposes, for other things defeat in detail is a real problem. I think being a constructive commenter on an established blog like this one, or joining one of the multi-blogger platforms, can be more effective than founding yet another esoteric blog likely doomed to low readership. We benefit by being involved members of the community, not by going off on our own. There is a benefit to such introspective writing, but that benefit doesn’t necessarily translate to the community.

    That said, it’s such an important list that I think we ought to consider devoting some significant mental resources to reading and discussing it, and if such a discussion needs a new home, so be it. I would go so far as to say we ought to kindly tell members of the female species that they are not welcome in such a discussion, as this is the “free man’s reading list”; perhaps some or all of these texts belong on a “free woman’s reading list” as well, but that’s not, I think, the point of this exercise. Though of course it’s not possible to discriminate in such a way in an online format, specifically feminine views ought to be politely discouraged.

    Does FN or anyone else have thoughts on in what order these books should be read? I was thinking either in chronological or reverse chronological order, though I don’t have any particularly good reason for choosing such a reading order. I would suggest saving the non-Western viewpoints for last or at least until later in the list, as I don’t think it’s really possible to appreciate the wisdom of another culture until you have at least a foundation in that of your own culture. Also, as a pseudo-cafeteria-Catholic, I for one would probably not include the Bible in such a review/discussion. While I agree that the Bible belongs on this list, there are already plenty of places to discuss the Bible. I realize this is a personal opinion and I don’t think it at all heinous if others want to start a secularly-minded Bible discussion; I’m just not interested.

  • Chevalier de Johnstone

    @ Tim,

    I suggested something similar, and I agree that an understanding of “the other side” is necessary. However, I think I can agree with what FN discusses above on this subject. If I can summarize, I think he is saying that the purpose of this list is to create, or provide the intellectual tools for, free-thinking men in an Anglo-Saxon definition of “free-thinking”. If you’re at the point of reading Das Kapital not because you think “socialism yay!” but because you think it’s important to read and understand the mind of the enemy and you recognize that chunks of wisdom can be found in even the most unlikely places, then while this reading list will almost certainly benefit you, you’ve probably already taken some steps on the road to becoming a free-thinking man. This list is, as I understand it, designed to produce the type of man who will go off on his own and read Mein Kampf or Das Kapital, as well as explore some the Dark Enlightenment classics. This is Free-Thinking Man 101; those are upper-level courses. Reading Das Kapital without first having a grounding in this list is a mistake; that’s how you get holodomor, etc.

  • Free Man’s Reading List Project « Free Northerner

    […] Chevalier de Johnstone asks about what will happen with the Free Man’s Reading List in the community. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: