This page contains information about resources and readings you can choose to engage with in preparation for your arrival as a new student in the Department of Philosophy.
Please note that you are not required to engage with these resources. These are recommendations just in case you are interested in doing some preparation before you arrive.
In fact, now is a good time to explore your interests widely and with enthusiasm in whatever way you see fit. When you get here we will tell you what you are required to read, but for now just read and engage with the things that make you feel as passionate and excited about philosophy as we do.
We have also put together a page of supplementary readings for our Joint Honours courses (Philosophy with Psychology, Mathematics and Philosophy, and Philosophy and Literature, and Philosophy, Literature and Classics.
Free online resources
The two biggest online encyclopaedias for Philosophy are the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (SEP) and the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (IEP). If you are ever researching a topic in Philosophy that is new to you, start here rather than Wikipedia. Sometimes just reading the introductory paragraphs is helpful.
We encourage you to use the search bar to browse for the entries on topics you are interested in, but the following entries from the SEP may be helpful for your first year.
‘Reasons for Action: Justification, Motivation, Explanation’ by Maria Alvarez (for Mind & Reality core module)
‘René Descartes’ by Gary Hatfield (for Plato and Descartes core module)
‘Plato’ by Richard Kraut (for Plato and Descartes core module)
‘Ancient Theories of Soul’ by Hendrik Lorenz (for Ancient Philosophy core module)
‘Hobbes’s Moral and Political Philosophy’ by Sharon A. Lloyd and Susanne Sreedhar (for Key Debates in Moral and Political Philosophy core module)
‘The Definition of Lying and Deception’ by James Edwin Mahon (for Knowledge, Ignorance and Bullshit optional module)
‘Simone de Beauvoir’ by Debra Bergoffen and Megan Burke (for Existence, Experience, History optional module)
‘Daoism’ by Chad Hansen (for Introduction to Chinese Philosophy optional module)
‘Positive and Negative Liberty’ by Ian Carter(for Ideas of Freedom optional module)
Since the very beginning, Philosophy has been all about dialogue. Consequently, there are a lot of good Philosophy podcasts out there. Here are just a few in case you want to give your eyes a rest and your ears a treat.
(Hundreds of interviews with philosophers about their areas of expertise)
(Discussions of places and locations that have been important to specific philosophers)
(Discussions of moral and political philosophy with contemporary relevance)
(A podcast on the history of philosophy with an aspiration to leave nothing out)
(An important spinoff from the above podcast focusing on Indian philosophy and Africana philosophy)
(A podcast of the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time which covers various topics in the history of ideas)
(Interviews with contemporary philosophers about the relationship between themselves and their approach to philosophy)
(A series of talks on the history of political philosophy from Thomas Hobbes to the present day, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Gandhi, Hannah Arendt, Franz Fanon and more)
And did you know that Warwick Philosophy students have started their own podcast? Subscribe and download to get to know your lecturers a bit better.
The website Aeon is highly recommended for original writings on fascinating ideas in Philosophy as well as other disciplines. Again, you’ll find your lecturers there – discussing the epistemology of conspiracy theories, the ethics of labelling, happiness, pornography and the philosophy of language, and more.
Five Books is a good website for getting reading recommendations, especially in Philosophy. For example, read Warwick’s Stephen Houlgate and David Bather Woods on the best books for the 19th century German philosophers G. W. F. Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer.
The Times Literary Supplement website features a series called Footnotes to Plato which features lots of articles on different famous philosophers. Here’s one by Warwick’s Guy Longworth on the 20th century Oxford philosopher J. L. Austin.
YouTube can be a good place for watching people talk about Philosophy (but watch out! – it can be less-than-good too...) For instance, you can find an archive of Bryan Magee’s interviews with great philosophers talking about other great philosophers from the past.
Recommended Books: Introductions to Philosophical Topics
Remember, you are not required to read any books before you arrive. Enjoy your freedom to read whatever you like! But if you are looking for good introductions to philosophy and philosophical topics, here are some recommendations.
What Does it All Mean? by Thomas Nagel
(A classic introduction to Philosophy in general, covering knowledge, justice, death, freedom, language, and even the meaning of life. There’s a bit of everything here.)
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
(This is also an introduction to Philosophy in general, but from an historical perspective, coving some of the main figures including Socrates, Machiavelli, Kierkegaard, and Arendt.)
Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel
(A collection of classic essays on a variety of topics, mainly in applied philosophy, including war and massacre, moral luck and absurdity.)
Causing Death and Saving Lives by Jonathan Glover
(Another classic of applied philosophy, with a focus on the applied ethics of life and death.)
Revealing Art: Why Art Matters by Matthew Kieran
(An introduction to the philosophy of art that makes a case for the special importance of art in our lives, covering topics such as beauty, originality, and creativity. Bonus: it has some lovely pictures!)
Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy by Susan Neiman
(A history of philosophical responses to the problem of evil and suffering, from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake to the Holocaust and 9/11, with Rousseau, Kant, Nietzsche, Adorno and others.)
What Is This Thing Called Philosophy of Religion? by Elizabeth Burns
(An introduction to core topics studied on an undergraduate philosophy of religion module which draws on a wide range of religious traditions and interpretations of belief.)
Recommended Books: For First Year Modules
Need we remind you that you are not required to read anything just yet? But if you are feeling keen to get started, the following books could help with your first year modules.
Republic by Plato (for Plato and Descartes)
Meditations by René Descartes (for Plato and Descartes)
What Is This Thing Called Knowledge? (4th Edition) by Duncan Prichard (for Mind and Reality)
Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction by Jennifer Nagel (for Mind and Reality)
Early Greek Philosophers edited by Jonathan Barnes (for Ancient Philosophy)
Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction by Christopher Shields (for Ancient Philosophy)
Doing philosophy: a practical guide for students by Clare Saunder, David Mossley, G. MacDonald Ross, Danielle Lamb, Julie Closs (for Reason, Argument and Analysis)
Understanding arguments: an introduction to informal logic by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Robert J. Fogelin (for Reason, Argument and Analysis)
Political Philosophy: A Beginners’ Guide for Students and Politicians by Adam Swift (for Key Debates in Moral and Philosophy Philosophy, or Ideas of Freedom)
The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir (for Existence, Experience, History)
Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture by Robin R. Wang (for Introduction to Chinese Philosophy)
For the optional module Knowledge, Ignorance and Bullshit: Philosophy for the Real World, you could also view/read the following online sources: