This is a work in progress, and I’ll be adding to it and making modifications as I progress in my own reading and as I gather input from friends and commenters. The list is not meant to be comprehensive. There’s simply no way I (or anyone) will be able to read all the works by all the authors listed below, let alone give them the time and attention they need to be understood and absorbed. I’ve tried to pick works that will be representative of an author’s philosophy, but sometimes books have been chosen more because of their availability to me than because of the way they summarize or reflect an author’s views.
This list is based on Peter J. King’s “Philosophy Around the Web” chronological index of individual philosophers, with some additions and edits of my own (added a few philosophers, fixed some missing birth dates, etc). While I’ve made an effort to link each author’s name to his or her article on Wikipedia (where applicable), Mr. King’s list includes more information on each philosopher which may be relevant to the student digging deeper. As for the works listed, I’ve linked to the book at Amazon.com wherever possible, linking to other stores or sources when necessary. If I’m aware of an online version of the book in question, I’ve placed an (Online) link after the main link. While I’ve ordered these authors chronologically by birth, it may make more sense to group your readings by school of thought.
Please ignore any extraneous ˆ at the end of each listing, they are my way of keeping track of which books I’ve obtained and which ones I’ve read. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome!
I’ve had to read my share of introductions to philosophy and its different branches (especially during my undergrad studies), but here are two overall surveys that have stuck with me as solid gateway-books for the beginner. The second is quite a bit dryer than the first, but goes into more depth. I’ll keep this list short as the upcoming ones are quite long and I’d like to point people to reading the actual philosophers, rather than just reading about them.
- The Story of Philosophy (Bryan Magee) ˆ
- Thales to Dewey (Gordon H. Clark) ˆ
- Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar…: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes (Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein) ˆ
Next: Ancient Philosophy