Philosophy, Logic, & Ethics

What is the good life? What is justice? Do we have free will? Does it matter? From ancient classics like Plato's Allegory of the Cave to modern standards like John Rawls's A Theory of Justice, the texts in this collection explore ideas and questions at the root of the human condition.

Publication year 2016Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: New AgeTags Self Help, Philosophy, Psychology

Publication year 2014Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Self Help, Psychology, Health / Medicine, Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy

Publication year 2005Genre Reference/Text Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Economics, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: GlobalizationTags Business / Economics, Philosophy, Politics / Government, Anthropology, Social Justice

Publication year 1880Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Russian Literature

Publication year 1981Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Society: Community, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Philosophy, Post Modernism

An influential work of moral philosophy, After Virtue (1981) by the Scottish-born philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre takes a bleak view of the state of modern moral dialogue, viewing it as suffering from a lack of rational thought and an inability to resolve disagreements. By looking at older forms of moral discourse, such as Aristotle’s moral framework, and comparing them to the modern version, he generally finds the modern moral framework to be lacking and suggests fixes... Read After Virtue Summary

Publication year 1971Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: ApathyTags Philosophy, Existentialism

Publication year 1993Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Religion / Spirituality, History: World, Philosophy

Publication year 1945Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Politics / Government, History: European

Publication year 1816Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Lyric Poem, Philosophy, Mythology

Publication year 2000Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Identity: SexualityTags Gender / Feminism, Philosophy, Psychology

Publication year -1Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Ancient Greece

Plato’s Republic takes the form of a series of dialogues between the first-person narrator (Socrates, Plato's teacher) and various real-life figures. “The Allegory of the Cave,” perhaps the most well-known section of The Republic, takes place as a conversation between Socrates and Plato’s brother, Glaucon. In this section, Socrates attempts to illustrate a point about how one can gain knowledge and wisdom and “perceive [...] the Essential Form of Goodness” (paragraph 31, line 10), via... Read Allegory Of The Cave Summary

Publication year 1986Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Society: CommunityTags Self Help, Humor, Philosophy, Inspirational

In his compilation of essays, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum studies the simplicity embedded in everyday experiences. First published in 1989, this collection captivated a global audience, becoming a cultural touchstone as a #1 New York Times bestseller and selling over 7 million copies. Fulghum draws from his life experiences to craft this collection of essays. This collection, which falls within the self-help, motivational, and personal transformation genres... Read All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten Summary

Publication year 1982Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Society: Community, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Philosophy, History: World, Sociology, Politics / Government, Modernism

Publication year 1998Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Race, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags American Literature, Philosophy, Classic Fiction, Southern Literature

A Man in Full, published in 1998, is the critically acclaimed second novel of journalist and author Tom Wolfe. Regarded as an example of the Great American Novel, the book captures American life at the end of the 20th century in its tragicomic complexity. Wolfe situates the novel largely in Atlanta and traces the fortunes of failing real-estate tycoon Charlie Croker, still caught in the ways of the Old South. When the daughter of Charlie’s... Read A Man In Full Summary

Publication year 1940Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Beauty, Life/Time: Aging, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Arts / Culture, Business / Economics, Philosophy, Military / War, Class, Depression / Suicide, Education, Science / Nature, Sports, Technology

Publication year 1985Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Sociology, Philosophy, Technology, Information Age, Education

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a nonfiction book by Neil Postman, published in 1985. Postman was a professor of education and communication at New York University with a special interest in the role of technology and media in society. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in Fredonia and a master’s degree and doctorate from the Teachers College of Columbia University. In... Read Amusing Ourselves to Death Summary

Publication year -1Genre Book, NonfictionTags Asian Literature, Chinese Literature, Philosophy

The Analects is a text compiled of the remarks and conversations of the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, during the later years of his life (72-75 years old). The text, with its dialogues and reflections, takes place during the Warring States Period (475-222 BC)—a period of great turmoil and geopolitical restructuring when the vassals of the then incumbent sovereign (Zhou Dynasty) defected and declared themselves independent of Zhou, thereby becoming kingdoms in their own right. It is... Read Analects of Confucius Summary

Publication year 1974Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Class, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Sociology, History: World

Publication year 1957Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Business / Economics, Politics / Government, Philosophy

Publication year 1748Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Psychology, Science / Nature, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 1690Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Identity: Language, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Education, Science / Nature, Age of Enlightenment

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke is a study of how humans think, learn, and retain knowledge. Scholars often focus first on Locke’s philosophical treatises, but his work on epistemology complements and shapes his political thought. Born in 1632, the English philosopher ushered in the Age of Enlightenment and is considered one of the greatest Western philosophers in history. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, first published in 1690, explores the origin and nature... Read An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Summary

Publication year 1734Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Natural World: Space & The Universe, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Philosophy, Relationships, Religion / Spirituality, Neoclassical, Didacticism

Publication year 1798Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: EconomicsTags Business / Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, Age of Enlightenment, Poverty, Food, Science / Nature, Class, History: European

An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus was first published anonymously in 1798. Its core argument, that human population will inevitably outgrow its capacity to produce food, widely influenced the field of early 19th century economics and social science. Immediately after its first printing, Malthus’s essay garnered significant attention from his contemporaries, and he soon felt the need to reveal his identity. Although it was highly controversial, An Essay on the Principle... Read An Essay on the Principle of Population Summary

Publication year 1945Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: CommunityTags Satire, History: European, Politics / Government, Philosophy, Animals, Post-War Era, Allegory / Fable / Parable, British Literature

Published in 1945, Animal Farm by George Orwell (1903-1950) achieved immediate success and remains one of Orwell’s most popular works. A political satire in the guise of a moving and whimsical animal fable, the novella is about a group of farm animals who overthrow their owner, Mr. Jones, and establish animal rule. Although the animals start with high hopes for Animal Farm as a harmonious and just utopia where “all animals are equal” (19), it... Read Animal Farm Summary

Publication year 1977Genre Book, NonfictionTags Philosophy

Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals is a book by renowned Australian philosopher Peter Singer. Published in 1975 and re-released most recently in 2009, with an additional preface by the author, the book is widely recognized as a foundational text within the animal liberation movement. Singer tries to persuade the reader of his or her own implicit “speciesism,” a term he popularized, and he argues that the discrimination against other species... Read Animal Liberation Summary

Publication year 1936Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: ClassTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Social Justice

Publication year 1938Genre Novella, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Self DiscoveryTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Classic Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Philosophy

Anthem is a short novella written by Ayn Rand and published in 1938. Rand is known for her polarizing fiction, which includes the well-known novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. She is also known as the founder of a controversial philosophy known as Objectivism. In 1987, Anthem won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Hall of Fame Award. Since its publication, the novella has been met with mixed reviews due to the controversy around its Objectivist themes... Read Anthem Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: NationTags Philosophy, Business / Economics, Psychology, Science / Nature, Finance / Money / Wealth, Leadership/Organization/Management

Publication year 1859Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: Race, Society: Politics & Government, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, History: U.S.

Publication year -1Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Identity: LanguageTags Philosophy, Ancient Greece, Classical Period

Apology, also known as The Apology of Socrates, is a philosophical dialogue written by the Greek philosopher Plato chronicling the trial of his mentor Socrates in 399 BCE. After finding Socrates guilty of impiety and corrupting the youth, the Athenian jury sentenced him to death. Socrates carried out his own execution by drinking a mixture of poisonous hemlock. Although Plato likely took modest artistic liberties in the work, many historians believe Apology to be a... Read Apology Summary

Publication year 1644Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Philosophy

