Philosophy

Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder

The Social Contract & Discourses

Jean Jacques Rousseau

The epigraph of the work is "foederis aequalis / Dicamus leges" (Virgil, Aeneid XI.321–22). The stated aim of The Social Contract is to determine whether there can be a legitimate political authority since people's interactions he saw at his ti...

The Confessions of St. Augustine by Bishop

Augustine of Hippo

The work is not a complete autobiography, as it was written during Saint Augustine's early 40s and he lived long afterwards, producing another important work, The City of God. Nonetheless, it does provide an unbroken record of his development of thou...

Siddhartha

Hermann Hesse

The story takes place in the ancient Nepalese kingdom of Kapilavastu. Siddhartha decides to leave his home in the hope of gaining spiritual illumination by becoming an ascetic wandering beggar of the Śamaṇa. Joined by his best friend Govinda, Siddhar...

Ethics Part 5

Baruch Spinoza

The fifth part argues that reason can govern the affects in the pursuit of virtue, which for Spinoza is self-preservation: only with the aid of reason can humans distinguish the passions that truly aid virtue from those that are ultimately harmful. B...

Ethics Part 4

Baruch Spinoza

The fourth part analyzes human passions, which Spinoza sees as aspects of the mind that direct us outwards to seek what gives pleasure and shun what gives pain. The "bondage" he refers to is domination by these passions or "affects" as he calls them....

Ethics Part 3

Baruch Spinoza

In the third part of the Ethics, Spinoza argues that all things, including human beings, strive to persevere in their being. This is usually taken to mean that things try to last for as long as they can. Spinoza explains how this striving ("conatus")...

Ethics Part 2

Baruch Spinoza

The second part focuses on the human mind and body. Spinoza attacks several Cartesian positions: (1) that the mind and body are distinct substances that can affect one another; (2) that we know our minds better than we know our bodies; (3) that our s...

Ethics Part 1

Baruch Spinoza

The first part of the book addresses the relationship between God and the universe. Spinoza was engaging with a Tradition that held: God exists outside of the universe; God created the universe for a reason; and God could have created a different uni...

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray begins on a beautiful summer day in Victorian England, where Lord Henry Wotton, an opinionated man, is observing the sensitive artist Basil Hallward painting the portrait of Dorian Gray, a handsome young man who is Basil's...

The Analects

Confucius

also known as the Analects of Confucius, is an ancient Chinese book composed of a large collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries, traditionally believed to have been compiled and written b...