UNESCO World Philosophy Day is celebrated on the third Thursday of November. In 2020, it falls on November 19.

picture of JesusDetail from The School of Athens fresco by Italian Renaissance painter Raphael, depicting philosophers Plato and Aristotle.

‘I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.’ Socrates

From ancient times to today, philosophers have inspired people to think about the world and their place within it. The field of philosophy is concerned with the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. It values reasoned debate and questions assumptions — asking probing questions such as what is the nature of the human mind; what is right; what is important in life; what is truth, what is beauty and what is happiness?

Through our collections, you can ponder Plato’s theory of forms, delve into medieval philosophy and follow the development of Western philosophy as it challenged traditional ways of thinking, paving the way for social and political change.

We have a rich collection of philosophical works, including those of Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, Rene Descartes, John Locke, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Simone de Beauvoir and Moira Gatens, to name just a few.

Black and white photo of Bertrand Russell holding reading glasses. There is a bookshelf behind himBritish philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) in 1957. Russell was one of the foremost philosophers of the 20th century. Photo courtesy of Anefo, CCO, Wikimedia Commons.

Explore our catalogue on our Search & Discover page to find books and ebooks (which can be read from home) by and about philosophers and philosophy. Type in the name of the philosopher or branch of philosophy you are interested in and click search. Branches of philosophy include ethics, logic, analytic philosophy, metaphysics, aesthetics, epistemology and political philosophy.

To narrow your search to find ebooks only, go to our Search & Discover page, to the search box at the top right of the page. Select the ebooks option and type in your search term.

Philosophy can be complex, so you might like to look at the Routledge online guidebooks on different philosophers. To find these, go to our Search & Discover page and type in the words Routledge philosophy guidebook in the catalogue search box.

Black and white illustration of a philosopher sitting at a writing desk in a cave-like room. There is a winding staircase on his leftLe philosophe – Louvre. Transparency of the painting by Rembrandt, 1632, photo by Maison, Braun & Cie

For a range of philosophical subjects, have a look at our encyclopedias:

Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy  [electronic resource].

Encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource] / Donald M. Borchert, editor in chief. 

The Oxford handbook of world philosophy / edited by Jay L. Garfield and William Edelglass

Changing the subject: philosophy from Socrates to Adorno / Raymond Geuss.

Encyclopedia of Chinese philosophy / Antonio S. Cua, editor.

Companion encyclopedia of Asian philosophy  [This book is in print format].

Medieval philosophers [electronic resource]

A companion to philosophy in Australia & New Zealand [electronic resource] / edited by Graham Oppy, N.N. Trakakis, Lynda Burns, Steven Gardner & Fiona Leigh. This edition includes an article on Australian Aboriginal philosophy.

Australian philosopher Peter Singer has written many books on ethics, including these ebooks:

One World Now: The Ethics of Globalization

The Most Good You Can Do

To find more of Peter Singer’s print and ebooks, go to our web page and search the online catalogue using his name.

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