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Self-Guided Tutorial in Philosophy

As the oldest of human intellectual pursuits, philosophy is devoted to examining fundamental questions that may reflect nearly everything -- as everything can be philosophically examined.

Primary Branches of Philosophy:

Aesthetics Epistemology Metaphysics
Philosophy of Language Ethics Logic

Within these basic branches, specializations such as bioethics, cosmology, or ontology are found.

Philosophy is extremely fluid in how it can shed light on other disciplines and their respective topics of interest. Firstly, it is firmly placed in the humanities:


Secondly, it interacts critically with other disciplines in both the humanities and the social sciences:

Philosophy of History

Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Social Sciences

As one of the Humanities, Philosophy is book-dependent, that is, it relies heavily on the use of books, (often called monographs).  As you embark on your topic for your paper in philosophy, there are library resources that can help expedite your searching for pertinent and relevant materials.

Major Philosophy Websites:

Philosophy in Cyberspace
This site offers a cornucopia of resources in philosophy.  Organizations, usenet groups, mailing lists, preprints, fulltext papers and e-journals complement the extensive bibliographies, and reference tools, that can help you navigate the philosophical materials scattered throughout the web. It is maintained at http://qanda.encyclopedia.com/question/best-philosophy-resources-222838.html and includes a very useful entrée to the structure of philosophical specializations and terminology, as well as HIPPIAS, a very good search engine devoted to philosophy.

Guide to Philosophy on the Internet
This is an excellent site for philosophy: it contains professional organizations, search tools, reference resources, many e-journals exclusively devoted to philosophy, and many fulltext options.  Maintained at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/philinks.htm by Prof. Peter Suber of the Earlham College Philosophy Department, it offers additional fulltext papers and many web-based indexes, as well as the HIPPIAS search engine.

Beginning Your Search:

A Good Key Gateway to Philosophy Research Is:

Research Guide to Philosophy, Terrence N. Tice and Thomas P. Slavens, (American Library Association, 1983),  Call No. Reference 107 T435r

This guide provides a very good topography of the principle areas of philosophy with very sound and penetrating discussion of these areas.  Chapters consider evolution, specializations, major and minor research interests, as well as providing major titles of critical scholarship.  If you are not certain how to get a grasp on philosophy and its scholarship--this is a perfect entry point for your research. You will find schools and currents of philosophy carefully and concisely explained, linked to respective examples of research.

Selective General and Specialized Philosophy Encyclopedias and Reference Resources:

Often, it is best to start with these encyclopedic reference tools, since they provide easily digested information.  They contain well-grounded analysis and commentary that provide useful and verifiable information.  These entries also provide reference points for further and specialized readings and often are appended by bibliographies tied to a respective entry.  Written by established scholars, they should be your decisive starting point when you are not certain about nomenclature, definitions, or chronological and historical evolution.

Paper-Copy Encyclopedia:

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vols. I-VIII & Supplement, Paul Edwards, editor-in-chief,  (Macmillan, 1972, c1967), Call No. Reference 103 En19 1972
Consult this masterwork when uncertain about key points in argumentation, biographies of major philosophers and their entire corpus, or succinct discussion and laying out of respective history of philosophy.

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vols. I-X, Edward Craig, ed.,  (Routledge, 1998). 
Call No. Reference 100 R5765 1998
Absolutely vital for establishing the contours of philosophical thinking and Bellwether scholarship necessary for beginning research.

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Ted Honderich, ed.,  (Oxford University, 1995).
Call No. Reference 100 Ox2 1995
This source is a very strong cursory source for quick reference. It is especially good for concise statements of definition and historical periods and figures, etc.

Remember:  There are many specialized philosophy bibliographies, dictionaries, handbooks, and encyclopedias in the Purdue Reference Collection that can be consulted.

Web-Based Encyclopedias and Dictionaries:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
This is an extremely well rounded encyclopedia that is updated continuously.  Key philosophical terminology, historical figures, and currents and schools of thought are included. The unique quality of the resource is that it can be modified by those responsible for writing the entries.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
This reference tool is a very effective entrée to philosophy in the main.  It is clearly written and is easily accessible.  A unique feature is the availability of some fulltext material.

A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names
This online dictionary is excellent for quick searching of specialized definitions as well as specific school , philosophers, and special subjects.

Selected & Representative  Specialized Paper-Copy Philosophy Encyclopedias:

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Vols.  I-IV, Michael Kelly, ed., (Oxford University Press, 1998).  Call No. Reference 111.8503 En19 1998
Excellent for general and specialized entries in aesthetics.  Very good for Bellwether scholarship and key points of aesthetics and interdisciplinary areas of the arts across all areas of architecture, literature, music, painting, photography, etc.

Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, Vols. I-IV, Ruth Chadwick, ed.,  (Academic Press, 1998).  Call No.  Reference 170.3 En185 1998
This is a very good entrée to many applications of ethics, for various human activities.  Entries provide good coverage for topics as wide-ranging as professional concerns in different professions and situations.  Covers both theoretical and grounded ethics.

Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Vols. I-V, Warren Thomas Reich, ed., (Macmillan, 1995).  Call No. Reference 179.2 En19 1995
This excellent resource covers various discussions of pure and applied ethics as pertains to biological and medical sciences and practices.  Entries include emphasis on the grounded conditions of ethics in this vast and critical area.

The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen  Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber et al, ed., (Shambhala, 1989).  Call No. Reference 291.095 L591E 1989
A thorough going and useful entrée to the ancient spiritual, philosophical, and religious traditions of as they manifest themselves in Asian contexts.

Encyclopedia of ethics, Vols. I-III, Lawrence C. Becker & Charlotte B. Becker, eds., (Routledge, 2001),  Call No.  Reference 170.3 En19 20001
This work builds on the latest of research, scholarship, and concerns in ethics, both pure and applied. It should be consulted when looking for the "state of the discipline."

Searching for Library Resources at Purdue:

A. Searching For Books: Use The Catalog to access Purdue's book and journal holdings. Several approaches may be used for searching--please ask a librarian for the best and most efficient ways to search the catalog as well as other university catalogs.

If you require books that are not available at Purdue, West Lafayette Campus, you may request them electronically through THOR's Interlibrary Loan. If you require further assistance, please call 42800. Books and photocopies of articles may be requested. Please allow enough time for this transaction.

B. Searching For Articles:  As you pursue your literature search for your paper, it is imperative that you search databases that yield the philosophical literature that helps animate your paper.

Indexes and Databases for Philosophy Topics:

The Philosopher's Index
This is the most comprehensive index devoted to philosophy. International and multilingual, it covers publications from 1940 to the present. It includes books and articles with abstracts for all specialties-- aesthetics, epistemology, ethics (pure& applied), history of philosophy, logic, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, social & political philosophy, as well as schools of thought, i.e. analytical, continental, feminism, postmodern, etc. Subspecialities, such as philosophy of science, law, language, or medicine are included.

Religion Index One:  Call No. Reference 016.2 R277. This index should be consulted when seeking articles with distinct philosophical considerations. Articles are indexed beginning with 1977/78 to the present. Multilingual and international in scope, coverage is exceptional for philosophy of religion and philosophical theology.

Arts and Humanities Citation Index
This general multidisciplinary index covers selected journals in philosophy.  This unique searching tool permits you to see a display of article bibliographies which allows you to have an intellectual sense of the author's argumentation.  An additional aid is that the searcher can view other articles that cited the article that you are viewing.

Fulltext Databases:

These databases offer some fulltext options for your research.  Remember: Not all journals are fulltext and some articles may not be available fulltext.

Academic Search Premier
You can search by topic or by perusing a journal for relevant articles.  This database is good for applied topics in philosophy and is especially good for interdisciplinary topics, i.e. medical ethics, or business ethics etc.

Proquest Research Library
Some topics in pure and applied philosophy as well as topics with philosophical considerations are indexed here.

Always consult Philosopher's Index for your research.  If a topic is interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary, consult databases that may also reflect philosophy scholarship.  This is especially critical if you are concentrating on such topics as applied ethics, bioethics, political and social philosophy, among others.

Example: Always consult Philosopher's Index first, then.

Purdue Has Online Journals in Philosophy Via JSTOR:

Specific journals are:

These journals are completely fulltext and reflect the exact copy of the originals paper copies.  Various combinations for searching make this database ideal for retrospective research.

Selected Philosophy Journals Available at Purdue

Some General Journals:

Some Specialized Journals:

These titles represent only a reflection of philosophy journals held at Purdue. There are many others that are multidisciplinary, and others that are philosophy journals written in French, German, and Italian, reflecting the richness of international philosophy scholarship.  Also, you will find journals exclusively devoted to a single school or philosopher.


Web site maintained by : P.Whalen & K.Schurr-- Content provided by: Jean-Pierre V.M. Hérubel - Questions: hsselib@purdue.edu

Last update: September 4, 2009