The best 81 Western Philosophy books

Western Philosophy delves into timeless questions about existence, knowledge, and ethics, influencing various aspects of modern thought. Our carefully selected book list offers an accessible entry point into these profound ideas, making it easier to grasp the foundational principles of Western Philosophy.

Immerse yourself in the wisdom of great thinkers and unravel the complexities of human existence with our Western Philosophy collection. Ready to expand your intellectual horizons and explore the depths of philosophical inquiry?

The best 81 Western Philosophy books
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1
Western Philosophy Books: Second Treatise of the Government by John Locke

Second Treatise of the Government

John Locke
An Essay Concerning the True Origin, Extent and End of Civil Government
4.4 (53 ratings)
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What's Second Treatise of the Government about?

Locke’s Second Treatise offers an in-depth analysis on the origin of our right to liberty and the rights of governments. It shows how, by respecting the laws of nature, we can limit the power of government to best protect ourselves and our property from destruction or worse, tyranny.

Who should read Second Treatise of the Government?

  • Anybody interested in politics
  • Anybody interested in the history of ideas and philosophy
  • Anybody interested in the foundations of liberalism and democracy

2
Western Philosophy Books: The Republic by Plato

The Republic

Plato
4.5 (536 ratings)
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What's The Republic about?

Plato’s Republic (c. 380 BCE) is a dialogue in which Socrates and his interlocutors discuss the attributes and virtues that make for the most just person and for the most just form of government. The Republic also examines the relationship between the citizen and the city, and considers how this relationship bears on philosophy, politics, ethics and art.

Who should read The Republic?

  • Anyone interested in history
  • Anyone interested in classical philosophy
  • Anyone interested in politics

3
Western Philosophy Books: Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes

Meditations on First Philosophy

René Descartes
4.1 (223 ratings)
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What's Meditations on First Philosophy about?

Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) is one of Descartes’s most influential works, known as the source of the classic quote: “I think, therefore I am” or “cogito ergo sum.” These blinks capture Descartes’ thoughts on how we know what we know, and his attempts to prove God’s existence along the way.

Who should read Meditations on First Philosophy?

  • Students of philosophy
  • People interested in philosophy and the foundations of Western thinking
  • Religious people who are interested in another view of the existence of God

4
Western Philosophy Books: Anticipate by Rob-Jan de Jong

Anticipate

Rob-Jan de Jong
The Art of Leading By Looking Ahead
4.4 (37 ratings)
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What's Anticipate about?

Anticipate (2015) reveals what it takes to become a visionary leader. From Aristotle’s three pillars of leadership to practices and mindsets that strengthen your leadership abilities, these blinks show that having a vision isn’t something you’re born with – it’s something you work at.

Who should read Anticipate?

  • Ambitious types who want to know what it takes to be a visionary leader
  • Those in influential positions hoping to brush up on their leadership skills

5
Western Philosophy Books: The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

The Beginning of Infinity

David Deutsch
Explanations That Transform the World
4.2 (221 ratings)
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What's The Beginning of Infinity about?

Everyday, we benefit from huge advances in both scientific theory and practice. What triggered this progress? In The Beginning of Infinity (2011) – a journey through the fundamental fields of science and philosophy – physicist David Deutsch argues that all progress results from one single human activity: the quest for explanations. Human creativity opens up limitless opportunities for progress, making knowledge the “beginning of infinity.”

Who should read The Beginning of Infinity?

  • Fans of science and philosophy
  • Anyone fascinated by the power of knowledge and creativity
  • Readers interested in the future of our species

6
Western Philosophy Books: Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes
or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil
4.5 (142 ratings)
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What's Leviathan about?

Leviathan (1651) examines the relationship of society and rulers and is widely held as a classic work on the nature of statecraft. English philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that man’s natural inclination to war could only be tamed by a strong, centralized government. In these blinks, you’ll learn why Hobbes felt a commonwealth of men under a strong monarch was the only solution to securing peace and security for all.

Who should read Leviathan?

  • Sociologists, historians and political scientists or students of political science
  • People interested in how certain forms of government came to be
  • Students examining the origins of law and early government

7
Western Philosophy Books: Doubt: A History by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Doubt: A History

Jennifer Michael Hecht
The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson
3.5 (67 ratings)
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What's Doubt: A History about?

Doubt: A History (2004) is a journey through one of time’s best kept secrets: the people who have stood up to accepted truths, even when it cost them their lives. These blinks share the stories of doubters with conviction from Ancient Greece and India to the modern era, and how they have shaped the way we live and think today.

Who should read Doubt: A History?

  • Anyone wanting to learn about the history of doubters and their observations
  • People who want to know what connects seemingly unrelated figures like Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin and Job
  • Anyone interested in religion and its critics

8
Western Philosophy Books: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations

Marcus Aurelius
4.1 (1,140 ratings)
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What's Meditations about?

Meditations (170-180 AD) is a journey through the mind of the great Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. These blinks offer philosophical ruminations on the meaning of death and justice, the nature of the world and why things happen the way they do.

Who should read Meditations?

  • Anyone interested in the philosophy of the ancient world
  • People with a fear of death
  • Anybody who has a sneaking suspicion that everything happens for a reason

9
Western Philosophy Books: Selfie by Will Storr

Selfie

Will Storr
How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us
4.1 (33 ratings)
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What's Selfie about?

Selfie (2017) takes a hard look at today’s internet-driven age of self-obsession. Asking where our ideal of the perfect person came from, acclaimed British journalist Will Storr traces the history of the self from ancient Greece to the social-media-heavy world of selfies and Instagram brunch pics. Along the way, he picks out a multitude of fascinating facts about the political, cultural and economic factors that have shaped the Western world’s notion of who we should be and what we should look like.

Who should read Selfie?

  • Fans and foes of social media
  • Anyone who’s wondered where our culture’s heading
  • History and politics buffs

10
Western Philosophy Books: How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci

How to Be a Stoic

Massimo Pigliucci
Ancient Wisdom For Modern Living
4.6 (529 ratings)
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What's How to Be a Stoic about?

In How to Be a Stoic (2018), philosopher Massimo Pigliucci explores how the ancient philosophy of Stoicism can guide us toward a good life. He shows how Stoicism can help us focus on what we can change, come to peace with the prospect of death and deal with frustrations and problems in everyday life.

