Whether you know it or not, philosophy dramatically impacts our lives. Philosophy impacts ranging from the financial sectors, science, our emotions, political systems, and even war. We all have our philosophical ways of thinking. Even though you may think you have a unique way of thinking. It’s most likely derived from a philosophical theory that has been thought upon, debated, and signed off by some of the greatest minds to have ever lived.
However, just because your way of thinking may have already been categorized as existential, utilitarian, or hedonistic doesn’t mean you don’t have a different outlook or spin on a certain philosophical theory. We all have something to contribute to these theories that are worth sharing with the world.
One of the best ways to articulate your thoughts and sharpen your ideas is by reading what some of the greatest philosophers theorized. Their thoughts and ideas have been challenged and defended for hundreds to thousands of years.
Learning how to stand your ground on your thoughts will help you understand your philosophy. If you are interested in philosophy and want to explore it further, below are some of the best books anyone can read to better understand it.
Best Books on Ancient Philosophy
Ancient philosophy studies philosophical ideas that originated in Ancient Greece and Rome. Ancient philosophy is a vital study because it laid the foundation for all subsequent varieties of philosophy.
The Republic by Plato
The Republic is one of the essential pieces of philosophy ever written. In it, Plato describes his vision of an ideal society ruled by a philosopher king. The work is divided into three parts: the allegory of the cave, the city’s division, and the guardians’ education. The first part, the cave allegory, is perhaps the most famous.
In it, Plato compares society to a group of prisoners who are chained in a cave and can only see shadows on the wall. The prisoners mistake these shadows for reality. The second part, the division of the city, describes how Plato’s ideal society would be divided into three classes: the workers, the soldiers, and the guardians. The third part, the guardians’ education, describes how the guardians would be educated to prepare them for their role in society.
The Republic is an essential work of philosophy because it describes Plato’s ideal society. It is also one of the most influential works of philosophy, influencing many subsequent philosophers, such as Aristotle.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Meditations is a philosophical work by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, from 161 to 180 AD. It is a collection of 12 books, each containing one of Aurelius’ thoughts on Stoicism and how to live a good life.
Meditations is considered one of the great works of philosophy. It provides valuable insights into Stoicism, a school of thought that advocates living in harmony with nature and using reason to guide one’s actions. The book has been praised for its wisdom and insights and is still relevant today. Meditations can teach you how to live a good life, deal with difficult situations, and find peace within yourself.
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching is a great philosophical work for many reasons. First, it provides a unique perspective on the nature of reality. It teaches that the universe is made up of two opposing forces, yin, and yang, in constant flux. This means that change is an inherent part of existence and that everything is connected.
Second, Tao Te Ching offers valuable insights into human nature. It teaches that we should live in harmony with the Tao, or the natural order of things. This means living by our true nature rather than trying to force our will upon the world. It also teaches that we should be patient and accept things as they are rather than struggle against them.
Third, Tao Te Ching is a beautifully written work. Lao Tzu’s poetic prose is both deeply moving and profoundly insightful. He was a master of the written word, and his insights into the nature of reality are as relevant today as they were over two thousand years ago.
Fourth, Tao Te Ching is an essential work in the history of philosophy. It has influenced many other philosophers, both Eastern and Western. Its ideas have been developed and refined over time and continues to be studied worldwide.
Finally, Tao Te Ching is an excellent work because it can be read on many levels. It can be seen as a simple guide to living a good life, or it can be seen as a deep and complex philosophical work. It is up to the reader to decide how they want to interpret it. Tao Te Ching is an excellent work because it provides food for thought, regardless of your level of understanding.
The Best Modern Philosophy Books
Modern philosophy is a branch of philosophy that began in the 17th century. Modern philosophy is characterized by an emphasis on reason and individual rights, as well as skepticism about traditional ideas that civilization has followed for centuries. Modern philosophers such as René Descartes, John Locke, and Friedrich Nietzsche are considered some of the most influential figures in philosophy. The literature they wrote would propel and shape the foundation that humanity knows today.
Meditations by Rene Descartes
Meditations is a philosophical work by Rene Descartes. The book is about Meditations on First Philosophy. Descartes argues that the only thing that can be known for certain is that he exists. He tries to prove the existence of God and the soul and to show that they are distinct from the body.
Meditations is vital for philosophy because it is one of the first works to attempt to provide rational proof for the existence of God. It is also important because it influenced many subsequent philosophers, such as René Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, John Locke, and David Hume. Meditations should be read by anyone interested in philosophy or the history of ideas.
Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche is a philosophical work that explores the nature of morality and how it is relative to everyone. The book is essential in philosophy to explore some of the most fundamental questions about our ethical beliefs. Beyond Good and Evil is recommended for readers interested in ethics, morality, and philosophy.
Two Treaties of Government by John Locke
John Locke’s two treatises on government are among the essential texts in political philosophy. They set out Locke’s views on the nature of government and the rightful place of individuals within a society. The two treaties were written when many Europeans debated the merits of monarchy versus democracy, and Locke’s work was influential in shaping the thinking of those who favored a more democratic form of government. Today, Locke’s two treaties remain essential reading for anyone interested in political philosophy.
