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My top 10 philosophy books - the best philosophical books I've read

Why philosophy?

"You cannot do without philosophy; for everything has its hidden meaning, which we must know." - Maxim Gorky

This will be, necessarily, a very personal answer to the question asked by Ryan Hupfer about the 10 philosophy books it is essential to read. We are all philosophers, although we might not call ourselves by that title. As Edward Craig wrote in the book Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2002): "In fact, philosophy is hard to avoid, even with conscious effort." His point is that any statement one can make about philosophy will come from some set of values or beliefs, which are of course, philosophical questions themselves.

So we're all philosophers to some extent, and all people have been since the dawn of consciousness, when the "naked ape" began to think about what he or she was doing, and how they were doing it and to what end they were doing it. These are the questions that indicate a higher consciousness than that of the other animals, and they are the beginning of philosophy, often expressed in stories for kids.

The question that this Hub needs to answer is to do with the most important philosophy books that one should read, and the answer would depend on why one would want to read philosophy books at all.


Philosophy - a very short introduction

If it is to start an exploration of the subject, which is a wide and deep one, then the best introduction, in my opinion, is the book that I quoted above by Edward Craig, which is in the excellent series of Oxford University Press books called "Very Short Introductions."

Craig in his introduction, after a general orientation to the subject in Chapter 1, discusses three important philosophical texts, Chapter 2 looks at Plato's Crito, Chapter 3 introduces Hume's Of Miracles and Chapter 4 an anonymous Buddhist's writing on the self in King Milinda's Chariot.

He then goes on to discuss some general themes of philosophy such as ethical consequentialism (you'll have to read the book to know what that means!), integrity, the contract theory of political authority, evidence and rationality, and the self.

In the next chapter Craig introduces the reader to the "isms" of philosophy, the jargon and concepts used in the discipline.

In Chapter 7 Craig discusses and describes what he terms "high spots" a personal selection of important philosophical works. So this chapter is in itself an answer to this question of the most important philosophical works that one should read in order to gain a deeper insight into the discipline as a whole.

This chapter starts with Rene Descarte's famous Discourse on the Method of Rightly Using One's Reason (1637) in which the philosopher proposed a radical questioning ofeverything, a refusal to accept the "received wisdom" and raised the use of doubt to a philosophical tool. He also wrote the (in)famous dictum: cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am.

The next book introduced in this chapter is Hegel's Introduction to the Philosophy of History, which Craig characterises as "heavy-duty metaphysics" in contrast to the other writers he has discussed in the book. With regard to the difficulty of reading Hegel Craig says, "if you select a page at random and read it from top to bottom you will probably feel that you might just as well have read it from bottom to top."

After this comes the book which still causes so much controversy in the world today, the book which has divided people as perhaps no other ever has, Darwin's great treatise on The Origin of Species , published in 1859.Craig very succinctly deals with some of the moral objections to Darwin's hypothesis and shows how practical and in tune with the evidence it is.

The next philosopher dealt with is that curmudgeonly fellow Nietsche who, as Craig reminds us, "had no intention of offering his readers a comfortable experience, and his contemporaries defended themselves by just not reading him." The specific work Craig discusses is The Genealogy of Morals published in 1887, with its amazing first sentence: "how much we know nowadays, but how little we know about ourselves."

The final chapter looks at "What's in it for whom?" Here Craig discusses the benefits of philosophy for the individual, the state, the priesthood, the working classes, women, animals and professional philosophers.

One of the benefits of reading philosophy, Craig points out, is the sheer enjoyment of the writing: "Much philosophy is well-written, and it is strongly recommended to enjoy the writing as well as the views and the arguments."

A.C. Grayling

Since writing this Hub I have discovered the wonderful British philosopher Anthony Clifford Grayling whose main focus is on ethics, arising from his interest in the Socratic question, "How shall we live?"

He has written a number of very technical books on aspects of philosophy, among them Wittgenstein (1988), Russell (1996), Truth Meaning and Realism (2007), Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge (2008).

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He is perhaps best known for his regular column in the Guardian newspaper in which he attempts to "apply considerations of philosophy to concrete situation in life."

These columns, with an assortment of other writings, have been collected into books starting in 2001 when The Meaning of Things was published, through The Reason of Things (2002), The Mystery of Things (2004), The Heart of Things (2005) and The Form of Things (2006).

His latest book is The Good Book: A Secular Bible (2010).

Grayling is an entertaining, deep and erudite writer, well worth reading.

My personal list

This is my personal list of favourite philosophical works, in addition to the book described above, which is certainly a favourite of mine.

