Blending intellectual speculation with anecdote and personal reflection, the Renaissance thinker and writer Montaigne pioneered the modern essay. This selection contains his idiosyncratic writings on subjects as varied as the virtues of solitude, the power of the imagination, the pleasures of reading, and the importance of sleep.
Traditionally, suicide was thought to be a matter of purely individual despair, but Durkheim recognized that the phenomenon had a social dimension. He believed that if anything can explain how individuals relate to society, then it is suicide. This work was the result of his research.
Perhaps the clearest and most influential statement of the principles driving the early Protestant reformers, Martin Luther's On the Freedom of a Christian (1520) challenged the teachings and authority of the old Church while simultaneously laying out the blueprint for a new one.
William Hazlitt's tough combative writings on subjects ranging from slavery to the imagination, boxing matches to the monarchy, established him as one of the greatest radicals of his age and have insspired journalists and political satirists ever since.
Schopenhauer's perception of the importance of art, morality and self awareness in a blind struggle against a Godless, meaningless world radically transformed our understanding of the individual and remains a searing vision of the human condition.