Learn about the types of philosophical works you can access through the library.
Sources of philosophical writings
Most philosophical writings can be found in books or articles. These can be read either online or in print. Articles appear in books that are edited anthologies (collections on a specific topic) or in academic journals.
Articles are published regularly in journals, also known as periodicals. Some journals focus on just one area of philosophy, such as Philosophy and Public Affairs, whereas others cover a variety of philosophical topics, for example The Philosophical Quarterly.
These are original works in which philosophers write directly about philosophical issues. They often take the form of books or articles. Other primary sources that give insights into the work of philosophers are: letters, lectures, pamphlets, interviews, works of art, and contemporary criticism. Primary texts are the key readings for your units. You will be spending quite some time familiarising yourself with these!
These are commentaries on the original works of philosophers. Many philosophical works discuss other philosophical texts while also dealing directly with a philosophical issue. Texts on, or about, a primary text are known as secondary texts. These are often read alongside the primary texts they refer to. Usually you need to have a good grasp of the primary text in order to make sense of the secondary text.
These are a great place to start your research as they contain useful summaries of key concepts or a philosopher’s ideas. These include:
These in-depth, scholarly books are useful for further research once you have grasped the basics.