History of Philosophy

Rousseau: Confessions

Jean_Jacques_and_Mdlle._De_Boufflers_Confessions_Aldus_Pb202The Confessions is an autobiographical work by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written between 1765 and 1770. The first volume was published in 1782, four years after his death, while a second appeared in 1789.

The work was the first secular autobiography inaugurating a form which was soon widely imitated.

The Confessions at online book stores
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Free online texts
English translations
Gutenberg: The Confessions(expurgated translation). EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: The Confessions. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Confessions, translated by W. Conyngham Mallory. EPUB, MOBI and HTML formats.
Wikisource: The Complete Confessions, translated by S.W. Orson. HTML and other formats.
French texts
Wikisource: Les Confessions. HTML and other formats.
Other Resources
Librivox: The Confessions. Free public domain audiobook.
Wikipedia: Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Confessions (Rousseau)
Further reading
Bloom's Western Canon: The Confessions is listed.
French Language resources 


Voltaire: Philosophical Letters on the English

D'après_Maurice_Quentin_de_La_Tour _Portrait_de_Voltaire_(c._1737 _musée_Antoine_Lécuyer)The Philosophical Letters or Letters on the English (French: Lettres philosophiques) is a 1733 work by Voltaire, revised  in 1778, composed as a series of letters reflecting on his sojourn in England from 1726 to 1728.

Voltaire's thoughts on English literature include a number of leading writers of the day who he met while in London, such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. His account of English political and religious institutions, Newtonian science, and the empiricism of Bacon and Locke, quickly became a formative influence on continental liberalism.

Letters on England at online book stores
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Free online texts
English translations
Gutenberg: Letters on England. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: French and English Philosophers, Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes (includes Letters on England). Harvard Classics Vol. 34. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
Internet History Sourcebooks: Letters on the English or Lettres Philosophiques. HTML format.
Liberty Fund: The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XIX (Philosophical Letters). EPUB, HTML, MOBI and PDF formats.
Wikisource: Letters Concerning the English Nation. English translation. HTML and other formats.
French texts
Wikisource: Lettres Philosophiques. HTML and other formats.

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Vico: The New Science

GiambattistaVicoThe New Science (Italian: La Scienza Nuova) is a work by the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, originally published in 1725 and expanded in several later editions. It provides a history of civil society, interpreted, in opposition to contemporary Cartesian rationalism, through the principle of verum factum that what has been made by humans can be understood by humans.

Vico's account of human progress and his insight into the difference between ancient and modern ways of thinking has led many to credit him with being the first true philosopher of history.

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Free online texts

Internet Archive: The New Science, translated by Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harodl Frisch (Cornell, 1948). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Italian text. HTML and other formats.

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Burnet: Early Greek Philosophy

Pythagoreans celebrate sunrise by Fyodor BronnikovEarly Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, first published in 1892, is a survey of Presocratic Greek thinkers. Individuals and schools covered include Thales and the Milesians, Heraclitus, Parmenides and the Eleatics, the Pythagoreans, Anaxagoras, Empedocles and Leucippus.

Burnet was a distinguished scholar of Plato, and many of his editions remain authoritative today. He saw Socratic philosophy as a development from the problems of the earlier cosmologists, despite the protestations of disinterest in natural philosophy recorded in Plato's Apology, believing that Socrates had been a disciple of Archelaus in his youth.

Early Greek Philosophy at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Evansville.edu: John Burnet's Early Greek Philosophy. HTML format.

Hathi Trust: Early Greek Philosophy, by John Burnet. PDF format. 

Internet Archive: Early Greek Philosophy, by John Burnet (1892 edition). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Early Greek Philosophy, by John Burnet (1908 edition). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Early Greek Philosophy,by John Burnet (1920 edition). Multiple formats.

Peithô's Web: Early Greek Philosophy, by John Burnet (1920 edition). HTML format.

Plato.spbu.ru: Early Greek Philosophy, by John Burnet (1920 edition). PDF format.

Other Resources

Wikipedia: John Burnet (classicist).

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Cicero: On the Ends of Good and Evil

On the Ends of Good and Evil or On Moral Ends (Latin: De finibus bonorum et malorum), composed by Cicero in 45 BC, presents the ethical teachings of the major philosophical schools of the time in the form of dialogues recounted by Cicero to his friend Brutus. Lucius Torquatus serves as spokesman for epicureanism in the first two books, while Cato represents stoicism in books three and four. Book five presents Cicero's own academic skepticism.

