For millennia, philosophers have been contemplating the nature of reality and the human condition and it is perhaps one of the oldest fields of academia. In a scholarly sense, philosophy is the study of the history of human thought. It requires familiarity with the great ideas contemplated by the various major thinkers in world history.
As a student of philosophy it’s very important to be well read and well referenced when it comes to both studying the subject and writing arguments. Fortunately, there exists hundreds of online resources for philosophy and below we have researched and identified the best free resources available.
Introduction to Philosophy Courses
Introduction to Philosophy – An Online Textbook – This online textbook from Professor Philip A. Pecorino of Queensborough Community College provides an excellent overview of philosophical thought that spans classic Greek thought through to contemporary social, political and ethical philosophies. The text has been designated by StudyWeb as one of the best educational resources on the web.
Introduction to Political Philosophy (Yale University) – This highly respected video course from Yale University is an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. It examines the way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course. There is also a follow up course on Foundations of Modern Social Theory.
Introduction to Philosophy (University of Edinburgh) – This excellent and comprehensive introductory course provided for free by The University of Edinburgh (via Coursera) is designed to give you an overview of some of the main areas of philosophy, and a flavor of some of the topics and questions you might study as part of a degree program in philosophy. Each module contains both video and written components as well as tasks to complete.
Introduction to Philosophy (Saylor) – This broad course introduces the major topics, problems, methods of philosophy and the writings of a number of the major historical figures in philosophy. Whilst providing introductory information the course also aims to improve student’s critical thinking capability, argument development and persuasive writing skills.
Video Philosophy Resources
Philosophy Course (UC Berkeley) – This huge collection of video lectures from respected professor John Searle at UC Berkeley takes a deep dive into three main themes, philosophy of mind, language and society. Each field has 28 hour-long lectures to watch, making this one of the most comprehensive and expansive free online resources for philosophy.
Introduction to Philosophy (Missouri State) – This video course from Daniel Kaufman at Missouri State takes an introductory look at philosophy and explores various ways of understanding the human self and its relation to the world. The course deals with central themes that arise from the human quest for a deeper self-understanding, including thinking about what can be known, what is worth valuing, what reality is, and how human communities should be composed and regulated.
Social and Political Philosophy (Rochester Institute of Technology) – This insightful 10 lecture video course from John Sanders, Professor of Philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, examines some of the main problems of social and political philosophy. Through an analysis, comparison and critical examination of various views concerning the natures of individuality and society and the relations between them.
School of Life – The School of Life from philosopher Alain De Botton is both a YouTube channel and a real-life school devoted to emotional education and located in 10 campuses around the world. The channel has a broad range of education videos including 30 videos on philosophy ranging from the Greek classics to contemporary philosophers which are some of the most watched online.
TED Talks – TED Talks are a great resource for new philosophical perspectives with professors and individuals from the private sector regularly presenting on the latest philosophical thought.
Peter Millican (Oxford University) – This podcast is from a series of lectures delivered by well-respected professor Peter Millican to first-year philosophy students at the University of Oxford. It provides a comprehensive introduction to many philosophical topics, taking a chronological view of the history of philosophy. Each lecture is split into 3 or 4 sections which outline a particular philosophical problem and how different philosophers have attempted to resolve the issue.
Introduction to Philosophy (University of New Orleans) – This course is a survey of the early history of Western Philosophy, beginning with the ancient Greeks and is not on any one particular philosopher or school of thought. Instead, it examines various ways of thinking, comparing and contrasting the claims of different thinkers.
Philosophy – The Classics Podcast – This well respected podcast features author Nigel Warburton as he reads from his book Philosophy: The Classics which is an introduction to 27 key works in the history of philosophy and goes in depth into each field and philosopher.
Philosophy and Science of Human Nature (Yale University) – This podcast from Tamar Gendler of Yale takes an interesting perspective and pairs central texts from Western philosophical tradition with recent findings in cognitive science and related fields. The course is structured around three intertwined sets of topics: Happiness and Flourishing; Morality and Justice; and Political Legitimacy and Social Structures.
Definitions and Academic References
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – The IEP provides is one of the most comprehensive general reference sources for philosophy online and provides access to detailed, scholarly information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of philosophy. It is free and easy to use and search for resources on.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – The SEP is another detailed and comprehensive online encyclopedia. Stanford offers many of its archived texts and resources free to the public in digital form in this portal. Users can search by keyword, name of text, or name of author and enjoy access to a vast library of high quality resources.
Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names – Created by philosophy professor Garth Kemerling, this is a concise free online dictionary of technical terms and personal names found in the study of philosophy. Many of the entries include links to other resources that can be hard to find online.
Meta-Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Established by Andrew Chrucky (Ph.D. in Philosophy, Fordham University), this free encyclopedia contains in-depth articles and content across a wide variety of terms within philosophy. It is free, easy to search and provides links for further reading for most terms.
The Philosopher’s Index – This is arguably the best bibliographic database online covering scholarly research in all areas of philosophy. It is designed to help researchers find publications in philosophy and contains over 650,000 records from publications that date back to 1902. Many of the abstracts found in the Index cannot be found in other reference resources.
JSTOR – JSTOR is a digital archive of searchable back issues of more than 12 million scholarly journals across all academic subjects including philosophy. Most universities have paid access and if not there is also a large open content area (more than 2,000 titles).
Classic Texts & Academic Papers
Project Gutenberg – Project Gutenberg offers over 54,000 free ebooks online across a variety of academic disciplines. Its philosophy section is very comprehensive and helpfully broken down into philosophy by subject matters (e.g. mind, language, logic, reasoning) with book recommendations and links in each field of interest.
PhilPapers – PhilPapers is a comprehensive index and bibliography of philosophy with resources including journals, books, open access archives, and personal pages maintained by academics. It is freely and easily searchable for anyone to use.
Phil Sci Archive – The Phil Sci Archive from the University of Pittsburg is an electronic archive specifically tailored for philosophy. The archive contains submissions from general philosophy as well as philosophy of particular sciences (physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, etc.), feminist philosophy of science, socially relevant philosophy of science, history and philosophy of science and history of the philosophy of science. It is freely and easily searchable for all.
Essay Writing Resources
There are two particularly good resources on researching, structuring and writing the best possible philosophy essay:
Harvard Center for Expository Writing’s Guide to Philosophical Writing
Jim Pryor’s Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper
Two popular philosophy magazines for keeping up to date with the latest thinking and debates are:
Associations and Groups
American Philosophical Association – The APA is one of the largest philosophical associations in America and membership includes access to its newsletter, JSTOR, eligibility for prizes and research grants as well as discounts and savings on many philosophy resources.
International Society For Philosophers – The International Society for Philosophers was formed in 2002 in association with the Pathways School of Philosophy to bring together amateur and professional philosophers from all over the world. It provides access to scholarly journals and articles as well as a strong international network of students and professors.
Royal Institute of Philosophy – The RIP is a charity dedicated to the advancement of philosophy. The Institute arranges free philosophy lectures, debates, joint talks, and discussions across the UK.