Who should read How to Be a Stoic?

  • Anyone interested in philosophy
  • People in search of a better way to live their lives
  • Anyone struggling to come to terms with things beyond their control

11
Western Philosophy Books: At The Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell

At The Existentialist Café

Sarah Bakewell
Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails
4.6 (218 ratings)
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What's At The Existentialist Café about?

At the Existentialist Café (2016) recounts the birth of existentialism in the early twentieth century. Both a biography and a philosophical text, it tells the stories of individual philosophers as well as their ideas. Above all, it explores how big philosophical questions can illuminate our lives and the way we live them.

Who should read At The Existentialist Café?

  • Philosophers who feel that philosophy has lost touch with everyday life
  • Francophiles looking for insight on their national treasures
  • Curious observers who want to learn how to look more closely at the world around them

12
Western Philosophy Books: Great Thinkers by The School of Life, Alain de Botton (series editor)

Great Thinkers

The School of Life, Alain de Botton (series editor)
Simple Tools from Sixty Great Thinkers to Improve Your Life Today
4.2 (382 ratings)
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What's Great Thinkers about?

Great Thinkers (2016) provides a handy guide to some of the most creative and ingenious people who have ever lived. These are thinkers who have changed the way we perceive and think about the world, and their wisdom continues to be highly relevant to people everywhere. By keeping these ideas close at hand and not far from our minds, the great thinkers of the past can continue to help us live better lives today.

Who should read Great Thinkers?

  • Culture vultures
  • Wisdom seekers
  • Students of the humanities

13
Western Philosophy Books: A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry

A Brief History of Thought

Luc Ferry
A Philosophical Guide to Living
4.3 (283 ratings)
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What's A Brief History of Thought about?

A Brief History of Thought (1996) chronicles the big moments in the history of Western philosophy in a lucid and accessible way – from the Stoicism of classical Greece right through to twentieth-century postmodernism. Not simply a description of abstract ideals, it shows how we can apply the wisdom of the world’s best thinkers to live happier and more meaningful lives.

Who should read A Brief History of Thought?

  • Those who find philosophy cryptic and confusing
  • History students not up to speed with the development of Western thought
  • Introspective humans searching for a meaning to life

14
Western Philosophy Books: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion
3.9 (91 ratings)
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What's The Year of Magical Thinking about?

The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) is a poignant memoir about loss and grief. It tells the deeply personal story of Joan Didion’s experiences with the life-threatening illnesses of her daughter and the death of her husband. But more than that, it’s also a thought-provoking philosophical exploration of the meaning of mortality, the fragility of life and the mutability of everything that surrounds us.

Who should read The Year of Magical Thinking?

  • Anyone who’s felt anguish over another person’s life-threatening illness 
  • Those who have experienced the loss of a loved one
  • Anyone who wants to understand the nature of grief 

15
Western Philosophy Books: Doing Philosophy by Timothy Williamson

Doing Philosophy

Timothy Williamson
From Common Curiosity To Logical Reasoning
4.2 (107 ratings)
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What's Doing Philosophy about?

Doing Philosophy (2018) dispels some of the stereotypes that continue to hound philosophers. In particular, it takes aim at the pervasive idea that philosophy has become irrelevant in light of the success of the natural sciences, and makes a compelling case for why philosophy is still important and influential today.

Who should read Doing Philosophy?

  • Scientifically-minded people convinced that science can solve all problems
  • Skeptics unconvinced by philosophy’s pretense that it is a science
  • Anyone curious to know what exactly philosophers do all day long

16
Western Philosophy Books: For a New Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

For a New Liberty

Murray N. Rothbard
The Libertarian Manifesto
4.2 (131 ratings)
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What's For a New Liberty about?

For a New Liberty (1973) is a classic work that lays out the foundational principles of libertarianism. It refutes the necessity of a central State and argues against government involvement in all areas of life, from education to the police. The result is a scathing critique of the inefficiency, overreach, and moral crimes of the State.

Who should read For a New Liberty?

  • Fans of political philosophy and theory
  • Disaffected conservatives and liberals
  • Libertarians or those with libertarian leanings

17
Western Philosophy Books: Politics by Aristotle

Politics

Aristotle
4.6 (218 ratings)
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What's Politics about?

Politics is a foundational work in the history of Western political philosophy. From Machiavelli to Thomas Hobbes to Karl Marx, few major Western thinkers have been able to avoid a dialogue with the arguments Aristotle advanced some 2,500 years ago. That’s hardly surprising. In his quest to define the purpose and nature of politics, Aristotle left no stone unturned. Justice, slavery, citizenship, class conflict, democracy, and the good life – all are addressed with rigor and nuance in this remarkable text.

Who should read Politics?

  • Political buffs
  • Historians
  • Thinkers and philosophers

18
Western Philosophy Books: What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader by Alison Reynolds, Dominic Houlder, Jules Goddard and David Lewis

What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader

Alison Reynolds, Dominic Houlder, Jules Goddard and David Lewis
4.3 (147 ratings)
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What's What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader about?

What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader (2019) explains how we've lost sight of some of the most important aspects of leadership, and it presents helpful philosophical perspectives to get us back on track. Drawing from both ancient and modern philosophy, the authors outline simple yet powerful approaches to rethinking strategy, management, and communication. And what’s even better is that these philosophical “hacks” aren’t just for CEOs. By using these thought experiments and insights, we can all flourish at work and outside of it. 

Who should read What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader?

  • Business leaders wanting to take their leadership skills to the next level
  • Managers who have already tried all the psychology hacks and need something more
  • Anyone interested in philosophy

19
Western Philosophy Books: The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir

The Ethics of Ambiguity

Simone de Beauvoir
4.5 (300 ratings)
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What's The Ethics of Ambiguity about?

The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947) is one of the foundational texts of existentialist philosophy. It's both a succinct summary of existentialist thought and a thorough interrogation of its ethical ramifications in the real world. By reflecting on what it means to be human, this book is a call to recognize and act upon one fundamental truth of our existence: that we are free.

Who should read The Ethics of Ambiguity?

  • Philosophically minded people who want to understand their existence.
  • Activists who seek to make the world a better place.
  • Anyone who exists and wants to know what to do about it.

