The Four Best Introductory Books on Philosophy

The Four Best Introductory Books on Philosophy

Philosophy can be one of those complex subjects that intimidate novices, but for us to gain insight into the nature of being, of time, and the meaning of life itself, we all need at least a basic understanding of this discipline. Socrates famously said “The unexamined life is not worth living,” - and thus we have created a reading list comprising four of the best introductory books that will gently ease you into the realm of philosophy.

1. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Sophie's World

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Written brilliantly in the form of a novel, Jostein Gaarder takes us along into Sophie's world, a 14-year-old Norwegian teen learning the basics of philosophy through her mysterious correspondence with a middle-aged philosopher. The novel takes you on an engaging and mind-bending journey, draws you into the story, and surreptitiously teaches you the basics of philosophy from Socrates to Sartre, without ever getting dull and dreary. Sophie's World is an amazing first book for novices to get a better understanding of what philosophy is all about, it is one of those books that can lay a solid foundation as you go on to read more complex books on philosophy.

2. A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

A History of Western Philosophy

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A compendium of Western Philosophy, this book by Bertrand Russell is a handy guide for any novice student of philosophy. A History of Western Philosophy shows how society and history are intertwined and how both influence each other. Perhaps one of the best things about Russell's writing is that it is easily digestible, and is not deliberately cloaked in impenetrable prose. With great wit and inimitable clarity, Russell profiles and summarizes every great philosopher and philosophical movement from the Pre-Socratics to John Dewey. This tome has three distinct chronological sections, each consisting of about 300 pages, the first deals with Ancient (mostly Greek) philosophy, the second covering Catholic philosophy, and the third is a survey of Modern philosophy.

3. Philosophy: The Basics by Nigel Warburton

Philosophy: The Basics

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Nigel Warburton's best-selling guide on Philosophy covers an array of topics, beginning with how to define philosophy itself and exploring dozens of others such as morals, ethics, politics, God, the eternal world, right and wrong. The book is concise, clear and interesting and remains one of the most recommended introductory guides to philosophy. We recommend this book for philosophy neophytes because it is an incredibly light and easy read (hardly 200 pages) which is free of convoluted passages and technical jargon.

4. The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant

The Story of Philosophy

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This book presents nine concise and easy to digest chapters that consist of the lives and ideas of the greatest minds in philosophy, beginning with Plato and on through Nietzsche. This is an essential read for anyone who wants to survey the history of philosophy; it covers the contributions of all the eminent philosophers and the development and interconnections between their varying ideas.

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