On the history of philosophy, at least that of the west, there is in my view no better overview than that by Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, first published in 1946 and reprinted many, many times since then. The copy I have is a Counterpoint edition published in 1984. The book is a survey of western thought from the pre-Socratics in Greece to the early-to-mid-20th Century thinkers. Russell is not averse to letting his readers know his preferences and prejudices, and so, in spite of the nearly 800 pages, it is a lively read, full of judgements and criticisms.

Another way to approach the history of philosophy is to put it into a novel about some of the questions dealt with by the discipline, and this is the approach of Jostein Gaarder in his entertaining and enlivening Sophie's World , first published in Norwegian in 1991. In this book about a 14-year-old schoolgirl called Sophie, she gets mysterious notes posing questions like "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" These questions set off a wonderful tale of discovery, also taking the reader from the pre-Socratics to the existentialists. A great read.

Since we're dealing with philosophical novels, the next one is the ever-popular Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, first published in 1974, and sub-titled "An Inquiry Into Values". This book achieved cult status in the 1970s and it still reads, in my view, well today. I re-read it a few years ago and found its ideas still challenging, though I would not agree with Pirsig on all his conclusions. But how can one not like a book which its own author describes as "in no way associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It's not very factual on motorcycles either." But it still manages to raise some core philosophical questions entertainingly.

Next up on my list, though it should not be confused with a novel, is On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers. Why a book on psychotherapy in a list of philosophical works? Well, psychology, for one thing, used to be a branch of philosophy, and for another thing, it is hinted at in the question posed to Sophie in Sophie's World : "Who are you?" Psychology is the attempt to understand ourselves, to answer also that objection of Nietsche that we don't know too much about ourselves. It is a philosophical issue couched in psychotherapeutic terms, and brilliantly so, by Rogers.

Philosophy is largely about questions, rather than answers, and many of the philosophical books that are of any good are about the questions that philosophy, and indeed any thinking person, would ask. A.J. Ayer, the great colleague of Bertrand Russell, wrote The Central Questions of Philosophy (1973) to try to tease out what philosophy is all about. Ayer writes from the standpoint of logical analysis, a method that Russell describes as making "successive approximations to the truth," without denying the value of what has gone before.

Another approach to philosophical questioning is the wonderful book by Christopher Phillips called Six Questions of Socrates (2004) which is more about "doing" philosophy than just talking (or writing) about it. Each of the first six chapters of the book takes a Socratic question: what is virtue? What is moderation? what is justice? What is good? What is courage? What is piety? and recounts how people in Phillips's "Socrates Cafes" have struggled with the questions. The last chapter asks "is excellence still possible?", a question very much related to the question Pirsig asked in his book.

Still on the question of questions a relatively little-known but powerful book is that by E.F. Schumacher, who also wrote Small is Beautiful, A Guide for the Perplexed (1977). This book deals with the existence of "maps" which describe, often not very accurately, the world around us, or the philosophy which we adhere to, consciously or not. He describes also four levels of knowledge, starting from the same Phaedrus Socratic dialogue that motivated Pirsig. The book, like Pirsig's, is an appeal to us to turn around from the destructive ways of life that we seem to be following (see Paraglider's great Hub on this) to summon the courage to deal with the moral problem of how we live together. But he points out that moral problems are divergent and have to be understood and transcended. Another great and challenging read.

The next book on my list is somewhat different,. For a start it is written in Afrikaans, so is accessible only to those who can read that language, or perhaps Dutch. It was written by the professor who started me off on the great journey of philosophy, Professor J. J. Degenaar, of the University of Stellenbosch, in South Africa. The book is called Eksistensie en Gestalte (Existence and Form) (1962) and it deals with existentialism as Degenaar finds it within the poetry of great Afrikaans poet N.P. Van Wyk Louw. It is a beautiful book which combines a keen analysis of life with a deep appreciation of poetic beauty. A lovely little book of philosophical and artistic musings.

My final choice is by Dutch theologian Bernard Delfgaauw and is called The Young Marx (origianlly published in Dutch in 1962, English translation 1967). This book deals with the philosophical writings of the young Karl Marx, that is up to the publication of the Communist Manifesto of 1848. Delfgaauw's thesis is that Marx "in these early works, arrived at a penetrating analysis of the great human problems of his time..." A great introduction to an important, and I think much mis-understood humanist philosopher.

I hope that this answer to the question about great philosophical writing is entertaining enough to encourage many people to start to explore the wonderful and interesting field of philosophy, not so much to find answers as to raise questions in new and exciting ways so that the search for answers becomes the point, rather than the finding of answers, leading to, in Russell's words, "a lessening of fanaticism with an increasing capacity of sympathy and mutual understanding."

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2009


conradofontanilla on October 12, 2014:

I have not gone through the comments.

