There are many reasons why everyone should read philosophy. Philosophy can teach us how to think more deeply and critically about the world around us. It can help us to understand and appreciate other cultures and perspectives. It can also lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves and our own values and beliefs. Reading philosophy can challenge us to question our assumptions and views about society and the world we live in. In this article, we will compose a list of the 20 best philosophy books.
1. The Republic by Plato
The Republic is one of the most important works of philosophy ever written. In it, Plato examines the nature of justice and the ideal society. Plato suggests that the key to a just society is wisdom, and that wisdom can be achieved through a life of contemplation. The book has influenced generations of thinkers and continues to be relevant today. Its insights remain as powerful as ever, providing valuable lessons for those who want to understand the world around them.
“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
― Plato, The Republic
2. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Meditations is a collection of stoic philosophy by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. In it, Marcus Aurelius reflects on several topics including death, life, and the nature of existence. For Marcus Aurelius stoicism was a way to maintain inner peace and tranquility in the face of a chaotic and often unfair world. This book is still admired for the insights it provides. People find wisdom in its pages, and it continues to be a popular book.
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
3. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is a classic philosophy book that examines the nature of happiness and how to achieve it.He also discusses virtue and how to cultivate it. For Aristotle, the key to happiness is living in accordance with our nature as human beings. The book is still relevant today. It’s often studied in philosophy classes, and for good reason. The book raises important questions about life, and what it means to be human. It’s a classic for a reason, and it’s definitely worth a read.
“Even in adversity, nobility shines through, when a man endures repeated and severe misfortune with patience, not owing to insensibility but from generosity and greatness of soul.”
― Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
4. The Enneads by Plotinus
The Enneads is a collection of nine treatises on a variety of topics in Neoplatonism, an influential school of philosophy founded by Plotinus and his followers. Neoplatonism is a reaction to Plato’s idea that the physical world is an imperfect copy of the perfect world of Forms. The book is respected for its depth and insight.
“That which is afraid is that which is capable of being affected.”
― Plotinus, The Enneads
5. Man’s Searching For Meaning By Viktor Frankl
Man’s Search for Meaning is a book by Viktor Frankl. In it, Frankl recounts his experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. He argues that the meaning of life cannot be found in external circumstances but must be found within ourselves. He also states that we can only find meaning in life if we are willing to suffer. The book is respected for its insights into the human condition and the meaning of life.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
6. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet is a is a collection of 26 essays by the Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran. The book explores a number of topics including love, marriage, work, and death. Kahlil’s poetry is beautiful and insightful, and his thoughts on life still resonate today. The Prophet is a timeless classic that has sold millions of copies worldwide. It is respected for its wisdom and beauty.
“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
7. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
Being and Nothingness is a dense and challenging work of existentialist philosophy by Jean-Paul Sartre. In it, Sartre examines the nature of existence and what it means to be human. For him, being human means that we are free to choose our own actions and create our own meaning in life. The book is respected for its insights but is also often criticized for its complexity.
“It is therefore senseless to think of complaining since nothing foreign has decided what we feel, what we live, or what we are.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness
8. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
The Myth of Sisyphus is a short book by the French philosopher Albert Camus. In it, Camus examines absurdist philosophy and its implications for human life. He claims that it is okay sometimes to fail, as long as we can accept and learn from our mistakes. We should always be persistent and strive to reach our own potential.
“A man is more a man through the things he keeps to himself than through those he says.”
― Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
9. The Phenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Hegel
The Phenomenology of Spirit is a dense and challenging work of philosophy by Georg Wilhelm Hegel. In it, Hegel examines the nature of human consciousness and experience. He argues that consciousness is always in a state of flux and that we are constantly learning and evolving. The book is respected for its insights but is also often criticized for its complexity.
“What is familiar and well known as such is not really known for the very reason that it is familiar and well known.” ― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit
10. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching is a short book by the sage Lao Tzu. It is one of the most important works of Chinese philosophy. In it, Lao Tzu explores the nature of the Tao, or “way”, and how to live in accordance with it. For him, the nature of Tao is harmony and balance. The book is respected for its insights into Taoist philosophy and its simple and beautiful language.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
11. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
The Art of War is a short book of Chinese military strategy by Sun Tzu. In it, Sun Tzu outlines a number of principles for victory in battle. In order to win a battle, one must know their enemy and themselves. One must also be able to adapt to changing circumstances. The book is respected for its insights into military strategy and is still studied today for its insights into human nature and warfare.
“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
12. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
The Art of Happiness is a book by the Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism. In it, the Dalai Lama explores the nature of happiness and how to achieve it. We can achieve happiness by living in accordance with our own nature and by being kind and compassionate to others. The book is respected for its insights into the nature of happiness and for its wisdom.
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
13. Discourse on Method by René Descartes
Discourse on Method is a short book of philosophy by René Descartes. In it, Descartes outlines his own method for discovering the truth. This method involves using reason and logic and to question everything that we think we know. He argues that this is the only way to achieve true knowledge. The book is respected for its insights into the nature of knowledge and its lucid style.
“…all that is necessary to right action is right judgment, and to the best action the most correct judgment”
― René Descartes, Discourse on Method
14. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
The Interpretation of Dreams is a book by the Austrian psychologist, Sigmund Freud. In it, Freud explores the nature of dreams and their interpretation. He argues that dreams are a way for our unconscious mind to process our thoughts and feelings. Also, the symbols in our dreams can be interpreted to understand our hidden desires and fears. The book is respected for its insights into the human mind and psyche but is also often criticized for its methods and conclusions.
“Every one has wishes which he would not like to tell to others, which he does not want to admit even to himself.”
― Sigmund Freud, Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis for Beginners
15. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince is a book of political philosophy by Niccolo Machiavelli. In it, Machiavelli provides advice on how to acquire and maintain political power. He argues that it is sometimes necessary to use immoral means to achieve a greater good. The book is respected for its insights into the nature of power but is also often criticized for its amoral outlook.
“There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.”
― Machiavelli Niccolo, The Prince
16. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Social Contract is a book of political philosophy by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In it, Rousseau argues that the only way to have a just society is to have a social contract between the people and the government. This contract should protect the rights of the people and ensure that the government serves the people. The book is respected for its insights into the nature of justice and democracy but is also often criticized for its radical ideas.
“If there were a nation of Gods, it would govern itself democratically. A government so perfect is not suited to men.” ― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract
17. Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
Utilitarianism is a book of philosophy by John Stuart Mill. In it, Mill outlines the principle of utility, which states that the right thing to do is the one that will produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. He argues that this principle should be used to guide all our actions. The book is respected for its insights into ethics and morality but is also often criticized for its cold and calculating outlook.
It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.”
― John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism
18. The Daily Stoic By Ryan Holiday
The Daily Stoic is a book by Ryan Holiday. In it, Holiday explores the philosophy of Stoicism and how it can be applied to modern life. He argues that the Stoic principles of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice can help us to live better lives. He also provides advice on how to deal with the problems and challenges of life. The book is respected for its insights into Stoic philosophy and its practical applications.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
― Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic
19. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
Letters from a Stoic is a is a collection of letters written by the Stoic philosopher Seneca. The letters discuss topics such as how to deal with difficult people, how to deal with wealth and poverty, how to deal with death, and how to find tranquility in a chaotic world.
In one of his letters, Seneca advises Lucilius on how to deal with difficult people. He writes: “If someone is troublesome to you, remember that it is your own mind that is being troubled, not them. You can choose to ignore their behavior and focus on something else.” He argues that these principles can help us to live better lives.
“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
20.The Gulag Archipelago By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In it, Solzhenitsyn chronicles the history of the Soviet Union’s Gulag prison system. He provides first-hand accounts of the horrific conditions in the Gulags and the suffering of the prisoners. He states that no matter what problems we face today, they pale in comparison to what the prisoners of the Gulag went through. The book is respected for its historical accuracy and its insights into the human condition. However, it is also often criticized for its political bias.
“Thus it is that we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago