Philosophy

Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man and of man's relation to existence.

These books provide a basic education on Philosophy. Advanced, supplementary and original works are listed in sections below.

  • Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand. This motivational essay explains why philosophy is necessary to human life.
  • The Duel between Plato and Aristotle by Leonard Peikoff. This ten-page essay, printed as an epilogue in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, identifies the key ideas and consequences in the history of philosophy.
  • The Logical Leap, Induction in Physics by David Harriman. All knowledge rests on induction from the evidence of sensory data, yet philosophers have claimed throughout history that knowledge is either an arbitrary, subjective fantasy or a mystic insight transmitted from another dimension, with induction and sensory evidence peripheral or irrelevant. David Harriman demonstrates the central role of induction and the precise method of valid induction, which, if followed, produces certainty. Further, he demonstrates that knowledge is the integration of sensory data, so all knowledge is contextual and open-ended. Harriman's demonstration is inductive: he uses a detailed history of science to show the inductive method in action; when the proper method has been followed, it has produced mankind's greatest achievements in knowledge, while to the extent ignored or rejected, men have stagnated in ignorance. This book should be essential reading to every philosopher, scientist, and person interested in confidently knowing the validity of knowledge and how to get it.
  • History of Philosophy by Leonard Peikoff. Audio. A little expensive relative to books, but easily the best essentialized lectures on the history of philosophy. In two volumes, these recorded lectures trace the essentials of philosophy's development from its rise in ancient Greece, through Christianity, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, its decline after Kant and its rebirth after Rand.
  • A History of Western Philosophy by Jones. The best simple, straightforward book of the history of philosophy. In five volumes, it covers all of philosophy from the beginnings up to the late 20th century.
  • An Introduction to Logic by H. W. B. Joseph. The "high-water mark" in the field of logic texts, it is more advanced than Ruby's Logic, covers all of Aristotelian logic and adds original observations. Available from The Paper Tiger.

Advanced and Supplementary

  • History of Western Philosophy by Windelband. More difficult to read than Jones, but substantially more philosophically deep and insightful. Windelband identifies the history of philosophy in terms of the issues addressed and answers proposed.
  • History of Greek Philosophy, Thales to Democritus by B. A. G. Fuller. A vigorous telling of the origin and development of philosophy. (out-of-print, see sources.)
  • Thales to Dewey by Gordon H. Clark. A concise and accurate history by a Presbyterian Calvinist. Makes some points missed by others. (out-of-print, see sources.)
  • Aristotle by Randall. A summary of the main achievements of Aristotle's systematic philosophy, particularly his reality-centered and life-centered orientation.
  • Reason and Analysis by Brand Blanshard. A sustained and devastating critique of the analytical school.
  • Sentience by Wallace Matson. "Man need not be degraded to a machine by being denied to be a ghost in a machine," Gilbert Ryle has said. "He might, after all, be a sort of animal, namely a higher mammal. There has yet to be ventured the hazardous leap to the hypothesis that perhaps he is a man." (out-of-print, see sources.)

Original Works

Links

Plato and Aristotle, detail from School of Athens by Raphael

Plato and Aristotle, detail from School of Athens by Raphael

Ayn Rand, photo for the dustjacket of The Fountainhead

Ayn Rand, photo for the dustjacket of The Fountainhead

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant

Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Augustine, by Sandro Botticelli

Saint Augustine, by Sandro Botticelli