10 Essential and Best Philosophy Books for Beginners (2022)

Philosophy is the science ofKnowledgewhose ultimate goal is finding thetruth. It is an ancient discipline that existed much before science. Philosophy is an effective medium to know about human existence, spirituality, and materialism.

The craze of Philosophy is still vigorous among students, authors, and anyone who seeks knowledge about the truth. This article is a guide to 10 Best Philosophy Booksfor Beginners.

10 Best Philosophy Books For Beginners

Reading Philosophy is quite different from reading a novel or any easy subject. It is theoretical learning that requires a logical mindset. Sometimes, the meanings are so deep that readers face difficulties in deciphering the ideas. So, it becomes essential to start reading some best Philosophy books with simple narration.

Complexity ruins the reading enthusiasm. There are numerous books written on Philosophy. While choosing a book, you must take care of the narration and approach of the author. Philosophy itself is a complex subject, and the arduous writing style may spoil your interest.

Also, read:12 Philosophy Books Everyone Should Read Right Now

Some great philosophers from diverse ideologies write the 10 Best Philosophy Books for Beginners listed here. These books are simple, interesting, and able to comprehend facts in simple language.

Let’s Have A Look at 10 Best Philosophy Books for Beginners.

1. Republic by Plato

It is one of the best Philosophy books taught by academicians while introducing Philosophy.Republiccovers a large array of ideologies, covering social, political, gender, and economic aspects.

It talks about metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of education, and philosophy of mind. Republic is a pioneering book in the history of Western philosophy.

Plato was Socrates’ disciple. Socrates was a Greek philosopher. He was one of the founders of Western philosophy. His method of inquirywas a novel philosophical discovery that opened a new style of philosophical probing.

(Video) Top 10 Best Philosophy Books for Beginners (2022)

InRepublic, Plato is speaking through his mentor Socrates, as Socrates had never written anything. The book is mainly based on two essential questions:

  1. What is justice?
  2. Why should we be just?

The book is narrated through a storytelling method that makes it quite interesting. The anecdotes, vivid descriptions, and numerous inquiries create engaging readability. Republic presents the Greek society with all its pros and cons and its impact on world democratic thoughts.

Republicis originally written in Greek. The two timeless Translations of the book are ofPaul Shorey(1937) andBenjamin Jowett(1892).Peter Karnot’sConsultant(1990) is another easy-to-read translation of Republic.

2. Critique of Pure Reasonby Immanuel Kant

Critique of Pure Reasonis another one of the best Philosophy books for beginners. It is written by German philosopher, Immanuel Kant who was an influential figure in modern Western philosophy. In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant tries to figure out the limits and scope of metaphysics.

It was published in 1781 and is quite unreadable due to its dry pose and complicated terminology. Later, Kant worked on the prose and made it shorter and quite easier for readers.

The book explains the distinction between particular knowledge (posteriori) we gain from experience and the universal knowledge (priori) that is independent of experience. This book is an exclusive attempt to present the fundamental facets of knowledge acquisition.

Writing on reason, Kant argues about the limits and scope of pure reason. In this quest, he relies on Hume’s skepticism to question every possibility of metaphysics. This approach distinguishes Kant from other Metaphysicists of his age.

Two remarkable translations for beginners:

  1. Routledge Philosophy Guide BooktoKant and The Critique of Pure Reason
  2. Paul Guyer’sandAllen Wood’sNew TranslationofKant’s Critique of Pure Reason

These books can satisfy the questions about metaphysics, reason, and knowledge.

(Video) Top 5 Simple and Essential Books for Starting Philosophy 📚

3. Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes

17th-century French scientific thinker and an original metaphysician, René Descartes, wrote this book in 1641. It is one of the essential and best philosophy books for beginners to know the history of western thought.

Meditations on First Philosophy is a masterpiece in the art of critical thinking. Descartes tries to find a new foundation of tracking knowledge based on philosophy, theology, and science. It was one of the highly experimental approaches to avail of knowledge.

This important philosopher created a definition of true knowledge based onthe cartesianmethod. He asserted that if we find a belief beyond doubt, we can build a solid foundation of systematic reasoning.

John Cottingham and Donald A. Cress have translatedMeditations on First Philosophy in English. The translators present the problem of the Meditator to build knowledge erasing all the uncertainties and pre-occupations.

4. The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle was a prominent name during the Classical period in Ancient Greek. He was the founder of Lyceum and the Aristotlean tradition. The Nicomachean Ethics was written around 340 BC.

It is one of the best Philosophy books for beginners for its subject matter. In this book, Aristotle argues about the importance of ethics and its connection with other ideologies. He writes that the goal of Ethics is to avail supreme happiness. Hence, our works determine the scope of happiness in life and society.

Aristotle believed that ethics and political science are two related but distinct fields of study. The formation of society and the idea of democracy depend on ethics. This book covers major social disciplines and their relation to ethics.

5. Philosophical Traditions: A Text with Readings by Louis Pojman

Designed especially for undergraduate students of Philosophy, this is one of the best Philosophy books for beginners. It is a compilation of writings of different schools of thought. Narration is clear and presents a basic understanding of broad philosophical thoughts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyqzi4Wm9Nw

(Video) 10 Interesting Books About Philosophy

Louis Pojman covers Philosophy’s basic fields with the commentaries of different authors. He writes on metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion. His selection of broad philosophical concepts is marvelous.

Pojman was a prominent 20th-century American writer whose works have been used extensively for educational purposes. This book is simple and clear in comprehending philosophical thoughts to students.

6. Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy by Maudemarie Clark

This book deals with Friedrich Nietzsche’s metaphysics and epistemology. It is one of the best Philosophy books for scholars as well as beginners. Clark presents Nietzsche’s views on truth and language.

Nietzsche was a German philosopher with a great influence on Western Philosophy. He extended his writing prowess to poetry, criticism, and composition. He is one of the most-read authors of the modern world, equally loved by critics, philosophers, scholars, artists, and ordinary readers.

Clark presents Friedrich Nietzsche as a cosmopolitan philosopher. His doctrines and perspectives have been expressed in clear and easy-to-read language. Critics appreciate Maudemarie Clark for her original study and analysis of Nietzsche’s Perspectivism and Falsification.

7. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Philosophy books that create awareness among the readers are the best source for beginners. One such book is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, who was a Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor. In Meditations, he presents the virtues of Stoicism.

Stoic philosophy focuses on self-control, overcoming reactionary emotions. Meditations is a series of personal writing by Marcus Aurelius, who applied the teachings practically in his life and administration. It is quite an engaging book as Aurelius presents the techniques of being self-disciplined, untouched by influences, and controlling emotions.

It is a personal account, so you relate to the writing of Aurelius. For its content and context, it is unarguably one of the best Philosophy books for beginners.

8. The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell was a polymath, thinker, philosopher, and historian of the 2oth century. He was known as one of the founders of analytic philosophy, although he has written extensively on logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

(Video) The Best Philosophy Books For Beginners

The way Bertrand Russell writes inThe Problems of Physics feels like exploring a journey of truth. The narration is simple and based on the analytical method. It is based on an epistemological theory to explore the truth.

Bertrand Russell is also known for his educational philosophy that is based on the idea of self-development. This is one of the best Philosophy books for beginners for its foundation on self-development and exploration of truth in the simplest narration.

9. Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel

Thomas Nagel satisfies a beginner’s curiosity by presenting material on first-hand philosophy inMortal Questions. The book deals with the fundamental issues of philosophy: the being and effects on beings. It is one of the best Philosophy books for beginners to learn the basics of vast ideologies under one cover.

Nagel discusses various topics closely related to your life. This feature connects the reader of modern times when we have a list of questions in our minds. Meaning of life, death, war, instability and various other issues are covered with a philosophical perspective. These issues are related to our lives, and we are victims of such circumstances.

The USP of the book is the generalization of philosophy, attaching it with the present scenario. It is a must-read for the modern approach towards philosophy.

10. Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy

Cambridge Introductions to Philosophyis the final name in the list of best Philosophy books for beginners. It is a collection of textbooks for beginners to have a tryst with some important philosophical thoughts.

It covers texts on logic and philosophy from different corners of the world. Besides Western philosophy, it has books on the philosophies of Latin America, India, China, and Feminism.

Beginners and first-time readers will surely find help from the Best Philosophy Books for beginners mentioned in this article. They are narrated books covering vast philosophical thoughts.

(Video) 10 MORE Simple & Essential Books for Starting Philosophy

These Best Philosophy Books cover metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, theology, and hosts of other ideologies. A beginner gets a chance to read Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Stoic philosophy, and other contemporary philosophers and thoughts through them.

10 Essential and Best Philosophy Books for Beginners (12)

FAQs

10 Essential and Best Philosophy Books for Beginners? ›

The Best Philosophy Books for Beginners
  • Plato: Five Dialogues by Plato.
  • The Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose.
  • Mengzi: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries translated by Bryan W. ...
  • Meno by Plato.
  • Republic by Plato.
  • Discourse on Method by Rene Descartes.
  • Symposium by Plato.
  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
Mar 14, 2021

What books should I read to understand philosophy? ›

These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.
  • Meditations. One that you'll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. ...
  • Letters From a Stoic. ...
  • Nicomachean Ethics. ...
  • Beyond Good & Evil. ...
  • Meditations on First Philosophy. ...
  • Ethics. ...
  • Critique of Pure Reason. ...
  • On the Genealogy of Morals.

How do I start learning philosophy? ›

How to Learn Philosophy Without Going to Class
  1. Read the books “A History of Western Philosophy” by Bertrand Russell or “The Story of Philosophy” by Will Durant. ...
  2. Listen to bite-sized audio courses on Listenable. ...
  3. Take bite-sized courses on philosophy on Highbrow. ...
  4. Use Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Sep 6, 2016

Which philosopher is easiest to read? ›

There are some incredibly good answers here. Ayn Rand is very easy for anyone to understand and is quite often not regarded as a serious philosopher due to her ideas being based mainly on fictional narratives and seeming unrealistic to pull off.
...
  • Aurobindo.
  • Hegel.
  • Whitehead.
  • Leibniz.
  • Marx.
  • Wilber.
  • Kant.
  • Heidegger.

What philosophy book should I read first? ›

When people ask where they ought to begin in reading philosophy I always suggest starting with Plato. And given how important his teacher, Socrates, was in Plato's own philosophical development, why not begin with these dialogues that set out the drama of Socrates' trial, conviction, imprisonment, and execution?

What is the best introduction to philosophy? ›

The Four Best Introductory Books on Philosophy
  • Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder.
  • A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell.
  • Philosophy: The Basics by Nigel Warburton.
  • The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant.
Jan 27, 2020

Is it good to read philosophy books? ›

A study of philosophy will help you develop critical thinking skills. It will encourage you to understand the constraints you operate within when you make certain choices or even when you decide which goals you should pursue. You will be able to think intelligently of how you live and why you live that way.

Who is the best philosopher of all time? ›

Aristotle. Aristotle (384–322 BCE), who follows Socrates and Plato as the third member of the great triumvirate of ancient Greek philosophers, is arguably the most important thinker who ever lived.

Can I teach myself philosophy? ›

To self-learn philosophy, you need to have the humility to accept the fact that your existing beliefs could be wrong. Go into the learning process with an open mind for a real chance at understanding all the important philosophical concepts.

What is the basic of philosophy? ›

Quite literally, the term "philosophy" means, "love of wisdom." In a broad sense, philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other.

Is Plato hard reading? ›

Plato's books are in dialogues and actually are in a sense very poetic. Plato was one of the best writers (in a sense artist) that ever existed. It is easy to start reading Plato due to this format and know the basic concepts. Once you get into it, going to Aristotle, his difficulty will not be discouraging.

Is The Alchemist a philosophical book? ›

The Alchemist is both a work of adventurous fiction and a melding of philosophies.

How do I start Plato? ›

Plato - Where to Start? - YouTube

Which philosophers should I study? ›

A good place to start would be Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy.
  • Plato - The Republic.
  • Descartes - Discourse on Method.
  • Locke - An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
  • Hume - An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.
  • Kant - Critique of Pure Reason.
  • Mill - On Liberty.
  • Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil.

Who is the most difficult philosopher to understand? ›

Hegel, Bertrand Russell observed, is “the hardest to understand of the great philosophers.” Hegel would not have liked very much that Russell had to say about his philosophy in A History of Western Philosophy (1945).

In what order should I read Plato? ›

According to Iamblichus, for example, the First Alcibiades should be read first, then Gorgias, Phaedo, then Cratylus, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, Phaedrus, Symposium, Philebus, and finally Timaeus and Parmenides.

What do you understand by epistemology? ›

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. It is concerned with the mind's relation to reality.

What is the best philosophy? ›

Top 10 Philosophy Books
  • Republic — Plato. ...
  • Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu. ...
  • The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius — Marcus Aurelius. ...
  • Critique of Pure Reason — Emmanuel Kant. ...
  • Beyond Good And Evil — Friedrich Nietzsche. ...
  • The Art of War – Sun Tzu. ...
  • Being and Nothingness – Jean-Paul Sartre. ...
  • Man's Search for Meaning — Viktor Frankl.
Sep 10, 2021

How do you read philosophy? ›

How to Read Philosophy in 6 Steps - YouTube

How do you study a philosophy book? ›

How to Study Philosophy - YouTube

Why is philosophy so hard? ›

It is hard because philosophical ideas and arguments themselves are so complex, so subtle and nuanced, and they rely on a web of understanding that reaches back more than two thousand years, past Hume and past Descartes, past Aquinas and Anselm all the way to Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.