As an epigram, Milton quotes Euripides, who wrote: “This is true liberty, when free-born men, having the advise the public, may speak free, which he who can, and will, deserves high praise; who neither can, nor will, may hold his peace; what can be juster in a state than this?” (337). Milton explains that addressing Parliament in the name of the “public good” (337) is no small feat and that any person in this position... Read Areopagitica Summary

Publication year 1929Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: Literature, Identity: SexualityTags Gender / Feminism, Philosophy

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, first published in 1929, is a book-length essay that Woolf modeled after a series of her at the University of Cambridge. A Room of One’s Own is considered an exemplary piece of modernist criticism that questions traditional values. It examines the topic of “women and fiction”–women characters in fiction; the great women authors in English history who wrote fiction; and, more abstractly, “the fiction that is written... Read A Room of One's Own Summary

Publication year 269Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: Education, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Animals, Society: EconomicsTags Education, Science / Nature, Philosophy

A Sand County Almanac is a 1949 nonfiction book by the American naturalist and writer Aldo Leopold. The book is structured as a series of essays, beginning with Leopold’s description of a year on his farm and progressing to a series of essays on humanity’s relationship with nature, culminating in an argument for an ethical approach to the land. Published by Oxford University Press a year after Leopold’s death, the book is credited with having... Read A Sand County Almanac Summary

Publication year 1997Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Society: Education, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Humor, Philosophy, Post Modernism, American Literature

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is a 1997 essay collection by David Foster Wallace. The seven essays explore 1990s US social issues through subjects such as television, tennis, and (in the most famous essay) a Caribbean cruise. The essays have been referenced many times in popular culture, particularly the title essay, which recounts Wallace’s experiences on a cruise.This guide references the 1998 Abacus edition of the collection.SummaryIn the first essay, “Derivative Sport... Read A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Summary

Publication year 1971Genre Reference/Text Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Philosophy

John Rawls published A Theory of Justice in 1971 and the work is credited with the rebirth of normative political philosophy. A Theory of Justice argues in support of Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness, which commands: ·       equal basic rights ·       equality of opportunity ·       and raising the prospects of the least advantaged in society.  To do this, Rawls employs a thought experiment called the original position. In the original position, mutually-disinterested rational persons, in a hypothetical original... Read A Theory of Justice Summary

Publication year 1957Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Classic Fiction, Philosophy

The novel Atlas Shrugged (1957) was written by Russian American author Ayn Rand. Widely considered to be the author’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged is a divisive text that has remained popular in the public consciousness despite harsh criticism from academics and philosophers across the political spectrum. Set in a dystopian US wherein the collectivist government bureaucracy has a stranglehold on industry, the narrative follows protagonist Dagny Taggart as she fights to defend her family’s transcontinental... Read Atlas Shrugged Summary

Publication year 1710Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Natural World: EnvironmentTags Philosophy, Metaphysical, Irish Literature

Irish philosopher and Anglican Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753) wrote A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge in 1710. The short work expounds Berkeley’s philosophy of immaterialism, a form of empiricism asserting that nothing exists outside of a mind’s perception of it. Objects, therefore, are not things, but ideas. Berkeley’s philosophy critiques that of contemporary empiricists John Locke and David Hume, who contended that the mind can perceive the material world in abstract and that... Read A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge Summary

Publication year 1739Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Society: CommunityTags Philosophy, Psychology, Science / Nature, Age of Enlightenment

David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature was first published in 1740. Although the book did not sell well on its release, it became one of the key texts of the Enlightenment. It was especially known for its argument that human knowledge is based on direct experience and observation—a school of philosophy known as empiricism—and that human behavior is not based on reason, but on emotions. Divided into three books, A Treatise of Human Nature... Read A Treatise of Human Nature Summary

Publication year 1946Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Natural World: Space & The Universe, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Self DiscoveryTags Religion / Spirituality, Indian Literature, Philosophy, History: Asian

