The Twenty Greatest Philosophy Books

Front Cover
A&C Black, Dec 24, 2006 - Philosophy - 181 pages
2 Reviews

The essential guide to the top twenty greatest books in philosophy for those who have just never quite found the time to read them.

In this witty and engaging book, James Garvey offers an introductory account of the must-read books from the whole history of philosophical writing. From Plato to Popper, Descartes to Wittgenstein, the greatest books in philosophy have had a huge impact on the development of contemporary society, politics, economics and culture. This entertaining and intelligent guide introduces the philosophical questions central to these books that are of genuine interest to the general reader and opens up often complex and challenging ideas for wider debate.

This is the ideal book for those coming to philosophy for the first time. Garvey introduces the key themes and terms in philosophy before exploring each of the twenty great philosophy books with humour and clarity. The book presupposes no background in philosophy and encourages the reader to actively engage in philosophical thinking. The Twenty Greatest Philosophy Books is the essential guide for anyone with an interest in this fascinating subject.
The Twenty Greatest Philosophy Books are Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy , Hobbes's Leviathan, Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding,  Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge, Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Rousseau's Social Contract, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation, Marx's Communist Manifesto, Mill's Utilitarianism, Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, James's Pragmatism, Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus , Ayer's Language, Truth and Logic, Sartre's Being and Nothingness, de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HazelD - LibraryThing

A rather compelling synoposis of some of the most important philosophy books (Western Philosophy, ie Anglo-American, Continental, and their common heritage in the renaissance and before). Garvey has a very good way of explaining things and ordering information. Read full review

The twenty greatest philosophy books

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

It takes a brave man to summarize Thomas Aquinas'sSumma theologica in eight pages or G.W.F. Hegel'sPhenomenology in seven, but Garvey (philosophy, Nottingham Univ., UK) does a creditable job. He ... Read full review


Plato Republic
Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics
St Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae
Kciic Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy
Thomas Hobbes Leviathan
John Locke An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
George Berkeley A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
Arthur Schopenhauer The World as Will and Representation
Karl Marx The Communist Manifesto
John Stuart Mill Utilitarianism
Friedrich Nietzsche Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Karl Popper The Logic of Scientific Discovery
A J Ayer Language Truth and Logic
JeanPaul Sartre Being and Nothingness
Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex

David Hume An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
JeanJacques Rousseau The Social Contract
Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason
G W F Hegel The Phenomenology of Spirit
Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations

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Page 169 - My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way : anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them — as steps to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.

About the author (2006)

James Garvey is Secretary of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, UK. He is the author of The Twenty Greatest Philosophy Books and The Ethics of Climate Change, also published by Continuum.

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