I have a copy of Russell's "Wisdom of the West" also titled "A history of Western Philosophy. I read other books by Russell, "Our knowledge of the External World," "My Philosohical Development." autobiographies (two volumes), "An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth," "Why I am not a Christain," "The ABC of Relalivity," and "Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits." I think I understand Hegel but do not agree with him. Marx adopted Hegel's metaphysics to apply it on historical metaphysics. I read part of Thomas Kuhn's philosophy but disagree with him on the theory of truth. Several people believing a statement of fact does not make the statement true. I adopt the correspondence theory of truth. I adopt the language game. I have an old book by Campbell "What is Science" published in 1921 that partly explains the method of Einstein. However, it lacks how elementary statements of fact begin. Russell supplies it with the theory of definite description. Russell give me adequate tools on validity of mathematics and truth of science. And how truth can be derived from the valid mathematical formulation of the special theory of relativity by Einstein. Otherwise I would not know how to convert validity to truth. Einstein's book "Ideas and Opinions" give me a useful tool to understand theory. I read ""Small is Beautiful" trying to get some some guides on how underdeveloped countries can develop. It is not applicable in the Philippines where feudalism blocks the way to progress. I tried to read some parts of Thomas Aquinas, but I was discouraged to proceed by Russell's comment that Aquinas is a master engineer who knows where to go and invents a road to get there. To Russell that is not the way of philosophy.

I intend to ponder further on pragmatism, the Dewey version, as it is being applied in research or technology. "If it works, it is true." There is still an unclarified or rather unsettled dispute between statistics of John Maynard Keynes and that of Mises-Racheinbach theories. What is the size of a sample that describes more accurately a universe? Suppose you do not know the size of the universe? Neilsen rating system is making money from the viewership of television or video use.

I agree that we use philosophy in everyday life, in ways of thinking and ways of talking. In religion, Russell asked "Who made god?" Now in physics research the question is "Who made Higg's boson?

Dreen Lucky from St. Paul, minnesota on September 16, 2013:

I loved this hub! Very good subject and very thought provoking.

Wolfgang G. Greiner (dali48) on September 08, 2013:

Thank you tonymac04, for your great Hub about philosophy books - "One of the most moving and beautiful speeches I've ever read in my life is the Socrates death speech, where he has drunk the hemlock and is saying goodbye to his friends. He had the opportunity to avoid the death sentence and live in exile, and instead he chose death, basically to be a good citizen. It was so moving-his wife was in tears, and had to leave the room. He died for a philosophy, he died for a principle--he died as he had lived"... (Comment of Paradise7) -

I would have chosen exile - the smaller evil... see dali48 and philosophy & pschology etc...

Harish Kumar H S on March 05, 2013:

this blog is superb. can you also throw some light on Hegel and Popper's books. I have heard these authors are good. But I don't know much about their writings. thank you

R. J. Lefebvre on December 10, 2012:

I have many interests, philosophy is one of them. However my interests are so many, I can never really get to know everything an author can produce, other interests can snag me away. Your hub entices me to check out some of the books you mentioned. Thanks. Your hub kept my attention through out wich 'is rare for me', I usually just scan ! One question: Socrates is my favorite, where does he stand in philosopher ratings?


Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on May 29, 2012:

Thank you for introducing me to the weighty subject of philosophy. Carlos Castenada's books are about as close as I want to get to reading philosophy per se. Later!

ancestralstory from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on April 29, 2012:

Sophie's World is one of my favourite novels! An interesting and engaging approach to introducing philosophy. Great hub by the way!

sundeep on April 03, 2012:

free philosophy ebooks...

Java Programs from India on March 05, 2012:

Wow tonymac04 .... This list is awesome .... So much research ... I will buy one of those .... for sure .....

Thanks agin for such a good book list ....

Keep the good work up .....

htodd from United States on March 04, 2012:

Nice books on philosophy..Great hub

Udeh Philip on February 29, 2012:

Hi All,

I want to be a philosopher. Presently, I want to major philosophy in the university of calabar. Nigeria.

Philip Emmanuel Udeh

Phone: 07033067911

I really need mentors or rabbi.

Rael Casalme from Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 27, 2011:

Wait! I've got to jot these books down. I feel very slow in progress when I saw how many books you have read. Really have to catch up quick.

I've got some books piled up in my room, but haven't read them all yet, and then these? Oh My!

I'll sure finish reading all of these one day. Thanks.

jeyaramd from Mississauga, Ontario on December 24, 2011:

The power of now is a great beginners philosophy book. I found that it touches on many important aspects of our present moment. Such as living life to the fullest in the present moment without compromising present moments by worrying about the past or future. We should only retrieve pertinent information from our past and future, but should do most of our valuable work in the present moment. Enjoyed your hub on philosophy. These are great books. I had the pleasure of reading one of those books. Thanks for the recommendation and your interpretations. Great work.

