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Free Philosophy eBooks Everyone Should Read – From Ancient Greece to Postmodernism

Free Philosophy eBooks Everyone Should Read – From Ancient Greece to Postmodernism
The best way to start with and get enthusiastic about philosophy is to find ways to apply it to your life. Some of the greatest thinkers in world history have lived within the field of philosophy. By studying the best philosophy books we can try to understand the ways that cultures before us created and understood meaning in their lives. Of course, there are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

The ways we think and behave are heavily influenced by the culture we are born into. Philosophy can reveal to us the reasons behind the ways we act, and in doing so help us to gain understanding our inner selves and how we relate to our world around us. While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind. Our coverage reaches back to the dawn of the subject, with the best books on the Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Aiming to challenge the western bias, we also have book recommendations for ancient Chinese philosophy, Islamic philosophy, and world philosophy. The majority of them are freely available in PDF format. The rest can be either purchased online or as a physical book from your nearest bookstores.

Ancient Indian Philosophy

  1. The Upaniṣads by Swami Paramananda (translation) (between 8th and 1st century BCE for both early and late Upanisads)
  2. Bhagavad-Gītā by Lars Martin Fosse (translation) (5th to 3rd century BCE)
  3. Abhinavgupta’s commentary on Bhārata by KC Pandey (translation) (10th century BCE)
  4. The Questions of King Milinda by Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (2nd to 3rd century BCE)
  5. Dignāga’s Investigation of the Percept by Douglas Duckworth, Malcolm David Eckel, Jay L. Garfield, John Powers, Yeshes Thabkhas, and Sonam Thakchoe (edit and translation) (5th century)
  6. Śāntideva’s Bodhicāryāvatāra by Shantideva (8th century AD)

Chinese Philosophy

  1. Analects by Confucius
  2. The Daodejing: A short book on Daoist philosophy
  3. Huineng, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch

Ancient Greek Philosophy

  1. Last Days of Socrates by Plato (399 BCE)
  2. Republic by Plato (380 BCE)
  3. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle (350 BCE)
  4. Discourses by Epictetus (108 CE)

Ancient Roman Philosophy

  1. Lucretius On the Nature of Things by Cyril Bailey (translation) (50 BCE)
  2. Cicero On Ends by XXX (1st century BCE)
  3. Seneca Letters by XXX (c. 65 CE)
  4. Musonius Rufus Discourses by XXX (1st century CE)
  5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (161-180 CE)

Japanese Philosophy

  1. Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook by Heisig, James W., Thomas P. Kasulis, and John C. Maraldo, eds. (2011)
  2. Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo by Kazuaki Tanahashi (edit) (1233–1253)
  3. An Inquiry into the Good by Kitaro Nishida, translated by Masao Abe and Christopher Ives (1911)
  4. Watsuji Tetsurō’s “Rinrigaku”: Ethics in Japan by Tetsurō Watsuji, trans. Yamamoto Seikaku and Robert E. Carter (1937–1949)
  5. The Body: Toward an Eastern Mind-body Theory by Yasuo Yuasa, trans. Shigenori Nagatomo and Thomas P. Kasulis (1977)

Islamic Philosophy

  1. Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān (The Improvement of Human Reason) by Ibn Tufail, trans. L.E. Goodman (12th century CE)
  2. On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy by Averroes, trans. G.F. Hourani (12th century CE)
  3. The Philosophical Works of al-Kindī by Al-Kindi, trans. P. Adamson and P.E. Pormann (9th century CE)

Christian Medieval Philosophy

  1. The City of God by Augustine (426)
  2. On Being and Essence by Aquinas (13th century)
  3. Summulae de Dialectica by Jean Buridan (14th century)

Indian Analytic Philosophy

  1. Tattvacintāmaṇi (The Gemstone of Truth) by Gaṅgeśa (1325)
  2. Padārthatattvanirūpaṇa (Inquiry into the Nature of Things) by Raghunātha (1510)
  3. Śaktivāda (Treatise on Meaning) by Gadādhara (1650)

The Enlightenment

  1. Meditations on First Philosophy by Descartes (1641)
  2. Tractatus Theologico-Politicus by Spinoza (1677)
  3. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke (1690)
  4. Second Treatise of Government by John Locke (1690)
  5. Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding by Hume (1748)
  6. The Spirit of the Laws by Montesquieu (1748)
  7. Emile, Or Treatise on Education by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762)

German Idealism

  1. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant (1781)
  2. The Phenomenology of the Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1807)
  3. Stuttgart Seminars by F. W. J Schelling (1810)


  1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)
  2. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)
  3. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)

African Philosophy

  1. The Manden Charter by Aboubakar Fofana – translated into French by Jean-Louis Sagot (1236)
  2. The Treatise of Zera Yacob by Zera Yacob (1667)
  3. Mi’raj al Su’ud: Ahmad Baba’s Replies on Slavery by Ahmad Baba al-Timbukti (1615)
  4. Sage Philosophy: Indigenous Thinkers and Modern Debate on African Philosophy by Henry Odera Oruka (1990)


  1. Logical Investigations by Edmund Husserl (1900-1901)
  2. The A priori Foundations of the Civil Law by Adolf Reinach (1913)
  3. The Literary Work of Art by Roman Ingarden (1931)


  1. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)
  2. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus (1942)
  3. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre (1943)


  1. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)
  2. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus (1942)
  3. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre (1943)

Philosophy of Science

  1. The Logic of Scientific Discovery by Karl Popper (1934)
  2. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (1962 – importantly modified edition in 1970)
  3. Against Method by Paul Feyerabend (1975)

Philosophy of Mind

  1. The Principles of Psychology by William James (1890)
  2. On the Mind—De anima by Aristotle (c. 350 BC)
  3. The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism by William E Seager (2018)

Modern Analytic Philosophy

  1. The Foundations of Arithmetic by Gottlob Frege (1884)
  2. Logic and Knowledge by Bertrand Russell (1956)
  3. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1921)


  1. The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (1951)
  2. Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon (1952)
  3. The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin (left incomplete at his death in 1940)


  1. On the Genealogy of Morality by Friedrich Nietzsche (1887)
  2. Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault (1975)
  3. Spurs by Jacques Derrida (1978)

Political Philosophy

  1. Justice as Fairness: A Restatement by John Rawls (2001)
  2. If You’re An Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? by Gerald Cohen (2000)
  3. Justice for Hedgehogs by Ronald Dworkin (2011)