20
Western Philosophy Books: Becoming Beauvoir by Kate Kirkpatrick

Becoming Beauvoir

Kate Kirkpatrick
A Life
4.5 (106 ratings)
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What's Becoming Beauvoir about?

Becoming Beauvoir (2019) recounts the story of French philosopher, writer and feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir for a contemporary audience. Making use of previously unpublished letters and diaries, Becoming Beauvoir describes how the famous intellectual became herself.

Who should read Becoming Beauvoir?

  • Those interested in feminism and gender studies
  • Budding existentialists
  • Philosophy students

21
Western Philosophy Books: How to Live a Good Life by ed. Massimo Pigliucci, Skye C. Cleary and Daniel A. Kaufman

How to Live a Good Life

ed. Massimo Pigliucci, Skye C. Cleary and Daniel A. Kaufman
A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy
4.3 (473 ratings)
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What's How to Live a Good Life about?

How to Live a Good Life (2020), edited by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary, and Daniel Kaufman, is an introduction to 15 philosophies for living our lives. Ranging from ancient ideologies, through the major religions, to contemporary schools of thought, 15 leading scholars enlighten us with the philosophies that guide their lives.

Who should read How to Live a Good Life?

  • Those in search of a new philosophy of life
  • People wanting to do good
  • People interested in learning about philosophy

22
Western Philosophy Books: Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant

Critique of Pure Reason

Immanuel Kant
4.6 (569 ratings)
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What's Critique of Pure Reason about?

The Critique of Pure Reason (1781) is one of the most groundbreaking, revolutionary, and influential books in the history of Western philosophy. Pointing out the limits of human reason, it argues that we can have knowledge about the world as we experience it, but we can never know anything about the ultimate nature of reality.

Who should read Critique of Pure Reason?

  • Skeptics 
  • Students of philosophy 
  • Adherents of both science and religion

23
Western Philosophy Books: A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

A Little History of Philosophy

Nigel Warburton
4.4 (307 ratings)
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What's A Little History of Philosophy about?

A Little History of Philosophy (2011) takes readers on a whistle-stop tour of the thinkers who shaped philosophy over two and a half millennia. From Ancient Greece to twentieth-century Germany, this book makes philosophy’s age-old questions feel as relevant today as when they were first posed.

Who should read A Little History of Philosophy?

  • History buffs interested in the development of philosophy
  • Ponderers drawn to questions about the meaning of life
  • Anyone daunted by typical philosophical jargon

24
Western Philosophy Books: Time of the Magicians by Wolfram Eilenberger

Time of the Magicians

Wolfram Eilenberger
Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy
4.5 (182 ratings)
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What's Time of the Magicians about?

Time of the Magicians (2020) explores one of the greatest periods of German philosophy: the 1920s. In this decade of extraordinary intellectual productivity, thinkers like Martin Heidegger, Ernst Cassirer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Walter Benjamin upended traditional philosophical thought completely and left a lasting mark on how we understand the world.

Who should read Time of the Magicians?

  • Armchair philosophers and critical thinkers
  • History buffs interested in Germany’s roaring twenties
  • Anyone who’s ever wondered about the meaning of life

25
Western Philosophy Books: How to Be an Epicurean by Catherine Wilson

How to Be an Epicurean

Catherine Wilson
The Ancient Art of Living Well
4.4 (211 ratings)
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What's How to Be an Epicurean about?

How to Be an Epicurean (2019) brings the ancient philosophy of Epicureanism into the modern age. This fascinating “theory of everything” is about much more than seeking pleasure, and it can help you live an enjoyable, moral, and meaningful life today.

Who should read How to Be an Epicurean?

  • Pleasure seekers looking for a philosophical creed
  • Philosophy fans who want to learn something new
  • Modern-day Stoics seeking another ancient philosophical perspective

26
Western Philosophy Books: Lives of the Stoics by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Lives of the Stoics

Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius
4.4 (1,436 ratings)
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What's Lives of the Stoics about?

Lives of the Stoics (2020) explores Stoicism through the lives of its earliest followers. Packed with insights into the leaders, wars, and politics of classical antiquity, these blinks provide a fresh yet historical look at this popular philosophy.

Who should read Lives of the Stoics?

  • Philosophy buffs seeking new insights
  • Strivers looking for inspiration
  • Budding historians looking for a fresh perspective

27
Western Philosophy Books: Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall

Aristotle’s Way

Edith Hall
How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life
4.5 (267 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
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What's Aristotle’s Way about?

Aristotle’s Way (2018) is a study of Aristotle, philosopher and polymath of Ancient Greece – but it’s not a scholarly guide to a historical artifact. Aristotle is simply far too alive to be relegated to that category. Friendship, happiness, talking, thinking, and living well were Aristotle’s great concerns. And what he had to say about those topics remains every bit as relevant today as it was when he first started exploring them some 2,500 years ago. 

Who should read Aristotle’s Way?

  • Old-school self-helpers 
  • Miserabilists ready for some happiness 
  • Job-hunters struggling with their cover letters

28
Western Philosophy Books: Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung

Man and His Symbols

Carl Jung
4.5 (337 ratings)
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What's Man and His Symbols about?

Man and His Symbols (1964) was the final work of the influential psychologist Carl Jung, and the only one written for a general audience. It breaks down some of Jung’s most complex ideas, such as his theories about archetypes and the unconscious, and it explores the vast expanse of symbols and stories that dwell within our minds.

Who should read Man and His Symbols?

  • Students of psychology and philosophy
  • People who want to understand their dreams better
  • Lovers of myths, legends, folk tales, and parables

29
Western Philosophy Books: That One Should Disdain Hardships by Musonius Rufus

That One Should Disdain Hardships

Musonius Rufus
The Teachings of a Roman Stoic
4.6 (144 ratings)
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What's That One Should Disdain Hardships about?

That One Should Disdain Hardships (2020) is a collection of lectures delivered in imperial Rome in the first century CE by the Stoic Gaius Musonius Rufus. Heralded as the “Roman Socrates,” Musonius’s philosophy is anything but academic. Designed to help listeners lead the best possible lives, his lectures hone in on practical, everyday questions. The result? A doctrine that you really can live by.

Who should read That One Should Disdain Hardships?