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on November 12, 2011:

Tony, I am certainly very glad I came across this hub because philosophy is one of my favorite subjects. I saw one of the comments by Theresa who indicated you left out Winnie the Pooh, which I thought was funny. Decartes was always one of my favorites although I love reading all of them, possibly due to being cursed to think a lot and analyze a lot. Thumbs up on your hub. Thanks again.

Vipin Behari on November 04, 2011:

Notes from Underground-Dostoyevsky is my all time favorite.

I agree with all other books.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None is worth a reread.

Siddhartha Shankar on October 02, 2011:

I extremely love these books especially Russell's History of Western philosophy. Excellent decision indeed.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 30, 2011:

Tony - I am so very excited about this list of philsophy books. Thank you for providing so much information. You have put time and thought into your research. I appreciate that so much. I am eager to get started with Christopher Phillips. I will order from amazon by clicking on one of the above links in the hope that you will get the credit. :) Voted UP and across the board.

Hugs, vocalcoach

The Art of Happiness! on September 26, 2011:

The Art of Happiness! ALL IN ONE PHILOSOPHY!!

MP on August 28, 2011:

Great introduction as well nutshell summary of Philospphy.

I am a scientist and an inventor, and I have a tendency to think in terms of bottom line contributions to people such as disease prevention and treatment.

Would you please point out a couple of tangible contributions (such as Gandhi, MLK, Regan,Teresa, Einstein, Churchill etc.) of Philosophers?

I am sincerely curious and open minded, and not being critical.

Dicaeopolis from California, USA on August 24, 2011:

Russell's Problems of Philosophy is the book that got me interested in philosophy. I'm still amazed that a book written so long ago is still so current. Russell had a really good sense of where philosophy was going. His History of Western Philosophy is fun to read, but a little gossipy. Thanks for the hub.

trecords0 from DeLand, Florida on August 16, 2011:

How did Pirsig beat out Sartre? I'm a fan of both, but if Pirsig made the list, then why not Zappa?

an iranian girl on August 07, 2011:

hi dear tony

really tanx 4 this great post :X

Light on June 15, 2011:

Hello Tony,

I am just 31 years old and I am quite an happy person with good family, kids & career life. Somehow, for the past 1 year I am going through existential crisis. Everything in this world, starting from Politics, religion and the present scenario of global economics is imposing on my mind that everything and everyone are not on the right path. We all are becoming selfish. I started wondering what is my purpose in this life? Why am I here? Even basic mathematics such as negative integers, Zero and infinity itself seems wrong for me as I strongly think education should be studied again with Positive numbers and fractions alone. I hope you are understanding the level of confusions going on in my mind! What i need from you is some advise as you are into philospohical studies... To be frank, i never wanted guidance from human being any more, as people seems to be ignorant or close-minded with whatever is happening around. Do you also gone through times like this before entering in Philosphical studies?

black book on May 25, 2011:

I would suggest "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist" by Geisler and Turek, but then I haven't read enough clear-cut philosophy literature to suggest others that would be applicable.

Mikio on May 06, 2011:

Thanks for a nice hub, Tony. For me, the word 'philosophy' has two distinct definitions. The first one is the enterprise of finding the epistemological common ground with others. The questions to ponder are: "how do we know what we know? , and if we think that we know something, then how do we communicate our knowledge with others?" I think Hume and Kant tried their best to answer these questions. The second (and perhaps more popular) definition is the love of wisdom. It is all about figuring out how to live wisely and happily. The traditional Greco-Roman discipline called Ethics comes to my mind. Philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Cicero set the tone for the later generations of philosophers. I still like your top 10 list, even though you didn't mention Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 27, 2011:

Sem - thanks for stopping by and for the great comment. The Aurelius meditations are great too, I agree. Just dipping back into Schumacher at the moment, renewing the old acquaintance, so to speak, and also Kierkegaard.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace


Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 27, 2011:

John - thanks for the comment and for the remindcer about Nietzsche.

Love and peace


Sembj on April 24, 2011:

A thoughtful and interesting list - I can't pretend to have read everything on it but have read over half. I was particularly pleased to see Schumacher on it.

It seems to me that existentialism has been pretty well adopted by many who live in the West whether they know it or not. However, unlike many of the early existentialists, today there is far less concern for principles and other matters that many of the pioneers thought important.

Marcus Aurelius's collection of aphorisms and thoughts is an excellent bedside book since I can think of no other book where just a few minutes reading is so finely rewarded. I would add it to most reading lists.

Great article!

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on April 23, 2011:

Excellent article - essay really....

But remember, Nietzsche purposely chose to be misunderstood, as he says in "Ecce Homo." Just like you, he felt we're all philosophers, and his intent, was for people to understand this for themselves.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 14, 2011:

Rocksandal - I appreciate your comment very much, thank you.

