This page features a collection of the best resources on Presocratic philosophy. To get started, simply choose the type of resource that best suits your learning style.
If you want an academic overview of the Presocratics:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Presocratic Philosophy. However, you should keep in mind that the SEP is often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 12,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces the Presocratics:
“Calling this group “Presocratic philosophers” raises certain difficulties. The term, coined in the eighteenth century, was made current by Hermann Diels in the nineteenth, and was meant to mark a contrast between Socrates who was interested in moral problems, and his predecessors, who were supposed to be primarily concerned with cosmological and physical speculation. “Presocratic,” if taken strictly as a chronological term, is not accurate, for the last of them were contemporaneous with Socrates and even Plato. Moreover, several of the early Greek thinkers explored questions about ethics and the best way to live a human life….”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
- Listen to Malcolm Schofield discuss the Presocratics on the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps podcast [23 mins]
While these resources are a great starting point, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the best books on Presocratic Philosophy.
The Daily Idea collects and organizes the best philosophy resources from across the internet to help make learning about philosophy as easy as possible. You can find an organized collection of introductory readings and free philosophy resources here. Or get started below by signing up for a free philosophy quote delivered to your inbox each day!