Philosophy

Where can I find information about philosophy?

Entry last updated: 11/11/20

Introduction

Philosophy is a way of thinking about things like society, what it means to be human, and the nature of the universe. It is a very broad subject and can be approached in a lot of different ways. Philosophy is useful in the real world and helps us understand how people think and act, for example, the study of ethics asks how we can be good people in our everyday lives.

Philosophical topics

Philosophy is a really broad subject that branches off into a range of different topics and schools of thought. Here are a few common topics, but there are heaps more.

Aesthetics: the philosophical study of beauty and taste.

Epistemology: the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge.

Ethics: also called moral philosophy, this branch of philosophy is concerned about what is morally good and bad.

Logic: the study, from a philosophical perspective, of the nature and types of logic.

Metaphysics: the philosophy of existence and the nature of things that exist.

Political philosophy: philosophy of the concepts and arguments involved in political opinion. One of the best known political philosophers is Karl Marx.

Ancient Greek philosophy: philosophical thought from Ancient Greece, from philosophers like Socrates , Plato and Aristotle.

General websites

These websites have useful information about lots of different aspects of philosophy.

Britannica School

This is one of the EPIC databases, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It has been put together for New Zealand schools. Britannica School is the online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica and covers lots of different philosophy topics.

  • Choose the secondary level.
  • Enter the keyword ‘philosophy’.
  • Select philosophy to find links to lots of articles about different schools of thought, biographies, and branches of philosophy.
  • Select Western philosophy for an in-depth article about history from the Ancient Greeks to today.
  • Or you could try searching for another keyword from the list above.

Biography (Gale In Context)

This is another one of the EPIC databases and is full of biographies about all sorts of people, including philosophers.

  • Search this database by using a philosopher's name eg 'Aristotle'.
  • Or discover a list of philosophers by going to Browse People the top of the page.
  • You will notice a topics drop-down box.
  • Choose Philosophers.
  • This will bring up a list of philosophers names, with a link to their full biography eg Hannah Arendt.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This site has scholarly articles about key topics and philosophers in lots of areas of philosophy. Each article is written and reviewed by an expert so the information is reliable.

  • Browse by letter at the top of the page to find an article eg 'L'.
  • Look through the list to read about a topic eg under Logic find Logical Consequence.
  • Or search using a keyword eg 'ethics'.
  • Pick an article from the results eg Ethics.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About or Contact pages.

Wi-Phi - Wireless Philosophy

Wi-Phi has videos about a range of philosophical topics. The authors all come from a variety of universities.

  • Select Videos from the top of the page.
  • Choose a type of philosophy from the Sort videos drop-down menu eg Political Philosophy .
  • Choose a video to watch eg The Original Position about ideas of what makes a society just.

Khan Academy

This is a free to use site filled with educational videos on a range of topics, including Philosophy. It does not work in Internet Explorer.

  • Use the search box at the top of the page to search for 'philosophy'.
  • The results are divided into articles, videos, exercises and programs.
  • Watch the video Philosophy: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle to learn about these Greek philosophers. 
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

New Zealand websites

These websites will help you find out more about philosophy in New Zealand, including Mātauranga Māori, or Māori knowledge systems, which is a unique kind of philosophy from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Follow this pathway to find information about philosophy and philosophers in New Zealand.

  • From the homepage, choose Creative and Intellectual Life.
  • Next, choose Scholarship and Ideas.
  • Then Philosophy.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Māori Philosophy

This website is put together by a group of Māori academics from universities all over Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Choose What is Māori philosophy? from the top of the page for an explanation about Māori philosophy and some of the unique questions it asks.
  • Under the Links and Readings section you can find a list of suggested articles and books to read to further your research. Ask a librarian for help finding these books or the journals that these articles appear in.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Books

Here are just a few books on the topic of philosophy. Ask your school or local librarian for more!

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