Love and peace


rocksandal from victoria bc on April 08, 2011:

Dear writer,

You have discussed very good about lovely word of this world "philosophy" and you also know very well its very difficult to write in few lines . This is good sign of your writing that you have written so many things in one page.


Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on March 24, 2011:

TKI - glad you feel inspired! Philosophy is such an inspiring and interesting topic to read.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace


toknowinfo on March 19, 2011:

Thanks for compiling this interesting hub. Philosophy is such an intriguing topic, but I can usually only take it in small doses before it hurts my brain. You inspired me to do more reading. It will just take me some time to get through your list.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on March 13, 2011:

Jackie - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you found it useful.

Love and peace


Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on March 13, 2011:

Munira - thanks for the thoughtful and interesting comment.

Love and peace


jackie_fish on March 10, 2011:

really nice hub ill have to check them out for collage and to help me write some hubs well done

munirahmadmughal on March 03, 2011:

"My top 10 Philosophy books".

The hub is rich in contents, full in information and beautiful in expression.

Main thing is to find the truth. How it is to be found may be different among human beings.

The fire burns is a truth.It is learnt from others that the fire burns, This is called the knowledge of certitude. One day one sees with his own eyes that the fire is burning the wood. This is the vision of the Certitude. God forbid, one day one's own hand falls into the fire and is burnt. This is the establishment or the truth of the certitude.

We rely onour eyesight. The eye sees the tunnel wider at the start and narrow at the end though it is equal thorughout. Our eye cannot see in darkness. our eye dazzles in excessive light. our eye cannot see what is behind the wall. our eye cannot see what has been mixed in the solution. All these are called fallacies of our naked eye.

As we have eyes of the head so we have eyes of the heart. When inner eyes become open the enlightenment comes.

Philosophy is to know the reality and reality is one everywhere.

May God bless all.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 23, 2011:

Fay - so glad you stopped by here and enjoyed the read! Thanks and glad you found some books here to add to your list (which, if it's anything like mine, is no doubt already too long!).

Love and peace


Fay Paxton on February 23, 2011:

I love reading philosophy. Your excellent hub and presentation make it all the more appealing. I found a couple of books to add to my list. Thank you

rated up/useful

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 22, 2011:

Gerry - thank you for a really wonderful comment. I look forward to your Hub. I do know the Gilgamesh epic.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace


sligobay from east of the equator on February 21, 2011:

Thanks for the extensive research and thoughtful presentation. My comment will extend the full length of a Hub and therefore I must write one which will take some time I'm afraid. Suffice it to say that I agree that philosophy now encompasses psychology and books addressing self-awareness. My article will begin with the first literature found in the "Epic of Gilgamesh" which I recommend to you my friend. Mortality is the first and foremost issue of society and individuality in my humble estimate.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 18, 2011:

Epi - thanks so much for those very kind words which I really and sincerely appreciate.

I hope to "run long" - thanks! But not long-windedly, I hope!

Love and peace


epigramman on February 18, 2011:

...well it ain't exactly philosophy - and it ain't exactly psychology - but it's certainly fact - and that fact is - you are a terrific writer, a terrfic gentleman - and a hub phenomenon!!!! Long may you run, as Neil Young once sang!

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on January 27, 2011:

Barabara - I'm not sure how you missed this one, it's the most read of all my Hubs, believe it or not! Hope you enjoy Sophie's World. I'm not sure about the painting connection? Have to investigate that.

Love and peace


Barbara from Stepping past clutter on January 26, 2011:

Well Mr Mac, how could I have missed this hub? Mt favorite class freshman year in college was Philosophy and I took three classes from a brilliant Prof named Christiansen who had a PhD from Yale. He was a god to me! The intelligent discourse offered here brings back such fond memories.

Thanks. I plan to pick up Sophie's World. Isn't this based on a painting? Or is it the other way around?

Your friend, B

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on January 25, 2011:

Tony - thanks for stopping by and nice to meet you too!

Love and peace


Tony Mead from Yorkshire on January 22, 2011:

HI there nice to meet you, great hub

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on January 16, 2011:

My Esoteric - thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you found this Hub useful. I am gratified. Hope you continue to enjoy your exploration of the wonderful world of philosophy.

Love and peace


Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on January 14, 2011:

It is quite an approbation on your hub to have such a long stream of praise to which I add my own. While interested in philosophy most of my life, it has been mostly internal. Writing, I thought, wasn't my thing back in the day and only recently found that I love it. Unfortunately time limits me to mostly listening rather than reading ... two months to get through Don Quiote can you believe ... although I have Spinoza and Aristotle sitting on my table. Fortunately, I found "The Great Courses" series from The Teaching Company a couple of years ago to help introduce me to the fasinating world of philosophy. I became one of your followers to learn more. Great Hub!

Scott on January 05, 2011:

Hi There,

We were just wondering if you wouldn't mind us posting this on our website? We are working to create the biggest online community of Top Tens in Australia and would like your post to be part of it.

If you send us your advertising code from Google Adsense for 2 different banner ads (Image 728 X 90 and Text 728 X 90), we are happy to have these on your page so that you can earn off you post from us.

Looking forward to working with you,


From the My Top Ten Australia Team.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on January 04, 2011:

Philosophybooks - as you note this was intended as a comprehensive list. It is really just a list of the best of my personal collection. I have read quite widely in philosophy and this is just some of the ones that have been most meaningful for me over the years.

Thanks for stopppingby.

Love and peace


Philosophy Books on January 04, 2011:

I know this probably wasn't intended to be a comprehensive list of philosophy books; however, I think that Martin Heidegger's "Being and Time" should be considered as a philosophical must-read. Perhaps for beginners, it's not the best one to start out with, and perhaps some secondary material on him would be preferable. But I do think that his concept of Dasein and temporality being the most comprehensive feature of reality really makes him one of the most innovative philosophers of all time. I would predict, in the future, that Heidegger will hold the same fame that Plato and Aristotle now hold.

I would also say that Hegel or Derrida might someday hold that fame as well.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on September 27, 2010:

Darker - thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your kind words.

Love and peace


darkerlt on September 20, 2010:

Really cool :)

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on September 05, 2010:

Mark - The Republic is indeed a great book. Haven't read it for years now, though. Will have to re-visit it.

Thanks for the read and the comment.

Love and peace


Mark Monroe from Dover De on September 04, 2010:

My favorite is still Plato's Republic, it has challenged people for centuries.

kephrira from Birmingham on August 28, 2010:

I've always meant to read some of Bertrand Russell's work but have never got around to it. Nietzche is good; I like his 'twighlight of the idols' and 'the antichrist' which are published together in one book.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on August 20, 2010:

Christine - yes indeed, the challenge is the thing! Wish you well on your continuing voyage of discovery! It is sure to be fun!

Love and peace


Christine Mulberry on August 20, 2010:

Oh, my. I have some serious catching up to do. I haven't read philosophy since college...well unless you count the Tao of Pooh. Several of these do sound challenging...and that is the purpose, isn't it? Good to have some knowledgeable recommendations.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on August 19, 2010:

ilb - thanks for the comment!

Love and peace


iloveBOOKS on August 17, 2010:

Nice. It explains how different areas of philosophy related and explores the context in which philosophy was and is done.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on August 03, 2010:

CG - thanks for the comment and your very kinds words, which I do appreciate. Sorry you have been banned from HP! Don't know why?

Roger - well, thanks for the comment and I obviously don't agree with you except in the case of Pirsig ignoring the logical flaws - clearly he did.

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Love and peace


roger on August 02, 2010:

Sophie's World was simply atrocious. It has to be some of the most dull formulaic writing I have ever read.

Zen and art of motors, was somewhat interesting. He clearly ignored huge flaws in his theories and mistakes of logic. Furthermore, as for the plot and dialog, this book is right up there with sophie's world. Really unbearable.

careerguidance` from chandigarh on July 07, 2010:

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is very impressive. The origin lies in our childhood when our mind-set was

frozen into a conditioned attitude to advice from all elders. Not encouraged to

exercise independent choice then, we are scared to do it even now.

Understanding this fact with deep feeling and the havoc it plays with

our lives, is the first step we need to take to be self-possessed and

self assured. A beginning should be made with small things. The effort

should be kept up until we catch up with bigger things. Wisely has it

been said, “Take care of little things, big things will take cared of

themselves”. The crying need is to embark on this path right here and

now. career guidance

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on June 02, 2010:

Coolmon - thanks for the visit and I'm, glad you enjoyed it!

Love and peace


Coolmon2009 from Texas, USA on June 02, 2010:

I enjoyed reading this article on philosophy. Thank you for sharing.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on May 09, 2010:

Sagbee - that is the chazllenge, isn't it, to really live the philosophy you espouse inteelctually?

Katie - Emerson is an inspiration.

Thanks for dropping by, good people. Your comments are appreciated.

Love and peace


Katie McMurray from Ohio on May 08, 2010:

tony, My two daughters attend Emerson World Cultures and Language School, Ralph Waldo Emerson, I adore philosphy its pure logic to me...Thanks and Peace :)

sagbee from Delhi on May 08, 2010:

It is very easy to be a philosopher but moving ahead on the same path is quite difficult.. Anyhow a nice hub on philosophy :)

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on May 06, 2010:

Rebecca - your kind words delight me! Thanks for the visit and the comment.

