9 philosophy books you should read

Do you feel like reading some philosophy, but don’t know where to start? Here is a list of essential and light reading philosophical texts.

Last update: February 13, 2022

A discipline that questions and reflects on anything; from everyday phenomena and events to deeper themes, such as the causes and principles of reality. In this way, the works and books of philosophy have contributed to understanding the human being and the world that surrounds him.

Reading some of these works will undoubtedly help foster more critical and flexible thinking; a necessary issue at present, where immediacy and autopilot as guides for our actions.

Therefore, below we present some essential philosophy books, enjoyable and digestible reading. They will allow you to reflect and question relevant aspects.

1. Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu

The Tao Te Ching is a classic text whose authorship is attributed to Lao Tse, one of the most relevant philosophers of Chinese civilization. It is estimated that this great thinker lived between the 4th and 6th centuries BC, therefore, the date of publication of the work is unknown.

The title of the text translates as path of virtue and its content consists of poetic images and aphorisms about the Chinese religious and philosophical system. His teachings lie in living in harmony with the law of the universe, letting things take their natural course, without being attached to anything.

This text is read, reread and works throughout lifebecause it reflects a deeper, wiser and more exact philosophy than any other book that has been written until today.

2. Plato’s dialogues

Plato is one of the classical philosophers whose thoughts have transcended throughout history. His dialogues contain reflections on various topics, such as love, justice, virtue and life after death. Among the most popular we find Meno, Banquet, Phaedrus Y Parmenides.

Plato’s works represent a good start for anyone who wants to get started in philosophy. Well, this author not only represents the beginnings of Western thought, but he also made interesting reflections on topics that are still in force.

Plato is a classic of philosophy that serves as a gateway to this world of thought.

3. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

Published in 1651, It is one of the most important philosophical works to approach Western politics. In it the author begins with the study of the human being itself, to be able to study it later in society.

For Hobbes, human nature is selfish, competitive, and always fearful of violent death. Therefore, in their natural state, men live in an anarchic condition, a war of all against all for survival, with no clear distinction between justice and injustice.

But, what is it that allows the human being to leave that state? A powerful sovereign (the State). A Leviathan whose government is consented to by the majority of individuals, who cede part of their rights to it, with the guarantee of receiving security and protection.

4. Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason

It is one of the main works of Immanuel Kant, published in 1781. In it the author reflects on the nature of human knowledge and makes a new theory, which attempts to unite two apparently antagonistic positions: rationalism and empiricism.

The author concludes that knowledge is the result of the interaction between reason and sensitivity (senses). In this way, he influenced the ideas of later contemporary philosophers. In fact, at present they are still debating and studying his proposals.

5. Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Published in 1885, it is one of Nietzsche’s most famous philosophy books. It contains reflections on the relationship of society with God, stating that “God is dead”.

With this idea, Nietzsche strips modern man of the illusion of the existence of a superior being that gives meaning to the world. Now, the meaning must be created by man for himself. Therefore, in his book he makes the hermit Zarathustra (named after a Persian prophet) come down from his mountain to announce his teachings to human beings.

These teachings were clear: “Don’t believe without questioning, think for yourself, find your own way, don’t follow me”. Behind them hides the idea of ​​the superman: an entity that everyone can use as a reference to overcome mediocrity, credulity and cheap morality. In this sense, the superman replaces the idea of ​​God.

6. Do androids dream of electric sheep? by Philip K Dick

This is a science fiction novelof the subgenus cyberpunk, published in 1968 by writer Philip K. Dick. Although it is not a book that includes a philosophical theory as such, its content invites us to reflect on the limit between the artificial and the natural, the decline of life and society, and the ethical problems of artificial intelligence.

The relevance of this work has been such that it has been adapted by the director, screenwriter and producer Ridley Scott in the film blade runner 1982. The plot has even been adapted into comics and a play.

7. The second sex of Simone de Beauvoir

the second sex was written and published in 1949 by the brilliant Simone de Beauvoir. It is considered one of the most important books of the 20th century.. There, the French philosopher reflects on the role of women in the contemporary world and the role that the female gender has played throughout history.

It is one of the fundamental works of feminism and is part of an existentialist and enlightened philosophy. Therefore, it defends an egalitarian conception of human beings.

The main theory of the work is that women, or more exactly what we understand by women, it is a cultural product that has been socially constructed on the sexualized body Women’s. Therefore, their main task is to reconquer their own identity from their criteria.

8. The consolations of the philosophy of Alain de Botton

It is one of the most contemporary philosophy books, published in 2000 by the philosopher Alain de Botton. In this play, the author tries to demonstrate that philosophy is an excellent tool for comfort and daily motivation. She is considered a guide to solve everyday problems and live a better life.

In this case, Alain de Botton uses the philosophy of some Western thinkers (Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche) to deal with different life circumstances. Without a doubt, this is an essential work for anyone who wants to apply philosophy to everyday life.

The application of philosophy to everyday life can be considered from the postulates of this close and practical book.

9. In Praise of Doubt by Victoria Camps

We finish the list of philosophy books with a relatively recent one. Published in 2016, the In Praise of Doubt is a text that emphasizes the importance of doubt todaywhen the post-truth and immediacy are the protagonists in all areas of life (social, political, personal).

To do this, the author reviews the vicissitudes of doubt throughout the history of thought and emphasizes the importance of learning to doubt. This implies questioning everything that is given, that is, questioning the unquestionable. In essence, that is what philosophy is about.

A list to start

Making a list of essential philosophy books is not an easy task, because many relevant titles will always be left out. However, if you feel attracted to philosophy and still do not know where to start, the suggestions that we have just presented are ideal for cultivating philosophical reflection and critical thinking.

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