The Five Best Books on or by Frege

Lennox Johnson Books

From beginner-friendly introductions to classic books on or by Frege, this page features books on Frege to suit any learning style. It’s worth noting that there is no single best book on Frege. The best book for you will depend heavily on your preferred learning style and the amount of time/energy you’re willing to spend reading. For example, if you tend to find classic works of philosophy difficult to understand, you might want to start with a short, beginner-friendly introduction. If you prefer more depth, you can choose a more comprehensive introduction or pick up one of the classics.

It’s also worth noting that it is not a list of personal recommendations. Personal book recommendations tend to be highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and unreliable. This list is part of a collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists which aim to provide a central resource for philosophy book recommendations. These lists were created by searching through hundreds of university course syllabi, internet encyclopedia bibliographies, and community recommendations. Links to the syllabi and other sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a broader range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.

Here are the best books on or by Frege in no particular order.

Frege Explained – Joan Weiner

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 176 pages | Published: 2004

Publisher description: What is the number one? How can we be sure that 2+2=4? These apparently simple questions have perplexed philosophers for thousands of years, but discussion of them was transformed by the German philosopher Gottlob Frege (1848-1925).

Frege (pronounced Fray-guh) believed that arithmetic and all mathematics are derived from logic, and to prove this he developed a completely new approach to logic and numbers. Joan Weiner presents a very clear outline of Frege’s life and ideas, showing how his thinking evolved through successive books and articles.

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Frege: An Introduction to the Founder of Modern Analytic Philosophy – Anthony Kenny

Category: Introduction | Length: 240 pages | Published: 1995

Publisher description: Written by Anthony Kenny, a leading figure in contemporary philosophy, this volume guides the reader through a concise and accessible explanation and assessment of Frege’s radical and lasting contributions to our understanding of language, meaning, and the foundations of arithmetic.

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Frege: Philosophy of Language – Michael Dummett

Category: Comprehensive Overview | Length: 752 pages | Published: 1993 (2e)

Publisher description: No one has figured more prominently in the study of German philosopher Gottlob Frege than Michael Dummett. This highly acclaimed book is a major contribution to the philosophy of language as well as a systematic interpretation of Frege, indisputably the father of analytic philosophy. Frege: Philosophy of Language remains indispensable for an understanding of contemporary philosophy. Harvard University Press is pleased to reissue this classic book in paperback.

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The Frege Reader – Michael Beaney

Category: Compilation | Length: 426 pages | Published: 1997

Publisher description: This is the first single-volume edition and translation of Frege’s philosophical writings to include all of his seminal papers and substantial selections from all three of his major works.

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The Cambridge Companion to Frege – Tom Ricketts

Category: Companion | Length: 660 pages | Published: 2010

Publisher description: Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was unquestionably one of the most important philosophers of all time. He trained as a mathematician, and his work in philosophy started as an attempt to provide an explanation of the truths of arithmetic, but in the course of this attempt he not only founded modern logic but also had to address fundamental questions in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Frege is generally seen (along with Russell and Wittgenstein) as one of the fathers of the analytic method, which dominated philosophy in English-speaking countries for most of the twentieth century. His work is studied today not just for its historical importance but also because many of his ideas are still seen as relevant to current debates in the philosophies of logic, language, mathematics and the mind. The Cambridge Companion to Frege provides a route into this lively area of research.

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The following sources were used to build this list:

University Course Syllabi:

  • Frege – University of Chicago
  • Frege – Umass Amherst
  • Frege – University of Pennsylvania


Other Recommendations:

Additional Resources

You might also be interested in the following reading lists:

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A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations – Lennox Johnson

Category: Reference | Length: 145 pages | Published: 2019

Publisher’s Description: A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is a collection of the greatest thoughts from history’s greatest thinkers. Featuring classic quotations by Aristotle, Epicurus, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and many more, A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is ideal for anyone looking to quickly understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world.

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