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was first published in 1946 and has since become a much-loved and admired book around the world. It is regarded as one of the classics of 20th-century spiritual literature. In 1999, it was named by a HarperCollins panel of authors and scholars as one of the “100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century.” In the book, Yogananda tells the story of his life, beginning with his childhood... Read Autobiography of a Yogi Summary

Publication year 1925Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: ArtTags Philosophy, Irish Literature

Publication year 2020Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Race / Racism, Arts / Culture, History: U.S., Philosophy, Post-War Era

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own is a non-fiction book by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., a Princeton University professor specializing in race and religion in the US. The title gestures to a passage in James Baldwin’s last novel, Just Above My Head (1979), which stresses the importance of new beginnings in the quest to rebuild the US as a truly multiracial democracy. A New York Times bestseller, Begin Again... Read Begin Again Summary

Publication year 1943Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Philosophy, Existentialism, French Literature, Absurdism

Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology (1943) by Jean-Paul Sartre is a foundational text for the philosophical movement of existentialism. Sartre, a 20th-century writer and philosopher, wrote Being and Nothingness while in a prisoner of war camp during World War II. Being and Nothingness addresses theories of consciousness, nothingness, self-identity, essences, and freedom. Sartre’s work builds upon a legacy of existentialist theories while defining and shaping them into a comprehensive ideology. He challenges... Read Being and Nothingness Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Psychology, Philosophy, Relationships

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (2010) is a nonfiction book written by Kathryn Schulz, a journalist who has written for publications such as the New York Times Magazine, the Nation, and the Boston Globe. The book explores the nature of error from a psychological, philosophical, and personal point of view, drawing from philosophical thought, psychology studies, and personal anecdotes. Some themes of the book include the fallibility of the human mind, the... Read Being Wrong Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Inspirational, Action / Adventure, Travel Literature, Animals, Arts / Culture, Philosophy, Relationships, Religion / Spirituality, Science / Nature, Music, Sports

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is a 2004 adventure and survival memoir by American mountain climber Aron Ralston. The narrative focuses on Ralston’s near-death experience when his arm became stuck under a boulder in a canyon in Utah, where he remained trapped for five days until he amputated his arm. Dealing with profound existential themes, the book garnered critical acclaim and became a New York Times bestseller. A 2010 film adaptation titled 127... Read Between a Rock and a Hard Place Summary

Publication year 2023Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Win & LoseTags Self Help, Philosophy

Publication year 1971Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Self Discovery, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Psychology, Philosophy, Science / Nature

Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) is a scientific philosophical text written by B. F. Skinner. Skinner (1904-1990) was a psychologist from the United States who is widely recognized for his contributions to behaviorism, the psychological theory that human behavior is determined or based on antecedent and external circumstances. Beyond Freedom and Dignity has been highly criticized for its repudiation of free will and its underlying Victorian ideals; however, this heavy criticism resulted in the popularization... Read Beyond Freedom and Dignity Summary

Publication year 1886Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Victorian Period

Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future is a classic philosophical text composed by one of modernity’s greatest thinkers, Friedrich Nietzsche, and first published in 1886, just a few years after the arguably more infamous Thus Spake Zarathustra. Published first in Nietzsche’s native German, the book was translated into English 20 years later in 1906, making the work even more widely known to an international audience. A more polemical text than... Read Beyond Good And Evil Summary

Publication year 1611Genre Scripture, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Jewish Literature

Publication year 1817Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Romanticism / Romantic Period, Philosophy

The Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge published Biographia Literaria, his semiautobiographical work on aesthetic theory, in 1817. Charting the history of his literary career and melding amusing autobiographical anecdotes with what Coleridge calls “transcendental philosophy” (91), the text is an influential work of literary criticism. Capturing Coleridge’s political ideas about the French Revolution and the American Declaration of Independence, the work is also an important historical document. In its pages, Coleridge uses 19th-century philosophical ideas... Read Biographia Literaria Summary