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Very Short Introductions

Analytic Philosophy

This book introduces some of the key ideas of the founders of analytic philosophy—Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Susan Stebbing around the turn of the 20th century—by exploring certain fundamental philosophical questions and showing how those ideas can be used in offering answers.

Ancient Philosophy

This book introduces ancient debates and focuses on important and revealing features of the subject providing a sense of its freshness and liveliness, and of its wide variety of themes and styles. The tradition of ancient philosophy is a long, rich and varied one, in which a constant note is that of discussion and argument.

Continental Philosophy

This book shows that Continental philosophy encompasses a distinct set of philosophical traditions and practices, with a compelling range of problems often ignored by the analytic tradition. It discusses the ideas and approaches of philosophers such as Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Habermas, Foucault, and Derrida, and introduces key concepts such as existentialism, nihilism, and phenomenology by explaining their place in the Continental tradition


This book explores both the difficulty and significance of the work of Derrida. It explains the theory of deconstruction, presenting Derrida's challenging ideas as a significant contribution to and a powerful reading of, our philosophical heritage.


This book explores the life and work of a man who made fundamental contributions to physics, mathematics, and optics, and reported useful observations in meteorology and physiology. His famous statement Cogito, ergo sum is the first principle of his metaphysics, his theory of what has to be known for stable and exact science to be possible.


This concise historical introduction to the Enlightenment, as an intellectual movement of eighteenth-century Europe, discusses its intellectual achievements and explores how its supporters exploited new ways of communicating their ideas to a wider public, thereby creating a new ‘public sphere’ for critical discussion of the moral, economic, and political issues facing their societies.


This book examines one of the leading philosophical movements of the twentieth century. Focusing on its seven leading figures: Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, Merleau–Ponty, and Camus, it considers the key themes of the movement, which emphasized individuality, free will, and personal responsibility in the modern world.


This exploration of the highlights of Foucault's life focuses on his thoughts on literature, in particular the avant-garde scene; his philosophical and historical work; his treatment of knowledge and power in modern society; and his thoughts on sexuality.

German Philosophy

This book discusses the idea that that German philosophy forms one of the most revealing responses to the problems of ‘modernity’, addressing questions such as the relationships between knowledge and faith, reason and emotion, and scientific, ethical, and artistic ways of seeing the world. It examines Germany's transition from a traditional feudal society to a modern, industrialized one, exploring how philosophy relates to social and historical developments.


Who or what is God? How can we know God? This book explores some of the answers provided by philosophers, poets, and theologians, and considers why some people believe in God and others do not. It considers how each major religion established their own distinctive beliefs about God and how they each interpret His existence, and concludes by looking at how our understanding of God continues to evolve.


This book provides an overview of Jürgen Habermas's forbiddingly complex philosophy using concrete examples. Habermas is arguably the most influential German philosopher alive today. He has influenced a variety of fields, including philosophy, political and social theory, cultural studies, sociology, and literary studies. He has commented widely on subjects such as Marxism, the importance and effectiveness of communication, the reunification of Germany, and the European Union.


This book provides an invaluable guide to the complex and voluminous thought of one of the 20th century’s greatest yet most enigmatic and divisive philosophers. It focuses on Martin Heidegger’s most important work, Being and Time, to explore its major themes of existence in the world, inauthenticity, guilt, destiny, truth, and the nature of time.


Hermeneutics is the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation. This book traces the history of hermeneutic theory, setting out its key elements, demonstrating how these key elements can be applied to a broad range of disciplines, and reveals the significance of hermeneutics in our current social and political landscape.


Hobbes's reputation was paradoxical. He was hostile to dogmatism of every kind, yet he was seen as a brusque dogmatist. He was hostile to the intellectual authorities of the churches, but yet he wanted his own philosophical works to be the authoritative texts within the universities. In the Conclusion of this book the author tries to explain this paradox by placing Hobbes within a wider paradox, one which is possibly inherent to scepticism or liberalism.


This author considers one of the greatest of all British philosophers, acknowledged by his contemporaries as a pivotal figure of the Enlightenment. A central theme of Hume's philosophy is the conviction that certain questions, for example, about the mind, about morality, and about God, are actually best explained using scientific experimental methods. Hume's ‘naturalist’ approach to a wide variety of philosophical topics resulted in highly original theories about perception, self-identity, causation, morality, politics, and religion.

Indian Philosophy

This book emphasizes the diversity of Indian thought and is structured around six schools which have achieved classic status. How have the traditions of Indian philosophy attempted to understand the nature of reality in terms of an inner or spiritual quest? What do the distinctively Indian concepts of karma and rebirth mean? What do Indian thinkers have to say on issues of reality and knowledge — issues which are also an important part of the Western philosophical tradition?


This book tackles this exceptionally complex subject, exploring the background to Kant's work and showing why the Critique of Pure Reason has proved so enduring. Kant is arguably the most influential modern philosopher, but also one of the most difficult to understand.


This book shows how Kierkegaard developed his views in emphatic opposition to prevailing opinions. It describes his reaction to the ethical and religious theories of Kant and Hegel, and contrasts his position with doctrines advanced by people like Feuerbach and Marx. Kierkegaard's seminal diagnosis of the human condition, which emphasizes the significance of individual choice, has arguably been his most striking philosophical legacy, particularly for the growth of existentialism.


What is knowledge? How does it differ from mere belief? Do you need to be able to justify a claim in order to count as knowing it? This book considers these epistemological questions alongside new puzzles arising from recent discoveries about humanity, language, and the mind. It explains the formation of major historical theories of knowledge, and shows how contemporary philosophers have developed new ways of understanding knowledge, using ideas from logic, linguistics, and psychology.


This book introduces the German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) and his desire for systematic reform and advancement of all sciences and establishment of a stable and just political order. It introduces the fundamental principles of Leibniz’s thought and his theories of truth and knowledge. Exploring Leibniz’s contributions to logic, mathematics, physics, and metaphysics, it considers how his theories sat alongside his concerns with politics, diplomacy, and a range of practical reforms.


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Search the Library Catalogue for Books

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To find books in the Trent Library, search the Library Catalogue. There's an online tutorial available to learn about the Library Catalogue.

Use a keyword search to find items on a topic. To improve your results, use an "Advanced Search".

The call number section for Philosophy is B - BD (3rd Floor Bata):


  • B General Philosophy - organized by period:
    • Ancient: B 108-708
    • Medieval: B 720-765
    • Renaissance: B 770-785
    • Modern: B 790-5802
  • BC Logic
  • BD Speculative Philosophy


Terminology Notes:

The Library Catalogue uses LCSH (subject headings) in most records, to help us identify items of interest. Philosophy is a subject term, which can be made more specific by adding a time period or geogrphical location.  Examples:

Philosophy -- 19th century
Philosophy, Ancient
Philosophy -- Early modern
Philosophy, Medieval
Philosophy, American
Philosophy, Chinese


It can also be combined with specific topics.  Examples:

Philosophy. Civilization
Philosophy, Buddhist
Philosophy and religion
Philosophy. Religion
Philosophy and science
Philosophy. Science
Philosophy. Language and languages
Philosophy. Literature

The term "philosophical" can also be applied to some headings, as in:

Identity (Philosophical concept)

The best way to search for books is usually to use "philosoph$" and a term specific to your topic in a keyword search. 

Of course, not all topics have "philosophy" in them.  Look for more specific terms like:

  • ethics
  • morality
  • existentialism
  • realism
  • pluralism
  • Descartes
  • metaphysics

Reference Books

Reference books offer great starting points and background reading on a topic.  Listed here are some of the more important reference books available at the Trent Library.  Call numbers are provided for print books; links for online.

Other Reference Sources


The majority of our e-books are included in the Library Catalogue and can be found with any search. The description includes a link to the e-book.

  • To limit a search to e-books, use the Power Search option and change the location to "E-Book".

The following resources contain collections of e-books. Most offer the option to create an account for yourself and save books, as well as adding notations and highlighting.  Often you find more books by searching the collections directly, because they search within the books to find relevant chapters and pages.