New to Philosophy?

Categories and tags:

I have recently been asked by some of our new student intake which books I would recommend for someone coming to philosophy for the first time, and it is also a question that often crops up at Open Days. To some extent it is a subjective matter (and I’m sure other staff and students have their own views here), but based on some student feedback, there are a couple of gems that are consistently praised. 

Adopting a thematic approach, Nigel Warburton’s Philosophy: The Basics does exactly what ‘it says on the tin’: it’s concise, accessible, walks you through the basics, and encourages you to ‘do’ philosophy. 

Another favourite of many is Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy which adopts an historical approach and gives the reader a sense of how philosophy has developed over the years, although I should point out it was published in 1911, so you won’t get anything after that!

To keep up with current developments you might like to take out a subscription to The Philosopher’s Magazine. Although it is a ‘magazine’ and not a journal, it provides a good balance between not being too dense, but also not too simplistic in its approach to topics and issues.


David W... says:

I'm fairly sure I've told students to read Teichman and Evans – Philosophy A Beginner's Guide. Personally quite like John Hospers' Introduction to Philosophical Analysis..

But – after persuasion from a colleague – Philosophy As A Way of Life by Hadot seems like something all students might do well to begin with..

'The Problems of Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell I found to be both intriguing and accessible. While not broad in scope, it does work quite nicely as an intro to undergraduate studies, I would say.

I am also quite fond of Simon Blackburn's 'Think' and have recommended it to sixth formers considering a philosophy degree. But then again, I am quite keen on Simon Blackburn's contributions to philosophy in general.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.