  • Philosophers and thinkers
  • History buffs
  • Practical-minded ethicists

30
Western Philosophy Books: The Myth of Sisyphus  by Albert Camus

The Myth of Sisyphus

Albert Camus
4.7 (409 ratings)
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What's The Myth of Sisyphus about?

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) is an influential essay that contributed significantly to the philosophical movements of existentialism and absurdism. The essay asks whether life is worth living in a world emptied of religious meaning and considers whether suicide is the only appropriate response to the void of meaninglessness. Ultimately, the essay advises against suicide, arguing that the meaninglessness of existence is, in fact, the condition for a fulfilling life lived with freedom, passion, and happiness.

Who should read The Myth of Sisyphus ?

  • Atheists who want to know how to live a meaningful life without faith
  • Armchair philosophers interested in significant works of Western thought
  • Anyone who could use a boost of inspiration and passion in their lives

31
Western Philosophy Books: Knowledge by Jennifer Nagel

Knowledge

Jennifer Nagel
A Very Short Introduction
4.2 (100 ratings)
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What's Knowledge about?

Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction (2014) is an accessible introduction to the complex field of epistemology. Epistemology is concerned with the nature of knowledge itself. What can we know? And how do we know that we know it? Knowledge surveys epistemological thinking from the ancient Greeks to contemporary philosophy, shining a bright light on this fascinating field of thought.

Who should read Knowledge?

  • Philosophy buffs and newbies alike
  • Skeptics who take everything with a grain of salt
  • Knowledge workers interested in delving deeper into knowledge itself.

32
Western Philosophy Books: The Soul of the World by Roger Scruton

The Soul of the World

Roger Scruton
3.7 (220 ratings)
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What's The Soul of the World about?

In an age where science and atheism seek to explain everything we are, The Soul of the World (2014) argues for the continued importance of religion. It doesn’t preach for a particular doctrine; rather, it claims that in art, music, architecture, and interpersonal relations, there is a striving toward the sacred that science alone can’t explain or fulfill. Finally, it argues that by devaluing or ignoring the transcendent, we are willfully giving up one of the very things that makes us human.

Who should read The Soul of the World?

  • Atheists, agnostics, and scientists seeking a challenge to their worldview
  • Conservatives, traditionalists, and religious people
  • Lovers of philosophy, music, or art

33
Western Philosophy Books: The Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche by Dave Jilk and Brad Feld

The Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche

Dave Jilk and Brad Feld
A Book for Disruptors
4.0 (98 ratings)
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What's The Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche about?

The Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche (2021) is a how-to guide for disruptors, examining the surprising ways in which this nineteenth-century philosopher can instruct and inspire twenty-first-century entrepreneurs. From business pitches to pride, and from victory to progress, it offers food for thought from an unfamiliar but stimulating perspective.

Who should read The Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche?

  • Entrepreneurs hoping to expand their conceptual toolkits
  • Businesspeople looking for a fresh perspective on innovation
  • All those interested in making practical use of philosophy

34
Western Philosophy Books: First Principles by Thomas E. Ricks

First Principles

Thomas E. Ricks
What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country
4.3 (249 ratings)
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What's First Principles about?

Over the years, much has been made of the influence of Enlightenment ideas –⁠ particularly those of English philosopher John Locke –⁠ on America’s founding fathers. First Principles (2020) takes a different approach. It focuses instead on the ways in which Greek and Roman history and philosophy profoundly shaped the values and goals of America’s first four presidents, and how classical ideas are embedded in the nation to this day.

Who should read First Principles?

  • Anyone interested in American history, or political philosophy
  • Students of Greek and Roman classics

35
Western Philosophy Books: On Being and Becoming by Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei

On Being and Becoming

Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei
An Existentialist Approach to Life
4.6 (509 ratings)
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What's On Being and Becoming about?

On Being and Becoming (2021) is simultaneously an introduction to the philosophy of existentialism and a guide to the good life. Drawing on a broad range of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century existentialist writers, the book unpacks the main themes and insights from the movement and explains what that means for how you should live your life.

Who should read On Being and Becoming?

  • Philosophically minded people looking for an introduction to existentialism’s key ideas 
  • Unhappy souls who dwell on the difficulties of existence
  • Anyone who wants to know how to live a happier and more authentic life

36
Western Philosophy Books: Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

Beyond Good and Evil

Friedrich Nietzsche
4.7 (999 ratings)
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What's Beyond Good and Evil about?

Beyond Good and Evil (1886) provides a comprehensive overview of the concepts and themes of Nietzsche's philosophy. It’s a work that dramatically parted ways from the Western philosophical tradition of the time, mocking philosophers for their narrow-mindedness and throwing into disrepute such fundamental concepts as truth, self, and morality. It has since proven to be one of the most influential texts of the nineteenth century, planting the seed for many European philosophical movements that followed.

Who should read Beyond Good and Evil?

  • Philosophy students looking for an overview of Nietzsche’s ideas
  • Generalists who like dipping their toes into the classics of Western thought
  • Anyone who’s in the mood to have their most deeply cherished beliefs tested

37
Western Philosophy Books: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

David Hume
4.5 (296 ratings)
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What's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding about?

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) presents a succinct summary of Hume’s empirical and skeptical philosophy, and is one of the most influential texts of the early modern period. In calling for the use of reason in rejecting the “superstitions” of metaphysical philosophy and religion, this text helped to furnish the philosophical basis for the scientific method that was then coming to prominence in Enlightenment Europe. Even today, Hume’s Enquiry remains one of the best introductions to modern philosophy.

Who should read An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding?

  • Philosophy students looking for an introduction to Hume’s most important ideas
  • Rationalists who want to sharpen their reasoning skills
  • Anyone interested in the classics of Western philosophy

38
Western Philosophy Books: The Art of Living by Epictetus

The Art of Living

Epictetus
The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness – A New Interpretation by Sharon Lebell
4.7 (652 ratings)
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What's The Art of Living about?

The Art of Living (1995) is a clear and concise introduction to Stoic philosophy. This modern interpretation of Epictetus’s teachings gives timeless insight into living a stable and satisfying life.

Who should read The Art of Living?

  • Modern thinkers curious about ancient philosophy
  • Hectic go-getters needing advice on slowing down
  • Anyone seeking a more Stoic lifestyle

39
Western Philosophy Books: Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

Four Thousand Weeks

Oliver Burkeman
Time Management for Mortals
4.5 (934 ratings)
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What's Four Thousand Weeks about?

Four Thousand Weeks (2021) explores concepts of time and time management, arguing that our modern attempts to optimize our time leave us stressed and unhappy. Drawing upon the work of ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual leaders, this book proposes a path to cultivating a fulfilling life through embracing our limitations.

Who should read Four Thousand Weeks?

  • Time management gurus
  • Philosophy students
  • Aspiring creatives and entrepreneurs

40
Western Philosophy Books: The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Social Contract

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
A cornerstone in modern political and social thought
4.5 (341 ratings)
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What's The Social Contract about?

The Social Contract (1762) is a seminal work of political and social theory, and is Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s most important and influential text. In the book, Rousseau lays out the conditions required for the legitimate founding and governing of a nation state. Playing a role in both the French Revolution and the founding of the US Constitution, The Social Contract is a cornerstone of modern political thought and essential reading for anyone interested in political theory.

Who should read The Social Contract?

  • Students looking for an introduction to Rousseau
  • Politics buffs interested in the foundational texts of liberalism
  • Life-long learners who want to know all the classics of Western thought

41
Western Philosophy Books: The Constitution of Liberty by Friedrich A. Hayek

The Constitution of Liberty

Friedrich A. Hayek
In Defense of Freedom and a Free Society
3.9 (303 ratings)
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What's The Constitution of Liberty about?

The Constitution of Liberty (1960) is a classic of economic philosophy. As one of the seminal texts of modern liberalism, it reminds us of the values of individual freedom, limited government, and universal principles of law. First published in the 1960s, it contends that social progress depends on the free market rather than on socialist planning. This work remains relevant in an age where socialist ideas are gaining new popularity. 

Who should read The Constitution of Liberty?

  • Students of twentieth-century history, politics, and economy 
  • Progressives and conservatives curious about liberalism 
  • Anyone interested in economic philosophy

42
Western Philosophy Books: In Praise Of Love by Alain Badiou

In Praise Of Love

Alain Badiou
4.3 (260 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's In Praise Of Love about?

In Praise of Love (2012) is a passionate defense of love in an age when romance is threatened from all directions. The product of a dialogue between French philosopher Alain Badiou and journalist Nicholas Truong, the book lays bare how our sex-obsessed media, our individualistic striving, and our online-dating culture are all setting love up to fail. Its thesis: love needs to be reinvented for the modern world.

Who should read In Praise Of Love?

  • Restless singles afraid of commitment
  • Hopeless romantics longing for more than just shallow hook-ups
  • Long-term couples who want to rekindle their bond

43
Western Philosophy Books: The Art of Rhetoric by Aristotle

The Art of Rhetoric

Aristotle
4.6 (452 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's The Art of Rhetoric about?

The Art of Rhetoric (4th century BCE) is a practical manual on the art of public speaking and persuasion. Written almost 2,500 years ago, The Art of Rhetoric remains one of the most incisive and comprehensive studies on rhetoric ever written.

Who should read The Art of Rhetoric?

  • Amateur orators who need to prepare for an upcoming speech
  • Businesspeople who frequently speak in meetings
  • Anyone who has an interest in the classics of western thought

44
Western Philosophy Books: Ethics by Simon Blackburn

Ethics

Simon Blackburn
A Very Short Introduction
4.3 (297 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Ethics about?

Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (2001) does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a clear and accessible introduction to the branch of philosophy that’s concerned with how we ought to treat each other. By exploring key challenges and theories within ethics, Simon Blackburn cuts through philosophical jargon so we can learn to think clearly about how we ought to behave.

Who should read Ethics?

  • Beginners looking to get started with philosophy
  • Cynics secretly wondering if an ethical life is even possible 
  • Altruists who want to live more ethical lives

45
Western Philosophy Books: Discipline Is Destiny by Ryan Holiday

Discipline Is Destiny

Ryan Holiday
The Power of Self-Control
4.7 (1,771 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Discipline Is Destiny about?

Discipline Is Destiny (2022) draws on Stoic virtues to make a case for a life guided by self-discipline. It shows how being in control of your body, thoughts, and emotions is a prerequisite to mastering anything else – and uses historical figures to illustrate how things like sleep, discomfort, and kindness tie into greatness. 

Who should read Discipline Is Destiny?

  • Frazzled folks looking for more structure in their lives
  • Go-getters who want to optimize their time and energy
  • Anyone seeking actionable steps to improve their happiness and well-being

46
Western Philosophy Books: The WEIRDest People in the World by Joseph Henrich

The WEIRDest People in the World

Joseph Henrich
How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous
4.1 (148 ratings)
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00:00

What's The WEIRDest People in the World about?

The WEIRDest People in the World (2020) describes why Westerners think and behave so differently from most other people. It also explains how the policies of the Western Church in the realms of marriage and kinship have helped cultivate these odd cultural attributes, transforming the world and helping the West flourish in the process. 

Who should read The WEIRDest People in the World?

  • Anyone interested in the confluence of history, anthropology, culture, and economics
  • Westerners seeking a greater understanding of cross-cultural differences
  • Fans of experimental psychology

47
Western Philosophy Books: Humanly Possible by Sarah Bakewell

Humanly Possible

Sarah Bakewell
Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope
4.2 (211 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Humanly Possible about?

Humanly Possible (2023) traces the roots of humanism in literature and science back through history. While telling the stories of the great humanist thinkers, it sheds light on humanity today as well as how we can better relate to our lives and environment through humanist beliefs and pursuits. 

Who should read Humanly Possible?

  • Anyone interested in the humanities
  • People looking for non-religious alternatives to moral thinking
  • Optimists

48
Western Philosophy Books: How to Think Like a Philosopher by Peter Cave

How to Think Like a Philosopher

Peter Cave
Scholars, Dreamers and Sages Who Can Teach Us How to Live
4.2 (251 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's How to Think Like a Philosopher about?

How to Think Like a Philosopher (2023) draws from the lives and work of thinkers through history to reveal unique perspectives on beauty, truth, and the nature of reality. It presents philosophy as an all-too-human search for meaning, and encourages everyone to do the same.

Who should read How to Think Like a Philosopher?

  • Deep thinkers looking for inspiration and wisdom from the past
  • Those curious about the ideas that have shaped the ways we approach life 
  • Anyone craving new ways to think about things

49
Western Philosophy Books: Being and Time by Martin Heidegger

Being and Time

Martin Heidegger
4.0 (94 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Being and Time about?

Being and Time (1927) is perhaps the most influential work of philosophy written in the twentieth century. Infamous for its infuriating, almost impenetrable complexity, its pages explore the most fundamental of all questions for a human being: what is it to be?

Who should read Being and Time?

  • Anyone – that is, everyone! – who can’t understand Being and Time
  • Philosophy nerds
  • Curious souls searching for answers to the deepest questions

50
Western Philosophy Books: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Ludwig Wittgenstein
4.0 (304 ratings)
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00:00

What's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus about?

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) is a singular and ground-breaking work of modern philosophy that attempts to illuminate the relationship between logic, language, and reality.

Who should read Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus?

  • Big thinkers curious about contemporary philosophy
  • Language lovers interested in the relationship between language and reality
  • Anyone interested in the major thinkers of modernity

51
Western Philosophy Books: Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas

Summa Theologica

Thomas Aquinas
3.6 (32 ratings)
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00:00

What's Summa Theologica about?

The Summa Theologica (1485), unfinished at the author’s death in 1274, dives into the depths of Christian theology, systematically exploring topics such as God, Christ, and the Holy Trinity. It dissects theological and philosophical arguments to present a comprehensive understanding of Christian doctrines.

Who should read Summa Theologica?

  • Aspiring theologians
  • Philosophy students
  • History enthusiasts

52
Western Philosophy Books: The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill

The Subjection of Women

John Stuart Mill
4.4 (11 ratings)
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00:00

What's The Subjection of Women about?

The Subjection of Women (1869) explores the unequal relationships between men and women, challenging ingrained societal norms. It argues for equal rights and opportunities, leading the way for feminist movement ideas.

Who should read The Subjection of Women?

  • Feminist theory enthusiasts
  • Students of political philosophy
  • Advocates for equal rights

53
Western Philosophy Books: Phaedo by Plato

Phaedo

Plato
4.4 (53 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Phaedo about?

Phaedo (written around 360 BC), discusses the immortality of the soul, life after death, and true philosophy. It showcases Socratic dialogues, where Socrates, on his deathbed, debates these subjects with his disciples.

Who should read Phaedo?

  • Philosophy enthusiasts
  • Those interested in the afterlife
  • Seekers of metaphysical knowledge

54
Western Philosophy Books: The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

The Consolation of Philosophy

Boethius
4.3 (13 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's The Consolation of Philosophy about?

The Consolation of Philosophy (524) provides an exploration into distress and suffering. It delivers a philosophical perspective on life’s harsh realities, putting forward the idea that wisdom can bring solace, even in dire circumstances.

Who should read The Consolation of Philosophy?

  • Philosophy enthusiasts
  • Seekers of wisdom
  • Those facing distress

55
Western Philosophy Books: The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche

The Birth of Tragedy

Friedrich Nietzsche
3.9 (18 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's The Birth of Tragedy about?

The Birth of Tragedy (1872) interprets Greek tragedy’s birth and death. The narrative advocates the re-emergence of tragic arts and rejects the societal shift towards rationality and science during the time when it was written.

Who should read The Birth of Tragedy?

  • Philosophy enthusiasts
  • Greek culture aficionados
  • Tragedy genre lovers

56
Western Philosophy Books: Electra by Sophocles

Electra

Sophocles
3.3 (14 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Electra about?

Electra (410 BC) is a deep dive into the power of emotions and the thirst for justice. It outlines the severe grief and anger of Electra, a character in ancient Greek mythology, who yearns to avenge her father’s murder.

Who should read Electra?

  • Fans of Greek mythology
  • Drama enthusiasts
  • Students of literature

57
Western Philosophy Books: Gender Trouble by Judith Butler

Gender Trouble

Judith Butler
Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
3.2 (37 ratings)
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00:00

What's Gender Trouble about?

Gender Trouble (1990) is a touchstone work of theory in gender studies. Notably, it introduces the concept of gender performativity, which has had a profound impact on feminist and LGBTQ+ scholarship and activism, and shaped contemporary ideas around gender. 

Who should read Gender Trouble?

  • Students of gender theory 
  • Feminists and LGBTQ+ activists 
  • Those keen to inform themselves about gender fluidity and performativity

58
Western Philosophy Books: The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Leo Tolstoy
4.8 (42 ratings)
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00:00

What's The Death of Ivan Ilyich about?

The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) tells the compelling story of Ivan Ilyich, a high-ranking official residing in the comforts of societal norms. The unexpected blow of a terminal illness derails his predictable routine, dragging him into a journey of profound self-reflection. The narrative forces Ivan to confront his mortality head-on, thereby shedding light on universal themes of human existence.

Who should read The Death of Ivan Ilyich?

  • Readers curious about existentialism
  • Fans of Russian literature
  • Individuals exploring mortality

59
Western Philosophy Books: The Kybalion by Three Initiates

The Kybalion

Three Initiates
A Study of Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece
4.3 (253 ratings)
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00:00

What's The Kybalion about?

Kybalion (1908) is an occult classic of the New Thought movement that claims that mind and thought are the ultimate powers of the universe, and human beings can harness those primal forces – like thought, rhythm, and polarities – for health, wealth, and influence. 

Who should read The Kybalion?

  • History buffs curious about the foundations of the New Age and self-help movements
  • Esoteric thinkers seeking out the texts that shaped modern occultism
  • Anyone wanting to expand their perspective on metaphysics and consciousness

60
Western Philosophy Books: The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey

Homer
4.6 (75 ratings)
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00:00

What's The Odyssey about?

The Odyssey (c. eighth century BC) is one of the foundational works of Western literature. The ancient Greek epic chronicles the arduous 10-year journey of hero Odysseus as he strives to return home from the Trojan War. Battling vengeful gods, mythical monsters, and the siren call of temptation, Odysseus's quest is not just for Ithaca, but for identity and meaning in a turbulent world.

Who should read The Odyssey?