Best Philosophy Books of the 20th Century
20th-century philosophy was marked by a rejection of traditional values and institutions. Leading philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault challenged the status quo, arguing that existing power structures were oppressive and needed to be dismantled. 20th-century philosophy also saw the rise of new schools of thought, such as existentialism, pragmatism, and postmodernism. These philosophical movements had a profound impact on art, literature, and politics, shaping the way we think about the world today.
Madness and Civilization by Michael Foucault
by French philosopher Michel Foucault. The book analyzes the historical treatment of Madness, which Foucault argues is a social construct created by society. Madness and Civilization provides a critical history of how Madness has been viewed by Western culture from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Foucault challenges traditional views of Madness.
Foucault argues that it is a socially constructed concept used to control and marginalize those who do not conform to societal norms. Madness and Civilization is considered a classic work of 20th-century philosophy, and its insights into the nature of Madness have profoundly impacted our understanding of mental illness.
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. The essay focuses on the absurdist philosophy of Camus. It explores the idea that humans must find meaning in life despite the inherent meaninglessness of existence.
The myth of Sisyphus is used as an example to illustrate this point.
The essay is relevant to philosophy because it challenges the traditional view that humans must have a purpose in life to lead meaningful lives. Camus instead argues that humans can create their purpose, even in the face of an indifferent universe. This perspective has influenced many subsequent philosophers, including existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre.
The Myth of Sisyphus is worth reading because it provides a different perspective on the human condition. It is an excellent example of absurdist literature, and its philosophical ideas are still relevant today.
Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
Nausea is a novel by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, published in 1938. It is about a man, Antoine Roquentin, who starts to experience life differently after he moves to the fictional town of Bouville. Nausea is considered one of the most important works of existentialism.
Sartre’s novel is often seen as an exploration of what it means to be human. In particular, it raises questions about the nature of existence and identity. For example, Roquentin begins to question his existence after feeling nauseous. He wonders whether he exists or if he is just a figment of his imagination.
Nausea is relevant to philosophy because it deals with some of the essential ideas in existentialism. These include the concept of “nausea” itself, a feeling of dread or disgust from realizing the emptiness of existence. Other vital images in Nausea have freedom, responsibility, and choice.
Given its importance to existentialism and philosophy, Nausea is a book worth reading. It is a challenging read, but it is also enriching. If you are interested in exploring what it means to be human, then Nausea is the book for you.
The Philosophers Journal Picks
The Philosophers Journal picks are books that may have an inspirational or motivating message. It may be a serious and controversial subject or be a fun and educational read that is philosophically driven. Below are some of the best books you can get with a philosophical theme.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is a Paulo Coelho novel that tells Santiago’s story. This Andalusian shepherd boy yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as ever. The book has sold over 150 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 80 different languages. The novel has been praised for its simple and powerful message about the importance of following one’s dreams. The Alchemist has also been criticized for its religious themes and allegorical interpretations. Nevertheless, the book remains popular among readers of all ages and backgrounds.
Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar by Daniel Martin Klein and Thomas Cathcart
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a book that explores the concepts of philosophy through humor. The book is relevant to philosophy because it light-heartedly discusses various ideas and theories. It is also an easy read, making it ideal for someone who wants to learn more about philosophy but doesn’t want to get bogged down in dense texts. You will find that the concepts are easier to understand, and the jokes make any philosophical topic enjoyable to those who see it as dreadful. It’s an excellent book for anyone who wants to begin their journey in philosophy.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One by Friedrich Nietzsche
Thus, Spoke Zarathustra is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche for everyone and no one. The book is about the life and teachings of Zarathustra, a Persian prophet who lived in the 6th century BC. Zarathustra’s teachings focused on self-improvement, morality, and the meaning of life. The book provides readers with an understanding of Nietzsche’s philosophy and how it can be applied to their lives. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy.
Philosophy is one of the most important aspects of our life, we live in a time where critical thinking is dwindling and superficial intelligence is taking over, and I am not just talking about A.I. However, learning about other people’s philosophy will not only enhance your own but help convey your own philosophy and live by your own standards. So pick a book and enjoy it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Best Philosophy Books to Start Reading?
A: Some of the best books to start reading to better understand philosophy are:
- The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
- Socrates’ Way
- Philosophy 101
- UNDERSTANDING PLATO
- The Daily Stoic
Q: Who is considered the greatest philosopher?
A: That’s very subjective question, however, many philosopher’s and historian’s will agree that Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato to be the greatest philosophers. A lot of their teachings, text, and philosophical beliefs are still being taught and debated today.
Q: Is philosophy worth reading?
A: There are many benefits to reading philosophy, such as:
- Being well read
- Challenging your thoughts
- Develop critical thinking skills
- Help you articulate and understand complex idea’s
- Learn about how other people think