Philosophy introductory reading list

You will find academic life here at Cambridge extremely stimulating and intellectually exciting. It is also enormously busy. Our short terms mean that a lot of reading, thinking and writing must fit into tight deadlines. So it is an excellent idea to start reading philosophy now, and to continue thinking philosophically over the summer vacation.

Here are some suggestions on what to read. Advice from the Faculty (on which much of what follows below is based) can be found on the Faculty of Philosophy website

Reading list

Even if you have studied philosophy before, we recommend that you read the following:

Think by Simon Blackburn (Oxford, 2001)

A book that is well worth working through (although Chapter 2 is quite heavy-going) is:Philosophical Writing by A P Martinich (Blackwell, 2005).

You might want to note for future use that Martinich’s definition of ‘paradox’ (p.38); ‘the strength of a proposition’ (44-48) and ‘incoherence’ (p. 140) are non-standard.

Keep a good philosophical dictionary around for reference. Any of The Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Craig), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (ed. Honderich) or The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (ed. Blackburn) will do.

The following are rather more substantial books that you might like to try:

Your workload will be divided between Faculty based lectures, discussion groups and classes; and College based supervisions. You will have about six lectures a week, and will be expected to write one essay a week, which will be the subject of an hour-long discussion with your supervisor. The discussion groups and classes run for either four or six weeks during term and provide an additional forum for argument and discussion with students from the other colleges.

Back to Admissions home