How to Find Philosophy Resources and Books Using Custom Google Searches

Lennox Johnson Blog

If you’re looking for beginner-friendly philosophy articles, podcasts, videos and books, there are two main problems that need to be overcome. The first is that useful resources are usually spread out over many different websites; if you try to search each website individually, it’s going to take a while. The second is that it can be hard to tell at a glance whether any particular resource or book is high quality. This page aims to overcome these problems by using custom Google searches to find only high-quality philosophy content. Quicklinks to these custom searches are listed below. More information about the sources used for each of the custom searches can be found further down the page.

Quicklinks

Note: “Socrates” has been used as a placeholder for these custom searches. When using these searches, please replace “Socrates” with the topic you are searching for.

If you’re looking for introductory resources, check out these custom searches:

If you’re looking for introductory books, you might want to start by checking out the Bibliography section in the relevant Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles, then try these custom searches:

More Information

This section contains more details about each of the search methods listed above.

Encyclopedia Articles

If you’re looking for a scholarly overview of a particular topic, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are you best bets. The SEP is generally considered more reliable, but it is aimed at professional philosophers and may be difficult for beginners. The IEP is more beginner-friendly but less reliable. This is just a simple search of both websites.

Podcasts

If you’re looking for philosophy podcasts, the logical place to start would be a podcast search engine like Listen Notes, but if you do this you’ll only find a ton of irrelevant garbage. This custom google search includes episodes from the following podcasts:

Feel free to add/remove podcasts as needed. For example because the BBC website ranks so highly in google’s algorithm, it will sometimes dominate the search results. Simply remove the BBC website from the list to give the other podcasts a chance.

Articles

This custom search checks the following philosophy websites for articles aimed at a general audience:

General News Articles

Philosophers sometimes publish or are featured in major news outlets. This custom search aims to find these types of articles. It searches the following sources:

Videos

Most philosophy videos on Youtube are bad and Youtube’s native search function doesn’t help improve the situation. If you’re struggling to find good videos, try this custom search. It narrows down video results to mainly the following channels/categories:

Books:

The same problems that apply to finding philosophy resources also apply to finding philosophy books. This section contains more details about how to use custom searches to find introductory philosophy books on any topic.

Philosophy Encyclopedia Bibliography

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are extremely useful resources. A good place to start on your search for books is to check out the bibliography section of the relevant article. For example by looking at the bibliography for the SEP article on Socrates, you can find many quality books on Socrates. However, the books in these bibliographies are often pretty advanced and may be difficult for beginners, so if you’re looking specifically for introductory books, you might want to try one of the following methods.

Google Book Custom Search

If you’re looking for an introductory book to a philosophical topic, there a probably three types of book you could choose:

  • a general introduction
  • a handbooks and companion
  • an anthology of primary sources

This custom search will bring up a list of most of these types of books on any topic you chose.

Community Recommendations

Ideally you could personally ask an expert what the best book to read is on any given topic, but unfortunately this kind of advice is relatively rare. An imperfect substitute is to browse a philosophy forum and see what books the regulars recommend. As far as I can tell the only good forum for this purpose is the askphilosophy subreddit. This custom search aims to bring up all the book recommendation threads on the forum.

Course Syllabi

Another option is to browse university course syllabi. If a philosophy professor requires her students to read a certain book, you can be reasonably sure that it is worth reading. This one is the least fancy of all the searches.

Open Syllabus Explorer

Finally, there is the open syllabus explorer. This is a neat tool that compiles assigned readings from course syllabi from around the world. If many professors assign a particular book, this is an indication that it is worth reading. Just enter the topic that you’re trying to find into the search bar.


The Daily Idea was created to help make learning about philosophy as easy as possible by collecting the best philosophy articles, videos, podcasts, and book recommendations from across the internet and organizing them into one place. You can find a collection of links to these resources and recommendations here or try taking the 52 Book Philosophy Challenge.