11 Essential Philosophy Books to Open Your Mind.

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  • 28 Mar 2024
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There are several strategies to improve your attitude, but none are more profound than reading philosophy books. Some of the greatest minds of our time explore questions and delve deeply into ideas in these works. 

While there isn't always a clear and distinct response to philosophy's numerous issues, the area as a whole serves as a gateway to a higher self. It prompts you to consider a wide range of topics. 

We've compiled a list of some of the top philosophy books for beginners or those wishing to broaden their horizons.


How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before we get to this list, we studied the best philosophy books to help you broaden your thinking. 

We discovered that the greatest philosophy books excel in the following categories:


11 Philosophy Books You Should Read


1. Meditations

Meditations are a popular choice on these lists, and with good reason. It is the only document of its type ever created. The book concentrates on the private thoughts of the world's most powerful man, who advises himself on how to fulfill his responsibilities and obligations in his position. 

We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was versed in Stoic philosophy and performed spiritual exercises every night. These activities were aimed to make him humble, patient, compassionate, kind, and powerful in the face of any challenge he faced. And he had numerous challenges since he was essentially the emperor of nearly one-third of the earth.


2. Letters From a Stoic

Seneca, like Marcus Aurelius, was a powerful figure in Rome. He was a wonderful writer at the time, and he was the type of person who gave excellent counsel to his closest friends. Fortunately, much of his counsel is delivered in the form of letters, which are included in this book. The letters contained advise on how to deal with grief, riches, poverty, success, failure, education, and other issues. 

While Seneca was a Stoic, he takes a more practical approach and draws on other schools of thought for his counsel. When he was living, he stated, "I don't care about the author if the line is good." Similar to Meditations, there are a few amazing words and recommendations that are still valid today.


3. Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle was a well-known Greek philosopher at the time, with extensive knowledge. He is named after a type of logic known as Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle discusses the foundation of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book includes the moral principles that serve as the foundation for nearly all of Western civilization.


4. Beyond Good & Evil

Friedrich Nietzsche played an important impact in the philosophical world. He was a key figure in the existential movement, and this book was the catalyst for it all. He is a great thinker. However, the trouble with much of his work is that it is all written in German. 

Fortunately, this book is one of the more accessible because it has been translated. In the book, he deconstructs the paradoxes of standard moral understandings. This sets the stage for much of the subsequent twentieth-century cognitive process.


5. Meditations on First Philosophy

René Descartes' work Meditations on First Philosophy is divided into six meditations. The book is written in journalistic form and is arranged similarly to a six-day meditation workshop. On day one, he instructs you to abandon all belief in things that are not assured. He then tries to determine what is certain. Similar to Meditations, this is a popular and influential philosophical literature that you can read.

6. Ethics

Benedict de Spinoza wrote this during the Age of Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, resulting in the emergence of numerous schools of thought and their presentation through literature. 

Ethics was the most prominent philosophical book produced at the time, as it examined the foundations of rationalism. Even though we have progressed past that point, ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.


7. Critique of Pure Reason

Immanuel Kant is another outstanding philosopher who combined two of history's most divisive systems of thought into a single book. These schools are rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge (knowledge gained via experience). 

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason delves into human reason before attempting to establish its illusions and get to its fundamental parts. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and mental processes, which can broaden your perspective on how you think and process everything around you.


8. On the Genealogy of Morals

On the Genealogy of Morals is another of Nietzsche's works that we can view. According to Nietzsche, the objective of this book is to draw attention to his prior works. However, it accomplishes more than that, so you don't have to worry about reading his other novels. 

In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms introduced in Beyond Good and Evil and gives a study of morality in a more approachable format than much of his earlier work.


9. Everything Is F*cked

The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.


10. Reasons and Persons

Reasons and Persons, one of the most difficult philosophy books to read on this list, will take you on an incredible journey. Derek Parfit demonstrates some novel ideas on self-interest, personhood, and whether our acts are good or evil using meticulous logic. 

Many consider this to be an essential psychological text from the twentieth century, and the arguments presented on these issues will open your mind to a completely new way of thinking.


11. The Republic of Plato

This book, written by Plato himself, is the foundation of political science and provides an excellent critique of government. As you can anticipate, the critique is still relevant today. If you want to comprehend Plato's inner thinking, this is one of the best texts available.


Final Thoughts

Philosophy books take some time to digest because they contain in-depth knowledge and leave you with numerous questions. Many of these philosophy works require careful consideration, and you may need to read them several times. And with each read, your mind will only grow.

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