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Academic Questions, Treatise De Finibus, and Tusculan Disputations. Multiple formats.

LacusCurtius: de Finibus, translated by H. Harris Rackham. HTML format.

Latin Library: De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum. Latin text, HTML format.

Loebulus. L040 - Cicero -- De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin with English translation by H. Rackham. Also at the Internet Archive.

Perseus: De finibus bonorum et malorum (Teubner, 1915). Latin text, HTML and XML format.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Treatise de Finibus, translated by Charles Duke Yonge. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: De finibus bonorum et malorum. Latin text, multiple formats.

Other Resources

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Rhetorical Questions: Cicero - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Raphael Woolf on Cicero - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Cicero.

Librivox: On the Ends of Good and Evil - public domain audiobook.

The Obstinate Classicist: On Moral Ends, summary by Bill Prueter.

Wikipedia: CiceroDe finibus bonorum et malorum.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Cicero: Academica - dialogue on stoic and academic views of the theory of knowledge.

Cicero: Tusculan Disputations.

Plato: Phaedrus - cited by Cicero in Book Two.

Latin resources: Learn to read Latin texts in the original.


Xenophon: Memorabilia

The Memorabilia (Greek: Ἀπομνημονεύματα, Apomnemoneumata) is a work by Xenophon, containing his reminiscences of Socrates. Unlike his Apology, and that of Plato, it is not intended as an account of Socrates' defence at his trial, although it does attempt to refute the charges put forward on that occasion.

Xenophon is one of only three writers to present contemporary accounts of Socrates, along with Plato and Aristophanes. His view of Socrates has certain features in common with that of later philosophical schools such as the Stoics and Skeptics.

The Memorabilia online book stores
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Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Memorabilia, multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: L 168 Xenophon IV Memorabilia Oeconomicus Symposium Apologia. Loeb edition, Greek text with English translations by E.C. Marchant and O.J Todd. Multiple formats.

Perseus: Greek text (Clarendon, 1921). English text, translated by E.C. Marchant (Heinemann, 1923). HTML and XML format.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Memorabilia, translated by H.G. Dakyns. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Απομνημονεύματα (Ξενοφών). Greek text. Multiple formats.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Xenophon. Melvyn Bragg with Paul Cartledge, Edith Hall and Simon Goldhill.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Socrates without Plato: the Accounts of Aristophanes and Xenophon - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Xenophon.

Leo Strauss Center: Xenophon, Oeconomicus and Memorabilia (St. John’s College Annapolis), 1969-70. Audio recordings of Strauss's lectures.

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law: I.F. Stone Breaks the Socrates Story. 1979 New York Times Magazine interview.

Wikipedia: Memorabilia (Xenophon).

Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Xenophon: Apology, Symposium.

Plato: Apology.

Aristophanes: The Clouds - along with Xenophon and Plato, this play is the only other surviving contemporary account of Socrates.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


G.S.Kirk & J.E. Raven: The Presocratic Philosophers

The Presocratic Philosophers by G.S. Kirk & J.E. Raven is a valuable history of early Greek thought, incorporating substantial quotations from the surviving fragments, in both Greek and English. Philosophers covered include:

The Ionian Thinkers, Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes; Xenophanes and Heraclitus.

The Italian Schools: Pythagoras, Alcmaeon of Croton, Parmenides, Zeno of Elea, Melissus, Philolaus and Eurytus of Croton.

The Post-Parmenidean Systems: Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Archelaus, Leucippus, Democritus and Diogenes of Apollonia.

As will be seen in the other resources section below, the more recent 1983 edition features still features in contemporary academic bibliographies. For the general reader, the 1957 edition, available free from the Internet Archive, is a very valuable resource.

Free online and downloadable texts

Internet Archive: The Presocratic Philosophers, A Critical History with a Selection of texts, by G.S Kirk and J.G. Raven, (Cambridge, 1957).

Other Resources

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Presocratic Philosophy, by Patricia Curd. Features the 1983 edition of Kirk & Raven in its bibliography.

History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps: The Presocratics, 12 podcasts by Peter Adamson. Features the 1983 edition of Kirk & Raven in its further reading list.