How can I improve my reading philosophy? ›

How Do I Get Better at Reading Philosophy?
  1. Read ahead, re-read, and think about what you've read. ...
  2. Aim for comprehension. ...
  3. Pay attention to what confuses you and what you disagree with. ...
  4. Read the text. ...
  5. Read “how to read philosophy”, by David Concepción, Teaching Philosophy, 27:4, December 2004.

Do philosophers believe in God? ›

Some philosophers – not most but a significant minority, including members of the Society of Christian Philosophers – believe in God.

Who is the real father of philosophy? ›

Socrates of Athens (l. c. 470/469-399 BCE) is among the most famous figures in world history for his contributions to the development of ancient Greek philosophy which provided the foundation for all of Western Philosophy. He is, in fact, known as the "Father of Western Philosophy" for this reason.

Who is the coolest philosopher? ›

Top 10 Philosophers
  • Aristotle. Aristotle, one of the most famous Greek philosophers, was also a polymath who lived in Ancient Greece in 384-322 BC. ...
  • Lao-Tzu. ...
  • John Locke. ...
  • Karl Marx. ...
  • Confucius. ...
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson. ...
  • Immanuel Kant. ...
  • Epicurus.

What educational philosophy is best? ›

Essentialism is currently the leading style of public education in the United States. It is the teaching of basic skills that have been proven over time to be needed in society. Perennialism focuses on the teaching of great works. There are three types of student-centered philosophies of education.

Can you learn philosophy online free? ›

Explore a free online course on the birth of Western philosophy, taught in English, from Tsinghua University. Find many philosophy and ethics courses on edX from major universities around the world. Many online classes are self-paced so you can enroll and start learning today.

What are the 4 pillars of philosophy? ›

There are four pillars of philosophy: theoretical philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology), practical philosophy (ethics, social and political philosophy, aesthetics), logic, and history of philosophy.

What are the 3 philosophical theories? ›

THREE MAJOR AREAS OF PHILOSOPHY. Theory of Reality : Ontology & Metaphysics. Theory of Knowledge: Epistemology--from episteme and logos. Theory of Value: Axiology--from the Greek axios (worth, value) and logos.

What are the 3 concepts of philosophy? ›

Explain and differentiate three main areas of philosophy: ethics, epistemology and metaphysics.

What are the 5 main branches of philosophy? ›

Janice explains to Paula, who is not a philosophy student, that although it is not always broken down in this exact way, a common approach to the branches of philosophy is through five categories: ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and aesthetics.

What are the 5 concepts of philosophy? ›

The book provides an introduction to six fundamental philosophy concepts - philosophy, language, knowledge, truth, being and good. At the same time, it aims to initiate its readers into the process of philosophical thinking.

What are the 8 schools of philosophy? ›

Some of them are commonly misunderstood, and we correct that problem here.
  • Nihilism.
  • Existentialism.
  • Stoicism.
  • Hedonism.
  • Marxism.
  • Logical Positivism.
  • Taoism.
  • Rationalism.
Dec 10, 2017

Is Republic by Plato good for beginners? ›

Definitely not. It would be too difficult, and would also produce misunderstandings about Plato that would take years to overcome.

In what order should I read Aristotle? ›

Andronicus grouped the works by category and arranged them in an order of study: first logic, then natural science, then ethics and politics. Note that the Metaphysics, as its title suggests, follows next in order after the works on natural science, and just before the works on ethics and politics.

How long does it take to read Aristotle? ›

The average reader, reading at a speed of 300 WPM, would take 6 hours and 38 minutes to read Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. As an Amazon Associate, How Long to Read earns from qualifying purchases.

Is The Alchemist a good book for beginners? ›

The Alchemist is a story that will inspire you to listen to your heart and follow your dreams, something we all need to do! To top that up, the unique vision and spirituality of Paulo Coelho will be a therapeutic experience. It is no wonder why this book is considered to be one of the best books for beginners.

What book should I read if I like The Alchemist? ›

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

If your favorite part of The Alchemist were the parts about travel and allegory, you should definitely check out Life of Pi. The whole plot is built around a boy's journey while he's lost at sea with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger.

Why is The Alchemist so good? ›

It shows that obstacles to one's personal legend are merely obstacles – not blockades. It challenges you to think about your own personal legend. It explores the meaning of “living the dream”. It encourages you not to delay the living of your legend.

Why should I read Plato? ›

He is most famous for his writings about Socrates and his theory of forms. In his theory of forms, Plato assumes the existence of a realm of abstract forms, which contain the essential truth of all we see in the world around us. It is another way of saying we understand the world around us through abstractions.

What is Plato's first book? ›

Republic (Plato)
Title page of the oldest complete manuscript: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Gr. 1807 (late 9th century)
AuthorPlato
LanguageGreek
SubjectPolitical philosophy
Publishedc. 375 BC
3 more rows

Is it good to read philosophy books? ›

A study of philosophy will help you develop critical thinking skills. It will encourage you to understand the constraints you operate within when you make certain choices or even when you decide which goals you should pursue. You will be able to think intelligently of how you live and why you live that way.

What is the best philosophy? ›

Top 10 Philosophy Books
  • Republic — Plato. ...
  • Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu. ...
  • The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius — Marcus Aurelius. ...
  • Critique of Pure Reason — Emmanuel Kant. ...
  • Beyond Good And Evil — Friedrich Nietzsche. ...
  • The Art of War – Sun Tzu. ...
  • Being and Nothingness – Jean-Paul Sartre. ...
  • Man's Search for Meaning — Viktor Frankl.
Sep 10, 2021

Should I start with Plato or Aristotle? ›

If your goal is to get an A in "Plato class" and you have limited time, the "best" order would be to start with Plato. If your goal is to get an idea of how these ancient philosophers' views changed over time, it might be appropriate to read Socrates, Plato, then Aristotle.

Who is the best philosopher of all time? ›

Aristotle. Aristotle (384–322 BCE), who follows Socrates and Plato as the third member of the great triumvirate of ancient Greek philosophers, is arguably the most important thinker who ever lived.

Who is the most difficult philosopher to understand? ›

Hegel, Bertrand Russell observed, is “the hardest to understand of the great philosophers.” Hegel would not have liked very much that Russell had to say about his philosophy in A History of Western Philosophy (1945).

How do you study a philosophy book? ›

How to Study Philosophy - YouTube

Why is philosophy so hard? ›

It is hard because philosophical ideas and arguments themselves are so complex, so subtle and nuanced, and they rely on a web of understanding that reaches back more than two thousand years, past Hume and past Descartes, past Aquinas and Anselm all the way to Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.

What are the 4 types of philosophy? ›

There are four pillars of philosophy: theoretical philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology), practical philosophy (ethics, social and political philosophy, aesthetics), logic, and history of philosophy.

What are the 7 philosophers? ›

Seven thinkers and how they grew: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz; Locke, Berkeley, Hume; Kant (Chapter 6) - Philosophy in History.

Do philosophers believe in God? ›

Some philosophers – not most but a significant minority, including members of the Society of Christian Philosophers – believe in God.

Who taught Socrates? ›

Because Socrates wrote little about his life or work, much of what we know comes from his student Plato. Plato (428/427–348/347 B.C.E.) studied ethics, virtue, justice, and other ideas relating to human behavior.

What should I read before Plato? ›

Euthyphro is great for beginners to Plato because it's short and focused on a single issue, allowing you to get a sense of how these dialogues work without having to read through all ten books of Republic, which deals not only with the concept of justice but has Socrates and friends constructing a perfect society.

Who is the real father of philosophy? ›

Socrates of Athens (l. c. 470/469-399 BCE) is among the most famous figures in world history for his contributions to the development of ancient Greek philosophy which provided the foundation for all of Western Philosophy. He is, in fact, known as the "Father of Western Philosophy" for this reason.

Who is the coolest philosopher? ›

Top 10 Philosophers
  • Aristotle. Aristotle, one of the most famous Greek philosophers, was also a polymath who lived in Ancient Greece in 384-322 BC. ...
  • Lao-Tzu. ...
  • John Locke. ...
  • Karl Marx. ...
  • Confucius. ...
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson. ...
  • Immanuel Kant. ...
  • Epicurus.

Which country has best philosophers? ›

In the “modern” era, I would say Scotland, which was home to David Hume (1711–1776, and who some regard as the most important philosopher of the modern era) and Adam Smith (1723–1790, and who was a renowned moral philosopher, as well as the grandfather of modern economics).

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