Love and peace


Rebecca E. from Canada on May 05, 2010:

I haven't read much in this area, but because of this fantastic hub I shall. it is insighful and intelligent but i would expect no less from you. thanks for this hub.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 21, 2010:

alderdear - thanks for dropping by and making such an interesting comment. I will explore the work by Elaref Ahmed. Thanks for the link.

Love and peace


alderdear on April 21, 2010:

BOOK ONE is the only way out!!the metaphysical issues that Kant "as he is supposed to be the most regirous" advised us to totally withdraw from! is traeted in unprecedented style .

Pure reason had find its proper domain and necessities are inferred by the author.

The problem of deduction"infinite regress" is overcame, the vicious circle due to the obstacle of the criterion has been broken with one selfevident statement.

Agnosticism, beliefism, dogmas, and most astonishingly IDEALISM was dealt a death blow merely by a definition of one mental entity ie one self-evident statement where "the predicate is a defining quality of the subject ".

A system of truth by necessity to the exclusion of impossibility is built and above it all the EXISTENCE OF THE UNLIMITED BEING is established.

This is a celebration for us man kind "the sentient"!!

love to all readers in this fantastic page.

ps:-sorry if i write in such away

alderdear on April 21, 2010:

great to see people are serious in the rationality, philosophy can be defind ae it is for its initial goal(ref BOOK ONE by Elaref ahmed 2008 visit"dissatisfaction with belief and insistence on knowledge". now it seems that it has redefined ignorance as a true justified belief and lost the distinction between certainty which is a psychological term with knowledge"epistemological",knowledge is by a proof. Evidence only lead to a belief=ignorance eg will tonight be followed by morning? two possibilities 1-yes or 2- no!!, the nights before even a trelion can not make it necessarily true for a morning to follow, although one can feel certain this is a subjective quality of the person who is claiming it "it is still a possiblity". The worst belief that philosophy had radiated is that knowledge is utopia and we are doomed to be ignorant about REALITY, this is the story of the enquiry why did we arrive to this??

it is the frame of thinkimg and the naïve empiricism which lead to the existentiel crisis inhirent in idealism. The dialect promised approximaty to knowledge but the artificial thinking willjust perpetuate BOOK ONE provides a break away from the shackles that underpinned the mind for 1000s of years it is knowledgein the hardest it has achieved what Kant claimed to be beyond pure reason!!i hope you get to read it.

best regards

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 20, 2010:

Watch the rifle, man! Don't come too close or you might suddenly get a grasp of philosophy ... or something!

Thanks for the visit and the comment - fair made my day, you have!

Love and peace


Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 20, 2010:

DG - thank you for the visit. You have made my day (actually, evening!) with your wisdom and wit!

The rifle is waiting for you to test when you get here!

Love and peace


De Greek from UK on April 20, 2010:

It is impressive how many of your fans have a grasp of Philosophy. I wish I did. :-)

There are some comments about you at "Doctors" when you have time :-)

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 19, 2010:

Lynda - thank you for your great and thoughtful comments. I deeply appreciate them. And ideed the list could have been much longer!

Love and peace


Lynda Gary on April 18, 2010:

Excellent article.

As I remember, my first academia read of philosophy was Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy. I changed my major thereafter from psychology to philosophy (then later to law...) But I've always been a dedicated student of philosophy, as my library undeniably illustrates.

What I find most impressive is that you narrowed your list to ten! Good job, Tony.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 06, 2010:

Saad - sorry to get back to you so late! I have been out of town for a few days and still catching up! I don't know that book at all, would love to hear your comments on it.

Melinda - thanks for your kind words. I love Russell but haven't delved into Nietzsche that much. And of course Zen and the Art Of is a great book.

Love and peace


msorensson on April 06, 2010:

Great hub. I read Bertrand Russell and Nietzsche when I was 17, mostly because the geniuses that were my classmates in college had them for breakfast, lol.

I could not keep on saying "huh?" to myself..ha ha ha. I am glad I did.

I did love Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance.

Saad Shaukat on March 14, 2010:

I don't find Story of Philosophy by William Durrant in the list here.I heard it's a very popular book especially for beginners in philosophy and I recently started reading it. Any idea about this book?

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 22, 2010:

HUbby - thanks for the read and the comment. It is a great book indeed.

Love and peace


hubby7 from Chicago on February 21, 2010:

My major in college was philosophy. And the first book--and one of the best books I've ever read won philosophy was Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy. It turned my entire world upside down. It left me, as they say it, up sh*t's creek without a paddle. It was like a transformation. And guess what: When I declared my major as philosophy, it turned out that they were using Russell's book. Nice hub.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 21, 2010:

Andromida - you are most welcome!

