72 Philosophy Books Everyone Should Read

From Ancient Greece to Postmodernism.

Why am I here? How can I live a good life? What does it mean to have a mind and be a person? Since the days of antiquity, philosophers have puzzled over fundamental questions like these that sit at the very heart of our lived experience and interactions with the world. Solving these problems is not merely about increasing our knowledge of the world, to fill up academic textbooks and sit on library shelves, but to impart wisdom to aid us as we navigate through life's uncertainties and its profoundest mysteries.

November marks the anniversary of UNESCO's commitment to celebrate World Philosophy Day, an occasion to consider the impact of philosophy and big ideas around the world and across cultures. What's more, it's an opportunity to reflect on the intellectual challenges that are confronting humanity today, whether that be environmental damage, rising political tensions and a renewed nationalist fervour, or calculated attempts to undermine respect in truth. <

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Ilona Helm 28 July 2022

It's a good start, but of course it's just the beginning. At least you didn't talk about Ayn Rand, who is one of the worst fake philosophers whose ideas have been heard in places of power.

frederick gragg 10 June 2022

The education is necessary because through this you become an expert and get acknowledge about different important aspects. Education software will help children and elders to teach themselves reading, writing and arithmetic skills.Examstrust provides authentic IT Certification exams preparation material guaranteed to make you pass in the first attempt.

John Lewis 1 22 November 2021

nice list of books thx

Gordon Filworth 18 August 2021

Nice article!

Adam Park 4 August 2021

I feel more of a connection when dancing or listening to particular traditional songs or participating in festivals or reading an ancient script that is similar to today's language than when being in Athens. The monuments of Athens are the work of the most brilliant people of their time, not from the common people. Also, ancient greek philosophy is a very broad term. One could argue that we are connected due to the fact that Neoplatonism influenced the orthodox church. Be that as it may, we certainly do not know much about ancient Greek philosophy except from the names of the philosophers.

Something i always thought was fascinating about Ancient Athenes was that Alexander the Great knew Aristoteles who knew Plato who knew Socrates he was a good friend of Alcibiades who grew up in the same house as the great Pericles this Pericles had a grandpa who was famous before Persian Wars when tyrans still ruled over Athens.

You could easily make a few different routes from 520 bc and end up with Alexander in 330 bc.

And you can go even further from Alexander to Ptolemy to Cleopatra and you end up with Caesar.

Andres Peralta 22 July 2020

Great list! Thanksfor this. But there are some big names missing here: Marx, Heidegger, Habermas, just to mention a few. Also, no Latin American philosophy section (Mario Bunge, Enrique Dussel, etc.)

Doug Mann 21 November 2019

PS And where's Marx? The Manifesto? Capital? The 1844 Manuscripts? I do believe he had some influence on the world.

Doug Mann 21 November 2019

Though there are some of the greatest hits here, this is a weird list, tainted by social justice politics and analytic philosophy. You're missing the greatest work of the Enlightenment, Hume's Treatise. You're also missing several of the greatest works of political philosophy, namely Hobbes' Leviathan, Mill's On Liberty (shame on you here), and Rawls' A Theory of Justice. And where's Baudrillard on simulacra?

Oh well, at least you've got lots of obscure African and Indian philosophy to keep the Twitterati happy.

Raymond LaManna 27 January 2019

Where's Habermas... or must one be dead to make this list??

Michael Haines 25 November 2018

A good start... but of course it merely scrapes the surface. At least you ignored Ayn Rand, perhaps the most pernicious pseudo-philosopher whose ideas have echoed in the halls of power. A flawed intellect betrayed by her own behaviour. Philosophy is only true to the extent it is lived experience. All else is mere words :)

Bobbi Zahra 16 November 2018

Seriously? In 70 books you believe that everyone we should read, there's no Maimonides? No Buber? No Fackenheim? No Heschel? Arendt? Adorno?

--- --- 16 November 2018

An excellent addition to this list would be: Responsible Brains - Neuroscience, Law, and Human Culpability, By William Hirstein, Katrina L. Sifferd and Tyler K. Fagan (MIT Press 2018). It is a brilliant work-- a modern application of philosophy to 21st Century concerns, plainly demonstrating why philosophy has every-day practical relevance (and why universities thinking of reducing or dropping offerings in the discipline are short-sighted in the extreme). A recent example of others' praise for the book:
“Hirstein, Sifferd, and Fagan bring responsibility into closer contact with neuroscience than ever before. Their bold, original, and provocative theory is backed by forceful philosophical argument combined with detailed knowledge of the brain, and they deploy it to illuminate numerous controversial cases. Everyone interested in these important issues should carefully study this tour de force.”
Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongChauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics, Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University

James Robinson 16 November 2018

Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism repudiates and abandons many theses and even concepts (and their definitions) of great historical philosophers on the grounds that one cannot derive such a thesis or concept from observation of reality and logical processing of such observational data (from either introspection or perception). Rand then goes on to supplant such concepts and theses . One noteworthy fact is that Rand's philosophic theses,concepts and methodology have been enhanced and/or re-communicated—in a form that should be more readily accessible to any one studying philosophy and/or professionally practicing in the field of—by professional philosophers who have been trained in academia and who also have become experts on various aspects of Rand's Objectivism . A good place to start a serious engagement with the Objectivist philosophy as communicated by PhD.s in philosophy, psychology, and/or mathematics are the following books:

• Eds. Gotthelf and Salmieri, A Companion to Ayn Rand (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy Volume 61) (2016)

• Eds. Gotthelf and Lennox, Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge: Reflections on Objectivist Epistemology (Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies: Volume 2) (2013)

• Eds. Gotthelf and Lennox, Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue: Studies in Ayn Rand's Normative Theory (Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies: Volume 1) (2010)

• Eds. Salmieri and Mayhew, The Philosophy of Capitalism: Objectivism and Alternative Approaches, (Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies: Volume 3) (forthcoming approx. 2019)

• Ed. Locke, Edwin A. Postmodernism and Management: Pros, Cons and the Alternative (Research in the Sociology of Organizations: Volume 21) (2003) [Only the final two essays are pertinent as they pertain to Postmodernism's origin in Kant and Rand's rebuttal of Kant's theoretical philosophy.]

• Binswanger, Harry How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation (2014)

• Peikoff, Leonard Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1991)

• Smith, Tara Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995)

• Smith, Tara Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000)

•Smith, Tara Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist (2007)

• Locke, Edwin A.The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal (2018)

• Knapp, Robert A. Mathematics is About the World (2014)

• Kelley, David The Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception (1987)

• Bernstein, Andrew The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic, and Philosophic case for Laissez-Faire (2005)

Karl Napf 16 November 2018

Thanks for this great and comprehensive list.

I feel Kant's "Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals" is missing. I think from today's perspective it's more relevant than "Critique of Pure Reason" if you are limiting to 1 work per philosopher; and certainly more accessible (and shorter).

Hegel, yes for importance, but due to it's inaccessibility I'm not sure I would include it in list of books everybody should read.

A isGood 15 November 2018

Of course Ayn Rand was ignored.

etomkins 15 November 2018

Seriously? No Kierkegaard?