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Philosophy: Encyclopedias

This guide introduces you to some resources you may find useful while researching topics in Philosophy.

Why use encyclopedias?

Like dictionaries, encyclopedias allow you to gather important background information for your research topic. The books listed on this page are reference material for scholarship and research in philosopy. They include factual information about a wide variety of topics and concepts related to the study of philosophy.  

The links bring you to the library records for the books listed. Click the links to find the locations and call numbers for the suggested encyclopedias. E-resources can be accessed from off-campus!

General vs. Topic Encylopedias

Like dictionaries, encyclopedias may be general or topic specific. A general encyclopedia gives information on many subjects. An example of this type of resource is The new enclopaedia Britannica. We have copies of the volumes that make up this resource in our Oversize Collection. Click the link to see its record in the library catalogue.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica

UofL Oversize Collection AE 5 E363 2007 10 volumes

 This is a very in-depth encyclopedia with approximately 6500 articles on a wide variety of topics. To help readers access the topics they need, the encyclopedia includes an index.


Topic specific encyclopedias give information on many aspects of one particular subject or topic. For example, the The concise encyclopedia of western philosophy and philosophers whose entries are about the topic of "Western philosophy". 

The concise encyclopedia of western philosophy and philosophers

The most current edition of this encyclopedia accounts for recent developments in philosophy, of literary, historical and political issues in philosophy, and of developments in continental thought, including in Marxism, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, existentialism, structuralism, post-structuralism and deconstruction. There is a clear, integral cross-referencing system which allows the reader to identify points of overlap between philosophical traditions and their personalities at a glance.

Selected Philosophy encyclopedias


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