Maita - thanks for visiting and commenting. I think a purpose of philosophy is to challenge us all the time. Challenges help us to keep our thoughts fresh and relevant to our life situations.

Thanks again

Love and peace


prettydarkhorse from US on February 21, 2010:

very nice -- although my belief in Christianity is always challenged, I read a lot about Focault and lots of post modernists. This hub is well written,

The book of CRAIG seems a very nice book, I trust you on that one.

Thank you Tony, Maita

syras mamun on February 19, 2010:

I just stopped by to learn your reply.Thank you for the reply.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 18, 2010:

Andromida - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it very much. I think that as one gets older one gets the priorities better organised than when one is younger. There are many benefits to being older and freedom is definitely one of them. I mean the freedom to be what one wants to be because one doesn't have to try to be something in order to fit in or be accepted. I like being who I am and if others don't like who I am, then that's their problem! When one is younger it's not that easy to be like that.

But there are things about getting older that are less desirable - my joints ache and are not as supple as they used to be, for example.

Thanks for the visit and I wish you well in your exploration of the wonderful world of philosophy!

Love and peace


syras mamun on February 17, 2010:

This a great hub Tony,certainly it will help me a lot.Actually, I was looking for some best philosophical books.Tony, do you feel that old ages bring lots of freedom in life; sometimes I do feel that older people enjoy the life more than younger people do-because they have more freedom.thank you so much for this wonderful hub.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 12, 2010:

Donna - thanks for dropping by. Yes Lewis is well-written and enjoyable reading. The Pooh is, of course, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, LOL!

Beth - glad to have perked up your interest in this most fascinating of disciplines.

Moulik - Small is Beautiful is an important book which I think is too little noted in today's rather hurried world where we have nonsense sprouted like "too big to fail."

Sara - I'm sure you do yourself an injustice and I'm happy to have conversations with anyone wanting to know more about life, the universe and everything! Love your handle, BTW!

Thanks to you all for your comments and know that I do apprecate them very deeply indeed.

Love and peace


Sara Tonyn from Ohio, the Buckeye State on February 12, 2010:

I love reading philosophy books and some day I hope to actually understand part of one. In the meantime I rely on wonderful hubs like yours to 'splain philosophical things to me. So thank you! :)

Moulik Mistry from Burdwan, West Bengal, India on February 12, 2010:

Small is and should be beautiful - a very down-to-earth philosophy - and I subscribe to this...

Beth Arch from Pearl of the Orient Seas on February 03, 2010:

An interesting read! You perk up my interest on Philosophy anew. I agree that Philosophy is a very interesting subject.

My son is studying Philosophy and he is now in his 3rd year. He has many Philosophy books for me to choose from to read and lately I read his report on Moral Relativism of the Sophists. It's time again to leaf through the pages of those books.

donna bamford from Canada on February 01, 2010:

Excellent hub! While I am familiar with some of the philosophers like Marx and Hegel and Nietsche and studied Russell and Socrates at university there are others that I have not heard of or forgotten bout like Rogers and the writer of Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance which I thin i would enjoy. I would include Pooh too and perhaps C.S.Lewis though he is not a philosopher but an apologist for Christianity but extremely well written and could possibly be considered philosophy. I shall investigate your other recommendations. Thanks

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on January 30, 2010:

Thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting. Your doing so means a lot to me. There is so much richness in any philosophy. I find it quite absorbing and deeply fulfilling to read about.

Love and peace


rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on January 30, 2010:

excellent hub and have bookmarked it for reference. I'll never forget my first introduction to philosophy and classical humanties. I couldn't believe the intelligence and intellect of those who lived so far before us. we have much to learn from them. isn't there a phrase that says, there's nothing new under the sun?

adding to your list for me is Carl Jung, Thoreau. I'm re-reading Walden again for the umpteenth time, full of wisdom and insight.

Bail Up ! on January 26, 2010:

Philosophy for me has always been a bit intimidating, pondering my existance and purpose reinforces my belief that I know absolutely nothing! Great hub Tony , you've made me entertain the idea of possibly reading Philosophy for Beginners - easy read with cartoons :)

fullofwisdom from Miami, Florida on January 09, 2010:

great hub. always found that Fredrick Copleston did the job. especially in his 9 volume history of philosophy.

OpinionDuck on January 02, 2010:


Interesting hub.

I took philosophy in college but it was a course on learning the different types of philosophy, rather following a philosopher.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on December 22, 2009:

Good blog, as usual. I was surprised to find out that "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is so well known ... I received it as a gift, started reading it but never finished it; perhaps I will go back to it eventually. From what I remember I did not enjoy the narrative.

I did not see Kant's name anywhere but hey, it's your list. Cheers!

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