Philosophy Past Readings


  • A. J. Ayer, Hume: A Very Short Introduction
  • David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding


  • Kieran Setiya, Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way
  • Simon Blackburn, Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy
  • Roger Scruton, Beauty: A Very Short Introduction
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science
  • Dennis C. Rasmussen, The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought


  • Julian Baggini, What’s It All About? Philosophy and the Meaning of Life
  • Yvonnne Sherratt, Hitler’s Philosophers
  • Zena Hitz, Lost In Thought 
  • Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
  • Emily Katz Anhalt, Embattled: How Ancient Greek Myths Empower Us to Resist Tyranny
  • Steven Pinker, Rationality
  • Robert Wright, The Evolution of God 
  • Julian Baggini, The Great Guide: What David Hume Can Teach Us About Living Well
  • Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation
  • William James, Pragmatism and Other Writings (edited by Giles Gunn)
  • A. C. Grayling, Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction
  • Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope
  • Aristotle, Poetics (preferably Oxford Classics edition)


  • Martha C. Franks, Books Without Borders: Homer, Aeschylus, Galileo, Melville, and Madison Go to China 
  • Wolfram Ellenberger, Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy
  • Stephen Mumford, Metaphysics: A Very Short Introduction
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  • Julia Annas, Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Intoduction
  • Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, Lives of the Stoics
  • Edith Hall, Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life
  • Steven Nadler, Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How To Love and How To Die 
  • Lucretius, The Nature of Things


  • Laura Dassow Walls, Henry David Thoreau: A Life; and more writings by Thoreau such as “Civil Disobedience”
  • Carlos Baker, Emerson Among the Eccentrics; plus a few essays by Emerson such as “The American Scholar” or “Divinity School Address”
  • Megan Marshall, The Peabody Sisters 
  • Pre-Socratic Philosophers


  • Sarah Bakewell, How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
  • William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (Penguin edition preferred)
  • Jules Evan, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations 
  • Carlin Romano, excerpts from America the Philosophical 
  • Oliver Sacks, The River of Consciousness
  • Thomas Pink, Free Will: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford)
  • Brian Magee, Confessions of a Philosopher
  • Ted Honderich, How Free Are You
  • Michael Puett, The Path—What Chinese Philosophy Can Teach Us About The Good Life
  • Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity
  • Mary Jane Jacob, Dewey for Artists
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson miscellany such as The Heart of Emerson’s Journals (edited by Bliss Perry), and Emerson In His Journals (edited by Joel Porte)
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden


  • Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails​
  • Joshua Greene, Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them
  • John Kaag, American Philosophy: A Love Story
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson​, Representative Men
  • The Bhagavad Gita
  • Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching​​
  • Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
  • R. J. Hollingdale, editor, A Nietzsche Reader


  • Ancius Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy
  • Matthew Stewart, Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic
  • Arthur Herman, The Cave and The Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization


  • Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence
  • Simon Glendinning, Derrida: A Very Short Introduction
  • Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction
  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


  • David Edmonds and John Eidinow, Wittgenstein’s Poker
  • Naomi Klein, No Logo
  • Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story
  • William James,  Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Life
  • Morris Dickstein, ed. The Revival of Pragmatism (first section)
  • Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom


  • Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Henri Bergson
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Lucretius