copyright Robert M. Ellis 2010

Recommended books

The sad truth, in my experience, is that there are no published books out there which give a completely satisfactory account of the Middle Way. I have never yet had the experience of reading a book and thinking "This person has completely hit the nail on the head." Books are never like that. Probably other people's experience of my own books is similar. So, there are no books at all that I completely and unreservedly recommend. Nevertheless, there are a huge number of books which can be more or less informative and inspiring, once you separate the useful bits from the metaphysical assumptions. Some books have also helped me piece together an understanding of the Middle Way by providing some crucial insight, and for that I am grateful. It is primarily those kinds of books I have recommended below.

The following list is extremely selective. All of the works on it I recommend only for critical reading, not as being the source of all wisdom. For a fuller list of all the books I consulted when writing my thesis, see the thesis bibliography

For reviews of recent books related to the Middle Way see here.


Western philosophy: classics

Engaging critically with any of the classics of Western philosophy can be a useful experience. However, if I had to get it down to a shortlist of 4 I would pick these. All of them, by the standards of philosophical classics, are also relatively readable.

Aristotle (Nicomachean) Ethics (Penguin, or other translation)

David Hume An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Oxford)

John Stuart Mill On Liberty (various editions)

Friedrich Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin, or other translation)


Western philosophy: modern writers (post-1900)

Alasdair MacIntyre After Virtue (Duckworth)

Thomas Nagel The View from Nowhere (Oxford)

Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago)

Imre Lakatos "Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes" from Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (Cambridge)

George Lakoff Women, Fire and Dangerous Things (University of Chicago Press)

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson Philosophy in the Flesh (Basic Books)

Kathryn Schulz Being Wrong (Portobello Books) - see review



David Kalupahana Ethics in Early Buddhism (Hawaii)

Sangharakshita The Ten Pillars of Buddhism (Windhorse)

Sangharakshita A Guide to the Buddhist Path (Windhorse)

Sangharakshita Forty-Three Years Ago (Windhorse)

Stephen Batchelor Buddhism without Beliefs (Bloomsbury)


Christianity and post-Christianity

Richard Holloway Doubts and Loves (Canongate)

Don Cupitt - any of his books, which tend to repeat the same message, e.g. Taking Leave of God (SCM) 

Sam Harris The End of Faith (Free Press)


Psychology/ The Brain

Carl Jung "On Psychic Energy" from The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Routledge) - plus almost anything else by Jung

Iain McGilchrist The Master and his Emissary (Yale University Press) - see review