  • Adventurers who love an epic travel story
  • Fans of fairy tales, fantasy, and mythology
  • Students of classic literature

61
Western Philosophy Books: Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Sophie's World

Jostein Gaarder
A Novel about the History of Philosophy
4.3 (67 ratings)
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00:00

What's Sophie's World about?

Sophie’s World (1991) is a unique story that takes you on a journey through the history of philosophy, as experienced by a teenage girl named Sophie Amundsen. After receiving mysterious letters containing philosophical questions, Sophie finds herself exploring fundamental questions about life, reality, and the very nature of existence.

Who should read Sophie's World?

  • History buffs
  • Lifelong students of philosophy
  • Anyone curious about the meaning of life

62
Western Philosophy Books: The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell

The Conquest of Happiness

Bertrand Russell
4.5 (103 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's The Conquest of Happiness about?

The Conquest of Happiness (1930) explores the pursuit of human happiness. It dissects common obstacles to happiness, such as competition and fatigue, as well as the various factors that contribute to it. Equal parts philosophical and practical, you’ll come away with a deepened understanding of, and preparedness for, a fulfilling life. 

Who should read The Conquest of Happiness?

  • Anyone wanting to increase their sense of fulfillment
  • Individuals interested in the development of the personal happiness movement
  • Philosophy enthusiasts seeking an understanding of Russell’s perspective

63
Western Philosophy Books: Ethics by Baruch Spinoza

Ethics

Baruch Spinoza
4.5 (267 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Ethics about?

Ethics (1677) is Spinoza’s enigmatic masterwork that changed philosophy. One of only two published works by the author, with the other published anonymously, the text became a flashpoint for divisions around the nature of god, religion, and nature, as well as a foundation for traditions of western mysticism and spirituality ever since.

Who should read Ethics?

  • Philosophy lovers curious about the works that shaped modern thought
  • History buffs looking for more on the great minds of the past
  • Mystical thinkers curious about the nature of the universe

64
Western Philosophy Books: Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

Being and Nothingness

Jean-Paul Sartre
A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology
4.4 (170 ratings)
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00:00

What's Being and Nothingness about?

Being and Nothingness (1943) is a seminal work of existentialist philosophy. It explores the major themes of existentialism, such as the intricacies of human consciousness, free will, and the interplay of objectivity and subjectivity.

Who should read Being and Nothingness?

  • Students and scholars of philosophy
  • People interested in intellectual history and influential philosophical texts
  • Anyone grappling with questions of meaning, identity, and consciousness

65
Western Philosophy Books: Critical Thinkers by Albert Rutherford

Critical Thinkers

Albert Rutherford
Methods for Clear Thinking and Analysis in Everyday Situations from the Greatest Thinkers in History
4.0 (54 ratings)
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00:00

What's Critical Thinkers about?

Critical Thinkers (2018) delves into the techniques and philosophies of some of history's most renowned thinkers. It provides practical strategies for applying their methods to enhance decision-making and problem-solving skills in daily life. As such, it bridges the gap between historical wisdom and contemporary challenges, offering insights into clearer and more effective thinking.

Who should read Critical Thinkers?

  • Students looking to enter a field requiring critical analysis and thought
  • Educators who want to incorporate critical thinking skills into their curriculum
  • Lifelong learners interested in improving their thinking skills

66
Western Philosophy Books: On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

On Liberty

John Stuart Mill
4.6 (26 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's On Liberty about?

On Liberty (1859) is a classic text on the relationship between society, government, and individual liberty. It defends the importance of personal liberty and self-expression, claiming that social progress is dependent on the protection of individual liberties from majority rule.

Who should read On Liberty?

  • Social philosophy scholars
  • Free speech advocates
  • Diverse thought leaders

67
Western Philosophy Books: Either/Or by Soren Kierkegaard

Either/Or

Soren Kierkegaard
A Fragment of Life
4.4 (29 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Either/Or about?

Either/Or (1843) contrasts aesthetic and ethical approaches to life through a series of fictional letters between two characters. Their dialogue explores themes of existential anxiety, subjectivity, and the search for meaning, and became foundational for 20th century existentialism.

Who should read Either/Or?

  • Philosophy enthusiasts
  • Anyone seeking intellectual stimulation
  • Individuals interested in existential themes

68
Western Philosophy Books: Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations

Ludwig Wittgenstein
4.0 (63 ratings)
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00:00

What's Philosophical Investigations about?

Philosophical Investigations (1953) documents the iconic thinker’s radical shift in understanding the nature of language and represents the culmination of his late career. It was incomplete on the author’s death and was published posthumously.

Who should read Philosophical Investigations?

  • Philosophy enthusiasts interested in learning about influential thinkers
  • Those curious about the origins of postmodernism
  • Spiritual seekers wanting contemplative wisdom about meaning, and the wonder of everyday language

69
Western Philosophy Books: Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-Reliance

Ralph Waldo Emerson
4.4 (173 ratings)
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00:00

What's Self-Reliance about?

Self-Reliance (1841) challenges societal conventions and stresses the importance of individual thought, independence, and self-expression. It serves as Emerson’s passionate advocacy for intellectual freedom and nonconformity.

Who should read Self-Reliance?

  • Independent thinkers
  • Lovers of philosophical texts
  • Students of American literature

70
Western Philosophy Books: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

John Locke
4.6 (5 ratings)
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00:00

What's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding about?

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) explains John Locke's belief regarding knowledge. He suggests it’s not innate but rather attained through our senses, arguing against the then-popular notion of divine inspiration and emphasizing the role of experience.

Who should read An Essay Concerning Human Understanding?

  • Aspiring philosophers
  • Students of psychology 
  • Seekers of enlightenment

71
Western Philosophy Books: The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine

The Age of Reason

Thomas Paine
4.6 (7 ratings)
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00:00

What's The Age of Reason about?

The Age of Reason (1794) fiercely critiques organized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, promoting deism, reason, and free thought over blind faith and dogmatic beliefs. It remains one of the most influential books of all time.

Who should read The Age of Reason?

  • Advocates of secularism
  • Critics of organized religion
  • Students of Enlightenment thought

72
Western Philosophy Books: Beyond the Pleasure Principle by Sigmund Freud

Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Sigmund Freud
4.1 (36 ratings)
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00:00

What's Beyond the Pleasure Principle about?

Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920 marks a pivotal turn in Sigmund Freud’s theoretical approach to psychology and psychoanalysis. In this work, Freud introduces the concept of the “death drive,” a fundamental tension between the life instincts that aim for survival, sexual reproduction, and pleasure, and the death instincts, which strive towards inanimate rest and a return to a state of non-existence.

Who should read Beyond the Pleasure Principle?

  • Students of psychology
  • Those intrigued by human behavior
  • Readers interested in Freud’s theories

73
Western Philosophy Books: In Praise of Folly by Erasmus

In Praise of Folly

Erasmus
4.2 (19 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's In Praise of Folly about?

In Praise of Folly (1511) is a critical examination of societal norms and institutions with a satirical lens, unveiling an unconventional wisdom that praises folly, or foolishness, as a driving force behind much human action and happiness.

Who should read In Praise of Folly?

  • Fans of Renaissance literature
  • Students of philosophy
  • Individuals questioning societal norms

74
Western Philosophy Books: Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Common Sense

Thomas Paine
4.3 (30 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Common Sense about?

Common Sense argues for American independence from British rule, combining clear moral principles with practical economic and political insights. It played a crucial role in persuading Americans to pursue a revolutionary break from Britain.

Who should read Common Sense?

  • History enthusiasts
  • Political theory students
  • Revolutionary thought admirers

75
Western Philosophy Books: The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

The Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle
4.2 (258 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's The Nicomachean Ethics about?

The Nicomachean Ethics (around 340 BC) explores the question of what makes a good life. It argues that achieving a balanced, virtuous life through rational activity is the essence of human happiness.

Who should read The Nicomachean Ethics?

  • Students of philosophy
  • Those interested in ethics
  • Anyone seeking a meaningful life

76
Western Philosophy Books: The Trojan Women by Euripides

The Trojan Women

Euripides
4.1 (74 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's The Trojan Women about?

The Trojan Women (415 BC) is a tragedy of war, centered on the plight of the defeated women of Troy. It emphasizes the cruel realities and senseless destruction that follows a brutal conflict, reminding readers of the high cost of war.

Who should read The Trojan Women?

  • Avid fans of Greek tragedy
  • Learners of ancient history
  • Students studying warfare consequences

77
Western Philosophy Books: Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill

Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill
4.8 (9 ratings)
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00:00

What's Utilitarianism about?

Utilitarianism (1861) introduces a moral theory proposing that the most ethical action is the one that maximizes overall happiness and well-being for all affected parties. The work explores the implications of this principle and defends it against potential objections, all while considering its practical applications in various aspects of life. 

Who should read Utilitarianism?

  • Technology, media, and business professionals who face complex ethical decisions in their work
  • Philosophy lovers interested in exploring influential theories
  • Lifelong learners who enjoy engaging with thought-provoking ideas.

78
Western Philosophy Books: How to Think Like a Woman by Regan Penaluna

How to Think Like a Woman

Regan Penaluna
Four Women Philosophers Who Taught Me How to Live a Life of the Mind
3.9 (7 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's How to Think Like a Woman about?

How to Think Like a Woman (2023) is an exploration of one woman’s journey to reclaim her love of philosophy in the face of a male-dominated canon. Interweaving memoir with the biographies of four extraordinary seventeenth- and eighteenth-century women philosophers, this inventive meditation challenges the foundations of traditional philosophical thought and envisions a more inclusive future for the discipline.

Who should read How to Think Like a Woman?

  • Women in academia who have experienced the challenges of navigating a male-dominated field
  • Fans of thought-provoking memoirs and biographies 
  • Anyone seeking an alternative perspective on the traditional Western philosophical canon

79
Western Philosophy Books: The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Stranger

Albert Camus
4.5 (11 ratings)
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00:00

What's The Stranger about?

The Stranger (1942) is widely considered a classic in twentieth-century literature. It tells the tale of a murder in Algiers, and the unusual trial that follows. While there’s no mystery as to who did the killing, the story raises many questions about what makes a person guilty in the eyes of their community.

Who should read The Stranger?

  • Fans of classic literature
  • Anyone interested in philosophy
  • People curious about existentialism and absurdism

80
Western Philosophy Books: Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars

Lessons in Stoicism

John Sellars
What Ancient Philosophers Teach Us about How to Live
4.7 (9 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Lessons in Stoicism about?

Lessons in Stoicism (2020) encapsulates the enduring wisdom of ancient Stoic philosophers, focusing on the practical application of their ideas to managing emotions, confronting adversities, and contemplating mortality. Distilling these ancient teachings into guidance that’s relevant to contemporary life, it shows how Stoicism can help you make the most of your time.

Who should read Lessons in Stoicism?

  • Individuals seeking practical guidance on emotional resilience
  • Philosophy enthusiasts interested in ancient wisdom for modern living
  • Self-improvers looking for strategies to boost their daily quality of life

81
Western Philosophy Books: Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco

Foucault's Pendulum

Umberto Eco

What's Foucault's Pendulum about?

Foucault's Pendulum is a complex and thought-provoking novel that delves into the realms of history, philosophy, and conspiracy theories. Set in the 20th century, it follows three friends who create a fictional conspiracy theory, only to find themselves entangled in a web of real-life secrets and mysteries. With intricate storytelling and deep philosophical insights, Umberto Eco challenges our perceptions of reality and the power of human imagination.

Who should read Foucault's Pendulum?

  • Intellectually curious individuals who enjoy complex narratives
  • Readers interested in historical, philosophical, and occult themes
  • Those seeking a thought-provoking exploration of truth, reality, and human perception

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Western Philosophy Books
 FAQs 

What's the best Western Philosophy book to read?

While choosing just one book about a topic is always tough, many people regard Second Treatise of the Government as the ultimate read on Western Philosophy.

What are the Top 10 Western Philosophy books?

Blinkist curators have picked the following:
  • Second Treatise of the Government by John Locke
  • The Republic by Plato
  • Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes
  • Anticipate by Rob-Jan de Jong
  • The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch
  • Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
  • Doubt: A History by Jennifer Michael Hecht
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Selfie by Will Storr
  • How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci

Who are the top Western Philosophy book authors?

When it comes to Western Philosophy, these are the authors who stand out as some of the most influential:
  • John Locke
  • Plato
  • René Descartes
  • Rob-Jan de Jong
  • David Deutsch